Sunday, 18 November 2012

Grown up mud pies

Did you make mud pies as a child? I did. My sisters and I would spend hours getting just the right consistence of mud to make the "recipe" we wanted. Just enough water so we could roll out "biscuits", or add a little more water to make a "chocolate cake". Can you tell we spent a lot of time cooking in the kitchen with Mum? But the best bit was the decorating. Petals, feathers, leaves, pebbles, whatever we could find in the garden to add the finishing touch to our masterpiece. When it was "cooked" rock hard from the sun, we would present it to Mum or Dad. They always seemed to be so appreciative of what we proudly presented.

So today I relived those mud cake days. My garden is on a sloping block, that means giving the garden a good soaking drink is a bit of a problem. The water just runs downhill, before it has a chance to sink in. So what to do to help slow the water run off? I decided to take advantage of the patch of clay in the boggie corner of the garden and make mud dam walls to help hold the water. I have to say it was great fun, and elbow deep in mud I was taken back to the days of making mud pies. So as a small tribute to the mud pie days, I've added leaf decorations to my dam walls. No ware as fancy as the old days, but just as much fun.

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Yesterday I spent the day with Mum ooing and ahhing over a very special garden called "Sunnymeade". It is so beautiful, and such a surprise to find nestled into the Strathbogie Ranges. I'll let the photos speak for themselves.





Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Heading home

The road trip home from holiday is always a feeling of mixed emotions. But the main one is I DON"T WANT TO GO BACK TO WORK! As my mother says, "you need to earn the money so you can spend the money." Sad but true.
Anyway the trip home took us through Bathurst, Orange, Cowra, Young, Junee, Cootamundra, and Wagga Wagga.
The country side was just so pretty with the Canola crops and the Paterson's Curse in flower (beautiful for a weed), and the various shades of green from the hundreds and hundreds of acres of crop. It would be amazing to see from the air at the moment.
Below - Sorry for the bug splat on the windscreen, but its all part of the road trip experience. Love the contrast of the yellow Canola against the gold of the hillside.

Below - One of the great things about travel is picking up on the regional peculiarities. What is it with NSW country towns and "gangster parking"? Their all set for a quick getaway.

Below - I love the way country towns try to advertise their claim to fame. You know " Home of the .....(insert person / animal / vegetable / event here)". In Young it's "Cherry Capital Of Australia" that welcomes you to town.

How long can the holiday glow last?

Monday, 8 October 2012

From Deep Under Ground to High On The Hill

There is so much to do around the Blue Mountains area if you are prepared to drive out of the way a bit, so we jumped in the car and headed off for a day of exploring.

Jenolan Caves are well worth a visit, if you haven't been in a cave system before. There are heaps of caves to explore on a tour. There is also some smaller self guided tours that you can do. Being school holidays the tours were heavily booked, and we had a wait of just over an hour to get on a tour. We were a bit concerned when the tour descriptions said things like "light show" or "coloured lights", so had to pick a tour with the least man made distraction. We've visited Buchan Caves a couple of times, and it was interesting to compare the two.

So after an hour underground, we headed to Oberon for some lunch before making our way to the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden. It is so beautiful. There is 252acres of gardens set on top of the mountain looking back towards the coast, and on a clear day you can see Sydney. You could so easily spend a whole day there, so I'm going back next spring with my sister and Mum.

The Rhododendrons, Flowering Cherry Trees, Camellias and Waratah are out at the moment, and are just spectacular.

We also dropped by the Rhododendron Garden at Blackheath, but was short of time to explore. So this is on the list to see better when we have a "gardening girls" weekend away next spring.

Left - Blackheath Rhododendron Garden
Right - View from visitor centre at the Botanic Garden

Such a day of contrasts!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Blue Mountains Escape

After spending a day in Sydney centre and harbour area, we decided that there really wasn't anything that we "just had to do" in Sydney. So we headed west.

It's so easy to see why the early explorers were hampered by the Blue Mountains escarpment. It really would have been a massive barrier to overcome.

To be honest the first impressions of the Blue Mountains area was not great. There is road works going on all over the place, so the noise of machinery is everywhere. The tourist dollar is obviously the main income source, with every opportunity taken to sell you something. Once upon a time there would have been individual villages along the ridge line, but now they just merge one into the next.

Top - The famous Three Sisters in Katoomba was interesting, but the enjoyment was definitely impacted by the loads of tourists. Yes I get the irony of this comment. I was one too, but it is really hard to appreciated the wonders of nature when all you can here is human chatter, calling out, buses, cars etc.

Bottom - This is what was directly behind me when I turned around from taking the top shot, and this was late in the day!

So with some trepidation, we continued along the escarpment to our accommodation in the "village" of Blackheath. It was a last minute booking made through Wotif that we made before leaving Sydney, and was a total unknown.

