A Day In The A Blue Mountains.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I welcome you to take your time and browse , visiting my bush garden and discovering the wonders of my city within a national park; Blue Mountains National Park. Via my blog you will travel with me through the successes, trials and tribulations of gardening on a bush block. I share with you my patchwork & quilting, knitting, paper crafts, cooking and life in general.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

WIP Wednesday.

1. The long hexagons are progressing slowly. Around 240 have been completed.
I'm still procrastinating about whether I should stick to only one hexagon per fabric, or just go all out and use up as many of my scraps as possible. If I take the second option, progress would be much faster.
2.  Dr Seuss Cat in a Hat cot quilt #1 has been labelled and gifted...yay!
Cat in a Hat #2 (above) is (almost) ready for sandwiching, basting and machine quilting.
3.  French General quilt top...no progress sashing cut.
4.  English paper pieced scrappy quilt is now hand quilted and awaiting purple binding. (Almost finished - phew!)
No progress on the following:

Do drop by and visit Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.
I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been up to this past week.
Happy Wednesday to you all.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, 29 August 2011

Sunsets Over The Beaches.

Milestone at Watson's Bay.
To celebrate our August birthdays, the extended family meet at Watson's Bay for a lunch of fish and chips from Doyles On The Wharf.
Even though the weather was almost perfect, we had a little trouble lighting the birthday candles on the cake.

Fancy Picnic Tables at the park.
Lots of  sand play took place.

Second Son is trying to do his bit for the planet and rode his bike from Sydney's inner west, about a fifty minute ride to Watson's Bay.
At the end of the day we were treated to a spectacular sunset over the bay.
Sydney sky scape at sunset from Watson's Bay.
The Birthday Build-up:
Grand Daughter bought her mum a garden rake!
Breville came from Youngest Son.

Our birthdays ALWAYS entail more than one birthday cake for each birthday!
This is Grand Daughter's handmade card for her Uncle.  She is three years old.
Can you see the crocodile head she made as well?  It's attached to the top of the card.
Her own creation.
This is the first year that our Grand Daughter has truly understood the concept of birthdays.
She was so excited on her Mum's birthday that we had to decorate the dining room with balloons and streamers.
It was quite impromptu!  
Everyone had to don birthday hats too.
Her birthday is in October and she is so looking forward to it.
That's it for August...Next round of birthdays is of course in September.
We're planning to have a big celebration for our Niece who turns a grand five years of age at you guessed it...Watson's Bay.
It's a themed birthday  so I'll be posting some fun photographs to share.
Here's hoping that you all had a wonderful weekend.
How does your family celebrate special occasions, especially birthdays?  

Gift wrapped garden rake.

Friday, 26 August 2011

What I'm Reading ATM

My local library has not been able to fulfil my book requests for Poor Man's Orange (Ruth Park) and Washerwoman's Dream (Hilarie Lindsay) so in a bit of a rush I picked up a novel by Sandjida O'Connell titled The Naked Name of Love.

An easy read, of sorts, I found the vocabulary of the first two parts (of three), a bit contrived. A pity really, since the story line does hold the reader's interest.

If only O'Connor could have written the first two thirds of the novel with the same skill that was able to arouse strong feelings and compassion for the characters used in the final third of the book.

There are the usual human struggles centred around loss, personal achievement, East meets West, unrequited love, good and evil, and clashes between religions and cultures.

With the story set in Mongolia, an unusual setting is provided for the Western reader.

Visually, I think this would make a spectacular movie...romance, breathtaking scenery, battles, bloodshed and tragedy all with an underlying theme of Darwinian Theory.

If one can get past the semantics, I think this is a good read, final pages are tear jerkers.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

All Before Breakfast - Art for Art's Sake.

For my little brother's birthday I'm decorating the front cover of an art journal.  It's A5 size so that it's easily carried about. 

