Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR [be careful what you wish for!!]

As I type this post, the time is closing in on 2010, so I will take this opportunity to wish everyone a safe, healthy, happy and prosperous 2011, with many hours to create beautiful things, AND to share them with friends.

Many of you know that very often in my part of the world we lament the lack of rain.  Of course, many of you know too that at the moment my district is experiencing the highest flood levels on record.   We are in no danger of course, but all of the people in our little township have had to be evacuated and spend time away from their homes.  I feel for them this New Year's Eve and hope they are home again soon.  A number of times we have been told about the river heights, ie where the water rises, etc., and a number of times I've remarked that I'd really like to see that!!  Well, take it from me - be careful what you wish for.  The photograph above is still not the end of the story.  It has risen since this series of photos was taken.  I decided to try the Stitch Photo part of my program, and this panoramic view of the rising water is the result of some fun playing on the computer.  My little camera also has a Stitch Assist function which I've used to capture consecutive frames.  It's an interesting exercise.

I also have a few shots of a little drama that unfolded as a result of the flooding.  Our neighbour realized he had cattle stranded and could possibly lose them.  He managed to secure the services of a helicopter in the hope of a rescue.  I'll post these few small photos, and you can work it out for yourselves.  The chopper was on the job just after 5.00am this morning. 


Bear with me if I post another flood photo.  I have to tell you, I am not going to see this again in my lifetime I'm sure, so it is big news in our life at the moment.  Thank you to my friends for showing such concern not only for us, but for our extended community.  Australians really are good to know in a fight.

Take care all.  I have not set myself a challenge as such this year, except to do some bigger projects, and try to be a more organized person, not dallying so much with my thoughts.  I have enjoyed the Blogger experience, not just for sharing my world, but to be part of so many other wonderful artists' creativity.  

See you all next year...................LOL.........

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Change of Pace

Hello again to everyone.  I decided I'd change the pace a little with this post.  I will have higher water to photograph, as it is STILL rising, but will leave those photos for a few days, and go back to some of the needlework I do.  The table centre in the above photo is one I did a few years ago.  The pattern was in an Anna magazine.  It is done in #20 crochet cotton, and about 30 inches in diameter.  We have a very glossy cream top on our dining table, with brown upholstery on the chairs, so I thought this might make a nice piece for the table [it is hardly ever used, and the table is used for 'stuff'].

Over the years, I've done lots of things in crochet, learning when I was only about nine years old.  I particularly love working around handkerchiefs.  This is another Anna pattern [and an Irish Linen handkerchief].   I use this handkerchief myself, hence it's slightly used appearance [does Blogger have an embarrassed face to use??].

This is another one I use a lot, so do apologize if it is not in pristine condition.  Again, an Anna pattern, with the monogram design from the little book by Christine Harris, Embroidered Initials.  For some reason, every edge pattern I've used from the Anna magazines has just fit perfectly into the handkerchief edge, with no 'fudging' to get the corners nice.  This is a tad smaller than the one above and a pure cotton.  

Hopefully these closeup shots will allow you to see the monogramming.  The embroidery is done with a single strand using my favourite DMC colours, 225/224 pink, and 523 green.  All of the edging has been done using #100 crochet cotton.  

Thank you again to everyone for sending good wishes to us because of the flooding.  Thankfully, we have nothing to worry about, we are on a high area of the property, and we have sufficient food supplies for a number of days, and most definitely enough needlework supplies...........LOL..  I put these pictures on to show people just how much water actually spreads out on this flat river country.  My husband tells me it is higher still this morning.  It appears to be going to break the 1942 record at the bridge in Condamine.  We won't see that, as several small backing up lagoons will be too high for us to cross.  The sun is out now and it's drying out in the paddocks.  When the water recedes there will be fences to be seen to, and the levy bank has broken, so lots of repairs.  I am sure there are others who will have much more damage than we have here.  For those people, all I can do is offer my sympathy and hope they recover quickly from this devestation.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Room with a View

