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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Small changes


This is the first week I have been at home as a retired person. Everyone wants to know how it feels! Well, it feels relaxed, joyful, playful and free! 

The week has included some volunteer work.

I have been to two music concerts.

I have had dinner with friends in a pub. 


There aren't any roses in the garden to smell, but I find I am drawn to the slanting morning light as it breaks through the clouds of a winter Perth day. 

I am sleeping better and I have been recovering from my ear infection quite nicely. 


If, despite all forecasts, the afternoon turns out to be fine, DH and I can enjoy a walk around our lovely local lake which is now brimming with water for the first time in years. This picture has a black and white splash in it -that is a black swan among the reeds. 

I don't think I have created a routine for myself quite yet, and perhaps I still feel a bit like I am on holiday, but this retirement thing feels luxurious at the moment.

In the quilting sphere I have cut out and started sewing a very special memory quilt. Too early for much in the way of pictures yet, watch this space. 



Thursday, August 3, 2017

Blue Mountains and Victorian get away


We had a get-away for a few days in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. We were on the way to take care of the grandchildren in northern Victoria, and thought we would piggyback a few days on our own-just DH and I -first. DH had never been to the Blue Mountains but I had been several times. It seemed like a great opportunity to revisit the holiday we tried to have together in Melbourne a few months ago, when poor DH came down with pneumonia. This time we wanted to enjoy each other's company and do some sight seeing together.

We flew to Sydney and took the train up to the mountains. With our Seniors concession on the Opal card, it was less than $3 to travel over 100 km! Much more frugal than hiring a car, and easier on the environment too. 

DH found us some great accommodation in a B and B in Katoomba. It was a bit of a walk uphill to the town centre each night for dinner, but an easy walk back. We told ourselves we were walking off the calories! 

 The weather was so kind to us! In the middle of winter we were blessed with sunny skies, even though it was very cold. The bushland and scenery are rightly world famous. There are hop-on, hop-off bus services which ferried us to the best locations for the views.



When not looking at scenery we enjoyed exploring the towns of Katoomba, Leura and Lawson. 



The Carrington Hotel in Katoomba is a stately old hotel with amazing architectural features like this wonderful glass in the closed-in verandah. We didn't stay here, but DH and I had cocktails in the bar on two separate occasions. 

Many businesses were were celebrating Christmas in July (we were there on the 25th July!). 


We visited the Norman Lindsay gallery.  The Norman Lindsay Gallery at Faulconbridge is the home of the Magic Pudding and displays the work of artist and writer Norman Lindsay (1879-1969). Lindsay was a controversial artist for most of his life and a walk around the extensive art in the gallery shows what the staid 1960s Australians would have struggled with- his pictures are often full of bohemian and pagan images, and usually have lots of strong and naked women! His second wife Rose was his model, muse and manager -I think she was a pretty strong woman in her own right. 


His bush block is a wonderful haven, dotted with his sculptures. We had lunch in the cafe there.

On our return to Sydney we had a few hours to let DH revive his memories of the sights before boarding the train to Melbourne (we booked a sleeper) where we met up with a dear friend before taking the coach service to Rochester. 

Going by bus and train was a real pleasure. Everything worked well, and we were treated with courtesy and friendliness. 





After a few days of babysitting our lovely DGD (5) and DGS (3) we have lots of lovely memories of fun times together. We played outside a lot because even though the nights were cold, the days warmed up quickly. There were bikes and trampolines and games of imaginative play, and making fairy gardens and so much more!

It was a great trip but we are now back home and my new slower retired life begins. I have got the bread rising right now, and am enjoying getting back into the routines again.