28 January 2008

Braidwood socks

One of the fun things we did in Braidwood last weekend was to colour these socks with dyes. Wilma had her Liquid Radiance dyes (sensational products - non-toxic, Australian dyes from Genesis Creations) and a bundle of white socks. My pair is the blue and green lot second from the left. I think they are okay for a first attempt, but now that I've checked out the ones on the Genesis webpage, I am sure my next lot will be more interesting! There is a free lesson here - honestly, it doesn't get much easier than this. Some yummy colour combinations indeed!

Perhaps I could make a red and white pair to wear to the footy...

27 January 2008

One upmanship

Yesterday, I decided to prune an overhanging branch from the tree next door. I was happily lopping away with my you-beaut extendable pruner, when a neighbour saw what I was doing. 'Let me help with that,' he said, going into his garage. He emerged with a chain saw and proceeded to cut back the tree from both sides of the fence with such enthusiasm. I am sure he was just waiting for an opportunity to use the chain saw - I was jealous!

26 January 2008

Happy Australia Day

Sometimes it's an action by someone else that spurs me. During this week I found out that the local Council would have a pick-up of unwanted goods tomorrow. Perfect, I thought, this is the right timing for me to get rid of the bed in my sewing room. It's not as if anyone often slept there and I do have a sofa bed anyway. The bed has been used mainly as a surface on which to dump fabric, unfinished quilts and the ironing basket.

The challenge was to get the double bed mattress and base onto the grass strip near the footpath. Did I mention that I live in a two storey house and the bed is upstairs? To cut a long story short, I fought with the mattress out of the room, down the stairs, out the front door and onto the grass. Then I did it all over again with the bed base. All by myself. Whew!

Now I have one complete room for my studio. Yes, what used to be a sewing room is now a studio. I will expand the design wall now that the bed's not in the way and reorganise the layout so it works better. Progress is coming in small steps.

Happy Australia Day to everyone! I missed the hot air balloons at dawn this morning (sleeping, mmm) but I teared up when I heard our national anthem before the cricket started in Adelaide this morning. Always does it for me.

23 January 2008

By popular demand

For all of you lusting over my new purse, I have a website for you!

Start drooling here. Not that I expect you would believe that I visited Italy just to buy myself a birthday present (I'm not quite that indulgent)!

They have even kindly added a list of retailers in Australia here. I bought mine at Bag and Baggage at Macquarie Centre in North Ryde.

You can see the full range of women's wallets (and other delicious colour combinations) here.

Perhaps you can suggest a small commission be sent my way?

PS Well spotted Lisette! Yes, that is a Spotlight card!

21 January 2008

A chocolate mint and a mobile phone : a cautionary tale

I spent the weekend in Braidwood, playing with fun arty things with Fiona, Kate and Wilma. Photos will come once I sort out if any of them are okay. In addition to playing, we ate lots. Dojo Bread is to die for (in the rear lane of 91 Wallace Street). We tried their foccacia (excellent), sourdough (perfect) and beer bread (best of all). The bakery is only open Tuesdays and Thursdays until 1pm and Fridays and Saturdays until 2pm and, as the brochure says:
" Friends of Dojo Bread understand that fresh, homemade loaves take time and so we do not have every type of bread available all the time. Come and talk to the baker if you would like to know what is coming out of the oven and what bread will be made that day or week."

When I left on Sunday, I was sent home with a small part of the sourdough loaf and a couple of classic Red Tulip after dinner mints (we hadn't managed to eat all of them at lunch - obviously not trying hard enough). These are flat, square chocolates, filled with very runny peppermint. I tucked them safely in my handbag.

Halfway through the three-hour drive home, I stuck my hand in my bag to find a case for my sunglasses and, instead, found that the chocolate had melted and oozed, along with the peppermint, all over one side of my phone - around the charger socket. Tissues only stuck to the sticky mess.

Since I was driving at 110km and now had sticky stuff on my hand, I decided that the problem could not be resolved there and then. A thorough cleaning with a disinfectant wipe at home cleared up the mess but, sadly, I missed out eating the chocolate. I plugged in the charger and, since the phone didn't blow up, I know that I did a thorough cleansing job.

The moral of the tale : don't save chocolate for later! Eat it straight away!

17 January 2008

Happy birthday to me!