It's finally happened.  We can see water from the Condamine River - through the window in the spare bedroom!!!  The houses on this property are built on a sand hill, with the river flats starting to look like inland lakes as I type, and more water still to get here.  The ducks seem to be having a ball.  It's extremely hard to get any sort of photograph which gives any indication of the impact of this event.  Even for us, who know these paddocks, find it difficult to comprehend where it is running in.  If you look closely at the above photograph you will see the tops of some fence posts, and the country behind the water has been planted to cotton................ it will be ruined I'd say.

This shot shows the water coming in and around some higher ground.  Over the years, levy banks have been constructed in order to protect farmed areas.   The tree line at the back is 'the river'.  Actually, we are three kilometres from the river, as the crow flies. 

 This is another small pocket of farming land under water.  I hope you can see the flowers in the foreground.  These bulbous plants are everywhere at the moment.  I am not sure of their correct name, but have been told they've been dubbed The Darling Lily [this water finds it's way into the Murray-Darling system and into South Australia eventually].  They look like a large crocus or a small crinum [again, hope I'm right on the 'classification'].

As promised, I managed a shot showing the water over the bridge.  This was taken after lunch yesterday, the reading approximately 11.5 metres [the bridge is 10 metres].  I have been speaking to people in the township this morning.  It is now over 13 metres and still rising.  We are unable to get to town, but still okay as far as food is concerned.  My biggest worry is running out of milk [we freeze it these days].  But, if that happens, I suppose I still have nothing to complain about compared to others who have been through rough times.

Thank you to all who have shown concern, and thank you too to Shirley for the cider vinegar hint.  I had not heard that one before.  It's on the grocery list.

My heart goes out to the people who have had to leave their homes.  Theodore to the north, and Chinchilla to the north-east are the worst in our immediate area.  Both our sons are Civil Engineers based in the Shires where all of this damage is happening.  The nightmares will begin soon enough when it's time to repair damage to roads and creek crossings.

I have one amusing story about Sunday's deluge.  Our son who lives in the Tara district saw a lot of water quite close to his home on a small acreage.  They were picking up yabbies on the side of the road, in drains, etc.  Guess what they had for lunch.  For those who are not familiar with the yabby [crayfish], I've included a small image.  They are very nice to eat [a lot of waste], and abound in our inland silty dams.   Obviously the dams were full and overflowing, and the yabbies had to go somewhere!!!      

Monday, December 27, 2010

Water Under The Bridge

Christmas is over for another year, and what a day it must have been for many of my fellow Queenslanders.  We managed to celebrate with some of our family, and some extended family, with the day staying fairly dry, but overcast.  We had our anxious moments, but knowing the river as we do, we felt quite safe crossing for the day and knowing we could return home the same afternoon.  This is a photograph I took after crossing the bridge on Christmas morning.  The water is now over the bridge.  I do hope we might drive in to see it tomorrow some time.  We can't get far from the houses here, the paddocks are saturated, the local watercourses full and running bankers, too deep for us to wade through............perhaps tomorrow.  The town of Chinchilla, 90 kms to the north-east of us is experiencing major flooding, and every road out of the town is cut.  I hope our local grocery stores stocked up last week!!!  It appears the water won't recede for a number of days yet.  That's the way of these rivers, running through quite flat country, slow to rise, and slow to fall.  Hopefully I can get some more photos in a few days.

I took these photos on Christmas day.  These are two lovely blooms in my daughter-in-law's garden.  She has so many lovely shrubs flowering at the moment, I could have snapped all day.  The agapanthus are in full bloom, and the numerous hibiscus are a delight, although I keep wondering about this one.  Although the flower looks like a hibiscus, the leaves look very much like a Rose of Sharon......................  Maybe I don't know my plants????

