Sunday, December 3, 2017

Playing with water -my quilt is under construction


Here is my quilt "Playing with Water" on my design wall. The centre panel is Japanese and is called "koi at the waterfall". I found it in Melbourne, when my good friend B showed me a couple of special fabric shops she knew.

I wanted to create a quilt with the feeling of water and sunlight, so I made my first ever Bargallo style quilt blocks. My Accuquilt Go fabric cutter was very helpful, as it gives accurate long strips to sew together, and then cross cut into the blocks. I am sure it helped greatly with this quilt.

It is hard to photograph the colours accurately. The panel is navy with a grey-blue accent fish and a deep red fish. I am planning a small gray border and a red binding to pick up these accents.

The quilt may have to wait a week or so for more work to be done on it: I have a new Christmas stocking to make. Each year I hang stockings for us all, even though some of the family are far away. This year we were blessed with a new grandchild, so DGS2 needs his own stocking to add to this display.


Our new bookshelves are due today too, so we will be busy rearranging our books and CDs for a while, and generally getting the house back in order.  There is one more cabinet to come, but that will be several weeks yet.

More pictures when the bookcases are in! 


Saturday, November 25, 2017

Lounge Room Update

It wasn't planned, as such, but this week we got inspired by the update we had made to the dining room, which can be seen from the lounge room, through two arches. We would like a similar update for the lounge room.

I had decided that the trusty IKEA Billy Bookcases had been useful, but were looking tired and the white finish was really out of sync with the rest of the lounge room.

Here they are in previous times, doing what Billy book cases have always done-providing a cheap and effective storage solution on either side of the fire place. Note the picture on the wall -more of that frame later!



 We tried several times to get a carpenter to build us some built-ins, but the vents for the gas heater were a problem in the design. No-one would even give us a quote!

A week ago I finally made the decision to buy some ready-made shelves. They are in oak finish and have two drawers at the bottom. They will be delivered the week after next.  In Western Australia, we often have to wait for things to be delivered from 'over East", and these are coming via Melbourne port and then on a truck across the Nullabor!

DH saw the delay as an opportunity to paint the room. We had put this off, because we were looking for replacement doors for the 1970s glass doors which lead from the entry into the room. They were looking very tired and very yellow. Confession: in 20 years of living here, we had never repainted the trim on these doors. They were pretty sad looking. Finding new doors which would go with the house -and in particular the entry doors we replaced a few years ago, was quite a headache, however. We had looked at salvaged doors but these weren't right in style for us. I had found a place which could make new doors but was not sure about a design. We decided to paint the room this week anyway -and figure out the doors later!

Now, you perhaps would like a 'before picture" but because we didn't like the doors, we have no pictures of them alone. Here is one just on the right side of the picture below.


Suddenly, we were packing boxes and moving things out. DH did a great job of painting the walls and ceiling. He even spray painted the ceiling fan blades white.  It has taken most of the week to do.


At one point I had a crazy idea -what if we painted the door paint trim charcoal, like the colour of the curtains and many other decorative touched in the room? If it improved things, maybe we could live with the doors, until the right replacements came up. DH wasn't sure, but did eventually agree.

We are not professional painters, and the doors were not easy to paint but the  result was better than we both expected.

 

The dark colour has brought out darker tones in the glass, and the dark frames pick up the colours of the gas heater, curtains, coffee table, sewing machine and even my quilt. They no longer seem to clash with everything here.



Here is the fireplace wall, waiting for the new shelves to appear. It looks pretty empty right now!



Do you see the new picture on the wall? I found it in an op shop in a dreadful frame. I took the print out and had a framer make a new matt and put it back into the frame which used to hang here. The new fresh look has brightened up this wall.

What did it cost so far? Paint (but not labour -both DH and myself in packing up and painting and putting things back), new matt for the old frame probably a couple of hundred dollars. Saving by not replacing the doors -several thousand dollars! Even if I count the cost of the new shelves (which were on sale and several hundred dollars each discounted) we are still ahead. A bonus is that the old doors get to live here rather than in a salvage yard or even in landfill. 

We are all pretty tired and achy just now, but pleased with our efforts.

I should have some time to concentrate on my new quilt in the week coming up, so I hope to have some pictures of progress next week.


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Summer days already!


