Monday, December 31, 2007

Annual Crafty Wrap-Up

A few fellow bloggers have rung out the year with a review of their crafts for the year. I thought this was a good way to look at what I've accomplished this year. Not as much as some, but, then again, I work 40+ hours per week and am the mum to a very busy 2 1/4 year old!

For Quilts4Leukaemia - these blocks were made into a beautiful quilt by the very generous Clare for Kezia, a little girl who needed some TLC.

The first quilt I made for Romily - it's on the end of her bed now :)

Wonky Geese - made for a darling little boy named Campbell

Jeans from Ottobre I made for my nephew Zach

The first batch of softies I made for various family and friends' children - I also made one for Rom :)

Rom's cowgal coat - it has a matching hat too!

A *gasp* white dress for a toddler. She's actually quite a clean little kid!

More softies...I made five in all.

More jeans, this time for my twin nephews Darcy and Cody

My take on the British Strippy Quilt for the EB Quilters Doll Quilt Swap in October

An extra doll quilt I made, which went to one of the girls in the swap.

A gorgeous little sun dress I made for my friend's baby Erika

A romper for a little boy named Atticus

And finally, the table runner I made for my Father-in-law for Christmas.

I have several other projects in the works - some of which were supposed to be finished by now but are not! Ah well, best laid plans and all that.

There's always next year!

Happy New Year to all my friends out there in the Land of Blog. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cheers to the end of a busy year

I did try to post this yesterday, but Blogger wouldn't play nice with my photos!

Merry Christmas! It was very merry here. We had a lovely Christmas Day - our first at home and Romily's first Christmas where she almost understood what was going on.

We were treated to a bit of a sleep-in, with Romily not waking until 8am. We then asked her if she wanted to go upstairs and see if Santa had been. She definitely did and then was thrilled to see that a) he had and b) he'd left some jelly beans scattered around too! She then went into the upstairs bedroom to wake up Granddad.

What followed was a lovely half an hour or so of her very carefully peeling her presents and loving every one of them. Once she'd opened all of the presents from Santa, and we'd opened our gifts to each other, it was time for the grand finale - a rocking horse made by Granddad! She, who is usually a little cautious around new things, jumped straight on and started rocking. It brought a big smile to all our faces - especially clever Granddad's!

We took a trip down to the local playground after breakfast and tired Romily out enough for her to have a sleep. When she woke up we sat down to a yummy lunch of cold seafood (oysters and prawns), followed by roast meats and salad. No room for pudding - fortunately we'd eaten that the night before!

It was so nice to have our Christmas celebration at home for a change - I love heading south to spend Christmas with my family, but it's a very long way, and always stressful, as we have to split our time between Melbourne (800kms from Canberra) and Bendigo (two hours from Melbourne), which makes Christmas Day not fun for anyone! It was also great that Granddad could spend some time with Romily at such a gorgeous age. He's with us until Friday, when he flies home.

Today was spent in recovery mode, Romily playing with her new toys, and Carl and his dad watching the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race on television. In the afternoon Romily and I hit the shops for the post-Christmas sales. Didn't end up buying much as most of it was junk! Did grab a couple of tops and a CD, plus some earrings to wear to work. Not bad!

The table runner I made for my FIL was well received. I still haven't finished the teapot, but hope to finish it tomorrow, in time for him to take back to Bendigo with him. Now I just have to finish the other ones before we head south in three weeks' time!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas too.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ho Ho Ho

You may know that Carl takes Romily along to playgroup every Monday, where around 20 kids under 3 years come together for two hours each week, play a little, have storytime, singing and morning tea.

Well, this week gone by was the final playgroup for the year and they had a special Christmas morning tea.

Carl and Romily baked gingerbread men, which was lots of fun - Romily loved helping to roll out the dough as well as cut the shapes, although we had to supervise closely! She also enjoyed decorating them.
The bit I enjoyed most was watching the kids demolish the gingerbread men - they particularly relished biting off the heads! Some things never change across the generations do they?

The big finale was the arrival of Santa. Actually this was my personal highlight of the morning. Look closer and see if you know who was Santa!

What a good sport he is. He was actually a most dashing Santa. A good thing I'm already married to him or I may have considered racing him off!!

I was glad I could go along...on one of my sick days...I stayed well away from all the kids so I didn't infect them. It was fortunate I was there, as Romily had no idea where Daddy was!

It is so lovely to see them eyes wide with wonder learning all about Santa and the magic of Christmas.

