Saturday, December 19, 2015


I wasn't expecting to get the quilting finished today. There was a quiet few hours however in the middle of the day.
This is where it gets exciting! Just the border left. Should be completed tomorrow. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Op Shop treasure

It has been a great week for Op Shop treasure! DD came home with  a reportedly 100 year old Australian made ukulele. 
 I found two Royal Albert 'American Beauty' plates to go with the trio on my dresser. 
DD brought me a fabulous book on Vikings by Neil Oliver. It was A great read! 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sewing for Christmas

We will of course be giving books and fun things, but I wanted something home made in the Christmas parcels. 

This is a tiny skirt and top for my grand daughter. I got the pattern from an op shop. I loved the fact that the pattern pieces were carefully pinned together by the previous owner. Nothing missing! 

The neckline of the top gave  me some problems but I think if I were to do it again I would know how to do it better. 

A bandana or three for my grandson, by request. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Getting ready for Christmas

Look what we did today. 

First Sunday of Advent tomorrow. We are ready!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Flimsy finished with a change of plan

I tried putting the pieced sashing between the block rows , but it was just too busy and detracting from the original plan. 
It came out and instead I joined the blocks together without dashing then added a plain dusty pink inner border and plain ice grey outer border. 

The sashing blocks will go in the back. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015


What am I doing cutting a Halloween quilt?

I have been making progress on this quilt, which I call "eclipse" because the dark circles make me think of an eclipse of the  moon.

The circles were cut with a ruler I was given at Christmas. I tried several methods of making circles but in the end went with raw edge appliqué. I had to get out my modern machine to sew around the edge as I only have the straight and zigzag options on my Nina. I still hope to find more discs one day.

I made strip sets from left over fabric and expected they would go in the border but when I put them on the design board I really liked what happened .

Then I got distracted! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Design wall Monday

I am on two week's leave so it is a great time to start a new quilt. I rustled through my stash and decided to use a set of fat quarters that I have had for years. It is called Hunky Dory by Moda. Pretty pink and teal, but somehow I could not think of what to do with it. 
I had an inspiration to add beautiful dark batik fabric and it started to look more interesting. 
I want to use some circles in this quilt so I think the diamonds in the middle of each block will be cut and appliquéd into place. I am also toying with triangle like snowball blacks for a secondary desig. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A finish! The lantern quilt

Finished today. My daughter will enjoy having this quilt on her bed. 

This (above) is the back of the quilt. 

 The quilt is a large single bed size. To get a photo I spread it on my queen size. Hmmm it looks pretty good here too!

I loved working with these fabrics. Some of them were gifted to me and others I had in my stash for a while. I decided that beautiful fabrics are for using not for storing, and this is the result. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Winter! What have we been up to?

It has been a busy couple of months. Grandchildren to visit -great fun. 

 Stunning winter days in Perth, and the walks along the beach are cold and crisp and beautiful. Thankfully we have also had some wet, wet, wet days, as this is supposed to be the season which brings the rain for the whole year. DH and I feel very spoilt because we get to walk on Mondays when others are at work-the joys of the part-time worker.

Nina, my 1954 vintage Singer 306K has been working hard on my Chinese lantern quilt. Thanks to I have been able to source some accessories which make free motion quilting easy on the old girl. I absolutely love using this machine.

Table set for company. Our Friday night group has been back at our place. 

I greatly enjoyed reading Naomi Klein's book "This changes everything". Read it if you can!

DH has been enjoying making these bottled pears. He did a batch a couple of months ago, but he couldn't resist pears at $0.99 per kilo, so spent today making them with lots of yummy spices in the syrup. 

We actually managed a couple of days away at our favourite spiritual retreat -the guest house in the New Norcia monastery grounds.

One last look at the beach!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sewing with my new BFF Nina-and how to enjoy quilting by giving perfectionism the flick

This is Nina, named after Nina Simone, another famous Singer. My DH brought her home from church when they were doing a clean-out. Her box has lost its key, and she was a bit grubby and unloved, -well she was made in 1954 and I guess her former owner thought "modern is best". She came with a power cord that was fraying and decidedly unsafe-looking. I didn't know anything about her. I was so ignorant I sent DH back to church with the cams which belonged to this machine, as I thought they must have been in the wrong box!

