Keeping the Postal services afloat

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Since we've been using e-mail for communication for the last 16 or 17 years, we haven't done much to keep Australia Post afloat. Where it used to be us excitedly checking the letterbox in the front yard to see if our friends had sent us a letter, it soon became the priority of the day to turn the computer on as soon as we were out of bed in the morning.  Someone across the seas may have sent us an e-mail overnight!  I have to admit that if I now have to type up a letter, print it out, find an envelope, address it, find a stamp and then physically carry it to the post box, it's a job that will be put right to the bottom of the list and may stay there for quite a few days.

However, in the last few years since I took up patchwork and quilting, I have started doing my bit to keep the Postal services afloat. This week I posted off four new projects to magazines.

A wall-hanging:

A table runner:

Another wall-hanging:

 And a quilt:

Then there are the things that I buy online - they have to be transported from a to b, so the postal service is getting supported again. It makes me feel good that I am doing my bit!!!!  

On Friday I took the plunge and finally did something that I have been putting off for about two years - bought a new computer - online.  My husband has been all this time trying to get me to do something about my old slow computer, which he describes as "coming out of the Ark".  It's not that I'm particularly attached to the computer, but I am fond of the operating system and some of my very old programmes, particularly the one that I use for designing my pattern templates. I doubt that they will work with the new system and I just didn't want to face the thought of spending a couple of weeks of frustration getting everything installed,  transferred, networked and operating how I want it, plus having to learn new programmes! In the end I decided that crawling under the desk to plug in my backup disc in the back of the computer because the front ports don't work any more, definitely signalled the time to act. So the deed is done and I have put a line through the diary for the next couple of weeks, apart from a spot of grand-children minding next weekend!

Thankfully, there's usually not much frustration when it comes to making lovely projects! This is one that I designed for the Charity, Fresh Hope.  It is now available for purchase and all the proceeds go to this very worthy charity. Meet the Fan-faire Table Runner:  

I really enjoyed doing the fan appliques and stitching on this design. I hope you like it too. You can read about Fresh Hope Charity here and their range of patterns can be viewed here

Now while my faithful old computer is still working and before the onslaught next week, I have made available on my website two of my patterns that were recently published which I showed you a few weeks back:

Peek-a-boo Puzzle is available for purchase here

 and the Stitch n Sew Machine Cover here.

I hope you have a great week.  Happy stitching!

Falls and Feathers

Sunday, April 22, 2012
No, I didn't fall over!  We have been away on a little break staying in a delightful cabin at Queen Mary Falls in Killarney in South East Queensland.

We spent four days with eight other members of our local Birdwatchers Club, exploring the area and seeing what birds we could find. All the waterfalls had LOTS of water and were just so pretty.  We didn't have far to go to find some gorgeous birds.  These were outside our front door:

King Parrot

Crimson Rosella

The scenery was superb:

We celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary while we were away - 46 years spent with the love of my life.  I have been so blessed.

High on the priority list when we arrived home was to tackle the garden.  We've had so much rain and the grass is really green and looks lovely when its mown - hubby's job. I spent Saturday afternoon tidying up some of the garden beds and once again tangled with the 'wild' life - not wasps this time,  but ants - I'm not sure what type they are but they have an intensely painful sting. I ended up with 13 attacks! The worst part is the after-effects.  I always seem to have a reaction to insect bites, so I now have huge, insanely itchy lumps on swollen legs! It all reinforces what a good move it was, when I retired seven years ago, to put stitching higher on the list of leisure activities than gardening!

There hasn't been much time for stitching indulgence since we arrived back home.  Washing, ironing, shopping and having visitors have filled the last couple of days, but a couple of nights in front of the Telly have given me time to work on this:

I think I'm really liking this new design.

Happy stitching!

Free Pattern Thoughts in Thread - Block 4

Saturday, April 14, 2012
It's the month for focussing on lovely things in our free "Thoughts in Thread" Block of the month quilt. To me, one of the loveliest things in this world is a swan, so elegant and beautiful.  You might have guessed how much I like swans seeing I use a photo of them as my profile logo.

This is one of my favourite photos.  These swans were doing their courting dance, synchronising their every movement, then they separated, turned around and came together again in this beautiful formation. Of course I had to put a swan in this month's block:

Whatever things are lovely, think on these things.

 After you have appliqued and stitched the swan, there's just a little bit of simple piecing to finish off Block 4: 

 You can find the pattern on my website here.

We had a lovely time with our family here during the week.  Our talented daughter, Janelle, made this fabulous cake:

Scrumptious chocolate 'fence' around a chocolate mud cake and topped with berries - all gluten free and absolutely yummy!

I spent a lovely morning at the beach with three of the grandchildren.  Add to the fun of sand and water some grass-sliding down the huge slope to the beach and you know they had a great time.  It was about the only occasion this week that I've done much stitching - doing some hand-quilting on a Gifts of Grace quilt.

