Friday, November 22, 2013

My 'Beautiful Lengths'

I've been growing my hair for a couple of years and a few months ago I heard about the Beautiful Lengths campaign where people can donate their hair to be made into wigs for women who have lost their hair from cancer treatment.  So I grew my hair for a bit longer and finally had it cut off last week.



I was able send in a pony tail over 30cm long, and look at my fabulous new haircut!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A floral update

We've had some amazingly warm weather the past couple of weeks so our garden is blooming.

 A baby cauliflower.  
We grew some cauli's last winter and after cutting the heads off I left the plants in the ground to harvest leaves for the chooks over the summer.  Then in late summer/ early autumn the plants sent up heaps of new shoots and over the past month we've been eating lots of baby cauliflowers.  One plant alone sent up four or five baby cauliflower heads.  So if you like cauliflowers and have space in your garden to leave the almost dormant plants over summer, you'll be rewarded with a crop in the second year.

 Nectarine blossom
We have a double grafted nectarine tree and  the blossom on the different grafts are slightly different pinks.  Both pinks are pretty and both are loved by bees!  This will be the third fruiting year for this tree, so we have our fingers crossed for a great harvest (if we can keep the birds away!).

 Cheerful spring stars
These are in a pot, but we are thinking of planting them under one of our fruit trees so they can spread through the garden.  A house not far from us has spring stars all through their front garden, it looks lovely and makes me smile every time we pass it.

I never realised that some tulips have a scent - these have a gentle lemon scent.

Our lime tree had a good harvest this winter and I've been trying out Lime Pie recipes (but we eat them too fast for photos!).

Monday, June 24, 2013

Four Corners - Fashion Victims

Long time no speak (write?).  Sorry about that.

If you are interested in social justice issues around the production of cheap clothing you may want to watch tonight's episode of 'Four Corners', which reported on clothing manufacturing in Bangladesh.  If you don't have access to this highly respected Australian television show, you can read a bit about the story here - including some of the background research used.  'Fashion Victims' 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tick tock

On Saturday I'm flying to Queensland for a week for work.  It's a race against the clock for me to try and find time to finish this item because it will be just right for the warmer weather up there!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Learning to love Sydney

Since moving to Canberra a few years ago I've visited Sydney several times and I just never really enjoy it.  To me it is just a big, grey city without any of the charm of Australia's other big city (and my one time home), Melbourne.  But it is only three hours drive away and is full of sights, shows and shopping, so last year I decided that I needed to learn to love Sydney.  MH and I went again recently for a wedding, the weather wasn't very nice that weekend, but there was some yummy food, a couple of impressive views and a quick visit to a great fabric shop!

It's like a sushi train, but with desserts.  Sadly it sounds more exciting and delicious than it was, or maybe I just over hyped it to myself?

More desserts...

View through a taxi window - yes, it's the Harbour Bridge!

People actually live with this view everyday!  I can't imagine what the house prices here are like though...

Surely one of the best views from a wedding reception venue?  Later in the evening we could even see fireworks across the harbour.

So I still don't love Sydney, but I'm starting to like it (that's a good start!).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Fit for a puppy...

Hurrah, MH has helped fix my photo issue!  So to celebrate, here is a cute photo for your Sunday night...

MH was taking photos of my latest toile when Tansy came seeking attention.

Woe is me

Is anyone else having problems uploading photos to blogger?  I've had this issue for a little while and though I have a couple of draft posts ready to post, they are drab and boring without photos.  So if you don't hear from me for a while it is because I'm still trawling the internet for help or sulking about my photo function loss..!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Packing up

I don't know about you, but when I travel I always have lots of plastic bags in my suitcase.  For my shoes, my dirty clothes, to protect delicate items, to store newly purchased souvenirs - half of the items in my suitcase end up in plastic bags.  But there comes a time in every woman's life when even her shoe bags need to grow up a bit!  What a great excuse for a bit of scrap busting sewing.

I made three different sizes (each based on the amount of leftover fabric I had!).  They are a simple sack with a length of grosgrain ribbon for a drawstring.  Easy peasy to make and they will help the inside of my suitcase look so much prettier!  If you have any travel or packing tips (sewing or non-sewing!) please share them.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Brushing away the dust

Oh, where has the time gone?!  Sorry for my absence, I will try and be a better blogger...!  I've been offline because of a mix of shoulder issues and a holiday!  I'll slowly catch up on the backlog of blogs to read, put some new posts of my own up, get into some more sewing and also find time to figure out if the end of google reader is something I should be concerned about!

Hope you are all well and have lots of interesting posts for me to read!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dressed up in Blue

I wore my new Blue Dress to work last week.  It was lovely to wear and I received some great compliments on it.


