Sunday, April 26, 2009

Katie's having a birthday giveaway

Hop on over to Katie's blog quickly. She's having a birthday, and giving us the presents!

The one day of the year

For three hundred and sixty four days of the year they are just names on a board, part of the beautiful architecture of our church.
Names that we walk past with barely a sideways glance.

But once a year, on the Sunday closest to Anzac Day, these brave men's names are read out, slowly and with dignity and gratitude, as part of our church service.

For one day a year these names on a board come alive to us, and as we listen to the long recitation we can see them in our minds. Young men with mischievous grins and a sense of adventure and calling, hugging mothers, wives and children as they set off to fight a war half a world away.

Men in their prime of life who would never return to their heartbroken families.

As long as we have breath...

We will remember them.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Remembering Villers Bretonneux

Today is Anzac Day here in Australia (and for our neighbours in New Zealand), and I've been thinking back to the day I was privileged to visit the little village of Villers Bretonneux in Northern France - Armistice Day , 11th November 2005.

Here is what I wrote at the time....


Today Boak and I marched in the Armistice Day parade in the village of Villers Bretonneux.

Forget our Anzac Day parades – the French do things a little differently. At least in this little backwater.

If you missed school the day they did the Great War, this village was saved from the German advance by Australian troops in both April (coincidentally on 25th) and September 1918 – and they’ve never forgotten this. DSCN8089[1] The links with our country are very strong. V-B is twinned with Robinvale in Victoria, the Australian flag flies beside the French, and even the town hall is embellished with kangaroos! Australian visitors, we found too, are soon spotted.

Like yesterday, today was overcast and around 11 degrees, and with the wind chill factor I really needed the gear that has become my Somme “uniform” – warm slacks, a spencer, jumper and two coats, a woolly scarf, and a beret pulled down over my ears. As well, just for the occasion, I wore my Aussie flag socks (thank you, Megan) under my boots. Of course no-one could see them, but they did give me the warm fuzzies!

With our Australian flag flapping from the car aerial, we arrived in the town square just in time for the parade to begin.

DSCN8125[1] The Villers Bretonneux brass band (all 12 of them) led the way, the drummer beating out the pace and the other instruments trying (unsuccessfully) not to hit too many wrong notes.

DSCN8051[1] Next came the tracksuit-clad Twirling group (baton twirlers), the youngest tot only about 4!  The 4 regimental flags were carried next, then 5 gendarmes, and the 6 Sapeurs Pompiers (fire brigade) brought up the rear, the only group even trying to keep in formation.DSCN8037[1]DSCN8056[1] When the few dozen townsfolk followed on, we decided to do things the French way and join in. DSCN8038[1] Down the street we processed with our little band, oompah-ing and shuffling, smiling and greeting everyone with a “Bonjour”, scooping up strays along the way.

The first stop was the WWII memorial (Aussie flag flying beside the French one) where the tiniest Twirler was helped to lay a wreath, we had a minute’s silence, and then the local glee club sang “La Marseillaise”. DSCN8042[1] DSCN8046[1]DSCN8041[1]  Then, after re-forming, we all moved off along a different road to the WWI memorial (yes, another Aussie flag proudly flying with the French).  Another wreath was laid, another minute of silence, and another Marseillaise warbled by the singers. The only difference was that this time the names of the dead, from both wars, were read out. A very moving experience, especially as we heard many with the same surnames.DSCN8066[1] DSCN8060[1]DSCN8099[1]DSCN8096[1]   The whole exercise had taken just about 35 minutes from start to finish! It was now around 11.15am so we all adjourned to the local multipurpose hall where the mayor took the microphone, thanked all the participants (especially congratulating the singers on their “enthusiastic” rendering of the national anthem), and invited everyone to join in refreshments. DSCN8083[1] There being neither sun nor yardarm, we all hopped into the champagne and cassis.

Though they couldn’t speak English, people welcomed us with warm smiles, one man proudly pointing to his collection of Australian pins on his lapel, and the President of the Franco-Australian Association came over and introduced himself to us. Like Boak, he also had an Order of Australia award, and recognized the medals Boak was wearing.

DSCN8093[1] He then introduced us to the Mayor, and by the time my champagne glass had been topped up a couple of times I left Villers Bretonneux feeling quite full of joie de vivre!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A very special birthday party…


Tonight, with a scarlet-coated military band playing in the background and the distant lights of ships twinkling on Sydney Harbour, we (and a couple of hundred others) raised our glasses and toasted Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her 83rd birthday.

