Sunday, August 21, 2016

Observing


















Growth and change, challenges and blessings, sowing and reaping. Year by year our children increase not only in age, but wisdom, ability and vision. 

Miss O is persevering with her new garden, nurturing it daily, and it is rewarding her beautifully. The snow peas and sugar snap are beginning to flower, the garlic and herbs are growing well and the first petunia flower opened today. 

Grace's music dreams are slowly become more real in very exciting ways.

Grace and Miss O baked cakes to surprise three birthday girls on this weekend's cricket camp. Pictured above are the Cinnamon Crumb Apple Cake and an amazing Raspberry-Swirl Cheesecake just before it went in the oven. They made  a rich frosted chocolate cake too - there was something to please every taste.

Every day I find myself observing and supporting, seeking wisdom, quietly content and overflowing with gratefulness.




Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sunset Garden Quilt



These warm, rich colours are the ones I long to be surrounded by during our cooler winter days. It was the July school holidays and I was itching to sew, to create something from fabric. Digging deep into my stash, reliving memories of past quilts, I teamed up favourite warm prints with rich solids (some of which I had just bought on a Spotlight sale of $1 per solid fat quarter). There was a mix of organic and conventional cottons, shot cottons and plain solids - whatever I had on hand. Soon I had gathered enough for around 20 pairings (the lime green black moths on the left below was the only block to not make the final selection).




My primary inspiration was this quilt by Blue Elephant Stitches which took my eye quite some time ago. However I liked the idea of using all solid backgrounds and larger blocks. I set to work fiddling with size and construction ideas based on Blue Elephant Stitches' similar 'liberated stars' quilt here. I planned the sizing and cutting layouts to require only a fat quarter of each solid and a fabric piece 10" x 17 1/2" for each print/star fabric (you could cut  two 'stars' from a printed fat quarter). This allows for generous seams too.


My stars are neither 'wonky' nor precise sawtooth stars. I chose to enjoy the journey and eyeball much of my sewing, calling them 'relaxed' stars, while making sure all centre point 'V's' were complete, not clipped off, and ensuring a good margin of solid all the way around the star points for easy seams and later hand quilting. 


Using heavy 12wt cotton thread I machine quilted along the seam lines of each block to secure the quilt well. At this point I trimmed and added the binding, finishing the back by hand, so it was more manageable to hand quilt and preventing the batting leaving light cotton lint all over the dark fabrics.


Then began my favourite part - hand quilting in contrasting silk threads! A perfect winter slow sewing activity. Last year I had bought many Gutermann R 753 Buttonhole silks at greatly reduced prices on eBay, stock from a small  fabric shop which had closed. As far as I know these silks are no longer sold in Australia at all, which is quite sad. Magenta was the only colour I was missing for this quilt, so I used three strands of DMC stranded embroidery thread in that colour from my cross stitch collection of years/decades ago. Perle cotton would work just as well.


After trial and error I found it best to draw my quilting lines with a ruler and Sewline Air Erasable Fabric Pen, one small section at a time. The lines disappear somewhere between ten minutes and two days, depending largely on the amount of moisture in the air. This pen worked well, even on the darker colours, which were easier to work on by daylight. I reserved quilting the lighter colours for night times.




Monday morning I completed the quilting, Tuesday the quilt was washed, line dried and finished on low in the dryer to help soften and smooth the delicious crinkles.



Yesterday my youngest three volunteered to hold the quilt for me, for it is quite large. Each finished block is about 14 1/2" square with the complete quilt measuring 58" x 73" (147cm x 185cm).