I trust everyone enjoyed their Christmas day, and are having a few days' rest and relaxation.  There has been chaos in all parts of the world this Christmas.  Thankfully, in our little corner of the world, we are high [not dry as such], but safe, with food in our freezers and pantries.  Our main concern is having enough insect repellant.  The mosquitoes are on the warpath, and soon the sandflies will join forces with them.  I've had to spray our dogs with a home brew [that's not beer] in order to give them some peace from the biting wretches.  Even the horse, who usually hates being sprayed, was satisfied to stand still and take his medicine.  First on the grocery list will be baby oil and dettol, nothing beats it for the animals!!!!  We usually light logs for some smoke, but everything is so wet at the moment, a fire isn't going to be easy to get going.  This is why we live where we live I suppose!!!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

More Napery Finished

I'm sailing fairly close to the wind with my Christmas gift making, but it's all done now, except for the wrapping.   These are the second set of placemats and napkins I've made for the family.  I forget how long I've had this fabric, but I liked it and as usual, purchased a few metres.

Actually, these projects take quite a deal of fabric, so to make sure I had everything a good size, I used a toning but different fabric on the back of the placemats, and something different again for the bindings.  These all came from my stash, nothing purchased especially.  I even used a white stiff lawn inside the placemats, something I 'inherited' after my mother-in-law passed away.  I think I like the stripe better than the fruit/vege side!!!

And, just to prove I am totally batty, I have to show you that I found these matching tea towels in the cupboard.  I bought them somewhere because I liked them, and they go so well with this set.  The kitchen where these will 'live' is quite neutral, so the maroon will be fine.  I also found some bottle green checked tea towels as well, which will go with the chilli set.  I hope the family like what I've made.

All seems to be in order for our day out tomorrow.  We have spent a few anxious hours worrying over the river height, but we have been told by several people that the bridge should not go under water, so I suppose we'll just drive over it and not look back.  Hopefully, when we arrive there tomorrow afternoon, we'll be able to get back home.  

I know most people are busy doing their last minute preparations, and won't be around their computers, but I take this opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful Christmas, and thank you all sincerely for taking an interest in the things I am doing.  I appreciate each and every comment.  Take care all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Mail

Last Friday I received a lovely package from the UK.  Each season I receive a hand made card and small gift from my dear friend Isabell, and I would just like to share these with everyone.  Thank you so much Isabell for always putting so much thought and time into your greetings.  I do appreciate it so much, as I know this year has not been easy for you.  The camera didn't want to take a good photo today.  For some reason, the contrast in colours causes a few problems.  The background is the fat quarter that Isabell sent.  It is a Jinny Beyer print [my very favourite fabric designer!!], in varying shades of green.  Enjoy.

I am trying to finish another set of napkins and placemats, as well as starting a new piece of Hardanger.  I need to finish the napery before Christmas, so hopefully will have some photographs to share in a few days.

Thank you most sincerely to all who read my blog and take such a keen interest in my ravings.   

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recycled Real Estate

I am fairly sure almost every town in Australia has abandoned Bank of New South Wales [now Westpac] building.  Thankfully, when the decision was made to relocate the bank business to an instore branch in the town's drapery store, the building was purchased by one of the local businessmen.  It is now used for several purposes, ie recycled.    The front area of the building is office space, the upper floor a living area - 'apartment', and the back of the building had a huge make over, giving us a much needed coffee shop.  Of course, due to it's location, without the 'sandwich sign' many visitors would pass by without knowing where to find it.

The entrance has been given a cool look with the addition of a water feature and some greenery, whilst the plant lined walkway through to the back is a delight.  The new cafe proprietors have put their own stamp on the business, making it a pleasant retreat from the summer heat, and a welcome warm spot on a cold winter's day.   

