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Monday, April 30, 2012


Well it's Monday again and I'm joining in with Jodie's usual feature. Seems that lately I only find time to write one post in the week. That will all change soon as my 3 months of paid work is almost at an end; DH feels that my clerical work for the elections should be finished by the end of this week. I now know for sure that, as a sixteen year old, when I vowed that I did not want to work in an office, it was the right decision for me in my career choice. While it has been an interesting experience and quite novel, to do it for 40 years like I did teaching, I don't think I would have lasted the distance! lol
So this Monday it is again something I have made ...
 I have continued knitting...just an hour or so each evening and I have completed a knitted throw ready to hand in to the charity I knit items for. Last Monday I listed some of the groups which receive items made by our group and someone will be able to snuggle under and into this blankie that I've finished.

Over the years I've knitted many similar rugs in the garter stitch chevron design, using scraps of yarn. I use all types of yarns including 'fluffy' eyelash ones and mohair and boucle types. Originally I knitted these rugs on long needles but then trialed and loved circular needles for the 200 stitches. I always seem to have one of these throws on the needles as they are so simple to do. I tend to think of them as pretty ordinary because they are easy.

But since last year, because I've been taking my knitting to Knit and Natter groups, many other ladies have asked for the pattern. So now other people are making similar easy to knit rugs...'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' or something like that is the saying that comes to mind.
So after I finish 'a secret project' I'm also working on, I'll start work on another design that I have adapted to use scrap balls to make throws. I have quite a few designs that I've worked on throughout the past 20 years or so and it will be good to share with like-minded people.  And that includes my blog.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Make- Grow- Thrift...

Once again I'm joining in with Jodie's Monday feature. I've spent an enjoyable time sewing an apron for a swap that I signed up for last month. My swap partner was Sanchia who also lives in Queensland, just a little north of where I live. Sanchia, a mother of 2 young children, was very organised and her apron made for me arrived last week. It is beautiful; the fabric and the finishing was just so lovely. I'm very lucky to receive such a beautiful apron!

The lovely apron that Sanchia made for me

All lined

My apron making wasn't without its dramas...
It took me a while to decide what fabric I should use...and also what style of apron I should make would be partly influenced by the fabric. Eventually I found the had been in my stash for many years and I guess it could definitely be classed as vintage. It was a remnant which I had bought from David Jones, (and how long is it since DJs sold fabrics???) and had had plans to sew it up into something for years...but never had. I decided that I should give this remnant a bit of a wash...silly me! I soaked it and forgot about it
:-(....and some of the colours ran, especially the orange. I used the Dylon product that takes colour runs out but I wasn't happy with the result.

The remnant I bought at least 20 years ago! lol

look at that price!

So my next choice was a piece of fabric from one of Kaffe Fasset's ranges. And I worked on the apron over the weekend and it was ready to post this morning, with the timeframe for the swap finishing this Wednesday. Phew! made it!

The apron I made for Sanchia

Monday, April 16, 2012

Make- Grow- Thrift; a small cog in a big wheel....

Last week I didn't join in with Jodie's Monday feature as usual as I didn't really have anything to show. Never mind I have a 'finish' to share this week.
Regular readers would know that I belong to a knitting group which focuses on providing knitted items for needy people in the community. As I wrote in the title, I'm just a small cog in a rather large wheel but every little thing I achieve still helps and that feels good. There are over 300 members in this group and members live in many locations around Australia, not just in Brisbane. I mentioned once at a Knit and Natter that it would be lovely if we could learn which specific groups we've helped rather than the rather general term, 'needy'.

To some people the terms 'needy' and 'charity' could conjure up images of 'rather grubby, oldish men living under bridges'. I feel such stereotypes are only a small section of the needy in our community.I wanted to know more about the 'human face' of the needy as I feel my friends would be more likely to help, especially when we collect toiletries etc. I got my wish when the total for the year to date January 1 to March 31 was posted in our forum. There was a total of 8185 items made by the group in that time. Four thousand of those items were distributed  after requests for help. I'm including the list that Karen Croke the founder of the group, released on the forum.

'ALSO just to let you know where about 4000 items have gone to this year so far:

1. Club 139

2. St Marys Anglican shelter Toowong

3.Pindari Women's Shelter

4.Brisbane Youth Services

5.Goodna Youth Centre

6.Ipswich Youth Centre

7.Sherwood Neighbourhood Centre

8. Safe Placement for Children (will give more to Paul on 13th April at Beenleigh knit and natter, when he comes to speak to us re this organisation )

9. Roma House

10. LEAC - Emergency accommodation for families; DV shelter etc at Nambour

11.Caboolture Hospital (emergency department - trauma teddies)

12. Next week we will be going out to QUINH on the Sunshine Coast and Drug Arm in Brisbane with all the items they have requested.

