Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy new year to my bloggy friends

This will be my last post for 2010, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to wish all my bloggy friends a very happy and safe new year. Thanks for inspiring me with all your beautiful projects, and for your kind and thoughtful comments on mine.

I've spent most of my spare time this week gardening, so I haven't achieved much craft-wise. The only thing I've made are these doggy placemats from some sweet puppy fabrics I bought on sale a month or two ago.

This one is for Sugar and Spice's indoor water bowl. (They have a bigger one outside, but if they're indoors, like to drink inside and tell me off if it is empty).

And these are for two little doggy friends of mine, Benny and Banjo, for their food bowls. They're little boys, so I hope they don't mind the girly pinks.

I spent Christmas Day with my parents, sister, brother in law and niece, who all gave me lots of lovely presents. 2 year old Olivia unfortunately stole Sugar and Spice's presents, unwrapped them, and gave them to her toy dog, but I managed to get them back and bring them home for the puppies.

I also brought home turkey and ham for their dinner, and this huge ham bone which the pups spent a happy hour or so demolishing:

Spice even managed to chew it in half so Sug could share it.

I've spent yesterday and today mowing, weeding, expanding the vegie garden and moving compost. That scruffy grassy mess behind Spice in the photo above no longer exists, and I'm ready to plant more vegies. I've picked the worst days to be in the gardening mood though, with the weather suddenly heating up.

I've also somehow managed to get an eye infection. I thought I got some dirt in it yesterday, but last night their was an infectious looking yellow lump under my eyelid. This morning my eye was swimming in infectious fluid, and almost swollen shut. I look like I've been punched in the face. I went to the local doctors but they were closed, and couldn't face spending half the day in the waiting room of the big medical centre, so went to the chemist who kindly examined me instead and gave me some antibiotic eye drops. So I don't know if it was something in the garden that infected it, a stye, or what. As half my family have come down with conjunctivitis too.

Luckily, I hate going out on new year's eve and have stayed home the last few years. I hate the crowds, I hate not being able to get a taxi to come home when I want to, I hate being hungover on new year's day, and I find it a very depressing event too. Plus there are always lots of fireworks around my area, so I like to stay home with the pups who find it a bit scary. So anyway, it is lucky I have no plans, as I look quite leprous with my swollen eye at the moment so would have had to cancel them anyway.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Bags and bags of bags

I've been pretty lax with my Christmas shopping this year, so am trying to make up for that by whipping up some quick handmade gifts to bulk out the parcels! I've got today off work to prepare for Christmas, and this morning I made these two little cosmetic purses for my Mum and sister.

They are mirror images of each other, so the blue one is lined with the pink fabric and vice versa.

Last weekend I had a test run with cosmetic purses and made these two for myself.

And a couple of weeks ago I made these festive bottle bags for some alcoholic gifts, from the wonderful fabric given to me by my secret Santa Anne Heidi.

I've also whipped up a couple of summery tote bags from charm square packs. This one was from a Bliss charm pack given to me by another secret Santa!

And this one from some charm squares I have been saving for a special occasion, as I love this bright funky range!

Sugar decided to help herself to her Christmas presents last night. I don't know how, but she can smell a squeaky toy a mile away! Lucky I have some bones and treats for them, and also bought them a roast chicken this morning, so I can debone it and make them a special chicken breakfast of the meat and skin.

I keep a box in the kitchen which I put my recyclables in, so I'm not constantly going out to the recycle bin. When Sug was a pup, she used to love to grab the plastic PET bottles and chew the lids off them. In fact, whenever I went to the fridge for a drink, she would wait expectantly for the bottle, and I'd have to explain to the disappointed pup that it wasn't empty yet. And on one memorable occasion she stole a full water bottle I had carelessly placed next to me on the floor, and chewed the lid off that, spilling water everywhere! Every so often she lapses into puppy behaviour, as you can see above, when she stole an empty bottle and spent a happy few minutes chewing the lid off the other day.

