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Wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, great-aunt and friend....and fur-kid mum I love Quilting, stitching, photography, cooking, baking, gardening, blogging and making new friends...stop by and say hi!

Friday, 12 December 2014

One month and one day to go!

My endeavours to keep blogging have been thwarted! I was on a roll there for a bit but two things are getting in the way.....the packing......which is in full swing and with only a month or so before the big move, I am starting to get a bit panicky and my mind is full of worries about everything...that is just the nature of ME.
fabrics are all packed away
 Secondly, this old computer is getting slower and more on the verge of dying each day. I have had to set a repair mode in place twice in the last month. I feel like Penny with that "check engine light" except mine is an orange light to say my battery is dead. Just can't afford that new computer just yet so gotta hang in there.

my house is full of boxes, boxes and more boxes
 Which means I have to resort to using my iPad for communicating.  I have not yet become proficient at using blogger on the iPad and commenting on other blogs is near impossible at times but I find that Facebook is much easier so that is where you will find me most of the time.  I would love for you to come over and say hi......just click on the Facebook icon on the side bar (you will have to head to the actual blogger page to do so)

Big Ava has been dismantled ready to go
And now back to the packing!


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Challenge

Seems like everything has been a challenge this year but this was a challenge that I was definitely up for. Every year my group over at Apatchy Quilting has an end of year Christmas party and Kaye sets us a challenge for a bit of fun.  
This year the challenge theme was MUSIC......Mmmmm, I do like music but I didn't necessarily want to make a quilt with "sheet music" or "clefts" or any of that other "music" themed fabric.....I wanted to think outside of the box.  
If you knew my family, you would be suprised to know that I am actually not at all talented in the music department.  My mum was blessed with a beautiful Soprano voice and my dad played piano (by ear) for her so I decided to dedicate my quilt to the music they brought into my life that I would otherwise not have bothered with. Opera. Musicals. Piano.

An idea began to form that wanted to depict these three genres in my quilt.  One of the most famous operas is "Madame Butterfly" and I did them in technicolour to represent "Joseph's Technicolour Dreamcoat" (one of many musicals that mum and dad once took me to) and the border would be a piano key border.
 I adapted this pattern that some one else had posted about (sorry, I can't remember who that was now). It is called Hope Takes Flight and is a free pattern from Robert Kaufman. You can find it HERE.
All the piecing was easy to do and one day when I had the house all to myself, I was happily getting on with it and in my own little world when suddenly the unthinkable happened...........I sliced through the top section of my middle finger.....my own fault as I was cutting across the top of the ruler and the blade was blunt so I went backwards and forwards and not suprisingly, the cutter jumped the ruler and went in about half way down my nail. Here is the photo (2 days later) if you can bear to look.
Well, it was so painful and I raced back into the kitchen to grab some papertowel leaving a trail of blood everywhere but I knew I had to sit down as I was going to faint. I really didn't know what to do since after applying pressure for 20 minutes it still hadn't stopped bleeding and the tip of my finger didn't look a very healthy colour.  I decided I would drive myself up to the doctors surgery (only one L-hand and 3 R-hand turns) Wasn't easy while still trying to apply pressure to the wound but I got there. Had to wait 1hour and 45 minutes with my finger on ice to see if I needed stitches.  In the end it was decided the nail made stitches too difficult so it was taped together, bandaged and I was given a tetnus shot. That was a couple of months ago now and even though it has healed up lovely, it is still very tender.

Back to the quilt. For some reason, I did not take very many photos of the process initially - very unusual for me.....much too caught up in the creating, I think. but here is a photo of it all coming together.
Then everything came to a standstill as I was putting off the quilting part which  I was really not looking forward to ......what if I stuffed it up at this stage with only two more weeks before it was handed in.  I needn't have worried, with my new TOWA thread tension guage, everything went as smoothly as I could have wished although I had a bit of trouble rolling this one onto the frame.