13.Tonight we intend going to the Caboolture Community Group Feeding the Homeless bbq at Caboolture and giving out more rugs, beanies, etc and also hope to go out with Pastor John and Mama Rene's kitchen at Spring Hill on either Tuesday or Friday night with donations to give out!'

Since Karen published that list we received an update late last week that we had made just under 9500 items this year so far.
So after that HUGE introduction I'll now unveil  what I've recently finished ready for the Homeless Connect Day in late May. Knitted/crocheted blankets are desperately needed and I was able to finish another one made from donated squares similar to those squares in the blanket in my banner.

The blanket in my banner is quite large but I didn't have enough leftover squares to make one that large again. So I crocheted some rounds to make it a tad bigger. This working fulltime is really interfering with my output for the group but that should be all over and done with in 3 weeks or so. I also have a knitted blanket on my circular needles which only needs another 40 cm to be completed so hopefully that will be finished soon too :-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

More about the magpies that live around here...

Last year I put this photo on my blog which features a cheeky magpie checking out the dry food left in Eduardo's bowl. You can see in the photo that it was taken during the building work on the side veranda.

Last week I wrote a post about gardening and included some photos of the magpies that pick over the freshly dug soil looking for grubs. Well the magpies are getting extremely cheeky and bold. The other morning I was in the kitchen and heard the trilling warbling sound of a group of magpies nearby. I thought, 'How nice to hear them sing...I wonder where they are?' I soon discovered where they were! They were on the side veranda; some were on the floor near Eduardo's bowl and some were on the railing. His bowl was empty and that's what the singing was about! They had obviously expected some leftover dry food and were now demanding some! I responded to these 'demands' by grabbing my camera and taking photos.

Just before I took the photo the birds had just been singing with the heads back and beaks in the air

This one flew up on top of the BBQ hood

These flew up to the railings; a good vantage point should I have chosen to put more food in Ed's bowl
I think that the magpies are getting more pushy in their behaviour because over the years they have got food from my neighbour, Tom. As wildlife groups recommend that you don't feed the birds and animals in suburbia, I've never done it. Unfortunately age has got the better of Tom and he seems to no longer feed them meat etc. So there are a few generations of 'maggies' that have got used to handouts so that's why they are trying to steal from our cat. When Lina, my other cat, was alive there were never any leftovers in the cats' bowls...she wasn't known as 'Lina the cleaner' for nothing after all!! lol

Potting 'hippies' ...

Last wednesday I was fortunate to have been given the day off so I decided that it was time to divide my hippieastrums. When I sold my house in early 2004, I dug up the bulbs from the garden beds and brought them with me. I planted them in largish pots and each spring I get a lovely show of flowers.

I was thinking late last year that it these plants were really overdue for dividing up and re-potting. I read that the best time to do this is in autumn so put off the task until then. March came but I just didn't seem to get time so now that we're into April I realised that I shouldn't put it off any longer. I was amazed at how many bulbs there were in the first pot-ful that I divided up. I actually ran out of potting mixture so it will be a work in progress until I can buy some more potting soil. I'll have to wash out some more pots as well. I did plant the largest bulb in a garden bed. I did try to plant some bulbs next to the daylilies in another bed at the front...couldn't do as the ground was rock hard from all that rain so I have to get DH's help at some stage to work on that bed.

Six 'new' plants in pots and one in a garden bed...pretty good from one original bulb and I still have several more pots to divide up :-)
Any Brisbane and environs readers who would like some hippieastrum bulbs just let me know! I have lots!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Some more memories...

Last year, a friend whom I met through the knitting group I belong to, discussed with me a documentary which had been on TV. It was the 1000 journals project of Andrea Kreuzhage in which a thousand journal books were distributed and people contributed journal entries and then passed the journal on. This friend Sue, decided that she wanted to do something similar and rather than just talking about it, she has already distributed journal books to the first lot of volunteers. I was one of those people. I wondered what I could do as in the Kreuzhage project some of the pages were covered with beautiful artwork; this is not my forte :-(

Then one day when I was driving home I got an idea. I often write about my youth and I got this idea to write a journal entry about my autograph book that I had in the last 2 years of primary school. In Australia in those days (mid 1960s) an autograph book wasn't really used to collect signatures of celebrities. We tended to get schoolmates and relatives to write some traditional little verses or quotations in the book. I planned to share some of these verses in the journal. To cover up my poor drawing skills I would purchase some labels used by scrapbookers to print some of the old verses.
My old autograph book

My Grade 5 teacher used to write this quotation whenever a student asked for her autograph

Signatures of staff at my primary school

My dad wrote the entry on the top lefthand corner. My old classmate Peter wrote a clever one which just consisted of letters but if you say them, ( say YY as two Ys /too wise ) you get a message :-)
I spent a lovely half hour reading through the old book. I realised that 4 of those old classmates are still my friends albeit Facebook friends these days. I read some funny ones, I read some wise old sayings, I read some clever ones and I also read some which are no long appropriate as in 'politically correct'. When I first got the idea to use the autograph book verses I was planning to select a hotch potch of types. Then I found that there were a number of verses which reflected the status of women in those days, so I will use them as I think they will amuse the younger generation. (more of that in a later post)

Once again I'm sorry that so many photos rotated 90 degrees when they were uploaded.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A bit of help in the garden...