I very rarely have the opportunity to spend some time there, but did so recently and thought I would share these few photos with those who read my blog.  Those who know me, know I am passionate about my local town/area, and feel it is worth sharing.  It is only a small, quaint country town, but the business people are always friendly and welcoming to visitors.  We do have an enormous amount of through traffic due to the town being at the crossroads of two much used country 'highways', ie the Warrego and the Leichhardt [I use the term highway very loosely here.............don't get too excited!!].  One can dine inside, on the verandah, or in the open under the large umbrellas.  The dining area faces the north, which of course is our most pleasant side here in the Southern Hemisphere.

I ordered the carrot cake with beloved coffee of course.  Thankfully, the serving was not too large, and I didn't have a guilt trip all the way home.  I am trying to convince my husband that a small gathering of our family and close friends at this venue [for morning tea] may be a nice way to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary next month..................  We shall see.  

Friday, December 10, 2010

Delicacy Salad Recipe

It's getting close to Christmas now for all.  I did say I would share a recipe, so will get this posted today.  I know for those of you who are feeling somewhat cold at the moment, this sort of fare is quite far down on your list of would-be 'delights'.   For us here in Australia, cold fare seems to be the in thing, and I've often found that this is well received.  

Thank you all again for commenting on my most recent needlecase, and also for becoming part of my life.  People have been so supportive, it has given me so much encouragement.  I do so appreciate all this kindness.  I will also take this opportunity to wish one and all a safe and happy Christmas, wherever in the world you may live.

I have this in an old cookbook I bought in the 70's, published by the Ladies' Show Auxilliary for one of our small country towns here, ie Tara.  It's simply called the Tara Tucker Book.  Okay, enough.

Delicacy Salad -

½ cup hot water
3 dessertspoons gelatine
½ cup cold water 
½ cup vinegar
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
a few drops of green food colouring
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup well drained canned crushed pineapple

Soften gelatine in hot water;  add sugar, salt, cold water, vinegar and lemon juice.  Place on very low heat on stove, stir until sugar and gelatine is well dissolved.  Colour pale green [just a few drops!!].   Allow to cool slightly in the refrigerator and when the mixture is beginning to thicken a little, add the cucumber and crushed pineapple.  Place in your favourite mould container.  Refrigerate overnight.  To serve, unmould onto serving platter and decorate.  This can also be set in small individual dishes, as single serves.  

I have included this photograph to show a 'slice' ready for serving.  I find this is not for everyone.  I know my husband will not even try it, so I always warn people to take a small piece first as it may not be to their liking.   It has a slightly tangy flavour, and makes a welcome addition to a buffet table.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Last Needlecase - Hapsburg

I've finally finished my needlecase challenge for 2010.   This month I decided to try another counted thread stitching technique that was relatively new to me.  I have seen some references to this type of work, ie Hapsburg Lace stitching, but very few patterns.  There are kits available on Tanja Berlin's Website, more of the 'sampler' kind, and on canvas.   I set this design out in a quad ruled pad, roughly, and began stitching from the top right hand corner.  I've used Lugana 25ct, and stitched with Finca PerlĂ© #16.   I hope this photograph gives you an indication of the overall pattern.  The fabric I've used for the background is my inner lining, with hot pink wool felt for the needle pages.

There are only a few simple stitches for this technique - Smyrna stitch, round eyelet stitch, and a mosaic filling [which is essentially a double running stitch, slanted].

The raw edges have been turned under, corners mitred and finally I've stitched Antwerp edging stitch to finish the needlecase.  The lining has been inserted in exactly the same way as November.   I really like this technique, and feel I would do more in the future.  Thank you again to everyone who has followed the progress of this challenge, and made the time to comment.  I have not had a moment to catch up on my usual blogs, so please bear with me my friends.  Cheers.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Winners Are.............

Hello Everyone, I have done the draw for the scissor fobs.  The winners are Karyn, and Isabell.  Congratulations girls, and thank you everyone for showing such an interest in these little things.  Karyn and Isabell I will get the gifts in the mail ASAP.  I have your addresses, so all is well.