This is our favourite beach, which is called Mullaloo It is about 10 minutes drive from our place. Each year we know it is summer when we can get down to the water's edge and walk on hard sand with our shoes off. In winter you can't do it -the beach is narrow and steep, but summer changes everything- the beach gets wider and flatter.



 We walk here as often as we can -early in the morning before it is too hot. About an hour to walk to the rocks and back, then home for coffee and the rest of our day.  We have done this three times since last Friday!

The weather suddenly turned into summer a week ago. It had been very wet, then suddenly we had 36 degrees Celsius, we were wearing short sleeves and putting the ceiling fans on.

The shade sails had to go back up around the house.

We are very pleased with the way our grapevines are growing over the pergola on the north side of the house, and creating cool green shade over our windows.  These grapevines have only been here about 18 months. I expect that, the way they are growing, we will have full shade cover in about two weeks or so.  This will provide natural air cooling over the summer, but still let winter sun in.

There are bunches of grapes forming too! 



The jasmine on the back fence by the patio is perfumed and lush at the moment.



Dora needed to go to the vet for her check-up. After winter she always has a few knotty bits in her fur near the base of her spine -she just can't manage that part of the grooming task. The vet cut off the knots -but was able to leave most of her fur on. She looks OK from this angle! 

I added a finished quilt to my page here .  This was a very special project and I have had a lot of kind thoughts expressed to me in response to it. I have a new project on my design wall, but before I can start cutting things out I need to do a bit of maths and get the project planned out carefully.



As it is summer we are turning our thoughts to everything cool and summery. This wonderful book 'Honey from a Weed'  by Patience Gray is so much more than a cook book- is full of inspiration in the ways we can use our locally grown foods in new ways. Here in Perth our climate is similar to the Mediterranean -we can grow citrus, pomegranates, fennel, olives, thyme and rosemary, for example. If your library can get you a copy- I recommend it thoroughly.

 Another thing full of inspiration is the SBS new series of Food Safari . I get so inspired by the ways we can create simple and nourishing food using the cuisines of our world, brought to us by Australia's rich refugee and migrant cultures. Tonight I am going to make a noodle soup with tofu baked in the oven, and served with bean sprouts (home sprouted) and crispy fried onions. This will use some of my newly growing warrigal greens . Fabulously nutritious food which costs very little.


We are so lucky to live so close to this coast! If you are looking for us over the next few months, I suggest you start here!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Dining room update

One of the things that makes me cross about our market driven society, is that things which are still perfectly useful, are suddenly declared 'out of fashion' and therefore we are influenced to think of throwing them away and buying new things which are pretty much identical to the old things, but perhaps a different colour. Not only is that an expensive thing to do, but so wasteful for our planet.

I have explained previously how I wanted to refresh the dining room at our place, but felt that the table and buffet were strongly made and worth keeping. In today's style guides though, they are the wrong colour.

My solution has been to replace the pine chairs with new white ones. The old chairs went to the op shop. We moved the dresser to another wall, and restyled it with my prettiest blue and white or pink and white china. I have retired the Arnotts biscuit tins which had been featured on the top. I also sent to the op shop some other pieces which were taking up space and making clutter.




DH did a lovely job this week of repainting the walls, door and door frames and the window ledge. We took down all the china plates, and that had left holes in the walls we wanted to fill. Things get tired after a while, and the door frames in particular had become chipped. 

The wooden window ledge is now shiny again, perfect for when our cat Dora wants to sit and breathe the air through the open window. 



Then I went looking for a new buffet. In the past we had a chest of drawers in this room but it was too high to be useful for an extra serving space, and was coming to the end of its life anyway.

The chest of drawers went to the op shop too. 

We are lucky to have found the perfect thing to replace them! 


The top is the same colour of wood as my ancient pine table and buffet, but it picks up the white of the chairs and the china, to make it all seem like it fits in! The doors are framed in the same way as the dresser, and the knobs are the same shape too! 

I am now in the final stages of refinishing the art for the walls. We are waiting on a tool to be delivered, which will help us fix the back of the picture frames securely.  Meanwhile these two delightful originals can sit here, leaning against the wall  -in the modern manner! 

We are all feeling happy about this makeover so far, and are inspired to keep going in refreshing more spaces in our home. There is a problematic store of stationary which is going to be culled next! 

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!