Special delivery!

mailboxLiving out in the country as I do, my mail arrives via rural delivery, with a very kind and patient New Zealand Post person driving by 6 days a week to put all sorts of interesting things in my mailbox.  (I’ve mentioned squishy parcels in previous posts – they’re definitely the most interesting deliveries I receive 🙂 )

The mailbox is located on the grass verge on the opposite side of the gravel road outside my house, making it easy for the postie to deliver without having to step out of his vehicle – he just leans out, opens the mailbox, and pops the mail in.

However, the mailbox’s location also means that, on the odd occasion, it has taken a hit or two when the farmer mows the grass verge.  Given that he does this with a mower attached to a tractor, rather than a standard lawnmower, I can understand that the mailbox on the verge is somewhat in the way and a bit of a nuisance, but, that’s where the postie wants it, so …

Anyway, currently the mailbox is on a slight lean, after it was knocked during a mowing operation some time ago, and the opening flap has also been slightly damaged, presumably by a too-close encounter as the farmer tried to mow around it.  This left the mailbox with two ‘wounds’:  one a busted hinge, and the other a slightly bent profile.

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The damage didn’t really worry me – accidents happen, and mown verges do make for more pleasant walking on my evening constitutionals, rather than having to contend with loose gravel underfoot, so I’m happy for him to continue 🙂

And then this morning, I opened the mailbox to be greeted by this …

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What the …??  At first I thought the mailman had lost the plot – but then I realised that thanks to one or more very industrious birds, not only had I received mail, but also the beginnings of a bird’s nest 🙂 (How kind!!)

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That’s a fair hunk of grass in there – I wonder how many trips the birds had to make, and how difficult it was to squeeze through either the hinge hole or the bent flap for each delivery?  Very impressive! 🙂

The only thing that peeves me a little is that they appear to have totally ignored the provisions I specially laid on for their nest-building purposes a few weeks ago – a whole heap of fabric and batting scraps – colourful, free and available from the ‘delicatessen’ I created for them … still untouched, unused, unloved, unwanted … 😦

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Then again, maybe their reluctance to help themselves to these supplies has been due to a certain Furry Gentleman who likes to lie in the shade nearby …

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Hope your day is going well! 🙂

 

 

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Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

I don’t quite know what to say about the results of the US Presidential election.  I guess I’m still in shock …

Something creative is needed for me today, to counteract the negativity I’m feeling.  A new quilting project should do the trick … 🙂

In the meantime, please let me share with you a message my son posted on the Facebook page of his workplace, Beach Babylon (a cafe in Wellington, NZ):

“Sometimes things go without saying. And other times, things need to be said.

Here at Babs, we’re proud to welcome people of all creeds, races, religions, and sexual orientations.

We are here to help you, whether it’s just a coffee, or a kind word, or a smile, or a laugh, or to shed a tear with you.

We will not bully you, or judge you, or get angry with you, or discriminate against you.

If you need something, we will do the best that we can to give it to you.

Be good to each other my friends.

Yours with love, Simon and the Babs crew.”

November OMG

I posted here a few days ago about this project, which I started early on this year and which had been sitting in my WIPs since March – you may recall my discovery of a mistake I had made in the alignment of the blocks in the third row, which I just couldn’t let go … just couldn’t.

I’m happy to say that I have now fixed the error, chosen suitable fabric and constructed a backing, and it’s now sandwiched, pinned, and awaiting quilting, so today I decided it would be my November OMG 🙂

At this stage I think I’ll bind it with the same fabric as the strip I’ve inserted on the back, but we’ll see how it looks once I’ve done the quilting.  Of course, in order to do the quilting, I first have to decide what sort of quilting … so this may or may not be a completed project by the end of the month! 🙂

esq-omg-buttonThe OMG link-ups are being run by Elm Street Quilts for the rest of this year, so I’ll be linking up with them here. Once again there is a wonderful variety of projects there for you to have a look at 🙂

 

For you, from my garden

You could be forgiven, when looking at these photos, if you think I must have a beautiful garden.  I don’t!  It’s a jungle, really … but it’s amazing what a deceptive web I can weave with a little bit of close-up photography, which maximises the marvellous and minimises the messy! 🙂

I don’t even know what some of the stuff is in my garden – take this, for instance, which could even be a weed for all I know (I’m counting on the gardeners amongst you to enlighten me …):

Whatever it is, those two little bugs you can see spent a l-o-n-g time inspecting and sampling it, so it can stay even if it is a weed 😉

And then there’s the odds and sods, one of which is definitely a weed, but I just cannot resist its beautiful violet flowers …