I gave my original version of the quilt away as a gift, and then decided I would really like to have one for myself.  It's been a 'no hurry' project - sitting in my sewing box for whenever I had nothing else to stitch at night in front of the TV.  It's always handy to have something like that to work on in between projects and it is quite OK that it's taken about 18 months to finish.

I managed to get another couple of hexie flowers made also:

I hope you enjoy making Block 4 and I'd love to see any photos of your blocks.  Have a great week of stitching!



Saturday, April 7, 2012

Jesus is alive! That's something I treasure!

I hope you find peace, joy and hope in that fact too.

We've already finished the batch of Hot Cross Buns I made on Friday.  I was going to make some more, till I hopped on the scales this morning!!! I don't normally eat margarine or butter, but it sure tasted good on those hot buns, and I'm afraid I did indulge.

Last night I ironed a whole heap of doilies. These are not any old doilies, but each one was exquisitely crocheted by my wonderful mother. Whenever she had a spare moment she would be crocheting and I was the recipient of many of her masterpieces. Here they are airing on the table before I put them away:

We have a house full of traditional classic walnut furniture (well, walnut veneer in most cases!) which lends itself to having these beautiful doilies displayed on them.  I change them every few months or so to enjoy a different array of her work.  As you can imagine, these are among my treasured possessions.

Something else I treasure is retirement and having time to spend doing things I love - like stitching! I'm making a quilt to cover our half-size pool table and have been having fun doing something different with what starts out as a very ordinary block:

I'm using up some more of the Rue St Germaine fabric that I used for the Consider the Lilies quilt.

This is now the sixth project that I've made from this range of fabric and I am still enjoying the lovely colours and design of the material.  I reckon that qualifies it to be called a fabulous range when you don't get sick of using it!

Another lovely set of fabric that I've been working with this week is the Butterscotch and Roses range by Fig Tree Quilts:

There's just the hanging sleeve to finish now on this wall hanging. Fabric like that makes a designer's life easy!

There won't be too much stitching done over the next couple of days as I will be focussing on another of my special treasures - family!  We're looking forward to having family members who live relatively near (about half of us) with us for some celebrations tomorrow.

I hope you enjoy thinking about your special treasures too.

Happy stitching!

One lonely little flower

Monday, April 2, 2012

One lonely little hexie flower - that's the sum total of the craft I have done in nine days!!!

We just arrived home last night from a little holiday catching up with lots of friends. The round trip totalled about 2000 kms. We're thankful for safe travelling and lovely hospitality from a number of friends. The main reason for the trip was to attend the 50 years reunion with fellow students who attended Sydney Missionary and Bible College between 1962-1965.  I hadn't seen most of the people since I finished college 47 years ago!  Can you imagine what fun it was trying to work out who was who! It was a special time of celebration and remembering wonderful times together.

Of course, there was far too much talking to even think about doing craft! The only reason I achieved my one little hexie flower was because a car transporter truck caught fire on the M1 Pacific Highway and we were stuck on the road for 65 minutes. You can see a photo of the inferno and read about the loss of a Maserati and a rare British car (as well as the truck!) here.

Some lovely friends took my husband and I out to the Hunter Valley Gardens as a treat for my birthday which is coming up soon. The Gardens are quite spectacular, even in Autumn.

The day was topped off with a fabulous lunch at the Billabong Smorgasbord restaurant.  I have never seen so much choice - the range of food was amazing - and delicious!  Needless to say, we didn't need much for the evening meal!

We visited a number of quilt shops during our travels.  Sadly, our local quilt shop closed down a couple of weeks ago so I took the opportunity of stocking up a bit on pink and burgundy while I had access to quilt shops:

Some neutrals for stitchery backgrounds:

A couple of purples and a yellow:

And a couple of threads.  For years I have chosen to use Anchor stranded cottons as I prefer their colour range and the quality of their thread. Because we have lived in the country for decades, I have made sure that I always have every colour in the Anchor range so that it's there when needed.  Lately it has become increasingly difficult to purchase the threads as most stores have taken to stocking DMC.  Imagine how happy I was to find a little country store where I was able to purchase all but one of the numbers I needed.

Now I hope you don't mind my sharing a proud moment in our family.  Our son, Philip, builds custom engines for top racing Super Cars and Dragsters. In his field, he is known as 'Phil the Legend' not only for his amazing rotary engine work and his manifold design, but also the races that have been won by cars he has built or worked on. He made history over the weekend with a world record, racing the fastest Nissan in history. You can see and hear what the driver had to say after the race here. (the black car on the left is the one).

I've done the unpacking and have three loads of washing all dry, and restocked the fridge and pantry with a trip to the supermarket, so now I had better fold the washing and get to the ironing.  Thank you to the lovely people who commented on my last blog post - I'm sorry I couldn't thank you individually this week. It took me for ever to process all the e-mails that came in while we were way.

Have a great week ... and happy stitching!