Friday, April 18, 2014

So, how are those goals going, Kirsty?

You guys are so good at keeping me honest. Thanks!

2014

At the start of the year I wrote out a list of things I'd like to accomplish in 2014 and now that the first quarter has well and truly passed us by, here's my update on how I'm going:

1. Two queen-sized quilts for our bed

One of these is well underway - the low volume triangle quilt. It needs a few more things appliquéd on before it's ready to be quilted.

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2. A log cabin twin-sized quilt for my daughter.

I thought about this a bit. And bought some fabric. Does this count? 

3. A yet-to-be-decided twin-sized quilt for our 9 yr old son.

Nup.

4. A big ol' picnic rug-type quilt.

Nup

5. At least two tops or dresses or something for me to wear.

Sadly, nup. But I see that Rae has her Spring Top Sewalong on again and I'd like to partake (even though it's autumn over here). 

6. Free motion quilt one of the above projects.

No way. Still too scared.

7. Paper-piece something

Yes, yes, yes. I have decided to embellish my queen quilt with EPPed rings and things, so that has been a success.

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8. Sort out this blog's design.

I commissioned a new blog logo, which I'm really happy with (you can see above in the header). I'm also going to change from Blogger to Wordpress or Squarespace, I just need to decide which one and find someone I can hire to help me.

9. Write up a pattern for sale.

Oooh, I'm right up in this one's grill. Pattern is written and being looked over by our very own Marg. I need to sew up some samples (anyone feel like being a tester?) and then release it on the innocent and unsuspecting public. Bwahaha.

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10. Perhaps start a newsletter.

Yes, I am cranking this one up too. Feel free to sign up here

Absolutely, positively no spam. Only good stuff. 

11. My start-of-year pledge: I will try to make all of the projects on my 2014 list from fabrics already in my possession.

Ha. Ha ha. Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Look, I tried. But I needed more yellow for No 2 above, and then I wanted to use those widescreen 108" fabrics for the backing of the queen quilts in No 1, and then I had to fill both those flat rate envelopes to make sure I was making the most of my postage dollars. And will you just stop having sales, fabric stores!!

I'm just going to draw a line under all that and start afresh today. 



We are in our last week of the first term school holidays here and I've been enjoying pushing my childhood loves on my children. 

First I made them watch the Goonies:

Look out: underage Josh Brolin. Courtesy of Warner Bros, via IMDb

Then I made them watch a few episodes of Battle of the Planets: 

Always five, acting as one. Thanks again, IMDb

And finally, we took the elder two kids to see the Lego Movie. In threeeeee deeeeeeee...

That's right, I paid good money to watch what was essentially a 2 hour Lego advert and I loved every minute of it. 

It got even better once we got home:

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Psst: I got to sew while they did this. Everything is awesome. 

And how about you - have you drunk the Lego Kool-Aid?

Are you having a win with your plans for 2014?

Are you as shocked as I am that it's already the second half of April? 

Wishing you all a wonderful Easter with the ones you love!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Working on...

A pattern!

There's log cabins.

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There's some scrappiness.

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But right now, it's all about basting and binding.

Are you participating in WIP Wednesday?

In other news, if you liked my pixelated quilt you can find the pattern in the current issue of Down Under Quilts (you can see it in the top left corner there).


Photo courtesy of Down Under Quilts

An especially good pattern for those just getting started quilting.

Hope you're all having a great week!


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Look out Hong Kong, here she comes.

Tomorrow my little baby sister*, Dee (with her husband and two young boys), moves from Sydney to Hong Kong.

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They're not sure how long they'll be living there. They're not sure if after Hong Kong they will return to Australia (Dee's husband is a 'Murrican).

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My feelings about the move are a little conflicted: I'm very excited for Dee because she gets to experience life in an amazing new country, but I also has a sad because I was just getting used to living within a thousand kilometres of her. (She's had 5 yrs in the US, I was 3 yrs in France; we've spent a lot of our adult lives a long way away from each other.)

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So in her honour, here's a few Hong Kong photos from our stop-over in January 2013 on our way home from France.

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These photos were taken at the beautiful Nan Lian Garden at Diamond Hill, Kowloon.

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When we first arrived in Hong Kong I found the city a little overwhelming. It is so big. So high. So many people. To find this perfectly coiffed oasis in the midst of the concrete jungle was such a delight.