With so much negative space, I decided to use a variety of fmq designs. I started with some clamshells which I have not done before
then I did pebbles for a bit
and finished off with some flowers which I have not done before either.
For the white bits inbetween the butterflies, I did some backwards/forwards lines.....can you see them? Excuse the threads that I still have to sew in (because I like doing it that way)
I even impressed myself by this fabulous fmq-ing!! I think I might stick with those clamshells for awhile and perhaps the flowers too.

After doing some straight lines in the piano key border, I attached the binding (using my BRAND NEW  BERNINA!) added a label and ta-da.....my challenge quilt was ready in plenty of time.
I stole the picture below from Kaye's blog and if you want to see the other participants and read about the winner, please do so HERE. While there, make sure you scroll to the end.....you don't want to miss Kaye's creation......she is one very talented lady!

Without further ado.......Madame Butterfly meets Liberace

I think there may be an issue with my commenting system. Chookie says her comment disappeared and I am not getting notification for comments so for now I have opened the comments up to everyone and switched the word varification on......sorry, I know this is a pain in the neck but I just want to see if it makes a difference. Unless anyone has any advice for me.

Monday, 1 December 2014

A Busy Little Bee.....Is Me!

Wow, It is a hive of activity around here.  There are boxes packed, ready to be packed, ready to be sealed and so many more that need to be constructed, ready for packing. My house looks like a disaster zone.  There are piles of things organised for packing, bags of no longer wanted stuff for St. Vinnies or the Salvo's, bags of rubbish for the tip ....... my mind is going crazy in the chaos!  I need a break so how about I tell you about what other more enjoyable activities went on here during the month of November.

I had quite a full month of sewing during November starting with a Bargello that I did as a class. I have always wanted to make a Bargello but always thought it too complicated but this one was made with one fabric. I am sure you have seen this fabric before, especially if you read my September NewFO post,

 They had run out of it at my local but I happened to be at another Quilt shop and saw it there even though I wasn't looking for it in particular.  When I had bought it, I called up my local and put my name down for the Bargello class. 

The first part of the class was to sew the fabric "closed" along the long edge and then the cutting began.

This is the cutting diagram.  It looks awfully complicated but I soon got the hang of it and made sure I marked it as I cut the various strips.  Lots of concentration needed here.

It was also very important to number the rows as they were cut. This would be very helpful later on when the sewing began.

This is where I got up to in the class.  Kim showed me the best way sew the strips together into units and the best way to press the seams. It is starting to look really good isn't it?

When I got home, I just couldn't leave it alone so spent the rest of the afternoon in the sewing room sewing all those strips together.

I have to tell you, this was the most fun I have ever had sewing a quilt together.  It was like a jigsaw puzzle and at it grew, it just became more beautiful.  I have finised it to flimsy stage but it is packed away now and I will not get back to it until after the move.   Watch this space!

The other project I started in November was this twist and turn log cabin. This was a project I did with my Sewing Sisters.

I made a design error with this one as I initially thought I would start with the white in the middle and work out to the darker tones but during the class, with all the talk about starting with dark in the middle, I lost track of my own thoughts and ended up with a stark white square in the middle.  I think I could stitch a snowflake there (in blue) and it could not be so detracting but Claudia says I should wait until I have finished and if I use white borders inbetween, it might look completely different. While I am at it, let me show you my other Sewing Sister's work.

From L to R: Marilyn, Zita and Lorraine.  We all had the grey as a common thread but were told to use different colours for the second colour combination.  Interesting that Marilyn and Lorraine went Autumn tones and Zita went the cooler tones same as me. Lorraine and Zita have not only finished these table runners but have both made second ones too.  Equally stunning.

I am linking in to Cat Patches - November NewFO Challenge. Barbara says this is the second last link party EVER, and I am so sad about that but let's face it, I now have a whole lot of UFO's to finish for 2015!

I also promised to tell you about my Challenge Quilt....or did I? Anyway, here is a preview.

 Now,  it is another busy day. Callie has to go to the vet this morning as she has an allergic reaction (probably a green ant bite) and looks more like a Sharpei than a Labrador. Here is a photo from last time this happened.

