Thursday, 28 June 2012

Another Finish

As another month comes to an end I can now share a little finish.

I love making bibs as gifts, and now that this little collection has been receive by a sweet baby boy I can show a photo.

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There are so many cute prints to use.  I usually use bright fabrics but I especially like the way the blue one with teddies has turned out.  So cute (if I say so myself).

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Winter Solstice Ride – or Mick’s Mystery Ride

We have certainly embraced the shortest day of the year this weekend (even if it is a couple of days late).  Firstly, we attended a bonfire at one of our neighbour’s homes last night.  The weather gods were looking down on us as it was freezing cold but clear.  On Friday night I drove through sleet on the way home from town, so it was much better than it could have been.

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There is nothing better than standing around a big fire in the middle of winter eating a piping hot bowl of stew cooked in a camp oven.

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Today we rugged up again for our Winter Solstice Ride.   This is a tradition that started about 10 years ago, but due to us being away a few times and one thing and another it has had a few years’ break.  The idea is that you go for a motorcycle ride on the weekend closest to the shortest day of the year, come rain, hail, shine or snow, and if you pike out because of the weather you would never live it down.  Fortunately, to date we have avoided the snow.

After a bit of a ring around, we only rustled up four bikes, but that is a nice little group for a ride.  The destination was a mystery devised by Mick and I. You have to go to the cold country, (which wasn’t all that hard at the moment) and then find a pub with a nice warm fire and a good counter meal.

This year we went on a relatively short ride, only a bit over 200kms, and didn’t leave town until mid morning – very civilized.  There was no frost, but there was also no sun.  I took this photo of a tiny bit of blue sky, as I thought it might be all that we got to see.

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There is still a certain stark beauty to the landscape in the middle of winter.

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We travelled along some quiet country roads to Black Springs, which has an elevation of 1210m.  This is about the highest country in our area and quite often receives good snow falls.  Heated handgrips came into their own.  

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From Black Springs we headed into Oberon, and to our delight also into sunshine.

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What a difference that made. It was then on to Hampton for lunch and a bit of a warm up.

I forgot to take photos of our lunch, we were too busy tucking in.

From here we then took some more minor roads back towards home.  Past the wind generators.

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Through a tunnel of trees.

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Up this incredibly long straight hill.

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To our local cafe.  All this riding in cold weather works up an appetite.

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If it wasn’t starting to get colder and the afternoon closing in we would have been quite happy to stay and listen to some great music.

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We all had a great day out and now have to work out when and where to head on our next ride.

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I was going to cook some yummy spare ribs for dinner, but I think after all we’ve eaten today, it will just be a slice of toast.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Sydney Quilt Show

I travelled down to Sydney on a bus full of crafty ladies last Sunday for the final day of the quilt show.  I was a bit dubious about attending on the Sunday, but everything was still in full swing, although some of the more popular lines of fabric had sold out.  It was certainly still worth going down.

After the bleak, wet, cold day on Saturday it was a pleasant change to be nice and warm in Sydney.

My two good friends that I was with hadn’t been before and they both loved it and want to return next year, maybe for an overnighter, as our time was rather limited on the bus trip.

I had a lovely time checking out the wonderful quilts. The precision stitching is  astounding.  There is no way I’d ever achieve anything like this, so I just enjoy the eye candy.

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I was trying to think which was my favourite.  I always find myself drawn to medallion style quilts and anything William Morris inspired.  However, I really liked this whole cloth.  I suppose, because I find it rather unattainable.

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It is titled “Golden Ivory” and was created by Rachelle Denneny.  It has some gold metallic thread through it which is unusual.

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A fun quilt was “Hooterville” by Wendy Williams.  The pattern for this one is in the current Quilters Companion, so it was nice to see it “in the flesh”, so to speak.

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It is such a colourful quilt with lots of detail and closely worked quilting.

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After lunch I attended a Monica Poole workshop on Quilt as You Go (and I learned a couple of new tricks). As I walked in, who should I see but Maree.  It was so nice to catch up with at least one other blogger, as I thought everyone would have gone home by then.  Here we are checking out the great quilts.

