Monthly Archives: December 2016

Christmas at last

img_4811The seasonal celebration was delayed due to interstate travels but finally, today, the family enjoyed a lovely lunch hosted at my son’s house. A magnificent spread was laid before us, more than anyone could possibly eat, but that has to be the Christmas tradition. The menu was most suitable for the hot steamy weather and included a lot of home grown produce.

Presents were exchanged with everyone hitting the mark. I was treated to books, cute socks and a motive from my old purse repurposed as a keyring. How clever. There was even some fabric from Threadbear.

A storm thundered in during the afternoon, so it was a wet drive home, with most drivers behaving sensibly.

The best part of the day was over. The storm had resulted in 41mm of rain being dumped on my place in a short time. My gravel driveway could not cope. The gutters held up for most of the length but then the build up of leaves got stuck, and the water tore into the gravel sweeping it onto the road. Shovelling stones is not the type of gardening I had planned over the next week.

The gravel is supposed to end at the limit of the plant in front of the letterbox.

Inside there was some water too, it had blown in a couple of open windows, and one downpipe got blocked sending water into the downstairs toilet via the window frame. Fortunately only mopping needed to clear this up, although house gutter clearing is also on the must do chores list now.


A windy day

Another weather related post. It has been blowing about a lot today, making it very uncomfortable to be outside. It is also making a mess of the parts of the garden I have recently tidied up.

My jacaranda promised to have its best flower display ever. It is only a small tree but I had been beating the trunk with a stick occasionally during the spring, as I heard somewhere that this made it flower, perhaps it works. Then, just as the flowers were beginning to open, the wind has been blowing them off. A few bees were valiantly trying to get inside but the wind made that task very difficult.

Next it was the trees shedding their bark as they do at this time. The Angophora costata neatly  sheds in rectangles, splitting around the trunk and branches and well as up and down. The bark falls in a tidy pile at the base even when it is windy.

The Manna gum Eucalyptus viminalis on the other hand has great sheets of bark hanging from the trunk and every branch. They pitch about in the wind getting up speed and then fly off and spear into shrubs and trees, even those quite a distance away. As fast as these shards are cleared, more come flying down.

The wind also drys everything out, including Tomkins. He has decided that the water in the upper basin tastes best. The fish don’t seem to mind.

From a distance the jacaranda still has the characteristic haze of violet and the weather forecast says that the winds will be decreasing overnight, so maybe the worst of the damage is done.

Cool change

Heat wave conditions have made it far too hot to sew since the fifth clue for the En Provence mystery was released on Friday. Instead I did an early morning hunt through the garden for purple plants that were not showing when I did my survey earlier in the month.

My acanthus can be found below the buddleja, the delicate petals of the unusually shaped flowers glow in this shady spot. Fruit on my Satsuma Plum is beginning to ripen. It is a blood plum variety, so the flesh inside is a deep red to purple. There should be lots of fully ripe and juicy plums before this mystery is finished. The waterlily, the first for this summer; a reminder that there is supposed to be yellow in this quilt – perhaps next Friday.

I waited until the forecast cool change came through, late Monday afternoon. The plus 30 degrees slowly dropped, a little rain fell, the humidity rose. Still not sew comfortable. Besides the Christmas Special double of Dr Who followed by Call the Midwife was on the telly. Finally time to get this simple unit done. Checked the first one, perfect. img_4721Easy Angle ruler for cutting and Bloc Loc for trimming the dog ear make half square triangles a sinch. It wasn’t long before my completed squares were tumbling off the side of my ironing table into the basket below.img_4724

Here’s the link to see what all the other Quiltvillians are making of this clue.

Bustle in my hedgerow

Very exciting developments in my neighbourhood. I went to Warrandyte for the first time in a couple of months and there is a new tenant in the shops at the eastern end of town. At first I thought someone must have pinched the name, so I went in.

It really is Bustle and Bows formerly of Surrey Hills. It is the most beautiful embroidery shop, but it was a bit far away from me for classes, or even dropping in for threads and notions. Not to mention the difficulty driving there because of the boom gates, and most trains from my station express Surrey Hills. So I have not been a regular customer.