 The bodice isn't lopsided, I am..!  I've since tut-tutted to my photographer that it is his job to notice how the clothes are sitting before taking photos!  My shoulder is still a bit sloped from the operation and I think I was also subconsciously pulling the sleeve down a bit to cover the scar.  But I can assure you that the bodice itself is not lopsided!

Overall I'm pretty happy with the dress and only wish I'd finished it before the end of summer!

Next projects are the Burda jacket for MH and a self drafted tunic for me.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Babies in the garden

A photo visit to the new babies in our garden.  Not pictured here is the HUGE redback spider I also saw.  Redbacks are very poisonous and even though no one has died from a redback bite for decades (since the antivenom was introduced), a bite would still require a trip to hospital emergency and are apparently really painful.  I get quite worried for Tansy as she is always poking her nose into dark places and one day might annoy the wrong creature, so I'm always on the lookout for them.  Redbacks are the only pest we use nasty chemical poison on in our backyard - I can't bear the thought of stepping on them (my toes literally curl at the thought!) incase I miss and one runs up my leg and bites me!  I find about 10 redbacks a year in our backyard and the one yesterday was the biggest I think I've ever seen.

Anyway, on to much prettier (and less deadly!) garden adventures!...

Baby tree fern frond

 Baby raspberries - hooray that we are getting an Autumn crop!

 Baby butternut pumpkin

 Baby purple capsicum

Baby Italian melon - we've been trying to grow these for the past couple of years.  This is our first success after snails ate the young shoots the first year and last year the seeds didn't even germinate.  I think it is kind of like a rockmelon??  Has anyone ever grown these?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Talofa new fabric!

A dear friend of mine is living in Samoa for a while and she very thoughtfully posted some locally printed fabric to me.  How spoilt am I?!

The brown fabric has an Hawaiian inspired hibiscus motif.  I like how the dye hasn't soaked all the way through, giving the 'wrong' side a variegated look.  Depending on what project I end up choosing for this fabric, I could probably use either the wrong or the right side of this fabric as the 'right' side. 

The blue fabric is a more traditional print.  This fabric is quite stiff, so I'll have to choose the right project for it.

Isn't it lovely when friends surprise you with a gift just because they know you'll appreciate it!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Finished! Blue Dress

Wow, what a marathon!  Some of you may remember eons ago I started a Blue Dress.  A self drafted pattern for a dress that would be appropriate to wear to work in an office.  I started it just a week before my shoulder surgery last year with high hopes of finishing it within a week.  Hmm, that didn't quite happen (what an understatement!).

But at last, here it is.  Four months late, but with a very valid excuse of shoulder surgery and subsequent relapse (with accompanying talk of a possible second operation - sulk).

 The bodice ended up a little bit too long, so the dress has a slight 1980s drop waist.  
I have the perfect belt to help hide that though!

 Front view (with belt!)
I only overcast the hem, rather than a turned up hem.  I'm not sure how that will hold up in the wash so I may end up hemming it later.

 Back view, invisible zip at centre back.

Front facing.  
I put interfacing between facing and fabric, but I'm wondering if it might still be too flimsy to stay upright as the fabric is quite thin.

 Facing and lining.  The lining is a plain black cotton.  
I've made a light summer dress just in time for the weather to turn grey, cold and a bit miserable!

The skirt lining is pleated rather than gathered like the main skirt.

Facings on the back neck.

Overall I'm quite happy with this dress and if I don't get wear out of it before summer ends maybe I can wear it with a shirt and tights for winter?

Fabric:  $12.99/m from Lincraft, Melbourne City.
Notions:  Navy blue invisible zip, navy blue thread
Pattern:  Self drafted 'Blue Dress'
Total cost:  Around $20
Did I learn anything new:  No, but I had to search my memory for how to sew the right angle when joining the facing and lining on the front bodice detail.
Would I make it again:  Yes, but I'd shorten the bodice and probably make a different skirt.

Friday, February 22, 2013


I'm waiting for my shoulder to improve, so my sewing is also waiting...  These couple of items are at the top of my to do list and I'm itching to get back to them (they've been waiting in this state since Australia Day). 

 So close to finishing - all I need to do is insert a zip...

The promised jacket for my husband.  A toile in pieces...  Maybe if I wait long enough they'll join themselves?!

How are your sewing/ crafting/ gardening plans going?  What are your strategies for getting back on track when your plans are interrupted?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Another garden post

Yes, another garden post!  Sadly my shoulder has had a relapse and my sewing, which was going so well, has all but stopped for a little while.  Hooray though, our garden is doing great!

Here's what we found in the backyard today...