I am just about all recovered from my throat infection/cold and am pleased to report that I have just about finished the first of the table runners for my father-in-law - just have to sew the label on. I hope to finish Robina's teapot quilt tonight!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sick again

One of the joys of having a two-year-old in the house is the new variety of germs we can all share. Between my various travels last week, I was home on Thursday for the day and night and managed to catch Romily's head cold during that time. It hit me on Sunday like a bomb and I've been down for the count since, taking yesterday and today off work. My throat has been on fire for two days, but it's finally settling down a bit today, so I should be right for work tomorrow. This is, of course, terrible timing, as I have quite a few things to get finished before the Christmas-New Year break. I am also going to miss our work choir concerts, which are Thursday and Friday this week. What a bugger, as we've been practising since August. Oh well, there's always next year. I'll go along to the Thursday performance to lend moral support, since I can't sing.

On the bright side, two thirds of a recent Amazon order arrived! While I've been too sick to sew (I know, a tragedy), I've been able to leaf through these two new and very inspirational books:

Denyse Schmidt Quilts by the very talented Denyse Schmidt (obviously)

Last-Minute Patchwork & Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson

The book I wanted most - Last-Minute Fabric Gifts: 30 Hand-Sew, Machine-Sew, and No-Sew Projects - is of course the one that hasn't yet arrived - and I was contacted by Amazon over the weekend saying it probably wouldn't ship until late January. Not really a problem, as I am flat out till then anyway!

I am feeling a bit better today, so might try to get some work done on the table runners I'm making as Christmas presents. I've finished two out of three of the tops, so now I have to sandwich and quilt them. I have to get the third top done, but I'm lucky in that the second and third won't be given until mid-January, when we're having a late second Christmas with my family down in Tasmania - so I do have a little breathing space! I only really have to have my FIL and his companion's presents finished by next Sunday, when they're due to arrive from Bendigo.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Best Part of Making a Cake

Carl and I imposed on our friends again on Saturday night, as we had a 50th birthday party to go to and wanted to enjoy ourselves without having to chase Romily around the place all night.

Romily had a lovely time at their place, and as a thank you, I baked them a banana and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. It looks good enough to eat doesn't it?

Romily thought so!

A busy week this week. Adelaide for work Tuesday and yesterday, flew home late last night and I fly out again tomorrow morning, this time to Melbourne. I'm staying overnight with my parents after an all-day meeting - they're going to pick me up from work and we'll head out for dinner. I'll fly back to Canberra around midday on Saturday. It'll be nice to see them even if it's just for one night.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Beautiful Hobart

While I was in Hobart for the funeral, I decided to get out and about in the couple of spare hours I had after the wake before the sun went down, and, again, the following morning, before I needed to head to the airport to catch my first of two flights for the day. Hobart is not so easy to get to from Canberra, having to catch connecting flights in either Sydney or Melbourne. It's a four-hour minimum trip. Not something you can do in one day really.

Anyway, I may have mentioned that is our plan to leave Canberra and move south to Tasmania - Hobart to be exact - within the next five years. We most certainly have to be there by 2013, when we have Romily booked into Year 5 of school.

Downtown Hobart

Carl has lived in Hobart before, during a two-year posting with the Army. I've not lived there, but I feel drawn to the place and every time I visit, which is usually once a year. I feel like I'm coming home.

Added attractions are that my parents are retiring to an island paradise south of Hobart in the next two years, my good friend Kate lives there, and my brothers and their families are regular visitors. Surprisingly, quite a few of Carl's oldest friends are also from Tasmania, and are frequent visitors, particularly around the holiday season when they're catching up with family.

But they're only secondary reasons, the primary being that Hobart is a place of natural beauty, history and charm - everything Canberra is not. The pace is also a lot slower than anywhere else in Australia. I am tired. Tired of working so hard, every week, year after year. I have another 30 or so years of work ahead of me, and I don't know if I can handle the constant pressure. I do know that I am a much happier person when I don't have such a burden on my shoulders. Tassie offers a kind of sanctuary in that it has really been left behind by the 'rat race'. Don't get me wrong, people work hard in Tassie, but it's just a different kind of work. It's also far removed from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne, and the further you are away from the power centres, the less you feel like a mouse trapped in a wheel going nowhere.

