Saturday, December 5, 2015


We've put up our Christmas  tree and my SSCS gift from Marion in Germany  is the first gift to go under it. Hooray! I love this time of year and the gifts  like these that are such a lovely expression of kindness and friendship around the world.

Of course I haven't  opened the parcel yet because I'm  a  good  girl but the lovely little ornament  is hanging  on the tree now. Thank you so much, Marion. And thanks too, as always, Chooky for again hosting  this swap that's a highlight of the year for so many of us.

Cheryll hosted FNFW  last night and my little contribution to the stitchy crafty get-together  was this cute stocking. It's  from a tutorial  on Amy Sinibaldi's blog and is a quick little make that can be embellished however you like. This one will house a gift card to be sent to my SIL. Thanks for your company, everyone! 

Thursday, December 3, 2015


No post last month = another fail on the blogging front.  I shall try very hard to do better next year.

That's  not to say I haven't  been busy-ish, at least some of the time.

 First up was Quiltessentially  Clunes,  a delightful stitching weekend in the equally delightful little town of Clunes, about 20 minutes away from my place. So nice to sit around stitching and chatting and eating. Organised by three talented women - local textile artist Christine  Lethlean,  Rae Telfer and Judy Newman - and attended by lots of lovely people, including my good friend Loz.

Loz had to dash back home to the Barossa - a small matter of being involved  in arrangements for a Royal visit - then drove to my house in Ballarat for a couple of days of fun and frolics. Gail Pan came for a visit with  her visiting American friend Debbie and we went out for tea  in town with Jodie and  Annie and some other friends. Good company, good food, lots of laughs - an unbeatable combination that was repeated next day when we all descended on Gail's Patchwork  Emporium,  Cotton Factory and The Crafty Squirrel. We are so lucky in Ballarat to have such gorgeous places to visit.

I travelled back to the Barossa with  Loz early the following day and enjoyed a couple of days of eating (oh Maggie Beer and Barossa farmers' market, how I love your products) sightseeing and admiring Loz's company and beautiful  handiwork. The Barossa is such a beautiful  region and I look forward to another  longer visit. Next up was a drive down to Port Elliot on the coast, where I stayed with a mutual friend, Leanne and her husband Tony and their cute little dog Bella. Port Elliot is a delightful little town on the coast, with the most beautiful  sea view. I fell in love with it and so did my husband Peter when he came to pick  me up a few days later.  There were chats and laughs and seaside walks,  drives to the mouth of the Murray and a cheese factory and down to Victor Harbor,  where I had the unexpected delight of a ride in a horse-drawn  tram to Granite Island.  I'm so grateful to my friends  ( who, by the way, I got to know through blogging) for my lovely little holiday.

Pete and I had a night in Robe, another place we love for its picturesque seaside ambience, then it was back home to  our gorgeous  dogs, home and garden - and stitching; I had work to do for two swaps and got everything  finished and away on time. Despite the busyness and challenges of the  season, I do love Christmas  swaps, especially  Chooky's Secret Santa  Christmas  Swap.

Here are a few travel snaps and a photo  of a bundle of lovely Liberty scraps that floated into my letterbox a few days ago. Who doesn't  love good times and happy mail, especially  at this time of  year.

Monday, November 2, 2015

OPAM October

Seven finishes this month - mind you, most of them are quite small so I really can't  crow too loudly. But a finish is a finish and I'm pretty pleased.

Thanks again to Peg and Kris for keeping us all motivated to keep calm  and carry on crafting.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What's been happening

I'm now able to blog with photos - hooray! A visit to the Telstra shop yesterday confirmed my tablet was outmoded and the cord was stuffed, which was why it wouldn't charge. Boo hiss. We came away with a new, cheaper plan and a little tablet  which is  light and fits into my handbag - so convenient.
The Aussie husband and I got up at ridiculously early o'clock this morning to watch my team, the All Blacks, defeat the Wallabies 34 -17. Well, that wasn't my husband's intention but that's what happened. It was an absolutely excellent game, and I don't just mean because the Kiwis won. Now that the World Cup is over, this Little Red Hen can look forward to staying in bed all night, every night.