Nine nectarines!  Two eggplants, some green beans, some small capsicums, an egg (thank you Harriet!), two different types of zucchini and eight different types of tomato.  We are also being flooded with tomatillos, basil and chillis.  Hmm, now what to eat first..?!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Blackberry picking in Canberra

Apologies to my non-Canberra readers, but ages ago I wrote a post where I mentioned we had gone blackberry picking and now I regularly receive hits on my blog from people looking for information on 'blackberry picking in Canberra'.  So here is some information that may help those people.

When my husband and I first went blackberry picking about six years ago I emailed Canberra Connect asking for information.  If you want to go blackberry picking I suggest you find out the current ACT Government policy on blackberries, but this is along the lines of what they said at that time:  Because blackberries are considered a weed the ACT Government regularly sprays poison on blackberry canes throughout the ACT.  However, they signpost the poisoned areas and never poison during fruiting season.

This is what I've learnt from several years of Canberra blackberry picking: The best blackberries come after lots of Spring and early Summer rain.  The biggest and juiciest ones are always deep in the middle of a huge clump of very spiky canes, so wear old clothes and know when to stop going deeper!  I find it easier to take several small containers rather than one big container.  Once you get home and have eaten your fill of fresh blackberries and made jam, freeze your remaining blackberries and they should keep until you want to make hot crumbles and tarts in winter.  To freeze blackberries: wash and drain them, line a tray with baking paper and spread a single layer of blackberries on the tray.  Freeze them overnight and the next day pour the frozen berries into a ziplock bag.  Freezing them in a single layer means they won't clump together and are much easier to use straight from the freezer.

As for where is a good place to go blackberry picking - you don't think I'm going to give away my top spots do you?!

Frozen berries packed up for the freezer.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Unplanned production and destruction

Phew, our weather has finally cooled down into something a bit more summer-like (and less extreme heat wave) and our garden is loving it.

 Our nectarine tree - netted against the circling birds.

 Our first nectarine of the season - it looks just like one you'd buy in the shops (but this one was grown without chemicals and didn't involve long distance travel).

 Inside the nectarine.  It was tasty and sweet.

So this is the reason we have netted the nectarine - a couple of days ago this was a sunflower...

 We've had quite a few rosellas and galahs around lately, but the destructive birds attacking the sunflowers are sulphur crested cockatoos.  These cheeky birds are so brazen they even left their calling card (a feather!) - you can see it here in the grass next to the sorry remains of the fallen sunflower seeds.

 One of our heavily cropping chili plants (completely avoided by the cockatoos!).

 Bright balls of sunshine!  Yellow zucchinis.

 Not sure if you can see the numbers on the tape measure, but this Dutch Cream potato is over 20cm (9inch) long!  This is from the stray potatoes we missed from last years crop that just popped up in the garden this year.  This guy is part of almost 7kg we dug up.  Pretty good for a potato we didn't plan for or help too much over a blistering hot summer!

I hope you have a garden nearby to enjoy - or maybe some cheeky local wildlife to add colour to your day!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The pleasure (and perils!) of the post

A small package arrived for me today containing...  a small haul of Vogue patterns!  A couple of weeks ago I was looking on the internet for men's coat and jacket patterns (they are few and far between and you won't see one in this post either!) when I saw that Vogue patterns was having a sale of USD3.99 per pattern.  With the strong AUD I was very easily tempted! 

Being new to sewing and also enjoying the challenge of drafting my own patterns I haven't bought very many patterns, so this purchase single handedly more than doubled my stash!  I found the sizing a bit confusing as many patterns used different size ranges.  Being quite a pear shape I had to make a couple of decisions on choosing patterns based on bust or hip measurement.  In the end I decided that when in doubt - size up! 

So here is what I ended up buying.   (By the way, postage to Australia from the USA was more than the cost of all these patterns combined but for the discount in pattern price it was still worth it).

 V8630 - A simple dress with a large fold over collar.  A 'Very Easy Vogue', though apparently not recommended for pear shapes...

 V8312 - Some pattern love for my puppy!  I've made a couple of simple coats for Tansy, but I like that this has sleeves (legs?).  She's only 3 years old, but Tansy has developed quite bad arthritis in one of her legs.  I'm hoping that a coat with legs will keep her extra cosy and help ease her arthritis pain in the winter cold.
  V8333 - What was I thinking?!  A beautiful but 'Advanced' (!) jacket pattern. 

 V2787, V1044 and V8811 - Pretty vintage dress reprints. 

I love the bodice detail in the V1044.

My favourites are the jacket V8333 and the vintage dress V1044.  Hopefully you'll see one of these here soon as a finished object - but don't hold your breath!