29 November 2014

Blog corralling

Last time I checked, I was following 642 blogs. Yes, you read that correctly - 642! So, you can imagine that I need a way to organise all this information so that I don't run away screaming from it, can't you? That's why I love Feedly.

Not all the blogs I follow post daily. Some don't even post monthly. I suspect some are actually defunct but I will delete them when I do my next regular cull.

It doesn't matter, though. Feedly keeps track of all the new posts so I don't have to. All I have to do is maintain the list of blogs I want to read. Easy!

This is the way the summary looks on my PC screen. If I want to read the actual post, I just click on the picture. Depending on how the blog has been set up, I will see either the full post (without having to visit the actual blog) or a partial post (to see the full post I then go to the actual blog).

This is the way the summary looks on my tablet. If I want to read the full post, I tap on the photo and am taken to the blog.

You can see that this type of display is really an invitation to read, so it's important that a blog post has a meaningful title and a photo - make it look enticing. I don't read every post from every blog, just the ones that tempt me from the Feedly display. I enjoy catching up with blog posts at breakfast time each day.

You can add my blog to your Feedly blog subscriptions by clicking on the icon in the sidebar of my blog or, if you prefer to use Bloglovin', click on that icon instead. 

I have tried Bloglovin' to organise my blog subscriptions as well, but prefer Feedly. Isn't it lovely to have options?

25 November 2014

Textiles Tuesday

I'll be posting a collection of links for Textiles Tuesday once a month, now. It's a crazy amount of work to compile this post and do all the linking, so I hope you look forward to your monthly crafty browsing.

Take some time, get a cuppa and enjoy exploring these 14 links.

* My favourite quilt magazine is Quilters Newsletter because it always has interesting, meaty articles that often lead me to sources I didn't know before. The Dec/Jan issue arrived this week and I was intrigued to read an article about World War I quilts made by American quilters. It is written by Sue Reich and here is the link to the section on her website about this topic. It's very topical and worth reading.

* Craftsy has many interesting resources available for free. This one, Genius Hacks Every Quilter Should Know, is a free downloadable eGuide. You do need to sign up to Craftsy but that's free, too!

* If you are a knitter, Craftsy has lots for you, too. Here's an article, 5 Knitting Apps to Keep Your Knitting Organised and On Track. There are also other apps mentioned in the comments.

* Here's a whole new world to explore: crochet diagrams. This Craftsy article explains what all those symbols mean.

* I regularly pop over to TextileArtist.org to read their articles. There's a great one here about art quilter Deidre Adams.

* If you love Kona solids, you'll want to view this collection of 30 quilts made with these fabulous fabrics. You can view it online or download a pdf. Free patterns are available from the Robert Kaufman website. Very inspirational!

* Photos of the winning quilts from South Australia's Festival of Quilts are now available for viewing. Congratulations to all the winners!

* Are you making Barbara Brackman's Austen Family Album block of the week quilt blocks? She's up to block 32 now but all instructions are on her blog if you want to get started.

* See photos of the 2014 winning quilts from Quilts: A World of Beauty, the annual Judged Show of the International Quilt Association. Congratulations to all the winners, in particular Australians Rachelle Denneny and Denise Sargo, for their awards.

* Abby Glassenberg's blog is always worth reading for her thought-provoking posts. Two subjects in particular have raised a lot of discussion. The first subject is about how much do fabric designers earn from designing quilt fabrics. Abby has two posts on this subject: An Inside Look at How Much Fabric Designers Earn and An Inside Look at Designing Premier Quilting Cottons for JoAnns. Very frank and interesting - don't forget to read the many comments.

The other question Abby asks is should crafters work for free products? This is common practice in the crafting industry - you make up your own mind about whether you agree or not. 

* Here's another take on the ongoing discussion about craft fabric designs being copied, this time by The Eternal Maker.

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.