What a find! Mounts Boutique Hotel is a small private hotel, with the most comfortable bed I've every slept in. The people were really friendly and couldn't do enough to make us comfortable. We also ate at the Italian restaurant that is part of the hotel, and both really enjoyed our meals. In fact we were so happy to stay here, that we booked in for an extra night. The photos below give you an idea of the feel of the hotel, our room, and the garden. There is also a park right beside with a playground for the kids.

Once we had booked into the hotel, we went exploring Blackheath. So glad we did. The day had started off with us feeling a little less than impressed with the Blue Mountains area, but after taking a walk around Blackheath, we started to warm to the area. Unlike Katoomba and some of the other "villages" closer to Sydney, Blackheath had the feeling of being a real community rather than just a "tourist destination".

We wandered through Victory Theatre Antiques. It's a great idea, where lots of different antique dealers have a "shop" in the old theatre.

Left - There is something for everyone. Maybe it is the age we are, but we both found things that we new from our childhood.

Right - I thought of Claire over at Sweet Birdy Love when I came across this nifty use of old blankets. I did have to look twice though when I read the price tag. Would you believe $65 for the cushion!

Before heading back to the hotel for the evening, Mr noticed a sign to Govetts Leap, so not knowing what to expect we turned off. So glad we did. We were the only ones there, and it was really beautiful to have the light of the setting sun hitting the rock face.

So after what started out as a day of being less than impressed by the Blue Mountains region, we had changed our mind. I think it's all about taking the time to get away from the main tourist attractions, and just explore a little.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Exploring Sydney

So Day 1 in Sydney was the most perfect day you could ask for. Beautiful weather, fantastic scenery, great food. You get the idea.

Top Left - We spent a couple of hours at Hyde Park Barracks in the morning. I've been researching my family history recently, so to walk around the Barracks and read it's history really helped to put some context to what I had been reading. Well worth a visit if you get to Sydney.

Top Right - We headed down to the harbour, and walked through part of the Botanical Gardens. I couldn't resist the contrast of the statue of Captain Arthur Phillip against the sky line of modern Sydney. Wonder what he would think of the what has developed in 224 years.

Bottom Left - Our hotel was at the top end of Hyde park, so we stepped away from the traffic and into the lushness of the park. There was a photo exhibition hung for public viewing, and was a real mix of images. Something for everyone, including the little boy that caught sight of "his bunny" pegged to a clothes line in one image.

Bottom Right - This is one of Mr's shots. After spending the afternoon out on the harbour we wandered around The Rocks, and the bridge just sits commandingly at the end of the street.

Top Left - There is so much activity on the harbour. Just hope everyone who is in command of a vessel know the rules! We didn't want to do the "touristy boat trip thingy", so took the ferry over to Manly for a seafood lunch by the ocean.

Top Right - There were groups of climbers up and down the bridge all day. It seems to be "the thing to do" when in Sydney.

Bottom Left - Another iconic Sydney image, and it really is an impressive building. So unique.

Bottom Right - Sailing past the harbour heads, I was reminded of sailing though them on a cruise ship in the late 80's. I didn't have fond memories. That was when I found out I get sea sick!

So could I live in Sydney? I'm not sure. If I could live on the harbour, then maybe.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Taking Time Off!

It is so easy to get caught up in the rush, rush, rush of life. So I decided it was time to take a break from blogging and spend time doing other things. So with inspiration of taking a small holiday (another sort of "break" I guess), I felt time was right to jump back into blogging.
Mr and I haven't had a "real" holiday for years. Being self employed, it's hard to set aside a block of a couple of weeks to pack the bags and head off somewhere. I keep telling myself that when this contract ends, then I'll take a really good break! So we've made do with road trips and weekends away.
With school holidays here in Victoria, Mr and I decided to head north to Sydney for a few days. I've only been to Sydney for work, and never had the chance to do the touristy things.
So we jumped on the Hume Highway and headed north. The highway drive can be pretty boring, and rather than support the multinational giants that dot the highway stops, we head into the towns if we need petrol, toilets, coffee, donuts (you get the idea).
Top left: Holbrook is a totally land locked town, so it makes me smile to see HMAS Otway sitting proudly in the middle of town. It's a popular stop, and the kids (both old and young) just have to climb on board.
Top right: Goulburn was celebrating it's annual Lilac Festival, and this was the dog show. No fancy breeders prancing around a show ring. Just a group of kids with their four legged best friends, having a blast. Just what a community festival should be all about!
Bottom left: The architecture in Golburn is really interesting. Being the first inland city settled in Australia, there is a wealth of colonial architecture. With the boom of sheep and wheat, you can see the building development that took off at that time too.
Bottom right: Between Golburn and Yass, you can't miss this bank of windmills. Solar energy,  wind energy, wave energy - why don't we make more use of these in Australia? I don't get it!
So after 6 hours on the road we made it to Sydney, but more on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

I'm On A Treasure Hunt

My crafting and gardening has taken a back set over the last few weeks. You see I'm on a treasure hunt of sorts. I've become some what obsessed with family history.