Spice is a bit of a puppy too sometimes. This morning she climbed up beside me on the edge of the bed to try to convince me it was time to get up, and suddenly lost her footing and fell off backwards. The bed is quite high, and she is quite heavy, so I thought she was going to break her back so I lurched out of bed to try to catch her ....... with the end result, that we both fell out of bed and landed heavily on the floor, a bit stunned, but thankfully neither of us are hurt. And we were in a good position to have a good cuddle to settle our nerves and check each other for bruises.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa's been again

 Santa has been to my house again, this time my Secret Santa from my patchwork group Patch n Chat. And yet again I have been thoroughly spoiled!

I just adore this beautiful stitchery needlebook, and the little scissors with strawberry keeper are so cute!

And I was really spoiled with another perfect stitchery, this gorgeous Christmas angel ornament.

On top of that, a lovely Raslie Quinlan pattern, the cutest wooden buttons and a beautifully made cupcake pin cushion in lovely wool felt. And that soap just smells divine!

And yes, there was more! A charm pack of the sweetest fabrics, and three little Christmas ornaments. Thanks "Secret" Santa!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Something from the past

A while ago I bought some second hand books from a market, and from one of them fell this old postcard which someone must have been using as a bookmark, dated 1908:

Although I found it fascinating, I put it aside and promptly forgot about it. I came across it again the other day while cleaning and wondered what to do with it.

I thought perhaps I could find the descendants of the recipient or sender, and send it to them. But a quick Google, a brief look at the Births Marriages and Deaths registry, and even a white pages search, failed to turn up anything. So then I Googled Tumut history and came across a historic society, and a family history group.

I emailed the latter to see if they would like it and a very nice lady replied and said they would. She didn't know of any Bryans, but knew of Springfield, which had been a large property out of town. She said she'd try to find records of the sender to add to their family history information, or if they couldn't, they'd pass it on to the historic society.

So as I'm about to post the little card off, I thought I'd take a couple of photos of it and share it.

For those with poor eyesight, it is dated 17-4-1908 and is addressed to a Miss M Bryan of Springfield, Tumut. The text says, "Well I hope you are all well. How is Chas getting on at the store? Father and I had a bad time on board although the sea was very calm. We had to wait until Tuesday eve on account of the strike. Landed at Ballina ..... Thursday morning then 21 miles of coach to Lismore. Everyone on board were sick. Well I will conclude with kindest regards to all, Percy”. What a fascinating snippet of history!
It's amazing what you find in books. I often buy second hand books from fairs and markets and often come across letters, appointment cards, children's drawings etc being used as bookmarks.
Also, I forgot to post a pic of the gorgeous ornament Noela sent me with my Christmas swap parcel. It is so gorgeous! And did I mention how perfect Noela's stitching is? I'm a bit jealous! She has kindly sent me a link to the pattern for this one which I haven't had a chance to look at yet, but will soon. It really is exquisite.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Thanks Noela!

I received a wonderful collection of presents from Noela of Quilty Bits from the Blue Room, my swap partner in On My Verandah's Christmas swap.

Firstly, this gorgeous little bag, so beautifully sewn and in such lovely fabrics:

And it came with an equally delightful matching notebook wallet:

Then, lots of lovely sewing goodies. Scissors, fat quarters, embroidery floss, buttons, and a lovely Hugs n Kisses stitchery:

A great magazine to read, while enjoying the tea and coffe and chocolates also included:

And some lovely lotion and exfoliating gloves:

My camera battery was running slow, so I haven't even pictured the gorgeous ceramic Christmas plate Noela also gave me. Thanks Noela, you have really, truly spoiled me!

Aren't quilters some of the most thoughtful and generous people in the world? I joined three swaps this year and so far have received two parcels full of the most beuatiful and thoughtful gifts.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Born free

I haven't done much this weekend. I have just been so tired and without energy or motivation. I think all the hell of work at the moment is just taking its toll. I've spent a lot of time cuddling puppies.