 Around lunchtime, we staggered out into the daylight and went to an exhibition by Ballaarat Quilters. So much colour, so much variety. I love the one above, which is based on Jane Austen's quilt. The quilt top left was viewer's choice for us both - it would look lovely on our bed. The one next to it reminds me of gift packages and I photographed the wall hanging because I have a kit for the 3 panels and hadn't  considered  putting it together that way.

 I'm in a couple of Christmas swaps again this year and have other handmade gifts to make. Above are two of the first - a stitcher's pouch, designed by Sarah from Patchworks Plus, and a purse for little scissors, some needles and pins and other accessories.  The pins fabric is by Aneela Hoey and Heather Ross, whose quirky fabrics I just love, designed the butterflies print. The other fabric is a floral cross-stitch print by Aussie Shannon Lamden. Using lovely fabrics is always such a pleasure.
We've been married 40 years next year and are hoping that our retirees' budget will fund a trip to Europe. Brochures have been collected and there's planning (and probably some arguments) to look forward to. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


This morning I finally remembered how to transfer photos from the gallery on my tablet to the PC so I could download them to a blog post - because posts are so much more interesting with photos, don't you think? Then I took some more photos later and it didn't work no matter what. Foiled again. It would be much more convenient if I could upload to a blog post on the device but I can't. The Blogger upload photos thingy comes up but nothing happens. Oh technology, I really really love you until you do something annoying...

So - when it worked ever so briefly this morning I decided it was time for a new header photo. The old one - masses of colourful begonias - was taken at Ballarat's annual Begonia Festival a couple of years ago. The new one is of the crab apple tree in our back garden. It's no longer blossoming but when it was, just a week or so ago, it was eye-catchingly pretty.

Apart from the usual household stuff, reading and wandering in the garden, I may have purchased some fabric from time to time (too much of it, I have to admit ... but I'm sure it will all be very handy ... someday). I now have a small collection of Heather Ross fabrics - her designs are so quirky and appealing. These latest purchases are from her Tiger Lily range - aren't they sweet! I particularly like the cat fabric, which I bought especially for my daughter, who adores cats in general and her own ginger cat particularly.

A few months ago, as mentioned in a previous post,  I took part in a needlebook swap organised by Jenny at The brief was to use one of the designs from her monthly stitchery club. I sent the one with the pear on the front and received the other. What a nice swap it was.
 With Christmas getting frighteningly close, I've made a few little festive ornaments. Felt is so great to work with and the handstitching is so relaxing. The embroidered tree is one of Marg Low's gorgeous designs.

I'm taking part in Chooky's Secret Santa Christmas Swap again this year (thank you very much for your ace organising, Chooky, and for my allocated partner; I'm thrilled to bits) and have gifts to make for family and friends too, so I'd better stop messing around  and get on with it.
Bye for now - hope you're having a great day, whatever you're doing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My FNWF...

.... was during the day. I rarely sew at night because I don't have a good light so had a lovely relaxing time in the sunshine fiddling about with felt, embroidery threads and Barb Smith's cute little robin buttons to produce two more Christmas decorations. Barb designs under the name Theodora Cleave. Her buttons are just delightful and quirky and she has all sorts of ranges - Christmas, French style, gardening, birds and animals ...They really add a special fun touch to small projects. Can you tell I'm a fan?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hello again.

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month! I can't believe how quickly this year is disappearing. It will be Christmas in no time. Do you give handmade Christmas gifts? I do like to make at least some of mine - my 3 brothers all received drawstring bags for Christmas last year and I've made them also for my daughter this year and for my husband's birthday on Sunday. Handiest things ever (and quick and easy too - can't beat that combination! ) SOTAK Handmade  has a great tutorial. And I've made a few decorations with felt and some of Theodora Cleave's gorgeous buttons. Quick and easy again. But that's it. Every year I plan to start early and make more gifts but it never happens.  Oh well, there's always next year.