The batting is Hobbs 100% Organic Cotton made in the USA. The backing is a combination of two Sarah Watson prints for Cloud 9 Fabrics, GOTS certified organic cotton. The feature print, one of my all time favourites, is Biology which is now sadly out of print. It is bordered by Wild Strawberry in Gray, part of Sarah's current Garden Secrets collection, which is thankfully available at Spotlight in Australia. For the binding I chose Butterflies in Navy from Geninne's Moody Blues collection, also now out of print but still available in some Spotlight stores, including our local store  :)



Late yesterday, just after sun down, I had a wonderful time taking photos of my Sunset Garden quilt, in my garden. I do believe the name suits it well. I have been wondering whether to keep this quilt or offer it for sale. This morning my husband voted that we keep it, even he likes the saturated colours! So keep it we will.  :)


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Monday, August 1, 2016

To Live Content




"To live content with small means; 

to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; 

to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; 

to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; 

to study hard; 

to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never;

in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common — this is my symphony."              

                                William Henry Channing




I just found this quote on my friend's Instagram feed this morning and wanted to remember and share it. A lovely quote to think on at the beginning of my week.

Poppy and Lavender (Lavender Javelin, Lavendular x hybrida) in our garden currently.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Touches of Gold

















Warm golden tones are evident as I look around the garden, kitchen, my sewing and our neighbourhood. The daisies, Grevillea Lavandulacea and the season's first poppy bud seem richer in colour during winter with sunlight less harsh. Miss E (junior) and I have been enjoying photo walks - spotting birds, flowers and sunsets while I listen to the delightful insights of an eight year old.
Middle Eastern sweet treats (new recipes, cooked by me this time) for a special evening - Kleicha: Date Cookies (gluten, dairy and refined sugar free recipe) and Harissa, a rich semolina based dessert. 
I find myself longing to sew with rich tones during our cooler months - a new quilt is underway filled with saturated warmth.

Miss E senior is midway through a short study/touring visit of Germany, Austria and Italy. Every few days she sends brief updates with selected phone photos. So very different to our local surrounds. St Michael's Church in Munich, the Trevi Fountain in Rome and the ceiling fresco, "Triumph of the Name of Jesus" painted by Giovanni Batista Gaulli in the Church of Gesu, also Rome. The last photo is of a mirror reflecting the ceiling fresco. These sites are filled with touches of gold in a cultural, artistic and historical sense, and no doubt some contain literal gold!

*PS Following up from my previous post, a big thank you to the many who visited Miss E's (junior) new blog, very thoughtful of you. Also, just wanted to let you know that Miss N (18) has crossed multiple 'firsts' in her new life in Sydney and managed all of them admirably.  :)



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Sunday, July 3, 2016

A Family Last, Angourie






 










Miss N, Miss O and seated is Miss G (Miss N's identical twin)








I guess every new beginning is accomplice to some 'lasts'. On Thursday we took time out as a family (except for our eldest two already away at uni) to have a 'last' day out before Miss N (18) moves to Sydney to pursue her cricket dreams and new job/traineeship. We went to Angourie, a place Miss N had spend many days working recently in her environmental job. My husband was familiar with the area over 30 years ago but for the rest of us it was all new and unknown.

Angourie is a well known surfing location on the NSW North Coast, yet as we arrived we found the surfers were still, admiring the antics of a pod of dolphins which were surfing the waves. A beautiful sight. We caught glimpses of some humpback whales (distant splashes and flippers) far out to sea. After a coastal walk and picnic lunch we spotted a Brahminy Kite with its catch of a crab for his lunch.

We finished our day with a visit to the Blue Pools of Angourie, one of which is known as the Green Pool and the other the Blue Pool. They were formed by quarrying operations to supply rock for the Yamba break wall or middle wall in the 1890's, and although only a stone's throw away from the ocean, they are fresh water, fed by an underground spring and coloured by algae. They are used for swimming and diving when the algae levels are safe. Being mid winter we were't tempted to swim, although some other visitors looked ready to dive in.

It was a great day out. You will find some extra beautiful photos of our day on Miss E's brand new blog - 'Pieces of Entertainment', all from an eight year old's eye level, using her very own brand new camera (which you can see in the top photo)!




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