Property prices are lower than any other capital city. What we own here in Canberra could buy us a large house on a large block overlooking the river or the ocean in Hobart. It's also the only place in Australia where you can go from the snowfields to the beach within 30 minutes. The outdoor lifestyle is hard to beat. Hobart has some of the longest days in Australia, and is the second driest capital, so while it's chillingly cold in winter, the days are clear and pristine. It really is like a piece of heaven on earth. We are both very fixed on living there. The sooner the better in my book, but we really have to wait until we have baby #2. Then I can start looking for a job down there. We need Carl to be able to slot back into work really easily, and that just can't be done in Hobart. So it'll be a couple of years before we can make the move. It feels sometimes like we'll never get there, but every so often we manage a visit.

So, getting out and about after the funeral was a way not only to reacquaint myself with Hobart, but I also used it as an opportunity to get a better idea of where we (I) might like to live. Here are some photos I snapped as the sun went down.

This could possibly be my dream house, but perhaps I've been reading Pride and Prejudice too often!

This is its view:

And some from early Friday morning before I headed north again...
Salamanca Place

Silhouette of a memorial statue of famous early Antartic photographer Frank Hurley

Victoria Dock

The world famous Constitution Dock, the end of the line for the Sydney-Hobart open ocean yacht race

The entrance to Constitution Dock

Look how clear the water is in the harbour...
This is one of the main buildings at Romily's future school - The Friends' School. The school has strong social values and is very community focused, which we really like about it. It also offers the International Baccalaureate as an alternative to the Tasmanian Certificate of Education. I had a lovely walk through the grounds before the children started arriving for school.

I left Hobart exhausted - emotionally drained from the funeral and tired from flying - but not with a heavy heart. We'll be back for another visit in around five weeks, for our summer holiday. I can't wait.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bungendore and Braidwood Quilt Shows

Last weekend we were fortunate enough to have a lovely day on Saturday - just a few clouds scudding across the late spring sky - so we decided to head east to two small towns half an hour and an hour from Canberra, both of which were having quilt shows. Now when I say quilt show, I don't mean a fair, etc. These are really small town shows, with quilts on display from people in the local area.

First stop Bungendore at the War Memorial Hall, which had around 60 quilts of all shapes, sizes and styles on display. They were packed in tight, in long lines, so it was hard to photograph. I jumped up on the low stage to get a long shot for you.

In amongst some decidedly 'homestyle' quilts were some real pearls. My favourite, which unfortunately I didn't have the chance to photograph, was not to my usual taste at all - it was completely handquilted Dresden plates in pale yellow and dove grey, appliqu├ęd to a pieced cream background. The handquilting was incredible, with vertical and horizontal cross-hatching (which I haven't seen before - I had only seen diagonal before) only half an inch apart. It was just beautiful, in a subtle and interesting way.

Romily was quite taken with the teapot quilt, in gorgeous sunny yellows and bright blues. Carl liked some of the more geometric patterns with strong colours. We had a lovely time wandering about, with Romily chanting her mantra of: "Better not touch" - she charmed the white begloved ladies, who realised they had nothing to be concerned about with our little quilt-lover!

Bungendore is a pretty little spot...well worth a visit any day, but better with quilts!

Next stop was Braidwood, which is larger than Bungendore, and also had a few more clouds in the sky - they threatened rain, but it didn't come. There they had their annual 'Airing of the Quilts Festival', where quilts are hung off the balconies of the buildings down the main street of the town. I hadn't seen this before, so it was quite impressive. That and the fact that one of the local quilting supply shops was having a 50% off sale. I was VERY restrained and only bought three balls of perle cotton, which I haven't used before, but will try it out on the little teapot quilt I'm making for my FIL's companion for Christmas.

The quilts here were very traditional, which certainly suits the old charm of the town. Rom was very well-behaved. She is really interested in quilts, so I guess in a couple of years she'll be making them too!

All tuckered out :)

A hard day on Thursday. I flew down south to Hobart, in the island state of Tasmania, to attend the funeral of my great friend Kate's husband, who finally succumbed to the cancer that had been tightening its grip on him over the past more than three years. He was 49. Very hard to reconcile for his friends and family. He was always so full of life and was one of the fittest men I've ever met. To say his diagnosis was a blow to Kate would be an understatement, but they travelled the long treatment and then palliative journey together and in the end she did everything she could for him. She is the most beautiful person - warm, generous, full of life too. They only had seven years together, but she feels blessed having known true love and for having been loved for who she is. I feel desperately sorry that two such people had only a short time together, but I am glad that they had that time.

I offered to make her a memory quilt in the New Year and she very happily accepted. We'll sort out photos and things when Carl, Romily and I travel back to Tasmania in January for our summer holiday. I am glad that she has some good friends close by - it's hard to be so far away from your friends at times like these. I really wish we were closer.