This one I picked up at my local art store. Prices range from $2.95 upwards.
From the Graphics Fairy, I made a collage using this Vintage Ornate Skeleton Key graphic and this Gothic Arch engraving.
While in my photo editing program (I use Picasa) I added the word 'journal' and my brother's initials. I printed this out on the oatmeal coloured A5 card, then trimmed to size.
On the 2nd A5 oatmeal card I printed out various words using different fonts and cut them out, distressed them using the inks before mounting them onto black card cut to size.
Cutting a square into triangles makes a couple of corners to add to the collage.
Next, I cut the white card and the black card to size and rounded the corners on the right side using the punch. 
I added some gold ribbon to the black card which was then mounted onto the white card.
Some tabs were added to one of the word tags and to one side of the collage.
On the black tab the year '2011' is written with white gel pen.
Added the corners distressing with ink as I went.  I finished off the corners with gold split pins. 
More gold ribbon was added to the collage.
All elements were then adhered and layered.
With the journal, I'll include a few pencils and the gift will be complete.

Now, to have breakfast, oh dear, or is that lunch?

I'm linking this post to The Graphics Fairy Brag Monday.  Yes I know...a little late.

The Graphics Fairy

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Yummiest GF Cupcakes.

For afternoon tea today, I made some gluten free cupcakes.  I juggled an old conventional recipe I had and was so happy with how light and airy they turned out I thought I'd share the recipe with you.
I am including the brands for some of the ingredients I used to ensure the results are replicated as much as possible, and because they are gluten free.

Vanilla Gluten Free Cupcakes With White Chocolate Ganache Icing.

250g butter, softened.
200g caster sugar.
4 eggs.
270g F.G. Roberts gluten free self-raising flour.
2tsp Ward's gluten free baking powder.
1tsp vanilla extract.
5tablespoons old milk.
1tsp Xanthan Gum.
2tablespoons Jalna Premium Vanilla Creamy Yoghourt.

Preheat oven to 180C fan-forced, 200C conventional.
Place butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla essence and milk into a large mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until well blended.
Add flour, baking powder and Xanthan gum to the mixture all at once and continue to beat until the ingredients are well combined and a nice thick and creamy consistency.  Finally beat in the Vanilla Yoghourt until well blended.

Place 18 muffin paper patty pans into muffin tins and evenly spoon in mixture. Fill each patty pan two thirds full.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer then cool on wire racks.

White Chocolate Ganache Icing.
Break up one 220g block of Cadbury Dream White Chocolate into individual squares, chop up roughly and set aside.
Place 75ml Devondale Longlife Thickened Cream into a small stainless steel saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. 
Remove from heat and immediately add chopped chocolate stirring continuously until chocolate  has melted completely and you have a nice smooth consistency.  Allow to cool slightly then spoon onto cupcakes, repeat with a second coat if desired.  
Decorate as desired.  I used (inedible) scrap-booking paper stars which my Grand Daughter enjoyed collecting at afternoon tea but 
I recommend only using these if the cupcakes are to be served immediately. 

I served with a cup of Tulsi Sweet Rose organic tea.

Well...I made these for August 5, and again last week using Orgran brand of GF self-raising flour. Both times they were delicious.  The second time I used smaller patty pans and made about twenty four cups cakes.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Show Must Go On.

This week I'm knitting a  scarf.

Our redecorating is progressing slowly and the craftroom/study is now looking like this:
Well, that's one corner of the room.
So much more to do...hang some art work, make curtains, add a sewing table.

The Guest Bedroom has now got the window blind hung and is waiting for a desk which has gone from this:
To this:
The desk needs some new knobs and we've been to the hardware store twice this week and forgotten to buy them!

Lots of health issues the past week so that has slowed me down (again) but I refuse to be beaten.  
My health is also part reason for starting the lacy scarf...I felt a real need to just sit and snuggle up in front of the TV.  
What better time than to knit than when watching TV?

So Dr Seuss #2 has been progressing very slowly and you can check him out here.

WIP Wednesday #40

Must confess, not much progress happening this week.
My main ongoing project, above, is slowly coming together.
It's frustrating because I know this Dr Seuss quilt top could be finished in no time but so many other things happening in our household at the moment that progress has been slow.
I'm sorry but that's all on the sewing front for me this week.
Be sure to check out Lee's WIP Wednesday post. It's her 40th WIP post.
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
For progress on other craft projects I've been working on check out today's other post here

Monday, 15 August 2011

GO!Baby Giveaway.

is hosting a giveaway this month.
Why don't you drop by and visit her for  your chance to win a GO!Baby Fabric Cutter.
Winning this piece of equipment would be such a treat and a great way to use up a scrappy stash. 
Good Luck!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

What Are You Eating?

