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Saturday, July 30, 2011

From squares into a blanket...

Today I was supposed to go out to lunch with a friend but at 9am she rang to cancel. I knew exactly what I would do with my new-found free time; I would finish a blanket made with squares that had been donated to K4BN. Nearly a month ago I came home with a box and a bag filled with donated squares.

I spent a few days just unpacking the box and then sorting the rather disparate collection of squares and rectangles into groups. I grouped by size and also by whether they were crocheted or knitted.

Some of my 'piles' which then went into some ziplock bags

After a bit of fiddling around, I found that 9 larger squares in a 3x3 configuration (there were actually 10 of these) could be bordered by some smaller ones to make a knee rug size. So gradually I sewed these together and yesterday I finished the sewing. I had decided that  would do some rows of double crochet around the edge and then finish by crocheting a 'shells' edging  for the final round. So that's what I worked on this morning.

A shell border

I estimate that I can make at least another 4 blankets out of the squares left in the box, but I plan to crochet around each of the squares in black which will make joining so much easier. I have mixed feelings about sewing the squares into rugs. On the one hand they are being made into something useful and will help keep the recipients warm. But on the other hand, I don't get the level of satisfaction I would get if I controlled aspects such as colour...I just have to work with the hotch-potch of colour and sizes that I get. But it's still a good feeling to get one completed ready to take to hand in at the next K&N.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From little things, big things grow...

On my mind today is a new project of mine. At a Knit and Natter group ( part of Knitting for Brisbane's Needy) I attended almost a month ago, I took some yarn that was on the 'help yourself table'. I wasn't sure what I was going to make with it, perhaps a scarf?

I took home 4 balls of this yarn

Then late last week, I got my inspiration. I went to my 'Ebay treasures' or oddments that I've been able to buy at very little cost. After a bit of rummaging, I ended up with a selection of yarns that suited the 'picture' that I had in my mind...

Oddments including mohair

A little trip to Spotlight for the 40% off sale also saw 2 more balls added to the pile.

Some 'lash' type yarns to add texture

And this is the progress after 2 days. Yes...yet another garter stitch afghan ! I guess I'm a bit predictable but the end result will be something nice and warm for someone in need...hope they like bright colours! Yes I know, maybe I should have named this post , 'From little things, big things can, and will grow'!!!

PS Thank you for those kind comments about my cat Lina,that many people left  on my blog last week.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A little bit about my garden...

The weather is still cold here at night but during the day, the weather is glorious; perfect for sitting in the garden reading, knitting or just  daydreaming...
The potato plants a week ago; they continue to grow and I'm mounding up the soil around them now

The passionfruit on the vine which came up in the compost spread around the 'natives' at the front.

A batch of passionfruit icing made with one of those passionfruit!
A rather battered geranium (purists would say 'pelargonium) but I love the colour!
A close-up of a blossom on my New Zealand Christmas tree

'Steptosolen jamesonii' or Marmalade plant growing in one of the garden beds at the front.

In the early 2000s, I rented a little old house which had an overgrown and very neglected garden. I loved that garden because there were so many plant treasures that I gradually uncovered. Obviously at one time a keen gardener lived there. That's where I discovered the Marmalade plant growing amongst some hydrangeras, the colours contrasting beautifully. I planted one here a few years ago but with the drought, it wasn't doing very well. But last year the rains came and of course early this year the rain quite overwhelmed the state. The plant has grown from being only a few inches tall to being nearly a metre tall!! (sorry about the mix of measurement systems but that's how I think in 'measure'! lol)

This is what I bought with the Bunnings (like Lowes in the US) vouchers I got for my birthday
After much consideration I bought a small, modular garden bed. I haven't worked out where we'll put it yet but I need to organise that soon, as the warmer days mean spring is on the way and it's time for some more veggie planting.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sometimes it's the little things...

I haven't felt like writing much, the last day or so but tonight I feel I must show some things that make me feel so grateful for what I have. Not only on this blog, but also on my Facebook page, I've received so many messages of support and concern. I'll let the photos 'speak' and you'll see what I mean...

