Saturday, November 26, 2016

Decorating for Advent using what we have

This lovely Christmas wreath was made by my DD. She volunteers at an Op Shop two days a week, and this week they had pulled out all the Christmas decorations which hadn't sold last year. There was  a broken wreath on a flimsy frame, which she brought home. Some of the decorative items were broken but she pulled the rest off the frame. I had a wreath frame which was pretty undecorated, so she used that to make this lovely thing for our door. 

 I have an advent wreath base which requires dinner table style tapers. Usually I am organised enough to get the traditional purple and pink ones  from the church supply shop, but not this year. Never mind! I had this metal tray from IKEA, and my DD provided the candles from her stash from Thingz, and we had the cherries and holly from previous Christmas decor. I used sand from the sandpit, and that was it. We like the fresh look this year. 

Each year we buy something new for our Christmas decor. This year my lovely DH went all the way out to the Mr Christmas shop to buy battery operated LED lights. There are two strings of white and a cute little jewelled set. I plan to use them in other ways after Christmas! 

Normally we wouldn't be this decorated on the First Sunday in Advent, but our little Victorian family had to leave last weekend, so we sneaked in some pre-Advent decorating with our little grandson and granddaughter. It was the best idea! They loved helping us decorate our tree! We felt as though we had 'done Christmas" together, so even if we can't be with each other on Christmas Day, we have still had a chance to share our traditions with each other. Every time I look at the tree I think of them being held up to put the star on the top. 
This was the second quilt I ever made. I am glad to bring it out each Christmas, and to see that I have progressed in my skills since then. It is still a lovely quilt. I have it hanging in the entrance.

This is my advent calendar. It is a Jo Mullens design. The 'wonkiness" of the shape is due to the fact that it is being distorted by the weight of some very grown up advent calendar treats -including tiny bottles of liqueurs! My DD is a real 'partner in crime" in all things Christmas, insists that, as this calendar is for US, we should put things we like in it. I searched until I found dark chocolate Lindor balls for the smaller pockets. 

We haven't finished decorating! 
Tradition will reassert itself this afternoon, when we finish decorating for Christmas on Advent One. 

Lord Jesus, come!
As morning light awakens us to work and pray,
shine, Sun of righteousness,
bright on the path of all who seek justice.
As solid ground beneath our feet,
steady us, Rock of our salvation,
strong to sustain all who trust in you.
As green shade beckons in the heat of the day,
shelter us, Tree of life,
gently protecting all who seek wisdom.
As a deep well quenches thirst in the desert,
refresh us, Fountain of life,
cool water of peace for all who drink from you.
As the days grow longer
and the sun’s heat increases,
increase our faith,
and bring us to worship you
by your cradle,
at your cross,
in your resurrection,
and at your glorious coming again
with judgement and with mercy. Amen.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pirates! Treasure!

In order to have some real relaxation on my TOIL time, we decided to take the train down to Fremantle to see the the Shipwrecks in the museum, and in particular the Dirk Hartog Plate -a marker left by the first known European explorer to the West Australian coast in 1616.

This coast has many wrecks -partly because the maps did not include our continent at the time (!) and therefore ships which were using the Roaring Forties to slingshot themselves across the Indian Ocean had a bad habit of running into the coast. This is a picture of the locally built Duyfken replica boat in Fremantle Harbour.

We stopped at the Fishing Boat harbour for lunch, of course, and enjoyed fish and chips.
Whilst in the museum we bought replica "Pieces of 8' which were found on another wreck, the Batavia. We brought them home with some fake 'jewels" and have been having the BEST time playing pirate treasure with our grandchildren. 

Another day we went by train to Midland to do the Op Shops and Second hand shops. I was delighted to find a purple cornucopia vase to add to my collection for a tiny price of $10! It looks fantastic with pink and red roses on my mantle.

I also found these two scarf rings for $2 each! I have started collecting scarf rings -it makes sense when you have as many scarves as I do. I had been looking for something like this -and isn't it amazing that when you look for something, it often comes into your view? 

Apart from all these things, I have been walking on the beach and writing in my Nanowrimo novel -now up to 25,000 words: half way there. I have to go back to work this week, but it has been a lovely break made better by family being here with us. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Spring fun days-spiders and beaches and plants

My grand daughter posted scary spider pictures all over my kitchen -to "Scare Pa!". 
We had a lovely time with her having a sleepover at our place on Wednesday night.