Leanne at Cottage Tails blog spot has shared this link with her readers: Food Fears from Jim Long's Garden Blog.
I think it's well worth a read.
I support Australian Farmers by shopping at growers' markets every fortnight and buy organic whenever it's available and if the price is not exorbitant.
I would love to grow my own food but this is proving to be a challenge on our sandy and rocky bush block.
Organic food is not necessarily expensive, especially if purchased at Growers' Markets.
You can read my post about how I paid double the price for conventional parsnips at my local supermarket as opposed to the organic ones pictured above - here.
In our home, certain brands are boycotted on ethical grounds.  This can sometimes make things difficult, especially when one manufacturer buys out other brands.
With one particular product I use all the 'brands' available in my supermarket are produced by the one company which I've boycotted.
What to do? What to do?
Eventually I found one in Aldi that wasn't.  
Otherwise, I guess I'd have to go without.
But it's not convenient for me to shop at Aldi so I have to plan ahead.
People in our society can sometimes complain about things happening in their local area.
I believe that if we vote with our feet(i.e. don't buy, don't visit, don't support, don't walk through that door), then we'll get the message across.
At our local shopping centre there has been a lot of opposition to the opening of a Dan Murphy (owned by Woolworths) Liquor Store. This store will definitely undercut our local liquor store and some people believe that this will see an increase in unruly behaviour on our streets after dark.
I say, don't buy there, don't walk over that threshold and they'll soon get the message that they're not welcome in our suburb. 
But of course this won't happen because really, the majority will only think of their hip pocket.
With Monsanto, well, I think this is a more difficult scenario to crack.

But if we all spread the word perhaps we can move mountains.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Fern Stitch Lacy Diamond Pattern

This winter, I've been looking at everyone's beautifully lacy scarves with much envy.
I have a fine collection of scarves but it seems that this year's fashion has produced masses of much more romantic looking scarves and cowls than my lot.
So, as I have almost a whole ball of Panda Magnum 8ply leftover from Darcy I've been practising my lacy knitting with it in the hope that I can splurge on some lace weight yarn for a new scarf for next winter.
So far so good.
As a child I picked up the sequence of this type of pattern very quickly and mostly completed anything up to twenty rows without referring to the pattern.
Alas, my mind is no longer as sharp as it was back then! 
Perhaps a decimal point has shifted in my IQ.
Here it is on Ravelry.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Happy Birthday Dear Neighbour.

My neighbour and dear friend turned 68 today.
I baked a spice cake last night so I took her a square for her birthday.

I came home with the following beauty:
Camellia Japonica.

Isn't it perfect?

In amongst the natives, my friend's garden is laden with camellias of all colours.
This one is her favourite.
Such a beautiful specimen is enough to tempt me to include camellias in my native garden.
Sometimes my way of getting around exotics in my native garden is to plant them in containers.  
I'm not sure how camellias feel about being contained.  Guess I've got some research to do.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

WIP Wednesday

Mohair Sweater, finished.
With the left-over Mohair, I made Darcy.

Dr Seuss #2 is very much turning out as 
a-make-it-up-as-you-go-along quilt top!
I'm happy with how it's turning out.
Dr Seuss #1 is awaiting label (still).
Not much other progress going on this week due to health issues.
Mr Honey Pie has been very good though and re-do of study (Room #2)is at 
painting-all-finished stage, just waiting for my input now.
I have sanded back the Guest Bedroom desk,
now have to decide on a finish.
Hope you have all had a productive week.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
Stop by and visit Lee @ Freshly Pieced, 
WIP Wednesday #39 and see what others have been up to this week.

The "C" Word.