Let’s not forget the snowball tree – oh, and who can resist the forget-me-nots (even if they do have a tendency to procreate and populate at an alarming rate!):

And what about the rhododendrons, the first of which starts flowering in late July and the last of which is just coming into bud now – such beautiful colours, and they just keep on keeping on, despite receiving no TLC whatsoever from me:

I’ve saved my very favouritest (!) for last:  the clematis.  I have two of these, one of which starts flowering some time in October, and the other of which is much later (so no photos of that this time – but later on, I promise! 🙂 ):

And you know what I’m really enjoying about the garden, now that I’ve retired?  I have all day, every day, to spend out there if I want to – soaking up the smells and the sounds and the colours, with or without my camera as I feel so inclined:  blissful!  Of course, there is also the fact that now I’m retired and I have all this time on my hands, there is no longer any excuse for a messy jungle out there … 🙂

 

 

Why is it …

… that quilting mistakes sometimes slip under the radar, and don’t present themselves until you’re well down the track with a project, and correcting the mistake then requires a whole lot of unpicking, re-arranging and re-sewing?!!! 😦

Take this project for example, which I got to the flimsy stage at the end of March this year, and then became tired of and put it away while I moved on to something else:

Finally, it's a Flimsy!

Finally, it’s a Flimsy!

I was sorting through my WIPs and UFOs yesterday, looking for something to work on as my November OMG, and decided to finish this one off so I can add it to the donations pile at the December Christchurch Quilters’ meeting.

I spread it out on the bed, ready to audition backing and binding fabrics, and … WHAM!!! That’s when it hit me.

See the third row down?  See how the blocks are all oriented the same way as rows 2 and 4?  And see how the rest of the rows (1, 5, 6 and 7) are NOT all oriented the same way, but alternate from row to row???  *sigh*

So before I think about backing and binding, I now need to go back and unpick the side seams, unpick row 3 from rows 2 and 4, rearrange the blocks so they alternate correctly, and sew it all together again.  By which time I may well be bored with it all over again …

This may or may not end up as my November OMG project.  Some other brighter, more attractive, appealing project may well muscle its way into reckoning before then … all that lovely new fabric I’ve recently acquired is pretty tempting! 🙂

 

 

 

 

I spent an evening with André …

… André Rieu, that is! 🙂

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As an additional birthday/retirement gift, my wonderful little sister shouted me to my first André Rieu concert on Tuesday evening, and what a fabulous evening it was!  I’ve never seen any of his concerts on TV or DVD, so it was a totally new experience for me, and I just loved everything – the humour and laughter, wonderful music and singing, couples waltzing in the aisles, Andre’s hilarious facial expressions and eyebrow movements, stunning background photos which changed to match the music, hundreds of balloons dropping from the ceiling towards the end of the show … oh, it was just lovely!

(Thanks to Little Sister also for the photos!)

What also impressed me was that, not only was the audience having a good time, but André and his orchestra were obviously enjoying themselves as well – and when you’re doing 100 concerts a year and travelling all over the world to do so, that must take some doing!

So, if you’re fond of classical music and live performances, and you’ve not been to an André Rieu concert, I highly recommend that you take the opportunity if it comes your way, I’m sure you won’t regret it!

A few years ago I posted about the adventures of Shirley de Cat, a little toy cat who became part of the team at one of my work locations, and got to travel with some of us to various exotic locations, eg, China, Italy, Stonehenge, Canterbury Cathedral, Wellington (OK, maybe Wellington’s not quite as exotic as China, I’ll grant you that …).  I was quite delighted when Shirley was given to me (along with another toy) as one of my retirement gifts when I finished work at the end of September, so I couldn’t resist bringing them both along with me on this holiday 🙂  Here’s Shirley and Friend enjoying a pleasant afternoon out on the patio:

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And here’s Shirley de Cat getting to know Shammy de Cat, who’s Feline in Charge of the house here in Brisbane:

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My lovely holiday here is nearly at an end, sadly:  I’ve enjoyed a really lazy, relaxing time, with not nearly as much quilting as I thought I might do, but that’s OK – I’ve bought so much fabric that I’ve had to buy a bigger suitcase to fit it all in, so I certainly won’t be lacking supplies (nor motivation) once I get home! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Here, chooky chooky …

Despite the reservations I had before last night’s adventure – the thought of painting in front of a whole lot of other people made me very nervous, I have to say – and then when we got there and found that the whole front of the studio was glass, so we would be in full view of the street, well, that caused me a whole lot more consternation:  however, despite all that, I have to say we had a really fun evening, and the Cork & Chroma concept gets a big tick from both of us! 🙂