Eduardo never sat on DH's lap before

Eduardo almost fully recovered, snuggling in the doonas

the front of the card we got in the mail today from the vet practice


Thursday, July 21, 2011

On my mind...a bit of sadness but it will pass...

Last night my cat Lina died peacefully at the vet’s. It was a tough decision but one that had to be made...she was near death and there was no chance she could get better. I am so fortunate to have the loveliest vet; Cecelia is a wonderful and caring person.
1998: Lina in front, Finbar behind, lolling on the dining room chairs
Paolina Melody Coulthard was born sometime in late 1997. Early in 1998 a dear little black cat which I had named Moses got run over and killed on the street outside our house. We missed not having a cat so eventually towards the middle of the year, as a family, we decided to look for another cat. A vet practice at Eaton’s Hill advertised some rescued kittens and one was a male, so we set off to see if we could buy him. We were shown the cage where he was. There were 2 kittens in the cage and the smaller one was licking the male’s ears and head. We were told that it was a female and both had been rescued together. I felt I couldn’t separate them as there was obviously a impetuously I said, ‘I’ll take both’!  My husband at the time and one daughter were very cross with me...but my other daughter was my ally. Might I add here that I was the breadwinner, my husband didn’t work but I have to admit that my job was only as a relief teacher but I felt it was something I had to do i.e. rescue both!
My daughters named her.  The male, I named Finbar Ambrose and he was the loveliest gentlest cat imaginable. It became obvious that Lina was not a cuddly cat but we accepted didn’t pick her up but you could pat her and tickle her ears and she would respond with the loudest purr! Lina was also a good ‘smooger’, especially around our legs or our hands. She was also a bit of a ‘guts’; we nicknamed her, ’Lina the Cleaner’ as she would lick out all the food bowls. Despite our best efforts she grew rather rotund.
Taken in 2009; she still liked to let the 'arms' hang down!

Due to the marriage breakdown, Lina, Finbar and I were parted for 4 years. Finbar went missing in the 3rd of those years, never to be found. During the ‘settlement’ I regained custody of Lina and she came to live with us. She loved our garden as it was bigger that that at our former home. She loved the cane lounge on the side veranda, covering it with her cat fur, she loved her food and she loved to run to me, when I was hanging washing on the line, for a smooge or she would sit beside me on the bench seat enjoying the winter sun. When I was working, she and Eduardo would run down to the front garden to greet me when I got home from work.
Lina’s health started to suffer this year...problems with the kidneys have been identified. While we were away she lost a lot of weight...she regained a little when we came home but sadly started  ‘going backwards’ in the last fortnight. She had a ‘mass’ in her abdomen...sadly she was too weak to even consider intervention...I said my good-byes, Cecelia pushed in the needle attached to the canula, ‘Leenie’ put her head on her paws and then her heart stopped....I stroked her fur and gave her one last kiss.
Vale, Lina

Monday, July 18, 2011

Christmas in July...

At the end of last year I joined a club (The Possum Club) at a local patchwork shop as part of my retirement plan. So far I haven't signed up for any classes but I did put my name down for the shop's famous 'Christmas in July' function. People from overseas must wonder about this phenomenon here in Australia where Christmas is celebrated both in December and July???? It's a relatively recent thing though and started because Aussies have the official Christmas season in summer...not very conducive to those traditions of hot food and mulled wine for example. Restaurants, hotels and wineries run C.I.J. functions and various  groups such as fundraisers, and others such as my local patchwork shop!

The stitchery kit I chose...

The lady on the right also goes to the Knit and Natter sessions at Grovely

My Secret Santa gift...
As we arrived at the shop yesterday we were able to choose from a selection of stitchery kits which we then stitched during the afternoon. After about half an hour, coffee, tea, fruit punch and masses of gorgeous food was served. So for the next hour we 'grazed' on the delicious food, chatted and also stitched...what a lovely way to spend a chilly afternoon. But that's not all! We also had 'Secret Santa' and I got a lovely little Christmas set of a bowl and small plate. I didn't see who got the gift I was a little Amish pin cushion/ needle holder/sorter that I bought in Intercourse, PA.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another 'action-packed Saturday! lol...

