Monday, October 30, 2017

Another weekend

My husband went down the beach this weekend to do some much-needed gardening and check in on the place. I am feeling seriously beach-deprived but the boys had things on in Canberra so I got to stay here and drive them around. Saturday afternoon was the latest production's cast after-party - number two son declined to bake anything so I made miniature spinach quiches. If mum does it, it will involve a vegetable.

The party itself was lovely - out in the countryside - most of the time the mums could quietly sit outside and chat while they watched the video of the show, sang along and shrieked at each other. Theatre people. From there we went back into town, dropped number one at the movies to meet his friends, went home for dinner, then went back to pick the boy up. Sunday I went for a 7 km run (slow, hot, and unfortunately on at the same time as the Red Wig Run, lots of people in red wigs aimlessly meandering all over the path, I lost any remaining charitable feelings quite quickly) then took number two son to the rehearsal of the NEXT production (a Christmas show, not religious thankfully). And rehearsal was only an hour, so not quite long enough to come home, so I went to the shops and bought exciting things like insect repellent and teenage boy pyjama pants. And, if I'm being entirely honest, a really cute pink and purple check woollen coat that was about a million per cent off in the sales, and which I definitely don't need.

We planted some herbs outside, now there's no chance of frosts. If we remember to water them they should be fine. We buy the herbs in the supermarket in little pots because they are cheaper than the cut ones, use them, then plant them - or at least we are now, we never have before, so this is an experiment.

I got to do a tiny bit of sewing on selvedge blocks! There was a massive pile of them and it made about eight blocks. Never mind, they are fun to do and I'm not in a rush...


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sweeter than syrup

Here is the finished quilt from my Bonnie Hunter-inspired sugar bowl blocks. I did it in pinks, with a nominal light/dark pattern but some of the lights and darks weren't terribly obvious, so you kind of have to squint to see the layout. I was planning initially on a pink border but I think the green works better. Why have one colour when you can have two? Four! More!

It's quilted in an open meander that was meant to be a bit like kelp but just looks like giant squiggles. A bit lazy but gives a nice texture (especially from a distance ... a long distance).

And on the back we have a variety of things pulled from the stash which have been there for too long! I went for vaguely pink-ish, and some of them are beautiful fabrics which I really loved, but I haven't used them for years. Which means they are probably not going to get used, and I am using them up on backs.

It is called "Sweeter than syrup" because of the pink and the sugar bowls. Other than finishing this, the week has continued with lots of rushing around - number two son had his end of year concert on Monday and Tuesday evenings. We went to the Monday one because I work late on Tuesdays, but apparently Tuesday was better! Of course. It's a series of items that the students have put together so was different on both nights. They recorded it, so I should be able to see it later, with judicious fast forwarding to get to the bits my child is actually in. I'm a Bad Person.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Middle-aged parent weekend

Lots of busy and not much achieving this weekend, which isn't so unusual round here. Saturday was number two son's birthday, so started off with presents in pyjamas as is traditional. Here he is posing goofishly with his new marker pens. He is very fussy about his marker pens, these are Copics and he's slowly building up quite a stash.

The rest of Saturday I went for a 6km run, did a couple of hours on my uni assignment, a little bit of sewing, and made a sponge roll for birthday cake. Then I picked up a couple of number two son's friends and left them at a Korean bbq restaurant to have birthday dinner on their own. My husband dropped number one son at another part of town to meet friends at a pizza-and-board-games restaurant (yes, such a thing exists, I was not aware) and met me at yet another restaurant for dumplings and szechuan chicken. I went home and filled the sponge roll with cream while my husband brought number-two and friends home for birthday cake and sleepover. Here is the sponge roll, filled with cream, and with strawberries and blueberries! Exactly what he wanted. I'd never made one before and it turned out OK, but not fabulous, the texture was a bit weird. Tasted great though.

The next morning I made pancakes for sleepover breakfast and went to book club, where we had read (or partially read, or tried to read) The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer. I really loved this book - I knew nothing about the case at all and had never heard of Garry Gilmore - but found it a really engrossing read. Opinion within the group was divided! Except that Gilmore was clearly a horrible character.

The rest of Sunday I did some more on the uni assignment, a little bit more sewing, grocery shopping, laundry of course, number two son had rehearsal for his school performance, and then Sunday evening is wine, Doc Martin and Doctor Blake. All as it should be...


Friday, October 20, 2017

Not the photo I was planning

I finished the quilting and binding on my sugar bowl blocks quilt and fully intended to show you pictures of that ... but I couldn't take photos after work last night because it was raining. Good, proper, heavy rain that we haven't had for weeks and weeks. So I can't complain, but it did stop me taking quilt photos, even inside. It was quite gloomy.