Let me set the scene for you.    Firstly, a photo of the Creative Process (according to Cork & Chroma):

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Next, a shot of our protective garb for the evening 🙂

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Suitably garbed, I demonstrate the picture I’m hoping to emulate 🙂

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So far, so good, right?  Yup 🙂

All together I think there were about 14 of us, mainly women with only 2 or 3 fellas, ranging in age from … hmm, 70+ to mid-20s, perhaps?  For many it was their first time, while others were returning for the umpteenth time.  Amongst those there, we had someone celebrating a birthday; someone celebrating a marriage; and someone celebrating a house purchase, so lots of reasons for celebration!

Our tutor was Georgina or “G”, and she soon had us relaxed and off and running.  Instructions were given for each step of the process, and then it was our turn for action, with music that soon had us singing along and sloshing on paint with gay abandon … OK, maybe that was only me.  The sloshing of paint, I mean.  I swear there were definitely others singing.

Three hours simply flew by, and before you could say “Jiminy Cricket”, it was time to add the final brush strokes, sign our work, and then gather for a group photo.  Which unfortunately I can’t show you, because G took it, and we forgot to ask her to take one for us 😦

So, are you ready for the big reveal?  Are you sure you really want to see it?  (Am I sure I really want to show you????!)  O – kay … here is my rooster!

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I’m a little perplexed by the almost human facial features he ended up with …  No chook I’ve ever seen has looked even remotely human, so I obviously need to work on that! 🙂  (Along with many other things …)

And if Little Sister has anything to do with it, it’ll be same time, same place, same Bat Channel next week, when the picture for the night is this one:

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Awww, how can I resist??!! 🙂

PS  Forgot to show you this – my sister has suggested that this fabric would be an appropriate choice for one of my Quilty 365 circles to commemorate our little foray into the ‘art’ world tonight:  I couldn’t agree more! 🙂

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Festitalia Italian Festival, Brisbane, 7 October 2016

On Sunday we went to have a look at Festitalia, an Italian Festival held this year at Spencer Park in Brisbane, which “celebrates the richness of the Italian culture in its entirety, from the spirit and passion of its people to the romance of its language, its inimitable fashion, the radiance of its arts to the luscious wines and regional dishes acclaimed the world over” (visit http://www.festitalia.com.au/ for more info).

From the wonderful cars (Lambourghini, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Fiat) to the lovely food stalls (woodfired pizza, calamari, lasagna, cannoli, gelato); from the beautiful Venetian face masks to the tarantella dancers and Italian flag throwers; from the cooking demonstrations to the wine appreciation sessions, it was a great chance to experience and appreciate just a little of what Italy has to offer.  (My brother-in-law is Italian, so we were in good hands for the day 🙂 )

The flag throwers were spectacular with their colourful costumes and huge flags, which they tossed and (mostly!) caught with ease – have a look at these action shots:

I was particularly impressed with this young man, who managed to juggle THREE of the huge flags, throwing them up and catching them with each hand and one leg or the other with equal dexterity:  pretty amazing!

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(Trying to actually capture shots of throwers with flags in the air – I always seemed to be too early or too late – has given me new respect for the likes of sports photographers who get those amazing action shots! 🙂 )

Tonight my sister and I are off to something just a little different … her daughter gave her a voucher for a “Cork and Chroma” night, so we’re off to work on our creativity!  Here’s a picture of what we’re supposed to be painting (from scratch) tonight:

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Given that on a scale of 1 to 10, I’ve always rated my drawing and painting skills at about -5, you may or may not get to see the result of my endeavours … 🙂

Arrivederci!

 

Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show, October 2016

craft-and-quilt-show-programme-1For the last seven years, my sister and I have been going to the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show, held annually in October at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre. The show runs for five days (although next year it’s been reduced to four), and for the first few years we focused solely on looking at the quilts.  As you can imagine, with over 600 on display, we were very happily occupied for a whole day 🙂

After a few years we decided to go for two days, and take in some of the free workshops which are offered.  As you will see from the programme below, these are many and varied, covering all sorts of crafts; they also include some Make and Take classes which you have to book in for, and pay a fee for materials, etc.

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This year we carefully studied the programme, and selected these workshops:

  • Unique Quilts with Just One Fabric
  • Quilt as You Go, Reversible Scrap Quilts
  • Magic Half and Quarter Squares
  • Versatile Scrap Crazy Template Projects
  • Quilting with Templates at Home
  • Australian & Indigenous Designs;
  • Quilt as You Go; and
  • Easy Applique (not listed on the programme shown).