Saturday, we awoke to rain. Normally no big drama, a wet Saturday, but yesterday was the annual Inner-City Churches fete. This event brings together a number of parishes who are small these days compared to years gone by when each raised funds by hosting an annual fete. There just aren’t enough people to run a fete individually in each parish so we combine our resources and have one event. We are a variety of denominations too and as this fete has been held for quite a few years now, we tend to know each other and support each other’s stalls. But we need lots of people to come to buy our goods and a wet day in the park is not that popular apparently!
I have helped for years but DH has gradually found himself also helping.  Our stall is mainly a BBQ but we also have baking, plants, books etc. DH and I were responsible for the organisation of the BBQ again this year which includes buying provisions, slicing onions and bringing along tools etc needed for cooking and serving. This year at my urging the committee agreed to drop the hamburgers from the menu. Myself and another lady would make the 100 meat patties each year and I thought we could have a break...also tomatoes are very expensive because of shortages after all the floods so that was another reason to drop the burgers.

DH wearing swim goggles to lessen the effect of the onions, slicing onions with the V slicer

My job was to peel the 6 kg of onions...
That just made things so much simpler this year as we had to cram our tables in under the gazebo because of the rain, so there wasn’t a lot of room for cooking and serving. Rain drizzled throughout the morning but the mood was buoyant. We did lots of chatting between customers, of whom there were very few. I guess it is the same group of us who help out at these things so we’ve become good friends over the years.

In January this park was under several metres of water from the flood. The school in the distance was closed temporarily because of severe flood damage

DH manned the 'barbie'

The various stallholders, all in the same boat, came and supported each others’ stalls. Five scarves I knitted got sold and quite a few plants and secondhand books. We probably sold 112 sausage sizzles so we had heaps of ‘bangers’ to go into the parish freezer! Talking of freezers...the weather was quite cold for Brisbane so it was nice to pack up at 1pm and head for home. DH had some extra things in his car...we won the raffle! A laundry basket of items donated by people in the congregation including some items we donated! Lol
Our raffle prize

Four of the scarves I donated for sale
Not so good news...
Later on in the day I opened an email from my niece J who is in Germany at the moment after a ‘dash’ there with her husband and baby last Monday. Her husband E’s mother had gone missing. Sadly the news in the email was that the lady had been found; she had taken her own life. E’s little sister has no one now...What awful news for the little’s so sad.

Friday, July 15, 2011

On my mind...potatoes

A little while back I bought some seed potatoes from Bunnings and waited patiently for them to sprout. Finally they did sprout, so it was planting time.

The garden bed that I planned to use was very overgrown with weeds so over a few weeks I had worked steadily at getting rid of the weeds, and built up some muscles using a maddock to break up the soil which because of the still high clay content had compacted after our long wet summer. Then I had some help from DH to empty the compost bin into the garden as well as spread some manure and bought compost as this bed needed lots of 'building up'. Blood and bone and gypsum also were worked into the soil...and then finally after another fortnight I could plant. The instructions with the potatoes said to plant them to a depth of 10 cm, 25cm apart in rows 80cm apart. I've never used the 'seed potatoes' before, but have planted sprouting potatoes from the cupboard. Gardening magazines and shows here in Australia always advocate using the certified disease free seed potatoes so I thought I'd give it a go.
Ten cm is pretty deep and I was starting to worry that my plants were not growing, but just after a fortnight, the first leaves poked through. It won't be long before I will have to start mounding up soil around the plants...all very exciting!

The first potato plant to peep through!  The leaves are still falling from the trees in my back yard!
This cherry tomato is growing out from under one of my compost bins; makes it harder to get out the compost!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A busy Wednesday...

