Friday, October 13, 2017

Community building

I have been involved in community groups all my adult life. I have been the initiator of some, volunteered in others, taken roles as diverse as Chairperson or President, secretary, treasurer, and coordinator of volunteers. In some cases I was a paid employee of a not for profit association, in other cases I was a volunteer.

Now that I am retired, it is natural that being part of a community group would be included in my mix of volunteer activities. I have a long standing relationship with CARAD -the Centre for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees here in Perth, but my volunteer role there came to a natural end last weekend. There may be other opportunities for me there in the future of course.

I thought I might move in another direction for the next little while, so I went to the West Australian Quilters' Association AGM last week, and was duly appointed to the editor role of their printed quarterly magazine. I have done something like this in my professional life -although the last 20 years have been about on-line publishing rather than in hard copy. They needed someone, I thought I could do it, and so the whirlwind has begun -an edition needs to be in the hands of members by the first week in December, so I am working with the current editor on this as we effect a hand over of responsibility. It is a great way to meet people!



 I have joined the Community Quilters group which is part of this large and active association, which makes quilts for donation to a variety of organisations supporting individuals in need. They run quilting bees every two months, and in between time the Sewing Days make blocks and people donate their quilts, and fabrics, and the end result was over 1000 quilts were donated in the last financial year -an enormous effort.

I just hope that I can keep some time for the other activities I love to do, including creating my own quilts. This one below has got to the stage of putting the borders on. It is made of shirt fabric and will be given to the widow of the man whose shirts have gone into the quilt, as a memory quilt.

Not all of the shirts were cotton, and the construction of the top has caused some concern, but it has gone together well enough so I really want to move on and finish this up. Trouble is, I keep doing fun things and not staying home long enough to sew much!



For example, we have enjoyed lots of fun days with the grandchildren and their parents whilst they were in Perth recently. Precious times 

Then the sun came out and spring arrived, so of course we had to get back into our beach walks! 


Then there are the obligatory days making bread, or cakes, or gardening. The garden is amazing at the moment, so full of life. It is beginning to look 'full' -everything growing into everything else.

.
The quince tree is covered in blossom, so I am hoping that this year the storms won't blow the blossom away, and that we can protect it from pests so that we can have those huge, heavy fragrant quinces to play with in autumn.


Life is good, and I am grateful. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Planning a new kitchen

My kitchen was remodelled when we first moved in, over 20 years ago. We took out the horrible 1970s orange and brown patterned tiles, the batwing doors, the broken wall oven, the brown and orange lino. This blogger has some pictures which remind me of what was here then, but hers is much cuter! 

Our kitchen has done us pretty well for 20 years, and I have enjoyed cooking in it, but lately we have been planning a revamp. Given that I have a goal of living simply, this is a big step which required much thought.

What is wrong with the kitchen? 

  • There are very few drawers. As I am now in my early 60s, I am finding it harder to reach into the back of the bottom shelf and lift out a heavy casserole dish that I have stored there. The idea of having a drawer which can hold my dishes and which I can pull out to reach them is very attractive. This feature will help us to move into our senior years with confidence we can manage things here
  • I sometimes run out of bench space. I do a lot of cooking and baking, and DH loves to preserve and make jam. This kitchen is a bit cramped sometimes. Some of my appliances -like the microwave and the stand mixer -have to be stored on the bench too. 
  • It doesn't have a lot of natural light. I would like bigger windows to see out of and let light in.
  • I can't store my baking trays in the kitchen -they are in the linen closet.
  • I can only fit in a bottom mount fridge/freezer, but I would love a side by side fridge freezer so I can keep more in the freezer. Right now we have another fridge outside -mostly because we need the extra freeer space, but it is not always so convenient to go out there. In the summer it is a hot place for a fridge to be kept, so I guess the fridge motor is working hard out there. 
  • I sometimes wish I had an extra oven -I have used my barbecue as an oven when things get busy. My current freestanding stove and oven is showing signs of age and the oven in particular has a small capacity because its heating source takes up quite a bit of room. 
  • We have solar panels on the roof, so using electricity rather than gas would be a good thing for the planet and cheaper for us, especially now I am retired and can do more cooking during the daytime. I could replace the gas stove with an induction cooktop and electric oven. 
  • The layout of the kitchen could be improved
This week we went out to check out some options for appliances, and DH made a preliminary sketch of the new layout using the IKEA software, so we have now got some idea of what we want to achieve. Presently my stove is in a funny spot between two windows. It only has bench space on one side. We want to move it to the other side of the room. We want a much bigger window and a bench running the whole length of the room.