It started back at Christmas time when I was presented with a box of bits and pieces that had belonged to an aunt. So with the older generation now all in their 70's and 80's, I decided it was time I ask lots of questions and get their stories down.

So what have I found out so far?

- The family story of a convict ancestor transported to Australia for stealing roofing nails, hasn't been proven YET!

- Children "born out of wedlock" is not a modern day event.

- Despite my great grandmother's insistence, there is no "blue blood" in the family.

- An ancestor found gold and was worth the equivalent of 350 years of the average yearly wage at the time of the his death in the 1890's. And before your ask, it's not in my bank account!

What I have loved are the fashions being worn in some of the photos. I know the exposure time needed in the old photo's meant they had to stand still for a long time, but do you think they ever smiled?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The week that was

There has been another trip down the freeway to Melbourne, but this time Mum took the opportunity to come along and catch up with friends in Melbourne. We spent the evening with her friend Lorraine, and she has set me a task. She wants to copy this stitch, but we really struggled to come up with how it is done. It has a very three dimensional effect. Any idea how to recreate this stitch? Hope someone out in blogland can help.

The latest Kosciusko cushion has been completed and delivered.

There was a detour on the way home from Melbourne to catch the sunset from the ruin of the Ovens Goldfield Hospital at Beechworth

And time to enjoy the Bottle Brush from Mum's garden. I love how so many of the Australia natives flower in the colder months, when the exotics are at there barest.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Turning a circle into a square

When I posted my "Spring Is On The Way" cushion recently, Carol asked me for some hints on turning a circle into a square. I'm sure this isn't the only way to do it, but here's how I turn a circle into a square, pentagon, hexagon etc.

It's important to have a circle that sits flat from the start. So my circles tend to follow a simple formula, and in the examples below I've used an 8ply yarn with a 6mm hook, and English stitch terms.

Round 1 - create sliding loop and work 12 tr in the loop -  join 12th to 1st stitch with sl st - pull the sliding loop just tight enough so the stitches are all sitting flat.

Round 2 - Ch3 (counts as first tr) - work 1 tr into the same stitch - work 2 tr in next stitch and continue around - join 24th stitch with 1st stitch with sl st.

Round 3 - Ch3 (counts as first tr) - *work 2 tr into the stitch, 1 tr into the following stitch* and continue around - join 36th stitch to 1st stitch with sl st.

From here I visualise the shape I want to form, and work out the stitches I'll need to "fill in the blank" If you have trouble visualising, try drawing the shape you want and laying the circle in the centre.

The key to being able to turn the circle into a square or any other shape with an even number of edges, is to have an even number of stitches. To make it even easier, the number of stitches should be able to be evenly divided by however many sides you want to create ( 4 for a square / 6 for a hexagon etc).

I tend to work from centre edge to corner to centre edge, as a section and work out how many stitches I'll have in the section. For example, the circle above has 36 stitches. To make a square, I'd divide by 4, to give 9 stitches per section. So from 12 o'clock to 3 o'clock is one section of 9 stitches.

Round 4 - *Ch2(counts as 1dc) - 1dc - 1htr - 1tr - 2dtr, 1ch, 2dtr (to form corner) - 1tr - 1htr - 1dc - 1dc* - Repeat to form the remaining 3 sections - join 48th stitch to 1st stitch with sl st

You will see the stitch length extend as you work away from the "12 o'clock" position and towards the corner, then reduced as you work away from the corner towards the "3 o'clock" position on the circle.  

I've used this method to make a hexagon and a pentagon as well. As the pentagon has 5 sides, this doesn't divide evenly into 36, but it is close enough with each side being 7 stitches with 1 left over. I've taken care of the 1 extra stitch by working 2 stitches together in one section.

Don't be put off from giving this a go. You can come up with some fantastic results, just like  Trudy's great circle work.

The week that was

There's another "kosciusko" cushion under way, to fill an order.

When I was wandering the neighbourhood looking for our missing cat, I found this fantastic fungi growing on a dead log. (Horrie did eventually came home in his own sweet time). Love the colour blending, and just might have to use this for a little inspiration.

There was a little birthday present purchase to myself, from the local second hand furniture guy. Plan is to use this for storage in my "work room".

And we now have toasty toes thanks to Mr's efforts at insulating under the floor boards (but I do have some pretty filthy washing to do).

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The week that was

The week has been about "feeding".

Feeding my body with a birthday lunch by the Ovens River"

Feeding my creative urges with a little shopping at Sackville and Lane.

Feeding my soul with sunsets over the Ovens Valley,

And a trip to Huon Hill lookout.

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