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Located within the Garden is the Chi Lin Nunnery:

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It's very zen, with lotus ponds and buddhist relics. The architecture is special too, in the style of the Tang Dynasty. The woodwork is incredible - there are no nails used in these buildings, only clever interlocking forms.  A civil engineer's dream.

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I think this would be the perfect place for Dee to come and relax should the city get too much for her.

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Might want to leave the boys at home though, Dee. This is the sign at the front of the Gardens:

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Basically anything except walking, taking photos and scratching your nose is prohibited. And you better scratch that nose slowly, with controlled movements.

We read the (then) 3 yr old the riot act before we entered, and the baby was contained in mister's baby  back pack. But of course, being 3, it's really, really hard not to run, especially when the fish are jumping out of the little lake. So he ran, and an official was straight on to us. They are serious about the rules!

Regardless, it's beautiful and well worth a visit.

So, bon voyage, Dee Dee. We love you and we're going to miss you and your beautiful family. You're going to have exciting adventures, but it's also going to be hard. There's a new language, a new culture and a new way of life to get used to. But you're nothing if not tenacious.

Yep, Dee is tenacious. Tenacious Dee. Hmm. I know where this is going:



Rock on, sweetie, and I'm looking forward to visiting you in your new home! (Find all the best camera equipment stores for me, okay?)

Love and kisses,
Your annoying and bossy big sister, Kirsty x x

* I know she's in her mid-thirties, but she'll always be my little baby sister.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Some snapshots from one of my works in progress: a queen sized quilt for ME (and I guess my husband can use it too).

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After a rough start I am really enjoying how it's coming together.

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Linking up with Lee's WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

An english paper pieced star ring sewn to a quilt of low volume triangles

Hope you're all having some luck with your WIPs too!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Lattice Love Quilt (with a little tutorial)

I guess a post on Valentine's Day has to have love in the title somewhere, doesn't it?

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Speaking of love, I made this quilt for my sister's gorgeous baby boy. I could eat that kid's cheeks every day of the week, he's such a cutie.

A quick discussion with my sister told me that she would probably appreciate something classic in a Tiffany blue, to match the little guy's nursery. I'd wanted to turn this lattice design into a quilt block for a while and this seemed the perfect occasion.

I quilted it quite densely with freehand straight lines - just using the walking foot width as my guide.

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It gives such a great texture.

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For the back I went with a more traditional patchwork look.

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I don't think I have a fat quarter of light blue left in my stash now.

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I cut circles in various neutral tones with my AccuQuilt Go! Baby fabric cutter and raw edge appliquéd them in place.

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I really love the lattice pattern and hope that my sweet little nephew has a lot of fun dragging it around the house.

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The design is created with two blocks: a plus block and another containing the hollow square. You have to be mindful of matching the white lines when sewing the blocks together, but that's about the trickiest part. These blocks also lend themselves to chain piecing too, which I'm rather partial to.

Assumptions:

1. Quarter inch seams are used throughout.
2. No more than two glasses of wine drunk at any one sewing sitting. No restrictions on chocolate.

It all begins with a bit of this:


Then you take the four strips created and sew them around the square:


The final block is a simple plus block using dimensions as follows:


Both blocks should be trimmed to 9.5 inches.

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Then it's as simple as sewing alternate blocks together until you get the size quilt you'd like.

I wouldn't mind trying this on point at some stage, too. I think it makes for some interesting shapes:

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Happy quilting and Happy Valentine's Day, lovers!

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Australia Zoo

Hi everyone! I hope your week has started well.

Thank you to all those who voted in my little survey on the side bar - the majority of you are keen to see travel-flavoured posts every now and then, which makes me very happy.

So, without any further ado - here's the down and dirty about Australia Zoo.

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Water dragon

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Tasmanian devil

For those not familiar with the place, the Zoo is about an hour north of Brisbane and is the home of the late Steve Irwin. I say 'is' and not 'was' because Steve's spirit is still very much alive here - from the billboards still showing his face to the conservation work that the Zoo continues in his name.

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Steve was a zany character and I quite enjoyed his exuberant antics, not that he was beyond controversy.

Some of you may remember when Steve took his then newborn son Robert into a crocodile enclosure for feeding time. All hell broke loose (in the media, not in the crocodile pen), and I have to say I didn't side with team Irwin. Might have something to do with newborns looking far too much like defrosted chickens for my comfort.