....and lets face it, those boxes are not going to pack themselves!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Farewell Family Dinner

It has been a busy weekend in our household on top of hot and humid weather. Yesterday was just awful and I was out during the late morning and early afternoon at a venue without AC comfort.......ugh! it is so draining. The first thing I did when I got home was crank up two of our three ac units because the kiddo's were coming over for dinner and I was making "the best ever" Risotto. By popular demand, I may add.

I try and do a family dinner every second week when Red is home from work but depending on when others are working (or studying for exams), depends on how many turn up.  Last night was compulsory as my dearest Miss M is heading off on a big adventure so this is her farewell dinner and I really don't know when we will all be gathered like this again.

A few months ago she was awarded a Scholarship for her Engineering degree which is such a good thing as she had to give up her part time job earlier this year due to the demands of the course. Part of the Scholarship was providing vacation work and although it wasn't guaranteed, as she is only 2nd year, the company came through and offered her 3 month vac work.  She set off on the 6 hour journey this morning so I am a big bag of nerves today.

So to take my mind off that, why don't I tell you about the recipe I made. It is actually Manu's (from MKR) recipe, so it has got to be good! You can find the actual recipe HERE but as usual, I go my own way.

First I warmed up my stock on the stovetop and then browned off my chicken.  I don't add bacon because hubby won't eat it although I imagine it would taste even more awesome with it added in. After that I removed the chicken and because I was unorganised, I only now started to chop up the onion, chilli, garlic and rosemary.

I love chopping up ingredients like this.  I get the biggest, meanest, sharpest knife in the kitchen and after cutting the ingredients up smaller, I rock that knife back and forth over them to make it quite fine. I find this incredibly therapeutic.  I was a bit lazy tonight and used bottled garlic instead.....but wait, I forgot a crucial taste sensation.  The lemon zest.

No measurements here, I just go with my gut and I left the rosemary a little chunky till I took the photo. All of this goes into the same frying pan as the chicken came out of  and sautee until the onion softens a little.  The aroma that smacks you in the face at this point is absolutely devine.

The photo's get a little blurry here due to the steam. Enter the rice.  Now I have used all different types of rice for my risotto and they all work "okay" for this style of risotto if you have nothing else but of course, you get the best results with the traditional Arborio Risotto Rice and this is where I measured the required 2 cups and tossed it in with the onion mixture and made sure all the rice got coated with the onion mixture.

At this stage, I was ready to throw it all together.  Oh, did I mention this is not a traditional Risotto recipe. Yea, I am not fond of slaving over the stove waiting for rice to soak up the stock and I am not particularly fond of sloppy, al dente rice so this concoction is going in the oven to get nice and sticky while it takes on the flavours of all those seasoning herbs, spices etc.

Now the stock in that casserole dish has been heating gently while all this was happening, (I find that gives the cooking process in the oven just that little bit of a head start) and I just add the tomato paste (almost forgot that!), the chicken and the rice/onion mixture. Give it a stir, pop on the lid and into the oven it goes.  Now Manu does give you times in the recipe but you can usually smell when it is ready.

I served ours with a simple garden salad last night and you can add shaved or grated parmie cheese but it tastes good without. Let me know if you give the recipe a try and whether you enjoyed it too.

For dessert I served chopped strawberries with blueberries, a dollop of vanilla fro-gurt, salted caramel topping and a sprinkle of these chopped almonds and cashews I spotted at the supermarket.

 All in all, it was a lovely but it was gone so quick before I realised I had not taken a photo! Just the empty dishes to add to the pile. Hubby was washing up last night. He he he!

Well my girl has not called in yet but I do know that she may have reception issues where she is going so I will try not to worry too much. Going off to do some clutterbusting.  Lots to do before moving day.  At last she called and is all settled into her new accommodation. I can go to sleep happy now.