Yesterday was a busy day for both DH and I. I've mentioned before that DH is working on the coming Australian Census. A Census of the population is done very 5 years and there are a number of part-time positions which become available before, during and after Census night. DH is an Area Supervisor and is 'in charge' of recruiting, training and supervising 8 Census Collectors and 1 reserve Collector. Yesterday was Training day for the Collectors and DH chose me as the caterer for this

Tuesday night's baking; slice and 18 mini quiches

I started this role on Tuesday with shopping for supplies and some baking after dinner. On Wednesday morning I made a mountain of sandwiches, a fruit platter as well as arranging morning and afternoon tea drinks and food. Because DH left well before I needed to load the car up, I had to make a number of trips from kitchen to car but at the other end (a local public library conference room) I had willing helpers to assist with unloading the car.

All wrapped up ready to go!

Having delivered lunch and afternoon tea, I then headed off to another library where my craft group, 'Sisters of Stitch' meet every second Wednesday. I had toyed with not going to the group as I was quite tired but am so glad I did go! Judi, the organiser of SOS, showed us some quilts which the Samford Quilters' group had donated to Project Linus. I think there was a total of 11 children's quilts in this large nondescript 'hong kong bag'! What inspiration for me to get on and finish my raggy quilt for Project Linus. At SOS yesterday, I continued with the knitted throw that I'm making for K4BN; it's about half finished.

The latest update on Eduardo's progress...the abscess 'burst' late yesterday afternoon (yes yuck!) and being a typical cat, he spent most of the evening rubbing it with his paw. The wound looked much cleaner this morning though. The vet rang this morning to see how he was and I filled her in, saying that the swelling is completely gone. She recommended that I encourage him to eat by offering chopped up fresh chicken; I actually had been doing that but now it's like a prescription!!! lol

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Best laid plans...

Yesterday I had planned to have a lazy day after my hectic weekend. Following my Saturday spent in reminiscing with people who had shared those high school years with me, on Sunday the memories continued with DH and I attending a surprise 60th birthday lunch for a friend who started school with me way back in 1957.

That's me in the red cardi and black polo-neck; the regal look is actually caused by my back aching while we posed for photo after photo! lol

Jane's surprise party

A colourful DH at the surprise party

A few tears from the Birthday Girl!

On Sunday evening one of our cats, Eduardo, was listless and didn't want dinner. This is the cat who
mee-ows pitifully from 4pm onwards wanting to be I knew something was wrong. I checked him over for ticks but found a scabby area on his 'face' and I then noticed a pretty strong odour...similar to the smell when children have an ear infection, only worse! Eddie had an abcess, probably from a cat fight!
I sent DH downstairs to get out the cat carrier from under the house, ready for a trip to the vet next morning. I also went down and got out the old pet basket and made up a bed for him in the lounge room. I checked him a few times during the night just as if he was a sick child. Eduardo is actually my daughter's cat but he's lived with DH and I for 8 1/2  of his 10 years, as she has lived in unit blocks and other rentals where pets are not allowed. Therefore when he disappeared once for 2 days and when he's had to go to the vet it's always been at the back of my mind that he's her cat and the thought of having to tell her bad awful!

Eddie with his swollen face, settling down  in the basket

But it wasn't bad news this time either. We had a quite early appointment at 9.20am. It took an hour because the vet wanted to do some blood tests which would make it easier for her to prescribe certain medications. It was an abcess, quite a nasty one and if Eduardo's kidneys were functioning well he'd be able to have some anti inflamatories for the pain, along with a large injection of antibiotics. He was also tested for Feline AIDS as this disease can be transmitted via bites...The little man has good kidney function and he tested negative for AIDS. He behaved so well and by the time we were leaving he was quite sleepy.

Today Eduardo continued to improve. The swelling is still there but the smell has gone, so the antibiotics are clearing up the infection.

Still a little swollen and with a shaved patch, the patient early this morning

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Still quite busy...