Don't you love it when you can choose your own birthday gifts? Here's my gloriously-coloured new purse, made from the softest, most stroke-able leather. Aren't those colours divine?

13 January 2008

Another new toy

I've been a little distracted this weekend because I have a new toy - a Cyclone Multi action tree pruner. You know that I love pruning in my garden; well now I have a lust-worthy piece of equipment that will allow me to prune and lop trees up to 2.4 metres away! The lovely long extension handle is very handy indeed.

The pruner was a Christmas gift, but it's been way too hot since then to get involved in heavy garden work. Today's no better - it's over 30 degrees here with humidity of 65% (since when is Sydney in the tropics?), but I really badly needed to try this out. The lopping blade worked so easily - three branches came down in minutes. My crepe mrytle tree had been damaged by a stupid possum that didn't realise the immature branches wouldn't hold its weight. The highest stem had been snapped, so I easily trimmed it. This is quite sad because I had been determined to let the tree develop its own natural shape, without pruning. Ah well.

Now I've escaped inside to the air conditioning and will leave adventures with the pruning saw part of the equipment to another day...

08 January 2008

Starting

After three attempts to start this challenge quilt, here is stage 1 pinned to the design wall. The theme is Australian autumn and it will be a small quilt, approximately 12 inches square. As you can see, I am still exploring fabric weaving techniques and am including my favourite current design element - text on fabric. Now to start the stitching.

07 January 2008

Storage issues

I have been having a storage crisis in the sewing room - there is no room left on my bookshelves for the books I have. Partially this is because I have acquired so many books and magazines, but mostly it is because I store other things on my bookshelves.

Things such as beads, glues, rubber stamps, stationery, things torn out of newspapers and magazines plus other stuff that doesn't have a home have all ended up on the bookshelves and was driving me crazy.

The first step was to cull my quilting books. This, of course, involved reading them all to see which ones to keep. After all, I must have chosen them for a good reason. As you can imagine, this took quite a lot of time. Last Saturday, I gave away a pile of these books to scquilter friends.

The next step was to move all the non-book and magazine material off the bookshelves. But where to store it? Yesterday a catalogue from The Reject Shop arrived in my letterbox and there it was - this five-drawer unit. Standing 106cm tall and costing $38, it is perfect. The fact that it has blue frames is a bonus, so this morning I bought one.

It took five minutes to assemble and now I have the pleasure of rearranging a lot of my crafty stuff into the drawers. Aah...

04 January 2008

River stones

This inadequate photograph shows my latest batch of ATCs. Made with strips of organza overlaid with gold metallic netting and hand stitched with blue perle thread, this is my River Stones series.

Susan, one of these will be in the mail to you because these are made in response to our rock challenge. Trust me, they look better in real life than they do here! Shiny fabric and metallics sure are tricky to photograph. You can see the rock photos that inspired me here.

03 January 2008

Thursday thoughts

Today's first challenge was remembering what day of the week it is. All I think is 'holidays', so it doesn't really matter that the day has a particular name. The second challenge was after I saw my tomato plants had completely collapsed - the weight of the fruit had made the metal support fall down.

I gathered some wooden stakes and hammered them into the garden bed to prop them up. They'd been doing so well with the resources I'd supplied until they'd reached critical mass and asked for help by falling over. It was a simple matter to prop them up and now they are happy again. I know we all need propping up occasionally, but I prefer to ask for help before I collapse rather than afterwards!

I finished reading Water for Elephants. I wouldn't have read this without Sarah's recommendation because it is about circus life and it involves animals, neither of which interest me. How I would have missed out! Of course, like any story, it's really about people and their relationships and how they interact with each other. I finished the story with a smile on my face and that doesn't often occur. Thanks Sarah!

01 January 2008

January

I am always relieved when January arrives. The weight of artificial expectations about Christmas and new year have been lifted and a sense of opportunity arrives.

For me, January is about renewal. It is my birth month and this always affords me the chance to celebrate the year ahead, not the year I've left behind. This is the year of better balancing - challenges I'll be accepting to make my life the way I want it and not being ground down by other people's decisions.

January also means the salvia are in flower. This is an intertwined clump, featuring two beautiful types. I do love salvia so much - they are hardy and, although they don't need much water, they thrive when they are looked after. A bit like us, really.