Hey everybody, Sue's having a Giveaway!

Sue Daley is the undisputed queen of paper piecing (to my mind anyway) and, to celebrate the release of her new book, "A Road Less Travelled", she's giving a copy away.

Pop on over to her blog, take a look at her lovely work, and leave a comment. You have until Sunday night (26th April).


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wouldn't this have you singing all day?

You wake up with a headache, trip on the cat, you can't find your wallet, and now you're on your grumpy way to work. Then THIS happens.......!!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Faking it!

Yesterday I took my sewing machine off to my friend 'blogless Di's' place where we spent a fun, and reasonably productive day (as productive as you can be when you're constantly laughing, and contending with two adorable golden retrievers and a schnoodle underfoot looking for cuddles and attention!)

Di is making an eye-catching baby's quilt with appliqueed teddy bears, in bright zingy colours, and we chose colours and cut out the fabrics for the corner squares of the border. I hope she'll let me post a photo of her quilt here when it's finished because it really is starting to look spectacular.

Of course I took advantage of having a few hours away from my Dear Someone to work on his "Chocolat" quilt in secret. I'm loving this cheater fabric! See what a difference my simple stitching makes. I just used my walking foot to puddle slowly around each hexagon shape and - voila! - fake pieced hexagons!


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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Chocolat

No, that’s not a typo. 

I’ve started using some of my very precious Moda “Chocolat” fabric (along with some from the “Peace on Earth” range, which co-ordinates beautifully) to make a Dear Someone a lap quilt for his birthday in a few weeks.  His study gets so chilly during the winter months and I thought a cosy, but masculine, quilt that he can put over his legs as he’s sitting reading and doing his sermon prep might keep him toasty warm.

The problem is that Dear Someone spends so much of his time working here at home that it’s hard to keep a project like this a secret.  So far, though, I’ve been quite proud of my sneakiness. 

While he was out at church on Good Friday afternoon I managed to whip up the quilt top. 

The hexagons took a while ……


No they didn’t.  Just kidding :-))  It’s actually a cheater fabric.IMG_0238 Once I’ve machine quilted between them I’m hoping those hexagons will look good enough to fool the non-quilter into thinking I’ve spent hours and hours piecing them together. 

And exactly how am I going to accomplish all this surreptitious machine quilting?  Let’s just say there might be a couple of stitching days coming up at my friend Di’s place! 

Such sneakiness!

Christ is risen!

“He is risen indeed!” was our joyful response in church this morning, as it has been for Christians down the centuries since that first Easter day when Mary Magdalene and the others found the empty tomb.

114 Garden TombThat empty tomb is the reason I believe Jesus really was the Son of God, as he claimed, and not just a very good man or a great teacher.

After all, what “very good man” would play the ultimate trick on his followers and stage a fake resurrection? As CS Lewis once wrote, Jesus was either mad, bad - or God.

115 Garden Tomb

In our part of the world nature is preparing for a winter snooze right now, so it’s harder to get our hearts and minds around the wonderful symbolism of new life that folk in the northern hemisphere see all around them with spring’s budding.

Nevertheless I know I have New Life in Jesus – and I’m glad!

Friday, April 10, 2009

What I love best about blogging

…is making new friends!


Yesterday fellow blogger Linda (all the way from Iowa in the USA) and I met for the first time in real life when she came for morning tea. Did we hit it off? Well, let’s just say we were still chatting 3 hours later, and could have gone on for longer if the threat of Linda’s having to do battle with the afternoon traffic on the way home had not intruded.

We talked, we took photos, she told me all about her exciting venture, Stitchin’ Mission(TM), and I showed her some of my quilts.

We have so much in common, our love of writing, quilting, and reading – and most of all our Christian faith. I know we are going to be firm friends.

IMG_0232 I have this cute little pincushion, that Linda made for me, to remember our fun day.

(Not everyone you meet on the internet is an axe murderer!)

We won!!!!!

I’m becoming used to Lindi’s endearingly whacky ways, mischievous tricks and warm-hearted actions, but this time she has excelled herself! 

You’ll remember Kellie’s stupendous pre-Easter giveaway of some of her to-die-for appliqueed cushions (the actual cushions, mind you, not the patterns for them).  Well, my sneaky friend Lindi entered too -  and left this comment on Kellie’s blog:

“I love your work, and the cushions are gorgeous! I'd love to win one for myself, but if I do win, please send it to my friend Di (Snippets n scraps). She really really desperately wants to win one!”