By Thursday the weather had improved so much we were able to go to Mullaloo beach and enjoy our first walk along the water's edge for the spring/summer season. It was so beautiful I felt as excited as a little child. As it was going up to a whopping 37 degrees C today, we were there again this morning. WooHoo. There is something quite marvellously relaxing about walking in bare feet right on the water's edge first thing in the morning, then going home to coffee and prayers. 

I have  also inspired to think about making a beach-themed queen size bed quilt for our bed. One which would have all the beach colours -green, aqua, violet, sand, white foam, deep blue and pink. I have most of these colours already in the stash, but would need to get some acqua. Hey - a trip to the LQS is in order! I wonder what pattern I would use? I haven't done a 'trip around the world" quilt, and that might be fun to do. I might play around with the layout if I did this. On the other hand, I am inspired by granny squares too.....Hmmmm. 

I would send it out to be quilted, though. Queen size quilts are too much for my domestic sewing machine set up.

This is Mullaloo last Thursday morning, up by the reef near Ocean Reef car park

My Nanowrimo project is on track so far - I have just over 8,000 words of the total of 40,000 required.  I am enjoying the space to write whilst I am on my TOIL break from work. 

DH and I are enjoying the space this week to work around the house and garden -doing the simple things we love. This is a new vertical garden I am setting up on the back patio. DH made it with some free pallets which he got from up the road where a neighbour is building a HUGE retaining wall. They have one of those houses which is lower than the road, and I think he is planning to retain the soil and build a driveway which is level with the road. He is using limestone blocks and had lots of pallets over. DH now has a line of them down our driveway fenceline! We have discovered that not all pallets are made the same -some are easier to get apart, for one thing. DH is having fun learning how to use them. He has made 2 vertical gardens. 

I am using cut-down plastic milk cartons for most of the pots -they fit exactly in the little trays in the pallet, and hold enough soil to grow seeds. I have some herbs here which I hope will be sheltered enough to survive the summer and be close to the back door to snip something for a quick meal flavour enhancer. There is already some mint, coriander and parsley here, with radishes coming up fast. I have experimented with cress and mustard in the little recycled pots,and DGD planted an avocado seed. 

This (below) is a nifty stool/box which DH created for me because I said I wanted something to perch on out in the front garden when I am gardening, and want to stop for a drink.  It is more comfortable than the milk crate! It was made with pallet wood too. 

Thanks for stopping by! 

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Time off

Roses grown at home, in one of my cornucopia vases

I have a couple of weeks break from the routines of the office -we call it TOIL -time off in lieu of being paid overtime. I am enjoying the fun of having the grandchildren, my son and daughter in law able to drop by when they can. I know what it is like when you visit home from interstate -you need to rest and have fun, not 'have' to visit people all the time! So we won't go away during this time, so that we can be flexible. 

We had a drink at a posh inner city pub where the courtyard has a pond. Somewhere up in the branches we could see a Willy Wagtail sitting on her nest. 

As well as taking a break from work, I am now not on the committee of the not-for-profit that I support. I will still be an active volunteer, but the break will be good for me. They held their AGM this week, and it was a real celebration. So many lovely people, such good work and good stories to tell. 

DD brought home this lovely box for my bedroom, from the Save the Children op shop in Subiaco. Goes well with the French theme. 

My plans for November include writing a novel during Nanowrimo!  National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.

In order to complete the task, you have to write about 1600 words per day -which takes about 90 minutes for me. I have a couple of characters in my mind, a couple of places to write about and no real idea of a plot! That is the way I like it- I just write and see what happens. I have written two other novels this way. Once they are done I never go back and even edit my work -my Nano is just to get the story out of my head. Maybe one day I will feel like editing them? 

Celebratory glass as I start my little break from work.
So there will be some writing, some playing with grandchildren and some quilting. I have just oiled my favourite sewing machine and she is all ready to go. The garden is a lot of fun just now - I have tomatoes and strawberries growing along with a lot of lettuce and things. The weather is going to be more spring like I think, so I am looking forward to more walks down at the beach. 

This is the kind of thing I really like -just being able to appreciate simple things and make our own fun. How about you? 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A springier Spring week!