The Change has Come

I am a bit late with my promised continuation of yesterdays post. It has been a very hot and sweaty busy day with a challenge quilt exhibition and xmas party and dinner with the kiddo's tonight. ( I will post about those on another occassion) but let me get back to my story: I left off yesterday telling you that hubby was looking for possible property in the Huon Valley that would help us make a decision about whether this was a place we would like to make home. He found several that he wanted to take a look at so as soon as we were ready, we headed back out towards Huonville. As we were travelling towards the centre of Hobart, the cloud cover cleared over Mt Wellington and I was amazed to see a cover of snow up there.

Can you believe that! It's October and the snow is falling in Tassie. I was dying to take a photo but I had to wait until we were out of the city and on the Huon highway. The lookout where we were the day before is that structure on the far right up there.

The first spot we looked at was on a road called Misty Hills (how quaint) but when we got there, it wasn't what we wanted. The block was hard to see from the road and sloped down steeply towards the rear. We got out to go for a little walk and all of a sudden we were joined by two labrador dogs. They had been sitting on a porch and as we walked down the street, they came to greet us. I wasn't worried about them as they did not bark and in fact one was a young puppy, maybe 6 months - why he was allowed to run free, i will never know. They were ever so friendly. I was dying to talk with them and scratch behind their ears but I didn't want to encourage the little one to follow us. I told the older dog to go home and he very dilligently listened to me but the pup started to run after hubby as he walked down the street, until he realised I wasn't following, then he came back to sit at my feet.

I was a bit worried when we walked back towards the car, as he insisted on coming along with us and I was terrified he would get under the wheels and get hurt but with some careful manouvering while I kept watch, we managed to drive away up the street to do a u-turn. I was very relieved when we went past their house again to see they were both safely back on the porch. We drove to the other "for sale" properties but found nothing that really took our fancy.......too steep, too small (for hubby) or too overgrown with trees. The views were lovely though.

We drove around for awhile and as we were heading back to the main road, we saw a "for sale" sign and decided it wouldn't hurt to have a look. As soon as we saw the block, we knew it was ideal for us but still wanted to look at a few more.

Along the way, I saw plenty of these!

The funny thing is that Miss M and I were in Scotland earlier this year and we went on a trip to the Western Highlands hoping to see some of these Highland "Coos" but only saw a very, very brief glimpse in the distance. Yet, there were quite a number of them here in Tasmania! If you missed the post about our Highlands adventure, you can read about it HERE and HERE.

Back to our property hunt......nothing really ticked all the boxes for us, so we decided to pop into the Apple Shed again for a slice of pie and a pow-wow. I didn't show any photos at the Apple Shed on my previous post, but, you have got to take a look at the "apple wall" they have there. My photo only shows about a third of the "wall" but each and every one of those apples is a different variety

 ......did you ever realise there were so many varieties of apple. We hadn't had lunch yet, but really wanted a slice of the apple pie we had seen the day before.......

  ........and definitely wanted to sample the cider again. Anyhow the up-shot was that we were very excited about the earlier block we had found by chance. We loved it so much that we couldn't stop talking about the prospect of living there all the way home and over dinner, later on.

The following day, we went for a drive to Port Arthur (which I will write about at a later date) and it was still all we could talk about. So much so, that when we stopped for coffee, hubby rang the estate agent to arrange a viewing. The block was everything we were looking for, and the plus - a house and orchard trees already on site (visible down on the left side of the above photo) . WE MADE AN OFFER!

 Now, I won't leave you in suspense any longer..........the offer was accepted by that evening and we are the owners of this incredible block with the most amazing view ever. It has come around sooner than we could ever imagine and as of January, Hubby and I will become Taswegians. The photo below shows the view from where we want to build our dream home. All in good time.

I really appreciate all the lovely comments left for me but honestly, things are going to be very good.  We all have good days and bad days or even good years and bad years.  I just wish I could be closer to my mum to help her.

I really hope you will join me for my next post......I am planning to show you Port Arthur.

Friday, 21 November 2014

A Change in the Air

I have found it hard to blog lately. I have not enjoyed 2014 for many reasons......my mum is not well, I have had a relapse of health issues (which seem to be on the mend now), kid issues (still a worry but not dire) etc, etc but just lately it feels as if things are turning around a bit (although my mum is worsening a bit) so let me fill you in.

