20 November 2014

Every day is different

Sometimes, it seems as if the endless stream of days blurs into a single continuum. The sun rises, the sun sets. Another lot of routines are carried out and another day is ticked off the calendar. Suddenly, we look up and realise another week, another month, has passed by without us really noticing. Where's the fun in that?

So I like to gaze regularly at this small quilt I made a few years ago because it contains a message that I need to remember when I feel overwhelmed. 

Do you see the message?

I printed the black border fabric with a sponge dipped in gold paint. I was enjoying the gold paint so much that I painted cardboard letters with the same colour and then dipped them in gold glitter while it was still wet. My circles are wonky - not deliberately but it reflects my applique skill level at the time. I'm happy that I have improved a lot since then!

Have you worked out the message yet?

The letters spell 'enjoy every day'. They can often get jumbled in our thoughts, can't they? We know there's a message in our heads but it isn't always clear. This quilt makes me focus on the idea so that's what I try to do, even when one day seems the same as the one before.

Do you have a daily message? 

16 November 2014

Australian rural romance novels

What began as a niche genre, Australian rural romance stories have really taken off in recent years. It just shows that the appeal of the Australian bush lifestyle, combined with evocative descriptions and a spicy romance, can capture the hearts of readers.

Interested? Here are some Australian rural romance authors to get you started:
I'd like to read novels in this genre that focus on older women as well. It seems to me that there's a whole generation of Australian rural characters that should be given their own stories. After all, romance is definitely not limited to younger women!

I've read novels by all these writers but are there other Australian authors I have missed? Leave your recommendations in a comment!

13 November 2014

Be kind to yourself

Did you know today is World Kindness Day? I don't know who designates special days but I think that any excuse to share a little kindness is a Good Thing, don't you?

We all know a kind word can provide a happy spot in a day - for the giver and the recipient. But do you ever think to be kind to yourself or is self-care always last on your to-do list?

1. Appreciate what you have

How often do we focus on what is NOT in our lives? All around us we see people who own more stuff, make more money, have more friends and look more beautiful than we do. We compare ourselves to them, without knowing the true stories of their lives. Don't do it.

Instead, look at your own life. What do you have that makes you happy? Is it a beautiful flower, a child's smile, a smoochy kiss from someone special or a comfy bed with freshly-laundered sheets? How fortunate you are! Appreciate what you have.

2.  Listen to your body

Your body will tell you what you need. If you're tired, maybe you need more sleep. If you're restless, perhaps a walk would help you settle. If you're thirsty, a large glass of water may be the answer. If you're anxious, talking to a friend might be just what you need. Learn to trust the signals your body is sending you and act accordingly.

3. Take time out

You don't have to be 'busy' all the time. Each of us has 24 hours in a day and it's up to us how we use those hours. I think it's important to have some time every day when you let your mind free. You could meditate, go for a walk or just sit quietly, thinking. It refreshes your spirit.

4. Move away from toxic people

You know those people who constantly criticise you? The people who deflate your spirits? You don't have to let them have that effect on you. Why not carefully assess how you feel after spending time with members of your family, friends and co-workers. If you feel belittled or diminished, why continue to put yourself through that? It's your life, so it's your choice.

5. Know that you are unique

There isn't anyone else in the world who is as good as being you as you are. We don't need anyone to give us permission to be ourselves. Be proud of your uniqueness and develop a strong sense of self-worth. What a remarkable individual you are!

 Please leave a comment to share your kindness tips. We can all benefit from your ideas!

11 November 2014

Succulent appeal

One of the fascinations of gardening is that there is always a new plant to explore. I've been cultivating plants since I was a teenager (and that's a LONG time ago) but, until last month, I've never been interested in succulents.

So what changed? It was probably when I saw a casual grouping of small plants at my local nursery. The varied shapes and colours caught my eye and I thought I'd like to try a few in my garden.

Instead, I have potted a few succulents together in a beautiful, round, glazed pot and admire it every day on my kitchen table. I covered the soil with small quartz chips to add more colour and texture - what's not to like?

I also fancy making this beautiful wreath from Fickle Prickles, planted with small succulents. Gorgeous!

05 November 2014

My book of the month: November

Why doesn't everyone read novels? There's so much to be learned about human foibles in the imaginary tales published under that label of 'fiction'. Stories can take us into worlds we have never experienced and can add levels of undestanding to our own lives.

This month's favourite is one such book. It shows us a window into the life of Frank Derrick. It's a funny, sad, yet uplifting story about an ordinary life. Let's face it, most of us live ordinary lives yet many don't live to be 81.

The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J. B. Morrison is an uplifting story that shows us that, sometimes, a kind gesture is all it takes to make a difference in another person's life. I loved it.

To read more about this novel, visit Goodreads.

01 November 2014

Hello November!

November's here and that means we can smell a Sydney summer on the way. Before we swelter in the heat and humidity, let's welcome the penultimate month of the year.

The jacaranda trees have opened their blooms to the sky and, before the leaves form, all we can see is the majestic shape of the trunk and branches and the purple haze of flowers. This tree is a block from my house and I photographed it on a balmy day. Aah, November - you are very welcome.

28 October 2014

Yes, I'm sewing - here's proof!

I've been in a sewing slump (I'm sure you've all been there at some stage). Overwhelmed by the tsunami of quilt photos that swamp my social media feed, I've felt uncreative and inadequate.

Then I remembered that most of the quilts I see are created by professionals - the people who earn their living from designing and making quilts. They need to continue their output so they can make money to support themselves and their families. The pressure to create is enormous.

Fortunately, making quilts is a hobby for me. So, if I don't make one for ages, that's okay. Whew!

Now I am ready to sew again. I cut these pieces on the weekend for another tulip block, so I can start hand piecing. Ready to go!

They will be pieced to make little tulips like these ones I made earlier in the year. They look so sweet, arranged in rows but they look much more exciting sewn into this block.

What a fabulous way to show off my Liberty Bloomsbury Gardens fabric! I don't have much of it (and I guess it's difficult to buy now?) so each piece is precious. I probably won't be able to get a third block out of the scraps I have left so I'll need to think how I can set two of these blocks (unless you can tell me where I can buy charm square sets?). Aah, I think my sewing mojo is back!

The block is called Timeless Tulip, made with templates from the Meredithe Clark Signature Collection by Victorian Textiles. I fell in love with it the minute I spied it - can you blame me?