Of all the workshops we attended, only one was a disappointment (and I won’t embarrass anyone by naming which one); all the others were very informative, with plenty of tips, advice, ideas and suggestions, time for questions, and hands-on samples passed around or pinned up for closer inspection.  Most of the presenters were excellent, knew their stuff, and knew how to communicate to and connect with their audience.

In order to accommodate so many workshops, and see all of the 600+ quilts on display, we figured we would need to purchase a 2-day pass.  Pfft!  By the end of day 1, we had done 5 workshops, but only managed to get round maybe a third of the quilt show.  By the end of day 2 we had done another 3 workshops, but had still only seen approximately half of the quilt display. So a third day was deemed necessary, in which we focused almost solely on the quilts, managing to see them all – and to puzzle, again and again, just why this fabulous quilt had received no prize, but that so-so quilt had won a third, second or even first place ticket (What??  Are you kidding me??!).  Neither of us has any intention of ever entering any competitive quilt show, but we both felt very strongly that it would have been helpful to have had some indication or comment alongside the prize winners as to why they were chosen.

Not only that, but we’d also love to see the quilts unobscured by any entry number, information sheet, or prize ribbon.  We adhere very carefully to the instructions not to touch any of the quilts, but we love taking photos as we go round, so we can look back on them when we get home and discuss what we like about this or that quilt, how we might attempt such a project, what we might do differently, what fabrics or colour schemes we might use, etc.

There were some fabulous quilts on show, and I’d love to share some photos with you, but there was a big sign to say photos of the quilts were not to be posted on the internet or other places without the artists’ permission.  (I have posted some in previous years, I know, but now try to respect artists’ rights when requested.)

So instead, I thought I’d just share a few photos of some of the goodies I picked up over the three days – after the first two days we were determined the third day would be purchase-free, but … well, you know what can happen to good intentions! 🙂

Day 1:

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Goodie bag from the Scissorman stall – with many pairs of scissors, naturally! 🙂

 

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Half-metre fabric swatches, reduced to from AU$7 to AU$6 each if you bought 6 or more

 

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Applique mat and 2 patterns, bought after our applique workshop

Day 2:

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Purchases after our Versatile Scrap Crazy Template Projects workshop

 

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Jelly rolls and Fat Quarters from East Coast Fabrics stall

Day 3:

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More East Coast fabrics, plus purchases following our second Quilt as You Go workshop

We came away at the end of the third day well satisfied with what we’d learned and seen (not to mention what we’d bought …), and already looking forward to next year! 🙂

Retirement: so far, so good

One week ago last Thursday (29 September) I retired after 19 years and 4 months working for Christchurch City Council.  I hadn’t quite reached the magic age of 65 by that date, but near enough that I was ready to call it a day 🙂 (Besides which, I had a date with my younger sister for the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show in early October, and didn’t really feel like having to go back to work for only a couple of weeks after that.)

Two of my work colleagues arranged a fantastic farewell afternoon tea, where I was presented with some delightful gifts:  a lovely scrapbook full of photos of fun times at the Council; not one, but TWO certificates to commemorate the occasion; gift cards for two local coffee shops (to ensure I make a trip or two into town for a catch-up); a beautiful scarf; a couple of soft toys which have special significance (and tales to tell …); and a wonderful, wonderful basket full of fabrics.  Here’s a montage of some of the scrapbook and other photos:

It was a fun afternoon:  lots of good food, good friends, and good stories 🙂

The following day was spent preparing for my holiday in Brisbane (including persuading Henry Lee that he really did want to go to the cattery ‘holiday camp with Auntie Lisa’ while I was away…), before I flew out of a damp, foggy Christchurch early on the Saturday morning, to arrive to brilliant blue sky and warm sunshine in Brisbane a few hours later:  fabulous! 🙂

It’s been a year since I last saw my sister, although we Skype reasonably regularly.  In the last couple of years she’s also taken up quilting, and I was delighted when she presented me with yet another retirement (and early birthday) gift:  the most gorgeous, colourful African quilt  – have a look at this:

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Isn’t it stunning??!!  We’re the last two of seven children in the family, and were both born in Zimbabwe (the rest were born in England), so this is a very special reminder of our life in Africa.  I shall take great pleasure in snuggling under it at every opportunity 🙂

In my next post I’ll tell you about our three days at the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show this week: inspiring, educational, and very fulfilling for my stash and quilting resources! 🙂