A little bit wet here for us, not flooded out, but wet enough.  I have not had a moment to get to Blogger, so have nothing of note to talk about, unless you would all like to hear about my house cleaning efforts.......................  It's big news in our household, because it doesn't happen all that often!!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sewing for a Bloke!!!

My #1 son loves chillies!!!  He is also the main 'cook' in his household.  Don't worry, his wife has lots of other duties and attends to them well.  In short, she is a workaholic, and a lovely girl.  For years I have been thinking about organizing some chilli themed napery for their kitchen, and I think today I'm finally going to have the project finished.  The above photograph shows the eight placemats I've made [they have a large wooden table which easily seats eight].  These are reversible, with chilli fabric on one side and green hessian on the other.  I've done a little bit of quilted stitching just to keep the layers together - there is also a layer of green homespun between - I had it here, and the hessian, so thought it would serve my purpose well, and get rid of it!!!

I have also made the eight napkins, hemmed, with corners mitred.  I love doing mitred corners, and I especially love the finished article.  I simply press everything where it needs to be sewn, then sew.  I find I get a really good finish working this way.

As there was quite a length of this fabric [yes, I know, I bought too much!!], I made two centre hotmats as well.  These have an insulated wadding inside, as well as the green homespun.   I needed to use the green homespun under the hessian, as it's loose weave allowed the colour of the insulbrite to peep through.  That really didn't make me very happy!!  I hope the photograph will show the layers I've used.  They are quite nice and thick, and should protect the table if they are used for serving hot food.

I do hope he will be happy with them now that I have them all finished.  I did show him when I'd made the first one, and he seemed impressed, his only comment being that they were a 'bit wild Ma'.  At least they'll be a talking point at their next BBQ if nothing else - perhaps they'll all just have a giggle at his crazy mother.

I now want to get my fruit/vege fat quarters made for the other family.  I know they like bright, country napery, so should not be disappointed when they are handed over.  What a good excuse to get to the patchwork store - I desperately need to match plain homespuns...................  

Thank you all again for taking such a keen interest in my posts, the comments I receive are much appreciated. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lunch in the Bush

As I've already mentioned in a previous post, our patchwork group met not long ago for the final time this year.  For a few years we have been going to a catered luncheon in our local town, but this year our Club President offered her home for the day out.  For me personally, that meant a trip of over 100 kilometres one way.  It had rained during the night, on some already waterlogged roads, so there were some fast and furious early morning phone calls hither and yon trying to decide whether to cancel, or move the proceedings back to the hall where we usually meet.  Thankfully, the sun shone early, so we decided to give it a go.  We all contributed to the feast, with several different salads, turkey, ham, chicken, quiche, and sweets of course.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of the sweets, probably too busy making sure I tried everything!!!  If you enlarge the above photo, in the bottom left corner you will see a type of green aspic salad.  This was made with diced cucumber and crushed pineapple, in a tangy gelatin mould.  I will endeavour to make it again soon, sharing the recipe if anyone is interested.  

These are a couple of photos taken as we were driving into the property, ie one of the surface water storages, complete with tank and windmill, something quite familiar to all of us out here.  You will notice the heavy skies, which kept us all a little nervous throughout the day.  Our hostess has a beautiful home, with lawn, fruit trees, vegetable garden, and many, many garden beds, an oasis in the middle of nowhere really.  One thing that I thought might interest some readers was their mailbox.  I think it was made by their son, and I'd love to see what their mailman did the first day it appeared.  It's just too cute.