So I will share a little bit of the crafting I did last weekend, when I was in better spirits. While hunting for something else, I came across some signature blocks I made for a get together of the online quilting group I am a member of several years ago. It was a lovely occasion - it is a small group who met online by chance, and deliberately kept the group small to ensure we could share personal things and chat off topic. Most are Australian, but from four different states, and one from New Zealand and another two from the US. So it was quite a feat for every single member to make it to this gathering.

Last weekend, I finally started to put my blocks together:

I still have a couple borders to do, but at least it is a start.

Other interesting news this weekend is my friend Michael returned from a visit to Cambodia and Laos with some interesting stories, and lots of goodies for me.

Also, while putting my bins out tonight I saw a tiny frog under my bin, near my mandarin tree. So I was very happy as I thought all the outdoor tadpoles had all perished. This one was about the size of the indoor baby frogs, so probably from the same batch. And he had found a good spot, full of tiny worms and bugs and quite damp and with lots of ground foliage to hide in. So I released five of the indoor frogs there to be with their long-lost sibling. A bit sad, as now I will never know what becomes of them but I know it is the right thing, and now I've released some, I think I will be brave enough to take some of the others to suitable creeks and locations around the area. They're still babies, but they need to experience life in the wild. Sob. I love them and I will miss them.

Here is a somewhat blurry photo of one taken a couple of weeks ago:

Sunday, November 21, 2010


That's the answer to the question in my previous post!

But I did have the sender's permission!

So here are my fabulous goodies from Anne Heidi. So my three craft items ened up being a measuring tape in cute matching case, some gorgeous mercerised cotton yarn which will be wonderful for crocheting, and a collection of some of the most gorgeous Christmas fabrics I have ever seen! My two Christmas items were a lovely silver snowflake ornament and a lovel carved reindeer ornament. I also scored a cute Goin' Sewin' pin.  And my one recipe was for some very yummy sounding glazed carrots. All in a beautiful tote.

Here's a better look at some of that fabric:

It's the kind of fabric that you just itch to start playing with, so I know I will be making something with this before Christmas.

Thanks again Anne Heidi for your beautiful and generous gifts.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Naughty or Nice?

Am I lucky or what? I received this parcel in the mail today from my 3-2-1 swap partner Anne-Heidi in Norway. 

And here is what was inside:

Three tantalising presents and a delicious sounding Christmas recipe.

So the question is. Am I naughty, and do I open my presents? Or am I nice and wait til Christmas?

Well, for now, I've compromised. I knew one would be a lovely Christmas themed tote, so after a lot of squishy-ness testing, selected the right parcel and opened that one.

And what a gorgeous tote it is! Beautiful fabrics, lovely stitching, and it is nice and roomy to use for Christmas shopping.

I am going to try to savour the remaining parcels for a little while longer. I may not make it to Christmas, but I promise to try to hold out until December before opening them.

Thanks Anne-Heidi!

Not much other news to report here. I am feeling much better after my nasty illness, although work is still quite stressful and demoralising. We had a union meeting today and there are bad things happening in other departments too.

Almost all of the tadpoles have become tiny frogs now. I'd like to look after them for a little bit longer to let them become bigger and stronger before they go to live in the scary, dangerous wild but they are getting quite difficult to look after. Cleaning their habitat has become quite an adventure as they are very good at hiding now, and also know how to jump. And I think as frogs, they are so much more fragile and delicate than tadpoles.

I try to avoid touching or interfering with them as much as possible but this week, two of them died. It was very upsetting as in 8 weeks of raising them from tiny specks to tadpoles to little frogs, they have all survived up until now. I just don't know what happened to these 2 gorgeous little things. They looked healthy and fully formed, and weren't sick looking or injured. They were just lying there dead when I got home from work. I guess none of them would have survived to this stage if I had let them dry up in the puddle they were born in, but still, I can't help but think I am to blame and something I did caused it.