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Of course there was a little retail therapy.  I went down with a huge shopping list – a 2 inch apple core template.  My friends that I was with kept looking for them on all the stalls, but I knew that I had to find the Busy Fingers stand, but had no luck.  Fortunately, Maree pointed me in the right direction and the template was found.  We had inadvertently missed that one aisle.

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While we were looking for the template, I did find one or two other things that jumped into my bag.

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We have to support our local suppliers don’t we.

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Now I just have to use these before next year’s show.  We’ll see how I go.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Another Black and White Finish

I’ve finished my latest black and white project using the scraps and leftovers from Mick’s quilt (which I still haven’t shown a proper finished photo of...oops!).

I showed a little teaser here last time.

I worked on it again on Tuesday night and finally finished it on Wednesday morning.  I think it actually took longer to sew than the big quilt – lots of fiddle faddling happening.

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You probably still have no idea what it is.

Well, here is the finished project.

The front.

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And the back.

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The inside.

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Yes, it is a large art journal.  One of the girls from work is starting Art School in Sydney next week and I made this as a little farewell gift.  She loved Mick’s quilt, so this was appropriate.  I hope she fills it with wonderful doodles and creations. I certainly had fun making it for her.

A finish for the month.  Woo hoo! As always, it was based on Bloom’s great tutorial.

An early night tonight as I’m off to Sydney tomorrow morning on the bus to the Quilt Show at Darling Harbour.  I can’t wait. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

What Mick’s Been Up To

While I’ve been playing with bits and bobs, Mick has been a little more productive.

We moved into our house 13 years ago on the June long weekend.  She is now starting to need a little maintenance.  One of the main jobs required was to replace the verandah rails.  They have been rotting out at the bottom, and when your verandah is about six foot off the ground and you have a little dog who is completely blind, it is not good to have gaping holes in the railings.  However, we knew it would be a huge job and quite expensive.  The decision had to be made as to whether we replace the rails with wood again, or go for steel.

Finally, after doing some shopping around, we have decided to go with steel.  Our house is clad in corrugated iron, so it suits it quite well.

So, last week, as Mick had the week off work,  in the cold and the wet he replaced the rails.

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Here is a before and after.

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We’re really happy with the way they turned out.  The new rails actually, look less obstructive than the timber rails.  We aren’t going to paint them either, as they go quite well with the French blue of the posts.  The posts will be painted once the weather warms up again – try about October. 


Now that the rails are all done and we hopefully will have a few more weekends at home over the winter, Mick needed a new project.  At lunch time today he announced that he needed me to help move “Marilyn” into his workshop side of the shed.  You could have knocked me down with a feather!!! This is a project that I never thought would happen and I’m absolutely thrilled that it will.

You see, a few of our mates are getting old 1970’s bikes to do up.  Some are being turned into cafe racers.  Mick has been encouraged to get one as well, but he hasn’t been all that keen.  This project is much better.  “Marilyn” and Mick go way back – well before I came on the scene.  “Marilyn” is Mick’s original cafe racer bike that he has owned since 1979.  Why “Marilyn”?  Because she had great legs, of course!!

Doesn’t he look so young in this photo.  “Marilyn” is a Rickman Honda, which was quite a special bike to own back then.  Mind you, she is still quite a special bike to own. Although she was designed as a street bike, Mick used her for touring as much as anything.  Nearly all of the photos show her loaded to the hilt to go travelling, or camping at the top of Mount Panorama for the Easter  Bike Races.

Mick on Marilyn

Unfortunately, a couple of years after he bought her, while she was parked out the front of his Mum’s house, someone crashed into her and she was written off. Mick was able to buy the wreck back and rebuild her.  The only fibreglass parts he could get at the time were orange, rather than the original yellowy lime green.  Instead of the single bucket seat, she now has a dual seat.

This was the bike Mick rode when I met him.  One of the first gifts he gave me was a bike jacket and helmet.  Here I am ready to head off for a ride.  We went to a few rallies on her and had a great time, however, she started to have some engine problems and Mick bought “Sophia”, his Moto Guzzi. “Marilyn” was wheeled to the back of the shed.  He actually advertised her for sale, but fortunately, no one wanted to buy her, for which I was very pleased, as I didn’t want him to sell her.

