Thursday, January 31, 2013

What a load of rubbish!

Regular readers will know I live in a sprawling Victorian rectory designed by Edmund Blacket, architect of Sydney University, St Andrew’s Cathedral, and our local church St Mark’s, Darling Point (among many other impressively beautiful public buildings in Sydney).


It’s a comfortable, enveloping house that comes alive when it’s filled with people, and we’ve tried to do this as much as possible over the last eleven years.

With dinner parties, afternoon teas, garden parties, handcraft groups, Bible study groups, Marriage Preparation courses and various other church functions our home has seen a steady stream of visitors over the years, from the Governor of New South Wales to our own children and grandchildren.


With so much space, we haven’t just filled the house with people. Oh no. Of course I had to fill those cupboards, didn’t I? And there’s always been room to fit more furniture in all those spare corners.

With the departure of my darling man, the steady de-cluttering I had started in preparation for retirement one day in the future has suddenly ramped up several notches, and I find myself in serious downsizing mode.


I’ll keep it real and tell you I’m all over the place like a March fly. I have no plan of attack, and while I’m cleaning out a cupboard in one room I’m all the while stressing about the cupboard in another room that needs my attention. Progress is slow, but with the help of my family and the ToDo app on my iPhone I’m gradually becoming more focused, and a little more ruthless in banishing the clutter.

This week was the first Council clean-up in our area for the year, a great chance to get rid of unwanted furniture, broken electrical goods and other useless items that I’ve kept ‘just in case’. Don’t tell me I’m the only one who has these.

What was I thinking keeping two (!!!) pairs of barely used wooden crutches for nine years, for goodness sake.


While we were still bringing out our rubbish the scavengers wasted no time moving in beside us, sifting through and setting aside their ‘treasures’ with a complete lack of embarrassment.


This was the rubbish pile today, collection day, once it had been picked through and rained on for two days. What a mess!

My broken wooden bath mat must have had some mysterious allure because it had gone, as had a  soggy piece of carpet, a deflated wading pool, a well-used artificial Christmas tree and other equally useless pieces of debris. 

In their place had appeared a white cupboard sporting a fluoro orange painted front (a decorating experiment gone horribly wrong) and a green leather desk top.


And what kind of people, in their frenzy to pick through my rubbish, had no qualms about scattering it far and wide across the verge?

Personally I’m on the lookout for two one-legged men. Those crutches were nowhere to be seen today. Winking smile

Red rose Di

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of recycling and have been known to (surreptitiously) pick up the odd item from someone’s pile over the years, usually putting it out on mine a few years later! It just hugely amuses me how unembarrassed these folk can be. The only part I  truly dislike is the resulting mess. Fortunately the council men take it in their stride and have never refused to take it all, leaving the verge pristine again Open-mouthed smile.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Another Joseph’s Coat finish! (not mine)

Only four of us could make it, but after a break of several months it was great to have at least some of the English Quilt girls back stitching together at Gail’s place last week.

The big excitement was the showing of Gail’s finished Joseph’s Coat quilt, all hand pieced and hand quilted as mine was.


She started with a charm pack of reproduction Liberties from the V & A, a gift from Rae who went across to London for the big exhibition of historic quilts in 2011.


Then Robbie gave her a bag of modern Liberty scraps, which played perfectly together with the older designs and gave the quilt a little more pizzazz with their cleaner colours.

The finished quilt has the definite appearance of an antique quilt because of all the extra quilting Gail did – little leaf shapes in the negative spaces, and 1/4 inch quilting inside every “petal”. Hasn’t she done a wonderful job?


Not one to stand still for long, Gail quickly launched herself into a new applique project, destined to become a decorative wallhanging.


She’s copying and adapting a design she saw on a small postcard, and I can’t wait to see this one finished. As Gail’s a fast worker that might be quite soon.


Lyn was multitasking. With this year’s tinsel barely packed away she was already working on some clever little origami Christmas tree shapes as gifts for Christmas 2013.


And Lyn has joined the latest craze, crocheting. The pretty granny squares she was working on, in fuchsia and violet, co-ordinated perfectly with her fuchsia sundress!


Finally, here’s Jill’s progress on her foundation pieced quilt for her daughter. Nice pointy points, Jill!


Me? I moved inexorably towards finishing my Roebuck quilt, hand quilting the final side of the final border. I’m straining towards that finish line and already casting around for ideas for my next handmade quilt project. Machine projects are all well and good, but we need a hand project to take along and work on when we get together.

I’m leaning towards Robyn Falloon’s “The Blessings Quilt”, a pattern in an Australian Patchwork & Quilting issue from several years ago, but I also have several new metal templates I bought from JoNell at Quiltsmith (USA) that I’m itching to use.


It looks like I could be getting up to a little multitasking myself soon Be right back.

Red rose Di

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My Australia Day in Sydney

I’m forever grateful that, in God’s providence, Captain Arthur Phillip chose January 26 1788 to row ashore in Sydney Cove and proclaim possession of the eastern seaboard of Australia (at that time known as New Holland) in the name of King George III of England. This isn’t because I’m a monarchist, but because his timing ensured near-perfect weather for Australia Day celebrations down the centuries.

January 26 falls right near the end of the school holidays, at the height of our summer, and is usually comfortably warm and sunny.

Today was no exception. This was my view of our glorious Sydney Harbour at 8am.


I enjoyed breakfast with friends, freshly cooked on the barbecue, a great way to start the day and as proud Aussies we hung our flag on the fence.


Colourful bunting decorated the yacht club and the sun shone as the tables on the lawn above the beach quickly filled with picnic-ing members. 