Also, Sugar has started taking an interest in them. Or if not them, their food! As they are now frogs I've been gradually introducing a more carnivorous diet (dried blood worms) on top of their lettuce and kelp flakes. The worm food has quite a smell to it and as soon as I opened the container she started getting quite boisterously interested in goings on. A few days later I was on the computer and had been listening to her crunch on something for a while before realising I hadn't given her any bones or biscuits, so I went and found her on the sofa with the cannister of flakes which was now badly chewed and all the flakes were either on the floor or in her stomach. Reminds me of when she was a puppy and she was the worst kleptomaniac and used to steal EVERYTHING and chew it to bits including shoes, mobile phones, books, toilet rolls, bath mats, sewing machine attachments and TV remote controls. But she hasn't chewed up anything in ages, so the fish food must have smelt really good.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beautiful surprise, and cute little froglets

I got a lovely surprise in the mail last Thursday - this gorgeous little cushion cover from Toni.

I bought the matching quilt from her some time ago and didn't know there was more to come, so it was a lovely surprise.

And on Friday, I received my copy of the latest Patchwork & Stitching in the mail and there is the cushion cover right on the front cover. So I am feeling very fashionable right now, owning something beautiful from the front cover of the latest issue of a magazine! Thanks Toni!

I've spent much of this weekend wandering around with a camera in close reach. The little froglets are starting to emerge from the water and experiment with squatting on branches and burrowing in mud. Everytime they see me coming though, they hop off and swim away. Add that to the fact that they are still no bigger than my little fingertip and it is almost impossible to photograph them!

This is the best I have been able to do. You can sort of see one froglet well partly submerged in the water to the left of the can, and a couple of others in not so mature a state behind him. You probably can't see, but there are also two in the mud near the base of the plant.

I just think they are the cutest things in the world! Except for puppies of course.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A couple of projects and a tadpole glimpse

I guess I shouldn't be showing this tote bag, as it is off to my 3-2-1 swap partner Anita on Monday. But I'm not really happy with it, so I want to publicly apologise for it to Anita, and say I hope the pressies inside make up for the crappy tote.

I did have something much nicer planned for you, and something that met the "Winter" theme brief much better, but I have been quite sick the last couple of weeks and my project just fell so far behind I knew I woud never complete it by the posting deadline. So I had to quickly whip up something else, and unfortunately, this is it.

So I am really sorry, but I have some lovely pressies to tuck inside which I hope you will enjoy.

Also, here is a Christmas table topper I finished hand quilting a couple of weeks ago. It doesn't show up nicely in this dark photo but the fabrics are very festive with gold accents.

And here is a small glimpse of some tadpoles, some of which have back legs. This was taken a week or so ago and now they all have big strong back legs and several also have front legs, so they are officially froglets now. They have now been re-homed to a larger tank with interesting climby things and hidey things so they can learn to use their new legs and conceal themselves cunningly. Once they learn to walk (hop?), sadly, they'll be ready to be re-homed again to the great outdoors. I don't want to take them down to the creek until they have all their limbs working so they have a better chance against predators. Although I've only been fostering them, I have grown quite attached and am quite scared about them surviving independently with all sorts of frog-attacking and eating creatures around.