The weather has been terrific this week and I'm feeling terrific too, which is pretty nice after weeks of having a cold and generally feeling blah. Winters here in Ballarat are long and chilly but I'll be complaining about the heat before too long. There's just no pleasing some people! The Mister and I went off for a drive to one of our favourite places just out of town this afternoon.Lambley Nursery at Ascot has beautiful gardens where you can wander to your heart's content. The tulips are still gorgeous and the countryside is so green, with flowering canola adding touches of vivid yellow. I'm sorry I can't show you how lovely it all is - I'm still unable to add pics through Blogger. Annoying, but not the end of the world.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


I had a "thank you" phone call recently from my friend Lorraine in South Australia. And while it's always lovely to chat to her on the phone or in person, I was a bit puzzled about what she was thanking me for, until she enlightened me. It was such good news - I'd entered a giveaway from Lisa at and guess what - I won! Hooray! And because I tagged her, Loz was a winner too. Double hooray! We were both thrilled to bits. My parcel full of gorgeousness arrived promptly and included a jelly purse frame in my favourite aqua, lace, tape, scissors, thread cards and a charm pack of Lecien  Quilter's Basics. Thank you so much, Lisa. By the way, if you haven't come across Lisa's lovely blog yet, do yourself a favour and get reading. It's full of making and baking creativity.

Another lovely blog by another very creative spirit is found at Jenny creates beautiful designs and runs a monthly stitchery club. One of her latest endeavours was running a needlebook swap using one of the many embroidery designs created for the club. The most diffult task was choosing fabrics, a pattern and a stitchery - so many choices. Choosing the colours was easy, as my American partner, Capi, likes pinks and blues and pretties. It's a direct swap, so it has been really nice for us to get to know each other. We both sent off our parcels in the last few days so now all we have to do is wait (im)patiently for the postie.

The Mister and I are planning a trip to Europe in the middle next year to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary (longer than a life sentence - we know all the jokes!)  We want to spend some time with our daughter in China, visit friends in England and my rellies in Scotland, do a bunch of sightseeing there and spend some time in Paris and other parts of France that take our fancy. Since we've only just started looking at travel brochures, we're a bit sketchy on how we'll travel. We don't fancy driving, so we're looking at a combination of rail journeys and river cruises. As retirees, we don't have an unlimited income of course, but we're determined to do at least some of the things we really really want to do. Fingers crossed for not too much arguing during this process!

Despite giving myself a big talking-to the sewjo is still on a go-slow. Not so the fabric-buying habit, unfortunately. I have eclectic tastes and can't resist far too much of what I see online or for real. There may not be much 
stitching going on but there sure is a lot of fabric patting! I picked up some very pretty pieces (teacups, roses and the Eiffel Tower)  yesterday at my local patchwork shop, Cotton Factory. Alison, the owner, is a lovely lady and very much an enabler - as well as running a terrific online business, she posts pictures of new stock on Instagram - oh, such a trap. The shop is full of gorgeous fabrics and patterns and interesting people. When I popped in yesterday, I got to say hello again to ace designer  the gorgeous Sarah Fielke, who was there teaching her  "Definition of Stitch" pattern, with all its quirky modern lettering giving a dictionary definition of that thing so many of us like to do.  Like me, Sarah's a rugby supporter but while she supports the Wallabies I'm all for the All Blacks across the ditch. I've been in Australia for more than 40 years but I'm still a Kiwi at heart.  We've swapped a few comments on Instagram recently and when I said jokingly yesterday that I'd like to make a quilt that said "Go All Blacks!" she immediately replied, "Oh no, sorry, this pattern doesn't work for those words." Love it!

