Sunday, 24 August 2014

I Ache!

This may the reason why.  Mick and I had a huge weekend beating the garden into submission.  We didn’t have an open house this week, so we could get in and make a mess.

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We weeded and chopped and planted and it looks so much better for it. 

I don’t know what happened this year.  Everything is supposed to be dormant for the winter months.  The mower usually doesn’t come out of the shed from about May through to August, but Mick has had to mow several times this winter and the weeds that had grown don’t bear thinking about.

The weather was just perfect for being outside.  It reached 19 degrees each day.  We were even able to wear a tee-shirt, rather than the layers we have been used to for the  last few months.  It was so good to feel warm.

Yesterday we had a sun shower come across.  It was strange being in the rain and not feeling cold and wanting to run inside.  It was also rather pretty. Nice, gentle rain.

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I love seeing the flowers start to appear again now, although several of these have been blooming for some time.

Daffodils & Jonquils 


I had so much trouble getting violets to grow when we first moved out here, as we had no shade, but they are everywhere now, much to Mick’s disgust, but I love them.  We have five different shades, ranging from white to deep purple.  They are such a delicate little flower.


Hellebores are another of my favourites.  These all came as tiny seedlings from church fetes and the like.  They live in the shade under a cotoneaster.


After we had tidied everything, it was time to test the watering system.  It was so pretty in the sunshine.  Once again, we didn’t mind getting wet, while setting all the sprays.  There was a definite feeling of spring in the air.

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Now we just want regular rain to make everything thrive.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Remainder of Retreat

We all arrived at Kerry’s for a nine o’clock start last Saturday.  It was to be a big day of stitching.  This is the little pile that greeted me.  Doesn’t it look lovely and neat and how much time did Kerry save me by already cutting the blocks!

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There is a lovely corner in the studio with all the necessary tea things and can you spy some rather lovely little butterfly cakes with home made lemon curd.  Oh, how we roughed it. 

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Kerry came around and got us all started on our projects.  Here she is discussing Sandy’s quilt with her, while Sue is already busy stitching.

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Before long, Sue had made her first ever Dresden plate and was thrilled at how easy it was to achieve.

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Meanwhile Jenny was busy sewing away.

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Not everyone was quite as industrious, but you have to be warm before you can be productive, don’t you Lea.

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Chooky had quite a challenge working out fabric placements on her pretty pink quilt.  She and Kerry were designing it on the fly.  You can read more about it here.  It really turned out well.

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Meanwhile, I was trashing the joint.  It never takes me long.  I just seemed to create a pile of pinned blocks.  I never did take a photo of them when they were all nicely pieced blocks.

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Before we knew it we were being called to lunch in Kerry’s garden.  What a lovely spot to sit and enjoy homemade chowder and cheesy bread.

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Once we were all fed and rested it was back into it.  We had lots more sewing to do.  That was why were were here, wasn’t it?  Progress was now being made.  Sandy was starting to get her blocks up on the design wall.

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Jenny had the fun task of working out the colour placements on her lovely quilt, with some guidance from Kerry.

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Chooky was being quite industrious.

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Trish, had to be hard at it as she didn’t choose a simple quilt pattern.  Oh, no, she had to pick a design that required her to sew blocks together, then have Kerry cut them up, sew them together again and have Kerry cut them up another time before she sewed them together again into their final design.  She wasn’t silly.  Imagine how long this would take without Kerry doing the cutting.

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There are several versions of how the block could be placed together.  It was quite fun playing with the placement.  This is not how it finally looked.  A very lucky bride is going to be the recipient of this quilt.

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Meanwhile, the quiet achiever, Miss Jules, was making great progress on her project.  You can see Lea’s pretty floral drunkard’s path being pinned on top of the shop sample quilt.  The colours really are lovely.

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As can be expected, things started to get a little silly as the afternoon progressed.  No Chooky, you cannot add your blocks to Sandy’s quilt.

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While Miss Jules was still sewing away on her lovely quilt.

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Lea went for a wander out into the paddock.  The light was just lovely in the afternoon.  Yes, she did do lots of stitching, I just missed taking any photos of her.

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We finally downed tools at about five o’clock. I think we were all ready to have a break from our machines by then. It really was a big day, but we all had such a lot to show for our efforts.

Back at the cabins there was a little show and tell.  This is the quilt that Trish made at last year’s retreat.  She really doesn’t select the simple, quick patterns.  The colours are so lovely and rich.