Something like this plan above. The pantry is in the left hand bottom corner (not shown) and the fridge is the big grey rectangle in the middle. 


Underbench oven with induction cooktop because a small person like me needs to be able to reach over the door . 


I liked the handles and interior of this fridge freezer 




Two bowl sink -in white? not sure. 


The spiders now invading my kitchen are NOT a problem. I hope they visit my new kitchen too. 

This project is both exciting and daunting -there will be a lot of mess before it is done, and some disruption, but if we can get through it, we will have a kitchen to last us another 20 years.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Safe and sound



He is here, safe and sound! Our third adorable grand child, (DGS2) born in country Victoria. He had a bit of a rough start, and needed to return to hospital for treatment for jaundice, but is now growing and content. I travelled over to Victoria to help out with the babysitting and general support for the family, and as it turned out, it was a good thing I was there. The second child in the family was sick whilst the baby was being born, and things were a bit hectic for a while.

I had plenty of opportunities to enjoy DGD and DGS1 during the past two weeks. We played outside a lot, had 'picnic' snacks on the patio, made pirate hats out of newspaper, did water painting, went on walks, picked flowers and read stories. We played imaginary games: one involved the Three Bears and Goldilocks, where I played the role of Goldilocks and was put in the porridge pot! DGS1 declared it was 'gloopy'!


Can there be anything more sweet than a posy picked by a 5 year old girl for her Nanna? 


I was given a 'friendship Teddy" just like the one my grandchildren found in their op shop. Wales features large in my family history. 


The Campaspe river bank is a great place to walk. 




We made mandarin cookies, using mandarins from the backyard tree.  We used grated peel, and squished up mandarin segments, and a bit of Pa's orange marmalade to make them. They were a huge hit. 


The birth of a baby is the cause of celebration, of course. This little family was shown great kindness by their community. Many of those who brought gifts remembered a 'little something' for the older siblings, which was most welcome as there were times of being without Mum and Dad, and we could use the new toys as distractions. 

I have to admit to being very glad to be back home again. I missed my DH and my DD,  along with my usual grown-up, calm and orderly life! When you are a FIFO grandparent it is a kind of 'all or nothing" experience. It was so precious to be with them at this time, but so different to life at home. 
DH and DD say it is my role to promote the family routines, and that without them everything was a bit wonky. I am therefore resolutely making bread today, and calling people in for lunch at the appropriate time! 




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A walk in the park

Whilst I am away in Victoria for the birth of our third grand child, I thought I would share with you some pictures of a wonderful walk in the Walyunga National Park that DH and I enjoyed just before I left.

It was a warm spring day. Walyunga National Park is about a 40 k drive from my house, and it is at the point where Derberl Yerrigan (Swan/Avon River) comes down from the escarpment to the coastal plain. The spring wildflowers were out and the place looked like a garden, but this is natural Western Australian vegetation and landscape.


Perth is a pretty dry place, and during the summer, this river is mostly pools of water.

In spring, however, if we have had a good winter rain, it is transformed.


We walked to rather poorly named "Syd's Falls", where there was a beautiful display of foaming water. These falls are about a 40 minute walk from the car park. 


I love the granite boulders and the vegetation of the parkland here. 

The birds were very active, even in the middle of the day. We saw baby ducklings! The best sight however were these kangaroo or Yongah


They were happy to ignore us as we walked on the path nearby.

