25 September 2018

Spring zing

The bees are out in force in my garden because the citrus is in flower! The zesty fragrance from my lemon, mandarin, blood orange and finger lime trees is wafting in the air and don't the bees love it. 

They all deserve a good feed, so it's on with the pellets of organic citrus food followed by a long drink of water. Spring zing is happening! 😄

14 August 2018

My book of the month: August

I don't often read historical novels but this one enticed me. I think that's because it is mostly set in Australia and has two feisty female characters - one in the early 1800s and the other a century later. 

At the crux of the story is the platypus. English scientists (male of course, due to the time in history) refused to believe that such a creature existed and mocked any evidence to the contrary. 

There's also a theme of self discovery, as both women begin to learn more about themselves and their places in the world. It's a fascinating read.

You can read more about The Naturalist's Daughter on Goodreads.

01 August 2018

1718 coverlet

Back in 2015, I was excited about taking part in a quilt-along to make my version of the 1718 coverlet, after I had purchased Susan Briscoe's beautiful book, The 1718 Coverlet: 69 Quilt Blocks from the Oldest Dated British Patchwork Coverlet. The book contains the fascinating story of the coverlet, including a chapter describing how members of The Quilters' Guild of the British Isles constructed a replica of the original.

Well, it's three years later and I have completed only the centre blocks of the first three rows. My enthusiasm has returned, though, now that the original coverlet celebrates its 300 year anniversary. 

There's going to be an exhibition of coverlets made from Susan Briscoe's patterns at the UK Festival of Quilts this month, as well as the original 1718 silk coverlet. I so wish I could be there to see them all but, since I live on the other side of the world, I've only been able to visit the show once. Best quilt show I've ever attended! Will you be there?

If you can't see the quilts in the flesh, check out issue 38 of Today's Quilter magazine (I bought my digital copy through Zinio), which features a supplement about the coverlet and shows some recently made. It's a beauty!  

In the meantime, I've started on the two large applique blocks that book-end the first three rows. In recent years I have become more interested in applique work and find that my stitching is improving the more I do. So satisfying.

Are you using Susan Briscoe's patterns, too? I'd love to see your versions, so please leave a comment with a link to your photos. I hope you are enjoying this project as much as I am.

26 June 2018

My book of the month: June

One of my fantasies is to live in a small community away from the noise of the city. Then I read a story set in such a place and wonder whether there will be hidden mysteries surrounding me. How would I cope?

The Two Houses by Fran Cooper is such a story. Set in a remote setting in northern England, the setting almost becomes a character in the book. I love a story with a strong sense of place and this sure has that. It also has a buried body and a 'secret' that everyone seems to know about except Jay and Simon, who have purchased the property, Two Houses, after moving from London.

Intrigued? You can read more about The Two Houses on Goodreads.

15 June 2018

Indoor plants have never been out of fashion to me

Indoor plants have been attracting plenty of attention over the past year. If you believe recent articles, they are having a resurgence from the years of the 1970s and 1980s as if they have never been popular before. 

In fact, house plants have been popular for many centuries and have been cultivated by generations of people who looked to plants to beautify, decorate, and improve the health inside their homes. Plants in our homes help absorb pollutants emitted by things like glues and modern furnishings.

I purchased my first indoor plant and decorative pot while I was still living in my parents' home. I can't recall the type of plant but I do remember how well it thrived in my north-facing bedroom, which was flooded by light filtered through net curtains. 

I have added to my collection of plants through all the decades since and say 'welcome!' to all the people who are just discovering the pleasure of cultivating plants indoors.

Fun fact: 

Recent research from the University of Melbourne and RMIT suggests that it is the bacteria living in plant root systems that do the work, rather than the leaves of the plant. Fascinating!

If you are new to indoor gardening (or want to revel in photos of gorgeous plant-filled rooms), I recommend these three books.

My favourite plant website is The Planthunter - Life With Plants
This is a fabulous online magazine with many articles about indoor plants, the latest being A guide to growing native houseplants, which shows how you can use some Australian natives indoors.

Finally, here's a fun new app - Plant Life Balance -  that allows you to take photos of areas in your home and add pictures of plants to them. It's a super way to visualise how your room could look with greenery. (And no, this photo isn't my place - sadly.)

Do you include plants in your home? Which ones do you find most reliable?

12 June 2018

Three things

There are always positive spots in life; it's just a matter of looking for them!

1. This newsletter from Local is Lovely

Oh, it's a joy to receive this weekly newsletter from Sophie Hansen! Do you know it? Sophie is a food writer and farmer from Orange NSW, who brings sunshine into my email inbox each week. Just delightful. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

2. Using a digital pen

I love learning something new every week, even if it's a simple skill. This time, I taught myself how to write payment details on PDFs of bills so I can keep digital records, not paper ones. I love technology that helps me accomplish tasks in a more efficient way!

3. Liberty of London

Who doesn't love Liberty of London fabrics? They are so seriously delicious that I have a carefully curated pile of them. (Must start sewing with them one day instead of just fondling them. 😀)

My sister visited the shop in London last month and arrived back with this fabric-covered sewing box for me. The box closed:

and open:

Of course, another one came home for her, as well (pink and purple this time). How fortunate am I?

So there are my three things. Tell me about your week - what have you liked this week?

04 June 2018

Magazines and newspapers galore!

Libraries rock.

I've always been a lover of magazines. Dipping in and out of stories about all sorts of subjects has always informed and entertained me, ever since I could read. I used to buy dozens of magazines until my local library subscribed to titles through RB Digital (the library app was formerly called Zinio for Libraries). Then I stopped paying for magazines and took advantage of my library paying for specific subscriptions instead.

Reading magazines while online has never appealed to me. I want my digital magazines downloaded onto my tablet so I can take them with me to read when there is no internet access. I stopped reading some titles that didn't let me do this. Reading solely online is so yesterday.

I told you libraries rock!

But recently my magazine world exploded. My library subscribed to PressReader, which allows me to access and download 3828 magazine titles. But wait, there's more: 3406 newspaper titles, to be precise!

I immediately installed the app on my tablet, chose my library, and signed in with my library card number. Dear reader, I binged.

I can read overseas and local magazines and newspapers for free - for free, I tell you!

I haven't had my local suburban newspaper delivered to my home for many years because the publisher can't get people willing to deliver them. Now, though, the digital version is automatically downloaded each week and I can again read about all that's going on in my area. 

It's magazine and newspaper lovers' heaven. Why don't you ask your public library if they subscribe to PressReader? You won't regret it. 😄