Lately, the "C" word has been bandied around by family and friends a little too much for my liking.
My Mum and my dear neighbour are both currently being treated for breast cancer.  
One of my cousins, who is only in his mid fifties has lung cancer and I visited him in hospital only last week where he was recovering from a lung collapse.
So you can imagine my anxiety when our GP called me on the telephone last night (he never calls!) to talk to me about a chest x-ray I'd had on Monday.
Having completely forgotten about a lesion on my lung that was picked up by an x-ray in 2009 it was a bit of a shock to hear my doctor's voice.  
Well the good news is that I took those old films to the radiologist this morning so that they could be compared with the new films,for any changes,and I don't need to have a follow-up CT Scan.  
I see my GP again next Tuesday for a Lung Function Test so I can rest a little easier until then.
As I'm writing this, my Doctor telephoned to reiterate what I was told by the Radiologist this morning.
I just can't seem to shake this cough and wheeziness since having the 'flu early in June.  I've had to stop the antibiotics I was prescribed because of the severe side effects.
A puffer is giving me some relief but that too is now giving me some weird side effects.
I guess it's easy to over react initially, but because my Dad lost his life to Mesothelioma in 1998, I tend to get a little paranoid about these things.
I've got a mammogram coming up soon too...after the last one I needed a biopsy so I'm hoping no changes there.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Darcy The Sheep.

In amongst the cooking, washing, ironing, shopping, cleaning, weeding, sewing, knitting, visiting people in hospital, going to funerals, babysitting, and visits to the doctor, I heard a little voice ask me:
Nanna, could you make me a sheep?

My Gorgeous Girl, for you, anything.

Nanna, I love bells.

Oh, and by the way...I've joined Ravelry.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Banana Republic.

A recent Irish visitor to our home remarked how astonished he is at the price of bananas in Australia.
I had to explain to him (least he thinks that's how expensive they are ALL the time) that recent extreme weather events have all but destroyed banana crops along the northern east coast of Australia.
At the moment, in the supermarkets, bananas are selling for anything from $13 to $18 a kilogram.
Recently Australian Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, tried to blame the price of bananas for the rise of inflation.
Should he have not blamed parsnips as well?
Day before yesterday, I purchased, from my local supermarket, ONE parsnip.  I repeat ONE parsnip.  Cost? $5.78.
Yes, ONE parsnip for $5.78.
(The last time I purchase bananas, I paid almost $9.00 for three bananas.)
I wanted one parsnip for dinner and I never thought to check out the price as I picked up that one lucky parsnip, that is, not until the girl at the cash register asked me for an exorbitant amount of money for my three paltry pieces of vegetables.
To rub salt into the wound, I drove up to the Blue Mountains Food Co-operative yesterday and found organic parsnips there for $7.90 a kilogram.  Hmmmm...
I bought MANY!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Finished - Dr Seuss.

Some tying and some machine quilting.
Because it's only a cot quilt I felt comfortable machine quilting with the walking foot.
I failed at my attempt to free motion quilt so gave that up very early into the attempt, hence the tying.

Quilt Front.

Quilt Back.

Quilt Label. 
(Waiting for information to be written onto and then sewn onto quilt.)

By the way...Baby has arrived (two weeks early) but that's another post!

This quilt top was made from a panel.  
This panel is not for the faint hearted.
Don't be fooled into believing that it's a panel you can take home, cut out, add a border to and machine quilt around the frames.
It's not...for a start the panel is designed in a landscape layout.
The blocks are not equally sized...not even the ones that look they might be.
It's a challenging panel but I'm pleased with the end result.
Dr. Seuss Quilt Number Two will look quite different to Dr Seuss Quilt Number One!

Besides a birth, we've also had a loss, so things have been a little out of whack in the household.
Except for my pink mohair sweater no progress has been made on anything else.
Redecorating has stalled too and all I've managed to do on that front is empty out the study.
I'm linking this post up to Lee's WIP Wednesday # 38 at Freshly Pieced.  Do drop by and visit Lee and catch up on what she and her followers have been up to this past week.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Sacred Three.

To save,
To shield,
To surround
The hearth,
The house,
The household,
This, eve,
This night,
Oh! This eve,
This night,
And every night,
Each single night.       CARMINA GADELICA.

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
there'll be two winters in the year.

File:Saint Brigid's cross.jpg

Photograph Source.  St. Brigid's Cross.

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