DH and I stopped at  Edgecombe's Cafe in the Swan Valley on the way home, where we had a coffee and shared a piece of lemon pie. We also brought home some of the 'world's best asparagus" that they grow there.

It was a lovely day, and DH and I have promised ourselves more days like this when I get back from Victoria. Do you have a place where you can walk and enjoy nature?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Quilting -one step forward, a few tiny steps in the same direction


Last weekend I took a giant step forward and attended my first Community Quilting Bee. 

There were about 15 of us all working on various stages of quilts to be donated. According to the WAQA newsletter this group has donated 226 quilts in the last 3 months to a range of recipients including the Fiona Stanley Hospital Neo-Natal unit, Oncology and State Rehabilitation Unit, Foster Care Services, King Edward Memorial Hospital (our local maternity hospital) Solaris and Renal Units and Multiple Sclerosis. 

I chose a UFO from a pile waiting to be worked on, which turned out to be a very pretty top made with blocks in a a variety of colours with a lot of white and blue, so I created a back to go with it, and cut out the binding.

At lunchtime we saw some quilts that had been donated, and were given the instructions to make the quilt above, which they called "Square in a Square" in a variety of sizes. It looks pretty easy when you know that the only trick is to only partially sew the first seam, so that you can complete it when the other 4 blocks are sewn on. Hard to describe but easy when you have been shown.

I rather shyly handed over one of my previously made quilts (read about it here) , and I am pleased to say it was well received. This is a picture of it below.


The community quilting group was having a sale of fabric for the price of $10 a kilo! I was thus able to improve my very bare collection of greens, with a nice bunch of new-to-me fabrics. Later I bought a 'surprise bag" of things in blue -which included some nice fabric and some thread too. So it was a nice addition to my stash.

I enjoyed the group and the sewing, and it feels so good to help someone else, so I am sure I will be going there again.  

My sewing room tidy up has just about finished, and took a surprise turn when I saw an appeal on a local group for a sewing machine for a young person learning to sew and whose residence was with her grandmother. They didn't have a lot of money to spend on the sewing machine, so I gave them my Singer 328 sewing machine as I do not often use it. I hope the young person is enjoying it and taking care of it! In honour of the space thus liberated in my sewing room, I tidied up underneath the sewing table! 

I now have discovered a LOT of fabrics  I had forgotten about. Everything is now sorted into colours and is easy to find. I even discovered a lot of 4 patches I had made, and got an inspiration to use them with a bundle of charm pack squares I had never used, so that looks like a very easy baby quilt which I could put together with a flannel backing, for the community quilt group.

I am slowly progressing withe 'bricks and stepping stones" quilt made of shirts. The fabric is a bit challenging, but I am about 2/3rds of the way through the blocks. It will go together quickly when I get the black and white four patches done. I really should try to move this along -it has been a bit slow! Mind you, I have been spending a lot of time in the garden lately- the weeding is mostly done, and we have done some pruning and propagating.

I am off on another adventure later this week. Our third grand child looks like arriving early, and I will be travelling to Victoria to offer a bit of a hand with the other two, and then travel back to Perth a fortnight later with them and their mum. Should be an exciting time!


Monday, August 28, 2017

Framed! Thrifty decorating update for the dining room


I have had a project in mind for a while now, to update the decor in my dining room. It was looking tired and a bit too "1970s". By that I mean that whilst the pine dining table is still strong and useful -having been used for 40 years already -the chairs were grimy and could not be cleaned any more, and the whole thing was a bit too much of the dark heritage green everywhere. I could have painted the chairs, but I decided that I didn't like the business of removing the old finish with stripper. Something about the dire health warnings on the can, really put me off! 

Whilst we will be spending some serious money on the kitchen renovation, I wanted the dining room to be refreshed without too much spent on it.

We spotted some chairs we liked in shop in Mount Lawley for $200 each, and they reminded me of ones I had seen in Ikea, so we went there and got pretty much the same things for $50 each.





We had a gallery wall with a collection of landscapes, mostly framed in dark brown cheap frames, and we were a bit tired of them, although some were actually artists' signed prints and originals. 