While his ideas for croc-proofing children might not sit well with me, it's hard not to be impressed with his animal conservation work and his beautiful zoo. (The zoo was created by Steve's parents and is now run by Steve's widow, Terri and kids Bindi and Robert).

Be prepared for lots of walking - Australia Zoo is big (there is a complimentary shuttle bus for those feeling lazy). This is for good reason - the animal enclosures are all large and well maintained.

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Dingo

You may see a recurring theme here: it was a hot day and all the animals were vewy sweepy.

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It's hard work being a wombat

We were very excited to see the two new tiger cubs:

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As well as the 8 week old giraffe calf. Fun fact: the mother of this calf and the two other pregnant females were all knocked up by the one male. Titillating! (he deserves a pat on the back though as Rothschild giraffes are on the verge of extinction in the wild.)

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He's the one with the smirk on his face.

The other two female giraffes are due to give birth in Feb or March, so there will be even more cute baby giraffes to see soon.

The White Rhinos (doing their best impression of Brown Rhinos) were also hanging around with the giraffes.

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I took a nicer photo than the one above, but when I got home and looked at it there was a rhino in the background doing a torrential steaming wee, so I had to delete it. Photobombed.

At midday the Crocodile Show is conducted at the Crocoseum.

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A tip - get there about 20 mins before starting time to get a good seat. And look out for the volunteer guides when you enter the stadium - ask them where the best spot to sit is and they will happily help you out. The Crocoseum is also right next to the main eating area, so try to plan your meal time to not coincide with the end of the (~ 30 min) show - the whole Crocoseum files in for lunch afterwards and it's super crowded.

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Using a pig leg tied to a rope to show a death roll *shudder*

Monty the croc (who apparently couldn't stand Steve, but is quite fond of Terri) was as grumpy as you'd expect, which made for a good show.

Both Bindi and Robert fed Monty. While the video footage of baby Bob raised my heartbeat, I didn't feel the same concern during the show. Both kids were very croc-savvy and very well supervised (you can see Terri shadowing Bindi's arm and Wes holding Robert's shirt in the photos below).

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It made me a little misty-eyed to see the family working together, doing what they love, carrying on Steve's legacy. I have no doubt that when he looks down on them from the great wildlife park in the sky he's proud of what he sees.

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Terri, Robert and Bindi

While I loved the Croc Show, the highlight of the Zoo for me was the koala enclosure. It's huge - you walk through it - and has the largest number of koalas I have ever seen in one space. A good dozen of them are brought down onto gumleaf lined perches for you to gawk at up close (only one koala is allowed to be patted - under supervision of the staff).

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For those who've never seen a koala in the flesh (or fur), I would recommend Australia Zoo for this reason alone.

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Koalas sleep a lot (they only eat eucalyptus leaves which don't provide much energy, hence the need for frequent napping). We were endlessly amused by the ways they rammed themselves into branch forks to sleep without dropping from the trees.

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Why you shouldn't try to pat koalas in the wild

In the afternoon we saw the trainers working with the new tiger cubs, introducing them to some of the fully grown tigers.

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Viewing made for a strange mix of emotions: the cubs are adorable, the grown tigers are majestic, the respect for the trainers who may have the coolest job ever (seriously, imagine dropping the fact you're a tiger trainer when out on the town; they've probably seen more ladies' knickers than Tom Jones). But underneath all this was a baseline of mild terror because you knew if that tiger decided to disembowel the cub, there wouldn't be a whole lot that could be done to stop him.

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The cubs were super-keen to jump all over the adults and had to be restrained a little. Patience, grasshopper. 

The first adult male was very unimpressed.

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GET OFF MY LAWN

About 2 seconds after the following photo he took a big swipe at the cub and the two had to be separated.

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The big cat then came up to the window directly in front of us (where an annoying spectator was continuously firing off his flash in the animal's face) and let us know how he felt about it all.

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Crikey

The second adult tiger faired a little better. He had a bit of a sniff and a nose-nudge and then gave a resounding 'meh'. I'll take a 'meh' over teeth marks in my neck any day.

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This was a very long post - so well done if you've made it this far!

As you can probably guess, we had a fantastic time at Australia Zoo and would recommend a visit to anyone - Australian or otherwise.

You can find all the details on their website, including any special events they have planned (such as for Australia Day, Valentine's Day), maps, admission prices, etc.

A fun day out suitable for all ages - get thyself to the Zoo!

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Kookaburra

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