On Easter Saturday, DH and I spent the morning working in the garden. DH did a lot of tidying up of the front fence line which had become quite overgrown. I worked in the backyard clearing the weeds from a small vegie patch where I grew potatoes last year. The most prolific weed at this time of year is a creeper which has quite pretty blue flowers but it is most assuredly a pest! It belongs to the tradescantia family and is commonly called 'Wandering Jew' here in Australia and it's well known for  its ability to quickly cover an area and spread far and wide.

The major problem weed at this time of year
Then I started tackling digging over the garden bed and one patch of it had become rock hard. So I got the maddock out and dug away. Then DH came to lend a hand and he got the heavier pick and started attacking this rock hard section. Then we got out the cultivator which had been a Christmas gift given to me by my BIL and SIL.It worked a treat and we soon had the soil dug over.

Then it was time for some dolomite to help break up that clay and then I started shovelling compost out of the compost bin. The compost, plus a bag of manure then got spread on the garden bed. DH wanted to know whether I needed some help to spread some sugarcane mulch on top of all that.

But I wasn't planning to mulch until Monday because I have other helpers in my garden...and they arrived early this morning chortling happily in their inimitable way. The magpies always drop in to help if we dig over a garden bed. They pick over the soil and eat any curl grubs that may be in the soil or even in the homemade compost. They never let me down :-)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Easter Everyone :-)

Just thought I'd try something out, and it seems to have worked :-) Click on the link below.

Easter Greetings


Last Easter DH and I were travelling in California. On Good Friday we were in San Diego. Early that day DH had got up early and gone for a walk along the waterfront near our motel. When he came back he commented that a nearby school was open with students arriving as he walked past.

Across the road from our motel in San Diego

Our motel in San Diego

The walkway along the waterfront could that be? We had in previous days been looking at church notice boards to see what times the Good Friday services would be and hadn't noticed any. After breakfast as we set off to do some more sightseeing on our drive back to Huntington Beach, we quickly realised that it was not a public holiday. In Australia things shut down for Easter as all 4 days are public holidays. When I was a child only the corner shops would be open but not usually on Good Friday. Now the big shops and supermarkets open on Easter Saturday and Easter Monday.

Talking with DH's cousin we were to realise that despite the decorating of front porches with an Easter theme as we had seen on our travels on the east coast, Easter is not a big holiday time. We were told that families do often gather on the Sunday to have a family meal together and that is what we did at Huntington Beach last year. Maybe it was the shops that we shopped in but we didn't see any where near the huge displays of Easter eggs that adorn shops here in Australia. And of course the hot cross buns weren't much in evidence either but DH and I found some in an organic grocery store in a locality just off the Pacific Coast Highway.

A charming sculpture at our cousin's place; just perfect for Easter!

Easter Day breakfast in 2011

So this Easter? We went to a service at church this morning after a breakfast of toasted hotcross buns and a cuppa.  Now I'm looking forward to a relaxing, lovely quiet long weekend, with DH spending some time in the office as well as playing some golf with his friends on Sunday. I'm planning some sewing time and of course, some knitting time. As well, one of the TV channels is playing non stop detective dramas throughout the weekend as well so watching a few of those while knitting sounds pretty good too. Hopefully I'll get to visit a few friends and relatives as well.

My Easter indulgences! lol

Another family celebration....

Last night the family gathered to celebrate my step-daughter Jane's birthday. DH and I decided last week that instead of all going out for a meal we would eat at home. Because DH has needed me to work in the office I haven't had so much home time lately and so we decided to get some food 'in'. We decided on Thai food from a little local restaurant that we've used before for such occasions. What surprises me is that everyone in the family loves Thai food which isn't so with other cuisines; there's always something that someone won't or can't eat. The best thing about this get together was that all 5 girls, plus Karl (Jane's partner now fiance) were able to come. This rarely happens these days, so that made the night special too.