I decided on these principles for the art I want to hang here:

  • Cost no more than $50
  • Be bright and fresh
  • Framed in white or gold (no more brown frames)
  • Original or artists' prints for preference
There was one technique which I wanted to try on a picture frame  which I didn't care about, to see if I could make it work on an original water colour landscape I wanted to update, so I went to the op shop and bought this - a print by an Australian female painter, and one I had seen in a gallery. What interested me was seeing if I could paint the brown frame, and also the teal coloured matt board. The picture cost $7 in total. 




I felt the teal board was too close in colour to the greens and blues in the picture itself, and that the brown frame was showing signs of wear. 

I took it all apart, and spray painted the frame with some gold paint I had in the shed. 

I mixed a sort of light yellow in acrylic artist paint kindly supplied by my DD and used a roller to make a number of coats on the matt board. 

DH supplied the tacks and the paper tape to refinish the back of the frame, and some new wire to hang it. 


In real life the gold frame and yellow matt has lifted the colours of the painting to be more distinct and the light in the window, and the colours of the lady's gown are warmer. 

The next transformation was for a couple of artist's prints of WA wildflowers from our lovely Albany region. The grey matt and clip frame were doing nothing for them.


I found two gold frames in an op shop for $4 each, and it was an easy swap.


I have hung some new pictures -one the signed print given me by work colleagues - here .

This is still a work in progress. We have plans to repaint the room and paint the top of the dining table, at the least. There are more pictures to revamp, but I am pleased at the start I have made. I am going to have a go at the original water colour next, I think. 



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Time to talk quilting again!

Yes I am back in the quilting mode again.

This time it is a very special memory quilt made of the shirts of a friend who passed away a year ago. His family were struggling to part with the shirts so I offered to make the quilt with them.  There are some 100% cotton shirts and some part polyester and part cotton. I am using what I can and attempting to get at least one patch of each shirt in the quilt, but the non-cotton shirt fabric is slippery and difficult to cut accurately. I am persevering though because the family will have a lovely memento and this quilt is about the shirts and the memories, not the quilt itself. Here is a picture of a selection of the fabrics in the quilt, on my design wall.


I am also in the process of TIDYING UP the sewing room! 

I found some plastic trays in Kmart which looked the right size for my storage baskets, and were just $5 each, so I bought lots and have been sorting and refolding. My stash has lots of fat quarters because I love a scrappy look in a quilt with lots of fabrics and this is an easy way of collecting fabric.


From this pile of fabric stuffed in a basket (most of the drawers looked like this) 


to sorted baskets of fabric all where I can see them and get inspired by them. The bins fit two to a drawer and provide structure to the basket so I can keep things tidy. 

I am not finished yet -all in all I have got about half way through my 22 baskets and two bins of fabric storage. 



My baskets sit in the wardrobe recess, and are covered with an Ikea fabric panel which slides out of the way.

In doing this sorting I realized again just how much fabric I have here, and how many lovely quilts are ready to be made from them. I have. I have a lot of resources here to keep me happy in my lovely sewing room, doing what I love to do. I am a happy woman!


In other news, the sun came out again! I tidied up the patio and we recommissioned it for summer. We have been doing a spring prune and tidy up. 


 On International Humanitarian Day we attended public lecture at Curtin University by Dr Waleed Ali. As you would expect, he was thought provoking in his discussion of why it is that 'no-one cares about human rights anymore". How can successive governments in Australia get away with being criticized by the UN for their treatment of asylum seekers in offshore centres, for example?

Dr Ali suggested we find it difficult to get back to the 'enchanted ideas" which inspire and empower us to act in solidarity with one another, when we live in a in a public space which emphasizes efficiency, non-harm and non-discrimination (nice enough, but sort of empty words). We need to retell our stories and find meaning again.

This is quite a challenge and I look forward to having long conversations about it in the future. In the meantime today I have a fundraising event to help host for our local refugee agency. A wonderful young guitarist I met has offered to play her 19th century Italian guitar music in a private home as a fundraiser. It will be very special indeed.