I feel that is going to change. Hope they do well, it is a great location, you can see the trees opposite reflected in the window; beyond them is the Yarra River. Having expressed my delight in the move I couldn’t resist a small purchase, a small piece of this handbag contents Liberty print. Fountain pen and ear buds of course.

A little further into town I spotted a real gem. It was almost as if Phryne had popped into the bar for a refreshing cocktail while Dot shopped for some threads and trims. It’s not the Hispano-Suiza but what fabulous colours.

Lulu and her kitten

This has been a one cat household for nearly two years and Tomkins needs some company. So after researching options I headed out to the Cat Protection Society where I met a quietly dignified very young mother with her boisterous kitten. They came home on Monday and have quickly settled into their new home, albeit restricted to the bathroom for the time being. Tomkins hasn’t met them yet, but he is aware that he has company and so far is not at all fussed.

I have named the tortoiseshell Lulu because it seems to suit her, and the tiny blue and cream tortoiseshell is Umeko, plum child.


Both are very playful, it is fun to watch them together, with Umeko copying her mother sometimes, and taking a lead at others. I suspect in no time at all she will have a mind of her own.

Enormous fun can be had will a small sparkly ball, but it is exhausting.

Why violet?

Mystery, week 4:  Now this is just too easy. Tri Recs were covered in week 2, but then again it doesn’t hurt to practise some more. This time it is with the dark purple and neutrals, so I am using my six dark violets from week 3 and the dark greys that have not been used since week 1.

Even though there are only 40 blocks to make, it has taken me most of Sunday because I have been distracted. First by the anticipation of the CFA Santa Run, an annual tradition among volunteer fire brigades in rural and urban fringe communities in Victoria and my second distraction stemmed from this, we will come to it later.

All morning the bells and sirens of fire trucks and support vehicles echoed around the neighbourhood, sometimes coming closer, then further away. Finally Santa arrived, distributing good cheer and bags of snacks, much to the satisfaction of my very grown up daughter, who had come to visit specially with my equally excited teenage granddaughter.

I had hoped in this week the mystery would have moved on to the yellow fabric, because then I could have used the bag of twisties as my colour photo. This was not to be, and in truth the snacks were not this type, but something quite inedible; the snack food photo is from my archive taken after the 2012 Santa run.

But this got me thinking about snacks and this became my other not sewing distraction.

One of my favourite snacks when I was about the age of my granddaughter, was a Violet Crumble, some kids referred to them as ‘violent rumbles’. It is a chocolate coated honeycomb bar, invented as I discovered, in Melbourne. Until today I had never been curious about the name, but violet has been on my mind. The bar is packaged in a deep purple metallic wrapper, but it is not a Cadbury product. I had to check all this with a quick trip to the shops followed by a little nibble. I can confirm that they still taste good, not sickly sweet like the competition.img_4411After much research – ok Wikipedia – I learned that Abel Hoadley, who had previously been in preserves and jam making, established a confectionery business in 1913 and one of his early popular assortments contained honeycomb. In order to stop these bars sticking together he had them chocolate dipped. He called them a Crumble, but couldn’t register that as a name, so he added Violet, after his wife’s favourite flower and wrapped them in purple, her favourite colour.

Over 100 years later, and after the business going through several takeovers, Violet Crumble is still being made in Melbourne, under the Nestlé brand. For those now feeling nostalgic, Lyn Walsh has written an excellent potted history with illustrations from the National Library of Australia collection.

Finally I got on with sewing, and completed the required units including this one using my new elephant fabric. Then I rewarded myself with the rest of the Violet Crumble.img_4412

Here is the link to Bonnie Hunter’s En Provence Mystery Monday Linkup part 4 – the design of this quilt remains quite a mystery.




Home repair 101

Polished timber floors with lots of grain and knots look great. But sometimes one of the knots falls out leaving the home exposed to nasties that lurk below. Or what is more likely, creating the black hole to which all sorts of import things like thimbles and gold coins will be drawn.

The chippy solution is to fill it with a piece of scrap and wood filler. This requires expertise and specialised materials resulting in something that does the job, but doesn’t look that great.

Here is the answer for the handy person with no special skills, tools or materials. Just use what is found in every home.