I read up on her, I got brave and with the help of some online buddies I oiled and cleaned her. The local sewing machine repair shop had a cam for straight and zig zag stitches.  DH got me a new power cord for Mother's Day. I sent away for a walking foot. DH went back to the sewing repair shop for a new globe for her light.

This weekend the stars aligned for Nina. We have had the BEST time together as I have been quilting my "women's lib" quilt- the one in the feminist colours of purple, green and white.

Nina is a happy sewer. She is taller than the modern Bernina so I have more ROOM for the quilt to fit in the harp as I sew. She can do AMAZING things and has a wide variety of feet -including the famous Singer Ruffler foot which I am eager to try.

I have been wondering why sewing with Nina gives me so much pleasure:

  • she is well made -in our world of planned obsolence, it is rare to come across a piece of machinery built to last. I can do some of the maintenance work MYSELF because she is simply made. 
  • she was useless in some people's eyes -that is why they threw her out of the cupboards at church. I feel like I have 'rescued" her
  • she links me to women of the past who did amazing things without a lot of technological helps
  • Hey, she just works WELL- good design is good design in any age

So Nina and I might get our "women's lib" quilt finished this weekend.

I want to leave you with some important words from the website of one of my favourite inspirations in the quilting word - Bonnie Hunter. After studying vintage quilts she wrote this :
"Other things I learn from antique quilts:
Things don’t have to be perfect to be perfectly beautiful.
Quilts don’t have to hang straight to be perfectly wonderful.
Points don’t always have to match to be perfectly acceptable.
Border corners don’t have to be perfectly square.
Bindings don’t have to be full and straight.
Nor do they have to have perfectly mitered corners --or be mitered at all! 
Blocks don’t all have to be the same size.
Quilting motifs don’t have to be perfectly centered.
Borders don’t have to turn the corners all the same way.
Bonnie continues: 
When I look at antique quilts, I just feel the love of the maker and the joy of fabric, needle and thread.
Bonnie asks: Is “the pursuit of perfection” killing your love of quilting?  It’s crazy-making!  STOP IT RIGHT NOW! Create to make something beautiful.  Create to buoy your spirit and fill your soul.  Do not quilt for perfection.  Don’t suck the joy out of something we love so much!  Yes, give it your best shot ---but try to relax at the same time". You can read the whole blog post here

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Autumn activities

The days are getting shorter. It is dark when we wake up at 6, but gets light about twenty minutes later. We are still getting a lot of sunshine -some lovely days but cooler than summer. I really enjoyed taking the ferry over to the Zoo recently. It was a magic day.

At this time of the year we turn to Autumn activities.

We do a tidy up, feed up and make over in the garden.

Summer in Perth is a time to get your plants to survive in the hot dry conditions, but the autumn cooler weather and some welcome rain brings them to life. I have been spending about 6 hours each weekend for about a month now, working in the garden. I tidy up by pruning and cutting back. I feed plants which are now entering a growth phase. I plant seedlings like lettuce, broccoli and peas.

My DH did a make-over. We had a scraggly line of Iris bulbs which were not doing well, but which had expanded to fill the space available to them. We decided to break them up and gave most of them away on Freegle to other nothern suburbs gardeners. In their place has gone a trellis which will be the support for two passionfruit vines - and I am hoping to plant thyme underneath them to bring the bees to the vine above.


We have ALL the Citrus at the moment! We have frozen limes for my Gin and Tonics (smile). I made a BIG jar of preserved lemons.

DH preserved some pears he found at the shop for $0.99c and made four jars for $3.


This is the kind of lunch I like:
Home grown mandarin, pomegranate, and rocket salad with feta and homemade rosemary bread croutons. (I have just realised that you can add croutons to many salads to give them a tasty twist -and use up some stale bread as well. As I make our bread, this is a good thing)

We are enjoying sleeping under COVERS at last -first the sheet was enough, then we added the quilt. It hasn't been cold enough yet for a doona, but that will come.