Apart from being sick with flu and bronchitis and respiratory infection lately, I've had the stress of an impending restructure of our department at work. Morale is very low and some colleagues have even had to have time off work with stress and depression related illnesses due to it, unable to walk through the doors without falling into tears or anxiety. Throughout the process, information has been with-held from staff and misinformation given, so no one is really clear where they stand. In many ways the process being followed doesn't make sense, and doesn't even follow our internal policies or legislation, so it seems as though they just want to blatantly get rid of all the long-term staff en masse, as these are the staff on the higher salary ranges and with the most costly entitlements. It is very hurtful and demoralising to those staff who have given their all for years - often working twice their required hours and taking on additional duties and responsibilities with no additional remuneration - being treated as though their contribution has not been appreciated or valued. In fact, treated as though they themselves are not appreciated or valued. In many cases, it is not as though the jobs do not exist any more, or the skills these people have are not required, so it certainly makes it personal and impacts upon the confidence and self-esteem of the people involved. Some of whom are great at their job, great to work with and committed to the organisation. What a thoughtful thing to do to people just before Christmas.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

They've got legs, but they don't know how to use them

My tadpoles that is! The bigger ones have miraculously grown back legs! Even though I expected this to happen I can't help but find it truly amazing!

They're very difficult to photograph, so in lieu of that, here are some photos of Sugar and Spice napping on the sofas.

I haven't managed to get much crafting done lately and I really MUST with Christmas fast approaching. I've been working quite a lot and on the weekends doing a lot of gardening. Which is what I should be doing now too as the lawns need mowing and the vegie garden weeding. But I have a pinched nerve in my hip which gives me an excuse.

One thing I want to do is try my hand at some decoupage with these gorgeous serviettes I picked up cheaply in a junk shop.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Christmas Angels

I couldn't resist Toni's pattern in the latest Patchwork and Stitching and had to give it a go!

These little angels have little wings on their back, and a little bell on their collar. They look a bit elf-ish in the colours I chose, so may experiment with big ears on the next batch!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A couple of Christmassy things

I've started working on some of my Christmas projects. Some of these will end up being for some of the Christmas swaps I am in, so I guess some teaser shots like the above will start becoming more prevalent here!

Last weekend I worked on some tiny gift bags, in traditional Christmas colours:

And some bright funky Christmas fabric bags:

I also went to the markets with Lyle a couple of weeks ago and scored lots of bargains, including this cute little rustic cabinet for $1, which I have put to use in the kitchen to store some herbs and things:

I'm having trouble with Blogger today. My upload photo link has disappeared from my New Post toolbar. So I've had to manually upload these photos to Picasa and dust off my rusty html skills to embed them. I wonder if anyone else is having this problem?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Garden Spoons from Julie

Thanks very much Jewells for the gorgeous garden spoons you sent me - I love them!

I bought some from Julie a while ago - Basil, Sage, Mint and Thyme. They were so lovely I asked if she did any others.

She didn't, but surprised me by making them especially for me, as an early Christmas present!

Aren't they great?

I haven't taken photos of the earlier spoons yet because, apart from the mint, the others aren't doing well yet, but now it is Spring they should be thriving soon.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Not much craftiness

I've spent the last few weekends in the garden, getting everything ready for spring, so I haven't managed to do very much crafting at all in quite a while. With all of the Christmas swaps coming up, I'll certainly have to change that!

But I'm really excited about getting my vegie gardens going again, and looking forward to all those fresh tasty vegetables. I already have an abundance of herbs including parsley, rosemary, oregano, chives and mint. I am hoping the coriander and basil I let go to seed last year will self-seed and grow back on their own. And in the last couple of weeks I've planted spring onions, lettuce, rocket, English spinach (to be harvested and eaten while still young in salads), silverbeet, leeks and cucumbers. A snail ate most of my cucumber seedlings before I came up with the idea of making cloches out of plastic Diet Coke bottles cut in half, so this morning I planted some more seeds in pots on the windowsill including more cucumber, two types of pumpkin, zucchini and two types of tomato. I'll transplant these in the garden when they're big enough.

My biggest excitement today was when I was out planting, I found a swarm of tadpoles! My house is very old and near the outdoor tap there is an odd concrete culvert-type thing. The pipe which drains the water away is a couple inches above the base of the culvert, so it is often filled with sludgy water. Well today, it was full of tiny tadpoles! I've heard a frog in there before, but haven't managed to spot it, so don't know what type.