Nikki the cake maker

The birthday girl 'sensed' that I was taking a photo of her serving the cake! lol
And I didn't have to even bake or buy a birthday cake; my youngest stepdaughter took care of that. Nik made a cake in the shape of a castle, complete with blue jelly moat filled with lolly snakes rather than crocodiles! lol So all I had to do was put the tablecloth on the table, get out the plates, cutlery, glassware and serviettes. The girls even cleared the table afterwards; so lovely!

All the family, including little Jimmy the dog

Now the birthday girl has recently become engaged so naturally we chatted about her and Karl's plans. We knew the wedding is going to be in New Zealand (Karl is from Christchurch originally) but DH had thought it was going to be in a winery in the Marlborough region. But last night we heard that the possible places in which the nuptials will be held are Wellington or Queenstown. It's in May next year so we've got lots of time to organise accomodation etc where hopefully we can stay as a group like we did for my nephew's wedding in the Blue mountains the year before last.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Make- Grow- Thrift

Once again I'm joining in with Jodie 's feature on her blog. I guess I'm a bit predictable because once again it's a 'make' and yes, it's knitting! lol
A few weeks ago on my blog I mentioned a fundraising activity that was happening in our parish, 'The $20 Talents' Challenge'. Well yesterday I took the scarves that I had made to the 9.30 service hoping that I would sell some of them. I ended up making 8 scarves in total which was a bit of a hectic pace as I've been a bit too tired to knit at night after work.

All but the red and the fluffy turquoise scarf sold :-)
The last scarf that I made was a bit different. I normally knit a fancy yarn mixed with a 5ply yarn or an 8 ply cotton but with the 'faux fur' yarn it looked terrible. I remembered that I had some 'Ebay' mohair yarn in a similar colour so mixed that in and it looks much better and the mohair gave it a soft but light feel.

I was delighted that I sold 6 of the 8 scarves but will hand in funds equal to all 8 being sold. I'll also hand back the $20  note I was given when I took on the challenge. The 2 scarves left will be very handy for donating to the myriad of other causes that I support or just have on hand to give as a 'cheer up' gift to friends.

It was later on Sunday after having a lovely lunch out with a friend (DH was at golf) that I realised that it was the first weekend of the month. That means it was a Challenge Weekend for my knitting group and I had put my name on the list to make items ready for the Homeless Connect Day in May. I had completely forgotten all about it :-/ I quickly cast on some stitches for a scarf made with doubled 8 ply acrylic mohair look yarn (from an op shop) using large needles and double moss (seed) stitch so it won't curl up. In the group we don't have any real rules so I'll be able to work on the scarf and finishing off 2 blankets over the next week or 2 and still have them counted for the challenge. many ideas for projects and so little!!

My quick knit scarf for the K4BN April Challenge

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Catching up....

I've had a lovely weekend relaxing and doing nothing much in particular. Circumstances meant that I worked all last weekend and I found that working 12 days straight was incredibly tiring. I have nothing but admiration for people who work under such conditions. In recent weeks I've realised again how fortunate I am and that I lead quite a self indulgent life since I retired from my teaching career. The joy of crafting, cooking, gardening, doing some charity work, visiting and maintaining friendships whenever I wish and spending the odd day just doing nothing are all part of my retired life.

When i'm not working I go to several Knit and Natter groups each month

Some of the eggplants from my garden this year; they were used to make moussaka

An old photo now but I still meet these ladies regularly eevn though we left school in the 1960s
So why am I back in the workforce for 12 weeks? I went into this work with a heavy heart and a feeling of foreboding. I dreaded the announcement that would come signalling the state election because I would start this job then. I wasn't frightened of having to work hard; the fear was that I had no background knowledge in this field and that I would let my husband down by not coping with the skills etc needed for the job. Well that hasn't happened. I have been able to do every task set for me including using the computer system. I know that I'm still slow with data entry but there isn't  much of that involved in this job. A lot of the data entry is done via a scanning wand so that makes it easy :-) I've also done a lot of 'lower level' skill work which really amuses my DD2 because it's the kind of work she did when she started work in an office when she was 18. I just can't believe my luck that someone would pay me so well to do such tasks, lol. And that's why DH and I are doing this earn some money for our travelling fund.

One challenging aspect of the job is this flight of stairs up to where the kitchen  and the restrooms are ; it's good exercise though

This time last year we were travelling in the US (we travelled from Mar 5 till April 26) and on this day last year we were in San Francisco where I was so upset by the number of people begging on the streets. We spent extra days in Monterey and then San Francisco as the bad weather had closed Yosemite National Park. Despite the beggars I loved San Francisco, especially the waterfront and those seals! lol

I have 6 more weeks of paid work. We are 'finishing off' all the work necessary after the state election and since last week we've started work on the local government election which will happen on April 28. It's just how things have worked out having 2 elections so close to each other and it's certainly keeping us busy.