Who ever heard of entering a giveaway to win the prize for someone else?

And she won!  And she wants me to have the cushion!!  And she won’t back down!!!  How about that?!?!

Lindi, you are a darling, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I want everyone in blogland to know what a generous soul you are, giving up something you loved as much as I do.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Princess turns 2! (and a Caterpillar Cake tutorial)


The Princess turned 2 this week!!!

I usually prefer quilting to cooking, but The Princess is just so special that I thought I would make her a ‘caterpillar’ birthday cake to share with all her little friends at day care, and as I put it together I wondered if you’d like to see how I did it.

It was my own design, so this prototype could be tweaked to make it much, much better.  But the way I did it was so easy.

Firstly, I whipped up some mini-cupcakes using this recipe.


150g Butter, softened

150g Castor sugar

175g Self-raising flour

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F)

2. Line 2 12 cup mini-cupcake pans with mini-cupcake papers.

3. Beat eggs together lightly with a fork in a cup.

4. Place all ingredients, including eggs, together in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until light and creamy.

5. Divide the mixture evenly among the patty cases.

6. Bake for 18 minutes until risen and firm to touch.

7. Allow to cool completely on a rack before icing.

This mixture is supposed to make 12 ordinary-sized cupcakes, but it was perfect for 24 of the mini kind (gives you a couple for nibbling on while you ice the rest!)

Then I covered a large board with plain white gift-wrapping paper.

IMG_0106I arranged the cupcakes in a rough caterpillar shape along the board. IMG_0119 Then mixed up a double quantity of butter frosting using this recipe…


125g Butter, softened

1.5 cups (240g) sifted icing sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Beat butter in a small bowl with electric mixer until it is as white as possible.  Gradually beat in half the sifted icing sugar, milk, then remaining icing sugar.

(Remember, I made up twice this quantity – but ended up with quite a lot left over)

I spooned out approximately a third of the mixture into a smaller bowl, and tinted this pink – one tiny dribble did the trick.

IMG_0116 IMG_0131  

I also used a tiny dribble each of blue and yellow food colouring to tint the larger quantity a nice light green.  (Note on ‘scientific’ quantities here: A ‘dribble’ is that tiny splash that rushes out when you’ve tipped the bottle ever, EVER so gently and slowly but you just can’t contain the flow to a single drop!)

IMG_0111  Food colouring1

IMG_0121 I covered the top of each cupcake with green frosting, and then placed a small splodge (note ‘exact’ quantity here!) of pink in the middle of each one, just to make it look a bit more interesting.  Some caterpillars are spotty, aren’t they?IMG_0126

I chopped up licorice logs into  half inch lengths (it would have been easier with licorice straps, but you have to work with what’s available, don’t you?). 


These became the caterpillar’s legs, as I poked them into the frosting, two on each side of each cupcake.


Observant folk will spot a couple of caterpillar segments with only three legs – this is because it would have been somewhat overcrowded cramming all those legs into the bendy part of the caterpillar.

Of course he needed a little face, modelled (somewhat unsuccessfully) on Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar.

IMG_0145The eyes and nose are slices of licorice log, and the feelers are extra-thin slivers of licorice.

Finally I added the ingredient that’s been de rigeur at every child’s birthday party since time began (or at least since artificial food colouring was invented) –


I sprinkled them on top of the pink splodges.  This was the end result …Taa daah…

Copy of IMG_0146

Please let me know (in the comments) if you have a go at making your own. 



Wednesday, April 1, 2009

...and I'd love to make this spunky cushion too!

But I might not need to.

Ever since I discovered Kellie's blog several months ago I've been in awe of her delightfully whimsical designs. Bright clear colours, crisp white backgrounds, and a generous scattering of machine appliqueed flowers, birds, butterflies and all things pretty in Nature make her cushions, quilts and children's garments a joy to behold. The only thing that has held me back from purchasing a pattern has been the sad realisation that I really do NOT have the time to attempt another project right now.

But if I'm really, really, REALLY lucky I could win an actual, completed cushion quite soon.

Kellie is having a giveaway this week to celebrate the release of her latest pattern, and the giveaway is one of her gorgeous cushions (not just the pattern, as I initially thought). Wow!!! Just look at this.

So pop on over and take a look for yourself. Go ahead and enter the draw too. It's only fair that I share this great news with you, my friends. (But I still have my fingers crossed I'll win.)