After dinner the furniture was pushed back and Chooky and I had a play with my blocks.  The quilt is really BIG!  96 inches!  We had fun crawling around putting the blocks this way and that, getting lots of input from all the ladies and finally settling on this layout. We then did it all again with Lea’s quilt.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo.  However, her layout is different and the colours she chose gives hers a totally different feel. 


Working out the designs like this was so good.  When we returned to Kerry’s on Sunday morning we just had to piece the big blocks together.  That process took longer than I expected, as I was being very careful not to muddle them up.  I was able to finish mine just on lunch time. Here it is, all together, in the sunshine.

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Back inside, Miss Jules was making great progress with hers.

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Sandy was up to the borders, Lea had her drunkard’s path put together and the others were also making fine progress.

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After lunch I packed up my stuff and said my goodbyes, as I had a six hour drive ahead of me and didn’t want to get home too late. 

It had been a wonderful experience being a part of this lovely group of ladies.  We talked about all sorts of things while we sewed and ate.  We didn’t mention politics or any other deep and meaningful topic, but we laughed and laughed.  Remember, what was said on retreat stays on retreat.  I think everyone returned to their homes scattered far and wide feeling much refreshed and ready to face the world.  Kerry, you certainly spoilt us.

I’ll leave you with this photo to finish off.  Just to cap things off, the biggest full moon of the year was on show on Sunday night as we all drove home.  It was stunning.

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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Friday at Nundle

Once all the girls arrived at Nundle we headed off to Mt Misery to partake of a rather delicious lunch.  There were no excuses for leaving hungry and there were also a few goody bags of chocolates, tea and honey that were taken home.  We were fortunate to have Tracy from Sunnycorner Farm join us for lunch as well.

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After lunch it was the obligatory visit to Ratters Flat.  This is the most intriguing store to visit.  It is very hard not to bring anything home, but I have to keep reminding myself that we are trying to reduce our possessions, not increase them.

PicMonkey Collage Ratters Flat 1 

PicMonkey Collage Ratters Flat 2

Finally, I found some wattle that I could access to take a photo of. I hadn’t seen as much on the way up as I had expected.

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Then it was down to business. The reason we were here was to sew!  So, we headed out to Kerry’s to select a pattern and fabric for our quilts.

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The Cottage on the Hill is in a lovely setting.  Kerry’s garden is gorgeous.



Enough looking at the scenery, it is time to look for a quilt design.  After wandering around and around I settled on the Drunkard’s Path quilt.  This would be a great opportunity to learn to sew curved seams.


Next to choose fabric.  After wandering around and around again I finally decided to take advantage of the kit that Kerry already had prepared in the shop. I knew Kerry would have selected fabrics that work well together and I wouldn’t have to think too much.  Bonus.  It also saved Kerry some cutting…….Yes, Kerry cuts everything for you.  All you have to do is sew and sew and sew and hopefully have a quilt top finished, or nearly so.  My quilt was going to be big……96 inches square, but the blocks are big, so hopefully it could be achieved.


After we all made our selections we headed back to the cabins at the caravan park.

We were in the two new cabins.  Aren’t they swish!   Not what you normally expect.  They have the large living area and two bedrooms, both with ensuites.  The beds can be set up as kings, or king singles.  Perfect for sewing weekends.

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There was some chitty chat, nibblies and hand stitching.  Generally just hanging out. 


Oh, yes, there may have been a little drinky or two as well.  Mind you, not all of us are quite as flashy as Jenny.


After that we headed off to the pub for dinner.  It was curry night, but I opted for stuffed local trout.  Yum. 

Not a late night, as we’d had a big day and had another big day ahead of us. 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Running Away

Last Friday I was naughty again and didn’t go to work.  However, this time there was no leisurely start to the day.  Oh, no! I was up at Sparrow Fart and off in the car before sun up. I even left Mick at home.

It was cold and frosty, down to minus four, with fog in the valleys.  Once the sun rose it was a glorious morning.

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Whenever I travel in this direction there is one spot where I always stop to take a photo.  Friday was no exception.  You can see a previous photo here. As you can see Friday was quite different with the frost.

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I loved the wispy fog in one spot.

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My drive then took me down into my favourite Bylong Valley, which was looking a picture in the morning sun.

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A good chance to stretch the legs.  You have to have your regular breaks.


Eventually I popped out the other end and arrived in the Hunter Valley.  This is where I really start to feel in holiday  mode.

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I had time to stretch my legs again at Murrurundi and discovered this beautiful old cottage.  Imagine irises in bloom already.  So very different to the climate at home.

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So, where was I off to?  If you hadn’t already guessed, I was heading once again to Nundle.  This time to partake of a little sewing therapy on a retreat weekend with some lovely ladies.