Monday, April 17, 2017

Here be dragons

We headed off with friends on a little road trip yesterday. First stop was the monthly Talbot market - always a favourite destination. Talbot is a tiny town  - its population of under 300 swells dramatically on market day - and streets in the centre are closed off. For once, we were early, so strolling along and having a good look at all the wares for sale (wine, food, plants, chickens, you name it ...) Some after-breakfast dumplings and coffee really hit the spot ... I came home with a gorgeous little china dish, ornamental plants and garlic for planting or eating.

Then it was on to Bendigo, which, like Ballarat, was a prosperous gold town, full of history and the majestic buildings of the era. Bendigo also has a rich history of Chinese settlement and culture and its Easter parade featured dragons galore. Seeing Gum Loong, at 100m the longest dragon in the world , was really special, despite all the heads and bodies in the way (I still can't figure out why the very tall man sitting  in the front row thought it was okay to stand all through the  two-hour parade, preventing me and others from getting a half-decent view). There were smaller dragons galore, firecrackers, fabulous, colourful Chinese costumes  ... I've never seen anything like it. My photos aren't great but they'll give you some idea of how impressive it was.




And then there was the quilt show... rooms full of beautiful works by the local Strathdale Quilters group. These are a few of my favourites. 


And this is my absolute favourite  - is it cute or what! It was driven in the parade.



Such a great day out.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter

There's a little bit of Easter decorating at my place - chooks and bunnies and chocolate  (thank you again, Susan, for the fabulous little mat) ...



... and a whole lot of chocolate (far too much of it - I won first prize in a raffle yesterday. Sharing with my husband and friends, you'll be glad to know.)




Monday, February 27, 2017

OPAM

I've signed up for OPAM again this year - am having a slower than usual start to my sewing year  (and blogging - shame on me!) so need something to spur me into action. I always like to look back through my OPAM lists and see what's been made and when.
 Not much so far this year - just two pairs of knitted baby shoes for two new little girls and a Fan Bag (designed by the wonderful Nikki) for my daughter Rosy.  Oh, and this mug rug /mini quilt designed  by lovely Amanda to mark the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. It was such a perfect gift and she loved it  - my girl lives in China and came home for a holiday during her Chinese new year break.

Late last year I signed up for an international polaroid block swap. Have you made this type of block? I hadn't and really enjoyed making them - they're perfect for using little quirky  scraps. Still not sure what I'll do with my 20 little blocks - a mini quilt? a cushion cover? but I'll enjoy working it out. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

SSCS 2016

Christmas and the  delights of the annual SSCS, hosted by the awesome Chooky, are over for another year, leaving behind happy memories, special gifts and the thrill of connecting with a friendly stranger in another country.

This is what I sent to Carole in the US - a woolly warmer for around her neck, a little brooch, a mini-quilt/table topper and a hexie Christmas decoration. I received a lovely "thank you" email from Carole, who has been unwell, which shouldn't be allowed at Christmas!



And I received these - and more besides -  from Martine in Arras, France


I love everything - especially the clever wall pocket (which included a little glass tube for a few fresh or dried flowers)  and those cute little bears.. and that quirky Christmas angel. As for the mug  - it's a souvenir mug  from Martine's town, which she had specially decorated with "No kangaroos in Arras" on the front and our names on the back. It makes me smile. Martine also included a tea cosy, pretty fabric and buttons and a book about the Battle of Arras, which I'm looking forward to reading once my brain is out of holiday mode. We've been in touch, so Martine already knows how pleased and thankful  I am to have had her as my partner this year.

Here's to you, Chooky, and to all my wonderful SSCS partners over the years and to all of you lovely people out there in blogland. Here's to a healthy, happy, crafty year for us all.

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's nearly Christmas...

... and the tree is up and the house is decorated at last. It's usually  all sorted earlier in December but some major housework was needed. Bah! Humbug!

So anyway, we're looking good (and trying to keep things tidy and not drop anything on the tiled floors my husband spent so long cleaning). A few cards have arrived and there are presents under the tree already, thanks to Martine in France, my partner in this year's Secret Santa Christmas Swap.  Thanks  so much for your generosity, Martine - and thanks too to Chooky for organising the swap for the umpteenth year in a row.  It's such a lovely way to end the year and we all appreciate  and look forward to it.




Monday, November 7, 2016

FNFW again

Had a quiet night at home stitching away at one of Gail Pan's gorgeous designs. It's probably a bit hard to see but I'm using a variegated thread in muted blue tones. When finished off with a fabric border and a bit of quilting, it will hang on my sewing room wall.I'm taking my time with this one and really enjoying the slow, relaxing pace.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The spring has sprung (finally!)

Spring has come late to Ballarat. We've had so many cold days, with lots of rain and some hail at times, and I'm sure all of us who live here have wondered if the season that follows our long, cold winters would ever come.

But we've had a run of fine days at last, hooray.  While the over-supply of rain means our local lake is full to overflowing, and the walkways to the boatsheds are mostly underwater so the boatsheds look as though they're floating, the birdlife is very happy, thanks. Especially the swans - they've been breeding like mad and it's such a delight to see the stately black adult birds and their little grey puffball babies grazing on the banks or forming a happy little flotilla in the water. It's also delightful when they cross the road, which can be quite busy at times. Drivers stop at once, and never seem to mind the delay. It's a magical moment.

A stroll around our back garden was just the thing after a busy day. The birds are chirping (we are visited by magpies, wattlebirds, doves, occasional spinebills and blue wrens, which are all beautiful, but would happily do without the starlings nesting just under the roof and all those pesty sparrows making a dust bowl in one of our garden beds). Everything including the weeds is growing like Topsy and our first potato crop, planted in a grow bag, is promising - judging by the leaves, at least.  The quince blossoms are looking a bit raggedy as they prepare to turn into fruit and one of our two olive trees has teeny tiny buds. The roses also have buds galore - for once I had them professionally pruned instead of my usual hack job and they seem pretty happy about that.

I'll leave you with a few images from my little world. I hope everyone's having a lovely weekend.