Today we have had some rain (hooray) and it is cloudy and cool. I have put the bread to prove in my north-facing bedroom window in the hope it will be warm enough to help it to rise.

Just the kind of seasonal activities we enjoy in this simple life.

I hope you are the same.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A finish! Disappearing pinwheel quilt

I finished the disappearing pinwheel quilt that I mentioned in my last blog. Here it is hanging up in the entry to our house. After I washed it the quilt took on that lovely crinkly appearance that I love, so please forgive its slightly wrinkled appearance.

I also made a short clip to show it off. Actually I am learning how to make such clips -and needed one to practice on! 

I have two more quilt tops to complete, now my walking foot is back. 

That should get another finish to report soon.

Monday, April 20, 2015

What I have been doing lately-the walking foot saga.

In January I saw this disappearing pinwheel churn dash quilt pattern from the Minnesota Quilt company YouTube video. I thought it was an interesting technique when Jenny did it -but it did get complicated when I tried it with a bunch of scraps I had been keeping. Some of them were very stretchy on the bias, and I wished that I had used starch on them before I started.Nevertheless I thought it was worth persevering. By the time I had 15 blocks I had run out of energy and enthusiasm -and  pink toned fabric

I added some lovely pink and purple Japanese fabrics from my stash to make a border and pinned it together. I did one or two lines of stitches with my walking foot -and then it broke! The spring was broken inside -so the fabric was not advancing and I had a messy set of stitches, some of which I took out.

It turned out that a new Bernina walking foot costs between $145-$175 in Australia. I was unwilling to part with that kind of money, so my DH took the foot to my local repair shop. I waited.

Whilst I waited I took scraps from the previous quilt and I made this Jacobs Ladder quilt (sorry -photo is blurry) .  I added scraps of green to it so it is now pink, green and white: Feminist Colours. This is now known around here as the "feminist quilt". It seemed to me that what it needed in the way of quilting would require a walking foot. I still didn't have one. 

I asked at the repair shop on a fortnightly basis for nearly three months. They were waiting for a part. 

Whilst I waited I made these fun lantern blocks using more Japanese fabric from my stash. I plan to sew this in long strips and quilt them before joining them in a QATG fashion.

The thing is, I make QUILTS not quilt tops. I am a finisher! I usually go all the way from cutting the fabric through to the binding in one operation, before starting a new quilt. I now had three unfinished objects- which was getting ridiculous. 

Last Saturday I went back to the repair shop, to ask one last time. If the part could not be fixed, I was buying a new one. The man went out the back to check -said "The repair man fixed it yesterday -that will be $3!"  Yippee! On the strength of that I went to my local quilt shop (LQS) and bought wadding in their "Buy 2 get one free" sale. I came home and started on the churn dash pinwheels again. 

I have spent the weekend happily quilting on the pink churn dash quilt. I made a frame of straight lines with the walking foot, and am now Free Motion Quilting in the white spaces. I really love the way that adding quilting adds so much to the texture and the interest in the quilt.
By next weekend I hope the quilting will be finished and I can be putting the binding on.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Using the good stuff

 I have had this lovely collection of Asian fabrics for too long now. I had an idea for how to use them, but I was putting it off. This weekend, encouraged by the Stashbusters group, I finally gave myself permission to cut them up!

 I made 16 10 inch blocks like this -nothing too complicated because I wanted the pretty fabrics to be appreciated for themselves. I LOVED finally playing with these fabrics-why had I waited so long?

When I put them on the design wall it was OK, but just too predictable.

I cut some 10.5 inch strips and started staggering the layout of the blocks. It is beginning to look better -there is more for the eye to look at, and I have been able to add more of my pretty fabrics.

This morning I played with the layout some more, but I reckon I can still do better.

I started imagining two columns made of Chinese Lantern blocks with a black background. That would make the quilt wider, and allow me even more fabrics to use in the quilt.