PS: Apologies for the lack of photos - they're on my tablet which is not playing nicely and won't let me upload pics right now. Technology - phooey!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Life and other stuff

Meals at my place are usually pretty casual and eaten in front of the telly.  Very slack, I know. Last night was different, though   - roast pork, veges, gravy and apple sauce, eaten at the table and accompanied by music and something nice to drink. Followed by sponge cake with cream and strawberries.  Yum. And yes, we were celebrating.  Some weeks ago, a spot on my husband's head was diagnosed as a melanoma. It was dealt with quickly,  with  removal and stitches and a skin graft and multiple dressings. Yesterday the dressings were removed and my husband was able to wash his hair at last and had his hair cut today. The wound sites aren't pretty but they've healed and the surgeon is confident he got all the nasty stuff. So over those weeks we've gone from staring-into-the-abyss awfulness to feeling very thankful - quite a transition.

More thankful feelings today -  at least for me. At last it was time to open our Christmas in July swap parcels. Marilyn in NSW was my partner. Lucky me.  I love my new hot water bottle cover (which came complete with a hot water bottle - how good is that!) Our weather continues to be cold and wet - so I reckon that hottie will be just the thing tonight ( as long as the snowman doesn't melt.) Thanks again, Marilyn - and thanks to Cheryll for another fun swap.

There's been a bit of a crafting lull lately. I had a bad cold for ages, along with a  dose of the blues, but thankfully normal service has resumed. I now have another great-nephew (Koby)  in  Townsville, Queensland so have enjoyed making a few  little things for him. I do hope his big brothers let him play with his fish! There should be a bib as well, but it turned out to be  - um - terribly lopsided. Don't know how I managed that. It's a talent. Not tempted to have another go right away as I hate sewing curves anyway. And can't you just tell by looking at that fish that my stuffing technique needs some work.  Jodie Ric Rac, your title of Stuffing Queen is safe and  I'm sure Koby won't be nearly as picky as his great-auntie is!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ready to post to....???

These cheerful packages of seasonal craftiness are all ready to be sent to their new home as part of Cheryll's Christmas in July swap. They've been ready for ages, right before my sewjo went missing, so I thought I was well-organised - but now I can't find my partner's details. Not posting till Friday so that gives me 2 days to hunt in my messy sewing room before contacting our fabulous swap mama for help.Wish me luck!
Edited to add: All sorted now, posting tomorrow. Thanks for coming to the rescue, Shez.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hello again

Hello again, it's been a while. I've been travelling, and back home, and busy and not busy - and suddenly it's June. How did that happen?

There's been a bit going on since my last post. The Mr and I had a lovely holiday in NZ, followed by a road trip in NSW. that's all another story. Some things have been made - not all crafty; I've discovered how to make ricotta (dead easy and delicious)  and how to process the olives from our tree and  have spent lots of time on research (that's what I like to call hanging out on social media and craft sites; it sounds less time-wasting!)

Crafty makes recently have included some Christmas projects - a pouch is for any special cards the recipient wants to keep, or for little treasures and a heart-shaped mug rug which will hopefully be bound today.  I've just taken part in a mug rug swap over on IG and the heart in the photo is what I'll be sending. Wasn't I just so lucky to have the perfect fabrics in my stash! The other photos show the beautiful double-sided mug rug Beth sent me. Lucky me! Look at that teapot - would you believe it's the first time she has done paper piecing? Amazing. Beth lives in the Mr's old home town of Forbes in Central West NSW and because her surname is the same as his cousin's married name we were keen to know if they were related. And they are - small world.
A little pressing of buttons recently bought me this delightful pouch by moogsmum in England. Lesley makes me laugh - and so do her twirly birds.

And over the past few weeks the postie has delivered lots of happy mail, including these fabulous fabrics from my birthday fat quarter group. Thanks heaps, girls, you added a lot of colour to my life at a time when I really needed it (bad combination of a stinking cold and bleak grey weather.)