Janice with Marilyn

Move forward 20 years, and she has been wheeled to the front of the shed.  She is looking a little (well, quite a lot) sad.

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Just the odd cobweb and lots of dust and grime.

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Here she is at the end of the afternoon.  As Mick put it, “Marilyn in the nude”.

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And one happy husband.  At least I’ll know where to find him for the next few months.

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A Bit of a Catch Up

I’ve been somewhat slack and haven’t posted here for a couple of weeks, so time for a bit of a catch up on our goings on.

We have continued to have a couple of more quiet weekends at home, which has been rather nice, now the weather is turning quite wintery.  We’ve already been down to –5 degrees on a couple of days this week.

I’ve still been cooking meals from the Family Circle magazine I bought.  Last week Mick decided it was his turn to choose what I cooked, and he chose a seafood pie which had a marinara mix for the seafood.  Yummy!

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This week I made the chicken noodle soup.  Mick isn’t keen on celery, so I substituted peas.  Another success.

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I also made Moroccan Lamb and Lentil Stew, except I’m too ikey to pay nearly $30 a kilo for boneless lamb, so used gravy steak instead.  It was still delicious.  The aroma while it was cooking was just wonderful. 

My photos aren’t the best, but you have to be quick when you have someone telling you to stop mucking around trying to be all arty farty, “It’s just a stew for goodness sake!”  Mind you, he is quite enjoying me trying a few new dishes.

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So far all the recipes have been simple and very tasty.  I’ll keep trying some more.  I’ve also been making cakes and slices each weekend as well, using my old faithful recipes.  Wonders will never cease.  It is amazing what can happen when you actually stay home for a change.


During the last couple of weeks we have been listening to the Isle of Man races on the Manx Radio at night.  Oh, the wonders of the internet.  This time last year we were there, this year we are just wishing we were there.  However, the weather hasn’t been the best, so maybe it was a good year to be listening from afar.  Our Aussie contingent (of 2 riders) did quite well.  Cameron Donald came 2nd in 3 races, which was fantastic.  (This is us with Cam last year.)

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David Johnson, the other Aussie rider was finishing well up the ranks as well, and it is only his second year competing. Unfortunately, the major race had to be cancelled due to the weather.  Only the third time ever.  It must have been very disappointing for all involved.


On Saturday I went along to my little stitching group.  We have had a break for a few months, so it was nice to all get together again.  I worked on my Some Kind of Wonderful quilt.  I’ve been on a bit of a go slow with it – or rather a stop and just haven’t had the inclination for a while.  However, this weekend I have finished off four blocks.  They aren’t in any particular order, but it is still progress. Now I’m itching to get a wriggle on and catch up.

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However, I have another little project on the go using the scraps from Mick’s quilt, which has a closer deadline.  The design process has taken a little while.  In other words, I’ve been procrastinating and just didn’t really know where to start.  Today I made this “Mini Twister'” block.  The “Twister” ruler I used for Mick’s quilt is used on layer cakes, the “Lil’ Twister” is used on charm squares and I made this one up out of template plastic for a 3 inch square.  It is tiny and a little fiddly, although it would be fun to make a miniature quilt with them…..but I digress.

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I had previously made this row of blocks to make a row of mini twisters, but silly me, having worked out all my measurements and made the template, forgot to add seam allowances when I cut the squares, so I’m just leaving them as this block.

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I have also made a mini log cabin block.

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This is how I’ve used my min twister block.  The finished panel is about 14” x 10”.  It was rather time consuming, but fun.  I just drew a square with radiating lines.  Then I just grabbed scraps and cut them for the random piecing in each segment using foundation piecing. I was going to insert the square with “Y” seams, but when my square  hole ended up not quite square I changed my mind and will blanket stitch appliqué the square on to the background, much easier.

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Now you’ll just have to wait till I finish off the project to see what it is……..and if it turns out as I hope.  It is just one of those things that is growing organically….. no real plan, just a rather vague concept…….not like me at all.

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I’d better get a wriggle on so that I can clean up my “creative mess” on the dining room table, don’t you think. (It’s already been like this for a week – oops!)