The highlight of our day is sharing the stitching we've completed throughout the year.  Some of us don't get as much done as we should.............., but one of our members just leaves us all in her wake.  She produces the most wonderful quilts, wallhangings, table mats, tea towels, you think it, she makes it, and beautifully!!!!  She is also our 'unofficial' photographer, diligently recording everyones' pieces for following generations, and a kind and giving member where sharing knowledge is concerned.  I have two photos of her work, with her permission of course.  The quilt on the left was made by Neitta, purchased in kit form, but she told us some of the fabrics included were not quite to her liking, so she had to make some substitutions.  I have to tell you too that this type of setback is quite annoying for us here, as we just can't run down to the local patchwork shop and grab a fat quarter or two!!!  If this happens, it often takes some time before you have all your pieces together.   I believe this quilt is entitled Rosebud Lane.

Neitta travelled to Dalby one weekend during winter to attend a workshop given by Fiona Hammond.  You can see more of Fiona's work on her website here:    The fabrics had to be purchased prior to the workshop, as some of the block piecing was to be done in advance.   Thank you so much Neitta for allowing me to share these with other ladies, and thank you for being you!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Give-Away

Today I notice that it is now just one month until Christmas is upon us.  Goodness, where did this year go!!!   Whilst on the subject of celebrations, I must take this opportunity to wish all our US friends a very Happy Thanksgiving Day.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful day with family and friends.

I have just finished two little projects which I am offering as give-aways to celebrate Christmas,  as well as the wonderful friendships I've made through my love of needlework.

If readers would care to leave a comment here before December 3rd, these two scissor lariats are on offer.  I was sent a similar kit by a friend, and find it a useful bit of frippery.  I hope the two I've made will bring some joy to others.  Hopefully, the winners will then receive them before Christmas.  They have not been easy to photograph for some reason, so I do beg pardon for the quality of the images.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fat Quarter Prize

Last week my patchwork/sewing group had their last meeting day for the year, which always takes the form of a Christmas luncheon.  I will share some photos soon.  We always have swap gifts and raffles, etc.  This year I was fortunate to have won our fat quarter raffle.  Each time we attend a sewing day throughout the year we buy a ticket in a fat quarter draw for the day, which I have only won once.  These tickets are saved throughout the year, and then pooled for one draw on our last day.  This year we had pieces donated by our friends Colin & Marg Kendall from THE RED BUS.  They visit us periodically, as they tour around Queensland. 

I remembered buying some of these prints from Marg & Colin, so on arriving home I immediately fished them out of 'the box' hoping I had some that were different.  Well, thankfully, I now have twelve [seven from the prize and five from the purchase] that are all different, and need something done with them.  My initial thoughts are to make a napkin and placemat trim from each, grouping them into two's, with about four, maybe six colourways, ie two with red, two with green, and so on.  I think I have them grouped successfully at this stage, but the jury is still out on that.  I need to visit a store in order to match these with the appropriate plain homespuns.  Wish me luck.

I must also say a big thank you to all who have shown an interest in my close encounter with the bug kind.  I do appreciate the feedback.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Up Close and Personal

After almost three years using my tiny camera, I've finally found the courage to use the macro-digital-zoom feature [appropriate terminology??]!!!  I am not sure if I'm doing everything correctly, but I am happy with some of the photographs I took late last week.  I have done nothing more than apply the feature, point the camera, and move towards the subject until it looks okay.  Please remember that these creatures are not much bigger than the top of a glass head pin, they find it extremely difficult to strike a pose, and for us here, wind is the constant enemy when photographing outdoors [without the benefit of upmarket camera features].  I hope you also enjoy my adventure with the macro zoom and bugs.  The insect in the photograph above is not as big as an ordinary house fly.

One of hundreds of sugar ants enjoying the meal provided by a very large sunflower.

This guy looks like he's off to Ascot in his striped bottoms and tails - perfectly marked and coloured.

 A close relative of the lady bug I presume, and the obvious damage!!

 Not a perfect shot by any means, but this is the centre of a miniature marigold, and part of one very edgey moth.  It's amazing how much pollen adheres to moths and butterflies.  They obviously play an important role in nature's plan.

These photographs appear as they've been taken, ie I have not edited them in any way prior to sharing.  I do hope they are of interest to some readers.