It was my birthday last week and fortunately I was feeling well enough to go out for lunch then go to the pictures. We went to see A Royal Night Out, which was nice and light but not too fluffy. And a huge parcel arrived from my younger brother in Townsville. He's always concerned that I might not have enough to do in my retirement and sent me two jigsaw puzzles. At 1000 pieces each I don't think they'll be finished any time soon.
I popped in to Chooky's party at the weekend to  help celebrate the third birthday of her fabulous sewing space, the Chookshed, and worked on my little Christmas pouch. I was able to picture the Chookshed and where the girls would be working because the Mr and I spent two nights on the farm with Chooky and her family earlier this year. There were lots of chats, some stitching to do and champagne to drink, we learned about the pleasures and pitfalls of life on the land and admired their resilience and the huge skies and marvellous sunsets that are part of their everyday lives. I hope that we'll be able to repay their hospitality one day in our very different part of the world.
Till next time (whenever that is...)

Monday, February 2, 2015

The month that was

February - you're here ALREADY!! January, where did you go?? You flashed by so fast while I took things nice and easy - a bit of crafting here, fun with friends there, good times at home ...

We've been developing our garden since we moved here about 10 years ago to an almost bare block (obviously the two previous owners weren't gardeners) and although it's still a work in progress it gives us so much pleasure. Lots of lovely flowers to pick, there will be what looks like a bumper crop of tomatoes soon plus quinces to process and enjoy later in the year and the herb garden is productive.

Crafty endeavours this month have resulted in wee socks and an embroidered softie for a new baby in the family, two appliqued wool pincushions,  a little drawstring bag for my husband to put his watch and coins in while he's playing golf - first time ever he's asked me to make him something! - and my new super-duper bag. Love love love that fabric so much that I have bought an extra fat quarter for a tissue pouch and notebook cover.

My friends Kerith and Jeni and I got together this month for an overdue soapmaking session - we feel like MacBeth's three witches as we stir and cackle and hope for the best. Once the mix of lye and water is mixed with whatever oils you choose (for the last few batches we've been using a mix of sunflower, coconut and olive oil) it's like magic to see the mix come together and turn into soap. We made two lots each this time ( my batches are scented with lemongrass and mandarin oil for one lot and patchouli for the other) so won't be running out of soap any time soon. It's so satisfying to make and use and we have lots of laughs as well.

Longtime friends of my husband Peter's descended on Ballarat for a get-together over the long weekend; it was such fun. They've all known each other since primary school and are such good mates; I've known them all for 40 or so years and we all had a great time together.  Ballarat is an attractive old city and we love showing it off - the old buildings, the lake and the gardens are all so beautiful. One of the places we were very keen to show them, and that they all found really interesting, is MADE - the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. While the main museum is in Canberra, this one is built on the site of the Eureka Stockade rebellion, where miners took a stand against troopers after long-term efforts to end unfair treatment and gain the right to vote. The battle lasted for only 15 minutes or so, and there were casualties on both sides, but it's regarded by many as the foundation of democracy in Australia.   Here endeth the history lesson. Just don't miss this place if you visit Ballarat - lots of great interactive displays and the flag which flew at the battle and is kept in a darkened room is very moving. Oh, and our cache of records was a hit too -  we all took turns at playing our favourite songs (and some oldies and baddies that made us scream with laughter too.)

So - that's January. I don't have to wonder what February will  bring - we're off to NZ for three weeks towards the end of the month then after just a night at home we're having a road trip in NSW for a niece's wedding plus a craft retreat at Nundle with lots of other crafty bloggers. Lucky us! We're away from home for nearly three months - friends (one of the old school friends and his wife - Peter and John grew up next door to each other in Forbes, Central West NSW) are moving in to look after the house and spoil the dogs (the dogs will probably be VERY disappointed when we come home!)