I am thinking of this kind of thing:

This quilt is going to be a quilt as you go quilt, so I am keeping in mind the need to create a layout that will accommodate that technique. Adding the lanterns will make it easier to quilt the columns and then join them together. 
So- I am having fun and finally using some of the 'good fabrics"!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Larder

I have been stockpiling groceries for a few years.

My stockpile consists of those things which are staples in our home, and mean that we always have a spare or three of anything when in the past we were often running out. This gives me time to go to the shop and buy it -hopefully when it is cheaper than normal. In Australia our supermarkets seem to cycle through high prices and then lower prices to entice shoppers back into the store. If I can time it properly, I can, for example, buy 1 kilo bags of our favourite coffee for less than $20 each, rather than the $25 they are at the high end of the price cycle. The way I do this is to buy enough when  it is cheap to last us to the next cheaper offer.

My stockpile includes UHT milk -I use this to make yoghurt and it also saves us from a rush trip to the shop if we run out of fresh milk.

I keep the ingredients for my home made washing powder in the stockpile -borax, washing soda and lux flakes.

I always have tinned fruit and some kind of tinned vegetables, along with tinned tomatoes and tomato concentrate, anchovies and cat food.

I always have shampoo, conditioner and liquid soap in bulk supplies, along with toothpaste,  deodorant and toilet paper.

Recently I cleared several cupboards to create this Larder for the stockpile -it is in the laundry and is extra to the pantry in my kitchen.

In the last 12 months or so I have extended my stockpiling by using the facility provided to me by our RACWA membership, to shop at a bulk grocery store usually selling to catering companies and other shops. This huge warehouse is close to my home so it is easy for me to access it. Once a month I buy cartons of the things I usually use -I don't buy everything every month, but over a period of 12 months I have built quite a nice array of things we use most.

Now, I know that this bulk buying is working for us as a strategy for several reasons, because I have noticed our spending on groceries has dropped by over $50 a week.

The prices are not always as cheap as the cheapest prices in the supermarkets, for any individual item, but I am not one to travel about looking for 50c off this or that. 

The way it works is:
1. Having the basics in the house, we never have to go to the shop for ingredients to make dinner in a hurry. We also don't buy take away food -almost never in the past 12 months!

2. Shopping monthly for the basics means weekly shopping trips are just for milk, meat and fresh fruit and vegetables -this keeps me out of the stores. If I am not shopping, I am not spending-you know how hard it is to go in for 'just one thing" and to actually stick to your resolve!

3. I think the prices of the cartons -which is always cheaper than buying individual items -averages out to make the overall cost cheaper too.

I also use a local supplier of bulk dried goods who deliver by Australia Post, to buy the flour and other needs for baking that I use a lot -I am very happy with the quality and service of this company. With the right ingredients my bread has become a firm favourite at home -we pity those who must eat 'plastic bread' from a plastic wrapper instead of a firm, fresh LSA sourdough or a Russian Black bread loaf or a white rosemary scented, crisp crusted home baked loaf. 

I am really happy with my new larder and the skills I am learning about stockpiling and feeding my family better food for less. 

To read more about Five Star Frugal Living follow the link to my friend's link up party. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Simple holiday times

I have been  on holiday for weeks now! I am happy for my friends who have spent the same time in Europe, visiting friends. Good luck to them!

My holiday has been spent at home.  I like it here. The accommodation is first rate-exactly my style of thing! We are so close to the beach we can walk every day -down near the water's edge and up to the reef. Me and my DH, just holding hands and walking each morning before it gets too hot.

Then we come home to do holiday things from home.
I have lots of new books to read. One of them is this cook book- and I have been trying out the recipes! The first cake I made was the Madeira cake -and it is a stunner. All I am saying is that if you have only ever known shop bought Madeira cake, you have never actually tasted the buttery, lemony sensation that it really is!

I also am learning to make pastry and pies.

There is a great sewing room here at my holiday location (smile) and I have been sewing -of course! This is a new table runner I made. 

And we have been doing holiday activities -like this wonderful Sunday evening Jazz concert in the park, where we took a picnic and had a fabulous time. 

There is still more holiday left -but the count down has begun. I will be trying to get lots of fun out of the last week and a bit.

Oh, and this week I am linking up with :