A few people who read my blog have asked me recently how the sale of the house is going. Well at this stage there has been some interest in our property by 3 would be developers but none of these people have put in an offer. Probably they consider the price too high but to us it isn't unrealistic. The agent knows what our 'bottom' price is but he hasn't given us any indication that there have been any offers. We actually paid marketing costs upfront this time and DH considers it to be a learning experience; he says he won't get caught a second time.
If you sense I'm not upset that we haven't sold are right. I like the convenience of living here; I like my garden and the space and I like the views....The real estate agent has a sales contract to sell the house until the end of July so it's not quite over yet. Maybe one day the market will improve and we might consider a move, but at the moment I think we will enjoy what we have already. Another 'maybe' suggested to us by some friends who have been in a similar situation, is to extend the selling contract beyond July.

Some of the wildlife that visits our backyard

Last night (Friday) DH and I went to the opening of the parish Art Show. Not as big a turn out as some other years but a number of items were sold, including 4 paintings. My entry was sold before the show opened... via a phone call on Thursday morning to the organiser. The buyer was the lady who took my item and checked my inventory form on Wednesday. She apparently had a 'Wow! I've got to have this' ! moment and kept thinking about it during Wednesday she bought it!

A view of the crafts' part of the Art Show

This morning I went back to the Art Show and did a few hours helping with the devonshire teas. Then it was a quick dash home to change and go to a reunion of my Grade 8 High school year. There were 35 of us and a number of people had travelled considerable distances to get there...I travelled about 2 km! Some people I have seen since I left school but there were a number whom I have not seen since 1966...and I didn't always recognise people today, but then again some people didn't recognise me either!!! lol

These 'boys' sat opposite me at lunchtime; where did those years go? I can still see them in their school uniforms!! lol

Some of the 'girls'

It was quite surreal sitting there listening to people talking about their grown-up children and their grandchildren because all I could 'see' were these 16/17 year old people. As someone commented:- 'It's like we've gone from 16-60 y/o in one jump!' And it was...We had a group photo taken and you can be sure I will put it in a post when i get a copy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

On my mind...bits and pieces

As usual on a Friday I'm joining in a feature on another blog called 'Down to Earth' here where each of us posts a photo with accompanying text on the theme, 'On my mind', then link it back to 'Down to Earth'. It's been an excellent way of 'meeting' other bloggers and enjoying their posts as well as getting feedback from other bloggers all around the world.

On my mind today are bits and pieces. Firstly, I have a box and a separate plastic bag of squares (knitted, crocheted) that I brought home from a 'Knit and Natter' session of the Knitting for Brisbane's Needy charity group. I have promised to turn these squares into some knee rugs which are urgently needed. It is a challenge as the squares are not all the same sizes. I'll enjoy this challenge as it will need a fair amount of ingenuity and creativity, 2 skills that I think I need to use before I lose them!! lol  As I complete a rug I will put a photo of it on my blog.

The other bits and pieces on my mind are some squares of cotton fabrics (children's designs) and some matching squares of thick polar fleece. I have rarely bought fabric suitable for children's projects but in recent years I've occasionally bought the 3 lb(pound) bags of scrap fabrics from eQuilter when they are on special. I've always got a lovely selection of fabrics and of course children's designs usually were in the parcels. I've cut up an unfinished polar fleece jacket that a friend was making  her late mother for those squares and it's been a project for the odd 15-30 minutes of quiet time here and there over the weeks since we came back from overseas.

I've started sewing the diagonal lines on the squares which hold the pairs of squares together. Then I'll sew them into a rectangle with the seams on the top side. Then you clip into every seam fairly close together 1/4 inch intervals...then wash and dry in the dryer and the seams 'fluff up' and look very decorative.
I'm following the instructions in a 'Handmade' issue and the blanket is called 'Warm as Toast'...these blankets are also referred to sometimes as 'Raggy quilts'. More photos of this project to come... I'm making this for 'Project Linus' which my craft group 'Sisters of Stitch' support.

A number of weeks ago I published a post about a knitting challenge I had set myself here. Well that challenge is finished as I reported in my quite recent post here.