My husbands niece got married last month down in Tasmania which was a lovely, happy occassion to share with two gorgeous people and catch up with our family who all live down south.
the brides boquet
 After the wedding, hubby and I decided to take the opportunity to spend the rest of the week in Tasmania so we dropped the kids off at the airport for their flight back to Queensland, and we drove down to Hobart. I have only been to Tassie once before and never to Hobart so I was quite excited about being there. It only takes about 2 hours to drive from Launceston to Hobart.....no time at all compared to getting north to south of Queensland (believe me, I have done that before)

At this point I should tell you that hubby and I have had a dream for quite some time now to live on a hobby farm, grow fruit and veggies, have chickens, maybe a horse or two and plant a beautiful garden. Back in 2012, we gave ourselves 4 years to find the ideal place.

With this thought in mind, we drove out to the Huon Valley on the first day for a look around. We travelled to the Marina in Cygnet
Now my hubby loves a bit of sailing so this ticked one of his boxes.

After Cygnet we travelled back towards Geeveston and spotted a platypus observation walk so parked the car and went for a stroll. I was enthralled by the daisies growing throughout the grass in the park. Now what does this remind me of? Ah yes, very English.......a box ticked for me.

The creek bubbled along next to the footpath and we saw lots and lots of little birds, fairy wrens, finches, black birds and a few others that I forget now.

We found the viewing platform but there were no visible platypus on this day. After having lunch in Geeveston, we made our way back towards Huonville stopping to buy a couple of bags of fresh apples along the way.  They don't call it the Apple Isle for nothing! When we got to Huonville, hubby wanted to have a quick glance in the real estate window......? and I wanted to call in at the quilt shop where I bought a few fat 1/4s, then we were off again to visit the Apple Shed Museum where we had a taste of the different ciders sold there, and the honey pot where we could see the insides of a real living bee hive......so mesmerising. We bought a couple of jars of honey and then set of back towards Hobart via Kingston to have a look around.

I just loved Kingston Beach, not exactly for those big on surfing but just beautiful all the same. We were actually looking for a quilt shop when we came here so after a quick walk and photo taking we had turned around again to find the shop.  I did find it eventually.  I wasn't my thing as it was all japanese fabric (the traditional indigo kind) and I am not in a mind to use that sort of fabric.  She also had some amazing kimonos in the shop and a few bits of bric-a-brac.  I ended up buying a little hand painted japanese plate.

Now back to Hobart. We decided to head up Mt Wellington (the backdrop to Hobart) before heading back into town. It was starting to look very cloudy while we drove up the mountain but we really wanted to have a look.  Driving up the mountain was interesting and not for the faint hearted.  A couple of times I gasped loudly as another car came around a tight bend a little bit too fast and too close for comfort.  The lower slopes of the mountain are tightly packed with forest growth, and we remarked how difficult it would be to hike through there, but as we got towards the top, the landscape changed to a rocky scene interspersed with small gorse like bushes.

I gasped again as I got out of the car as the temperature had dropped to about 3 degrees celsius......BRRR.....and I was not dressed for it but I was not going to be put off so we headed to one of the lookouts.  By this time everything was covered in a thick cloud and hubby was certain it was starting to snow......but I think it was more like sleet.
That is my hubby in the photo racing me back to the covered lookout.  Boy! it was cold and it looked doubtful that the cloud and sleet was going to clear away anytime soon.

By the time we got back to that lookout with the large windows, I was soaked but I did see a glimmer of sunshine and even a rainbow so took the opportunity to snap a shot of the view of Hobart nestled there below the mountain.

The cloud cover worsened so we headed back to the car, only to be pelted by teeny tiny hailstones. They were as hard as ball-bearings and I felt like I had just gone through a dermabrasion session.

We headed back towards the motel where I climbed into bed with the electric blanket on just to get cosy and warm again while hubby scrolled through real estate sites.......I found that interesting!

The story will continue tomorrow

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