So this is what I'm doing now - quilting the rainbow scrap blocks. I was also quilting another scrap and purple quilt but that's waiting on the binding now, so I'm doing boring straight lines on the rainbow. I actually did not intend to do close-together straight lines on this one but I was sleeping under Scarlett Johannsen and I really like the effect of the lines. It makes a quilt noticeably heavier but also quite snuggly. Takes FOREVER though.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


You know you're back in Canberra when you spend a sunny Sunday morning at Floriade. And it was a beautiful sunny morning this morning; not hot, not windy, just glorious. You can tell it wasn't windy by the lake fountain going straight up. When I went for a run yesterday morning on this same bridge I got drenched with the spray (it was very welcome, I was very hot and sweaty, the Europe adventure involved a lot of food). This is the traditional bridge shot where we spend five minutes walking to avoid fifteen minutes trying to find a carpark.

Today was the last day of Floriade - it goes for four weeks - and the flowers were still amazing. Some beds were past their best but they stagger plant them ... god knows how, it must be ridiculously complicated. Whatever they do it is clearly working because I think it's one of the best I've seen in the twenty odd years I've been tiptoeing through the tulips. Well, not actually through the tulips, that would get me arrested.

Here is an actual photo of me on my actual blog! Can you believe it. Number one son took it (number two chose to stay home in his pyjamas and invite friends over for the afternoon) and I took the traditional number of close-ups of flowers. They were so pretty.

There was also the usual weird art. We all quite liked this spider thingy.

Honey puff donuts were purchased, and possibly an ice-cream. We ran into several people we knew, admired the bat colony and the eastern swamp hens, looked at the pretty flowers and came home. I am still suffering a slight 3 pm energy slump, where my body thinks it's bedtime, and a slight 3 am wakefulness, but nothing too bad. I've done a lot of sewing and a little bit of exercise these past few days and it has been a perfect recovery time. Back to the grind tomorrow.... in the meantime these are double fringed tulips. I thought they were beautiful and very unusual for a tulip.

Friday, October 13, 2017

And home again

When I changed jobs two years ago I knew that I would miss the travel - not the actual flying places because that is exhausting and boring - but the chance to meet different people and talk about things from a non-Australian perspective and to see things that I would never otherwise have seen. I did miss it, but the new job has been so good it's been worth it ... and now the lack of travel has been well and truly made up for by the recent ten-day adventure to the European Parliament. I was in charge of gifts, bags, report writing and general dogsbodying, and it was just wonderful. Non-stop from 8 in the morning to ten at night but still just fantastic.

We transited through Paris - I had an hour and a half of daylight there and I walked about ten miles, looking at as much as I could. I can see why people like it! What a beautiful city, even on a cloudy evening in October.

We had two days in Strasbourg. I got up early one morning and wandered around the old centre of town, and the astonishing cathedral.

We had a day in Brussels, where I didn't get to see anything much except the inside of meeting rooms!  So I took a photo of my dinner - moules of course.

We had a day in Ieper to lay a wreath at the Menin Gate and have a tour of WWI battlefields. We visited the Tyne Kot cemetery ... I knew that the front was a disastrous waste of human life but seeing the landscape, and the cemeteries .... awful.

We had two days in Tallinn (the capital of Estonia) which was amazing - a wonderfully preserved old town. So astonishing. So old. During my average day, none of my built environment is older than I am. I can go months without seeing anything built before 1930, and I can name all the people that have dug in my garden before me. What must it be like to open doors every day that people have opened for five hundred years?

So now I am jet-lagged and still a bit sleepy. Tallinn to Canberra is five flights and takes 37 hours! But so worth it. This was my first time ever in Europe and it was just a taster ... will definitely have to go back.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Beautiful spring morning

October already, and it is a beautiful spring morning here in sunny Canberra - not too hot, gentle breeze, the flowers are out and the birds are singing ... squawking. Australian birds aren't known for their gentle birdsong. It's also the first day of daylight savings so the boys barely stirred before midday - allowing my husband and I to take the dog for a nice educational walk by the lakeside, and through the sculpture garden.

The dog wasn't very impressed but we love the sculpture garden. You're not supposed to touch them but it's pretty hard to avoid running your hands over the surfaces - especially the Henry Moore bronze ones. So goddamn curvy.

Then we meandered through the gardens at Old Parliament House and admired the wisteria. Eleven months of the year we are happy we pulled out (chopped, poisoned and still it wouldn't die) our enormous old wisteria that was pulling the eaves off the house but in October we kind of miss it. It's such an amazing colour. Their roses are much further on than mine. I felt bad for giving mine such a big pruning but I think it was the right thing to do - the OPH ones are thriving. Mine are only putting out a few grumpy shoots now.

It's been a good week off - the theatre production is going well, and it's my husband's turn to be on kid patrol this week while I travel with work. I'm quite looking forward to it (other than the actual travelling bit) but it will sadly interfere with my sewing time. I've seized the chance to put my machine in for a service, so I will be already to go when I get back...