We have had one hot day -at last!- and some milder weather which is bringing the roses to bloom at last. This is the iceberg, which is first always. It is a generous bush, grows so big we have to cut it back at least twice before winter.

This is "Munstead Wood" -a David Austin rose with a lovely fruity perfume and a desire to take over the world!

This is "Glamis castle"  a slower growing white perfumed David Austin rose -not quite out yet -has lots of petals when fully open. 

Spring is a time when  I like to add some colour to my outfits. This is a cotton scarf I made from a sarong I found in an op shop. It has elephants on it!

My design wall is inspired by my spring garden - I am working on a design based on butterflies. Early days yet though. 

There are buds on the grapevines, the tomatoes are in flower, the mandarin is going crazy with new growth, everything is lush and active. 

Dora is loving the open windows. 

We are hoping the mild weather continues to develop -our grandchildren are coming over in a week or two from Victoria, and we have lots of ideas of how to entertain them -outside! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

That was amazing! Permaculture Fest WA-and that quilt

I was very excited to be able to listen to David Holmgren at the inaugural Permaculture Fest in the Swan Valley yesterday. It was really amazing to have a whole festival full of people who care about this stuff too! David's upcoming book "RetroSuburbia" was the topic of conversation. 

Here is David's explanation:
Due for publication in March 2017, my latest book builds on writings and presentations about “Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future” that since 2005 have highlighted the ongoing and incremental changes to our residential landscapes to make them “fit for purpose” before Australia and the world slide into energy descent futures. My Aussie St story tracing four adjacent suburban houses and their inhabitants from the “1950s Golden Age of Suburbia” to the “Second Great Depression of 2020” has been particularly powerful at engaging with Australians who live in or grew up in suburbia.
RetroSuburbia explains and illustrates patterns, designs and behavioural strategies applied by those already on the downshifting path to a resilient future, using permaculture ethics and principles. It is organised as a pattern language of interlocking and complementary design solutions to perennial problems faced by those applying a more systematic, whole-of-household approach to retrofitting their houses, gardens and living arrangements. It includes some proven design specifications and pointers, references technical sources and case studies, but is more of a strategic guide than a technical manual".
I also attended a presentation by Tim from Ecoburbia who explained the story of the housing cooperative, community garden and alternative urban infill development project in Fremantle. 

Then we went to the Living Smart course presentation. Living Smart is a multi award winning behaviour change program. The course provides participants with the skills and knowledge to take action in their own homes to improve their quality of life and reduce their environmental impact. The Living Smart program consists of ten key modules:Water, Power, Waste, Simple Living, Gardening for Food, Transport, Healthy You, Gardening for Biodiversity, Healthy Homes & Community. I would love to get a course going in Perth's Northern Suburbs.
Meanwhile I have made progress on the quilt I showed you in August. 

I haven't forgotten my quilt -the quilting is now done -and this stripe below is being sewn on as the binding! 

Hopefully I can get this finished this week. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Vale Bill Mollison, father of Permaculture

Some people have an amazing vision, and start a movement that travels the globe. Bill Mollison, Australian researcher, author, scientist, teacher, and biologist. Considered to be the "father of permaculture", died this weekend. Anyone who cares about local food and sustainability will have come across Bill's ideas.

Thanks to Bill and his Permie groupies, I have had a lot of fun growing vegetables and fruit in my own garden. We have learned to be more self reliant and careful to support local producers. I haven't done any workshops in Permaculture, but have read some of his works. I love the idea of making a wider range of foods available than what is offered in the shops -hence my excitement at growing heritage varieties of tomatoes for example. I love the idea of making one's efforts in the garden do more than one thing -why can't a pumpkin vine grow over a nearby lime tree, thus getting more food per square metre and keeping the pumpkins off the soil (extra support may be necessary when they get heavy). 

Recent 'picnic dinner"- pesto made from home grown leaves, tomato salad with home grown chives and basil. 

Extra water for the bees and birds in a rehomed old birdbath -near a wicking bed with beans growing in it, made from a pot with a hole in it -just right for the overflow pipe. 

Birdlife in a productive garden is a joy !

I am so happy that my idea of planting more flowers in the back garden has been successful in bringing the bees out there, and the white flowers glow at night around the patio. 

Vale Bill Mollison, and thanks for the inspiration.