I was worried they wouldn't all survive there, being so many of them in such a tiny bit of stagnant water, and also having two big lizards living in the garden right there. So I decided to put some of them into a fish tank and see if I can raise some of them myself.

So off I went to the nearest aquarium shop and the very helpful young man sold me some algae-type flake food and some stuff to de-chlorinate tap water to fill the tank with, and also gave me lots of good advice. He said when he used to keep tadpoles, he would soak lettuce in boiling water to soften it, chop it up very fine then freeze it in tiny portions, to feed them with. He also discussed the finer points of water aeration and tank hygiene with me.

So I have given them a little of the flakes, and a little softened, chopped up bok choy (as I didn't have any lettuce!). I've been watching them for a while now - I am quite anxious about them - and a couple of them have become brave enough to have a nibble at the food. They are so tiny though, they are hard to spot unless they are moving, and most of them are hiding in the gravel and under their decorative rocks.

When they're a little bigger I'll take a photo! At the moment their bodies are smaller than the head of a pearl pin, so they would only be little specks in a photo.(The pic is above is one borrowed off the web - my tadpoles are much smaller and cuter!)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Christmas Swap of the Year

Like Jewells, I've been keen to join some Christmas swaps and was pleased to see some new (to me) ones this year so I could join in some I haven't taken part in before.

I've just "met" my Coffee Time Stitches 3-2-1 Winter Tote Bag swap partner who will be sending to me, Anne, from Norway who has a gorgeous blog and seems like a lovely, talented and friendly quilter.

This is an "open" swap in that we'll know who our partners are and get a chance to get to know them before Christmas.

I'll be sending to Anita from The Netherlands, who also is a talented quilter from the accomplished projects on her blog! So I'll be getting in touch with Anita soon.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Windy Fathers' Day

I never did get around to posting a pic of my finished stitchery cushion, so here it is. On my favourite wicker chair with my other favourite stitchery cushions!

It is Fathers' Day here, so will be seeing my Dad later. It is also VERY windy. It was raining yesterday so I did my washing today, and it was quite a struggle trying to hang it out! I'm hoping my underwear doesn't go flying off into the neighbour's trees. I'm really sinus-y too today because of the wind.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Getting a bit Christmassy

Sadly, my holidays are rapidly drawing to a close and I am not looking forward to going back to work next week.

The time has just flown by and I just didn't seem to get as much done as I would have liked to. I've done a lot of gardening, a lot of spring cleaning, a couple of fun day trips (blogged about by my friend Lyle) and a little bit of sewing.

This week I've spent a lot of time comforting Spice whose allergies flared up badly again and she ended up with a swollen face and a neck she had scratched the hell out of. So an emergency trip to the vet and with lots of cortisone, steroids and anti-biotics (as she scratched herself so much she got a severe infection) she is back on the mend and much happier. I'm just so glad I have been on leave so I was able to stay home and look after her.

Anyhow, on to crafty stuff, this is what I have been working on this week in between all that - Christmas gift tags and/or decorations:

These are fun and quick to make while watching TV with a couple of big pups snuggled up to you. And at this rate, I might actually be ready for Christmas on time this year .... last year I didn't even get around to sending many cards!

After making them I dunked them in a tea and Parisian essence mixture to antique them. Then decided to dunk my stitchery from the previous post too so it is looking nicely shabby now too and I hope to finish it up this weekend. I still need to attach ribbons to the gift tags and hope to get to that too today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fabric covered notebook

I'm still not sure where I'm going with this stitchery. I've added some borders in a courthouse steps sort of design and hand quilted. But still need to decide whether it is a cushion or wallhanging!

I've also been experimenting with covered notebooks. Here is a closeup of my first attempt:

There's a couple things I'd do differently next time, but I guess it was a learning exercise. I got these vibrant fabrics from Spotlight the other day while hunting for border fabric for my blue and white quilt.