One of the highlights is always the Great Ferry Boat Race where three vintage Sydney ferries, decked out in the bright colours of sponsors and laden with excited passengers, race each other down the harbour, around the island directly opposite the yacht club, and back to Circular Quay. The rivalry is all good-natured and I’m not sure anyone really cares who wins, but with the hundreds of spectator craft providing a busy escort it’s always a spectacular sight.


Helicopters flew past us later with the Naval ensign and the Australian flag, and Air Force jet planes shot past above us with a deafening roar.




On the ground, and even more thrilling for me, was a visit by Mr J, seen here after consuming his first ever chocolate Paddle Pop!




He’s just at the age where he loves to dig a big hole in the sand with his spade try to fill it with buckets and buckets of water, undeterred as it seeps away just as quickly.IMG_2548



I hope I’ve given my overseas readers a sense of my Australia Day, and my pride in our country.

If you’re an Australian reader how did you spend the day? I know Rachael went to a most unusual event.

As for my family, we had a ball!

Red rose Di

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Appreciating the small stuff

Some of this week’s Fat Mum Slim Photo a Day prompts really set me thinking. Here’s what I came up with.

Day 15 - An ordinary moment

Day 15 – An ordinary moment.

Having my hair cut for the last time by my hairdresser of about 5 years. She’s moving to another country, and having a baby, and I’ll really miss her.

That’s pretty ordinary (for me) Crying face - but exciting for her Open-mouthed smile.

Day 16 - Two things

Day 16 – Two things

I love Georg Jensen designs, and these salt and pepper grinders are great favourites.

Day 17 - Ready

Day 17 – Ready

What can I say? With my nails freshly manicured and painted I‘m ready for anything!

Day 18 - Shadow

Day 18 – Shadow

This one’s from my archives (I took it last January). I just love the play of sun and shadow on my garden lawn in the late afternoon.


Day 19 - Delicious

Day 19 – Delicious

One of my favourite summer fruits, a ripe mango – so juicy that it’s best eaten over a sink or in a bath!

Day 20 - Something you saw

Day 20 – Something you saw.

This water dragon is one of several that live in the grounds of my mother’s home. He was very cheeky last Sunday and came right up to the glass door to listen in on our conversation!

Day 21 - What you do

Day 21 – What you do

Of all the activities in my life I chose to highlight the one that keeps me (reasonably) sane – quilting. It’s not the most important thing I do, or even the most useful, but I enjoy it.

Red rose Di

Monday, January 21, 2013

What a surprise!

Michaela is a friend who grasps life with both hands.

She’s been a nanny, so she knows what little people like and she makes really fun quilts for children. We love that she is part of St Mark’s Quilters.

In fact, she was a founding member after graduating from Linda Hungerford’s Stitchin’ Mission at our church in 2009, the only SM ever held outside the USA.

Michaela 1

Michaela’s always been full of surprises. 

When she announced that she was spreading her wings and doing a course to become a chocolatier we at St Mark’s Quilters were right behind her, making the supreme sacrifice of eating all her samples (all in the name of quality control, of course).


When she auditioned for the competition of TV show Masterchef we cheered her on. No food samples were involved, but we’re not bitter. Not at all.


We knew our Michaela was fearless and always up for a fresh challenge, but her latest feat has left us gasping with surprise and delight!


Woooohoooo!!! Skydiving!!!!

Michaela, you are a legend and we love you, but this is one challenge where we’re more than happy to stand on the sidelines and applaud.

From a great distance Winking smile

Red rose Di

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Did you see that week?

The one that just whizzed by while I wasn’t looking?

My life this week has been full of both marvellous and mundane moments, but I’ve never been too busy to take my daily photos for Fat Mum Slim’s Photo a Day Challenge, and here’s my weekly round-up (it’s even a little quilty!).

Day 8 - Something beginning with T

Day 8 – Something beginning with T

Tomatoes planted as seedlings by Boak the week before he died, and watered, staked and tied by me. They’re fruiting in abundance, and it’s an absolute joy to collect them each day. To make a salad I add baby bocconcini and torn basil leaves (also from Boak’s veggie garden), drizzle with extra virgin olive  oil, and top with ground pepper and sea salt. Yummmm…. 

Day 9 - Paper

Day 9 – Paper

Gift-wrapping paper printed with antique quilts. I love it so much I may never use it!

Day 10 - 1 o'clock

Day 10 – 1 o’clock

Day 11 - Water

Day 11 – Water

One from my archives – floating on the Dead Sea during our trip to Israel and Jordan last year. What you can’t see are the life guards on the shore with loud hailers making sure everyone floats belly-up! Try to float face-down and you risk swallowing this water, or getting it in your eyes, and you could be very ill. The ambulances are already lined up nearby!Day 12 - Surprise

Day 12 – Surprise

Mr J loves playing with this jack-in-the-box when he comes to visit.

Day 13 - Circle

Day 13 – Circle

A block from a beautiful free quilt pattern, Circles of Life, designed by Jenny of Elefantz an couple of years ago. I must confess although I’ve finished all the embroidery this quilt is still a work in progress. Maybe I ought to do something about this state of affairs. Very soon.

Day 14 - Something yellow

Day 14 – Something yellow

I’ve been piecing these cheerful hexagons together to make a block for a group quilt being made by members of the Sydney Modern Quilt Guild. I’ve made two blocks, the other one being bright pink! The design is semi-secret for now (it’ll be on display at the Sydney Quilt Show in June) but let me just say it will be gorgeous!

Red rose Di