Thursday, 27 September 2012

Work In Progress

I recently finished this quilt top for Zoe's bed. It is called Merrily Mermaid and is from a range of quilt patterns from Hot Possum.

This is the second Hot Possum pattern I have used. The first was so easy to follow that I purchased a few more, with the aim of making each of my four children a quilt for their bed. This pattern is for a single (twin) bed, however I added extra borders to enlarge it to a king single. Hot Possum's patterns are extremely well set out and very easy to follow.
You have probably already noticed that the quilt top is made using simple appliqué. I used vliesofix to attach those enchanting creatures to the pieced backgrounds and then blanket stitched around them with embroidery thread.
I love this watery pink fabric - perfect for mermaids! I need to decide how to quilt it. I am determined to finish it before Christmas. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Eli and his Snails

I love spending time outside in the garden - it is so good for the soul! Whenever I am feeling overwhelmed, short on patience or stretched beyond capacity, spending time outside always seems to help. Pulling some weeds, checking the fruit trees or planting vegetable seeds provides an immediate sense of accomplishment. This is certainly very helpful when it is time to go inside and tackle the (constant) mountain of washing or the challenges that consistently come with being a parent. I always feel calm after being in the garden. Of course, Eli is my constant companion and enjoys being outdoors just as much as I do. He is particularly wonderful at hunting down any snails hiding among our little plants. Never keen to feed them to the chickens, Eli doesn't seem to mind the slime the snails deposit all over his hands as he plays with them.
Eli with his snails. Those gloves won't stay on long!

Love you snail!
 We are all excited to have seen success with some of our vegetable plantings. Baby carrots and snow peas are particularly popular and are pulled up out of the ground, or off the plant as soon as they are big enough!
Our broccoli plants actually look like they will grow a head of broccoli (I planted these with my fingers crossed!). The mandarin and orange trees have blossoms for the first time and the stone fruit trees all have miniature fruit on them.
Donut peaches
 Very, very exciting! I am saving all my pasta jars in the hope that I will have such an abundant crop of fruit that I will be able to preserve some of it (but we'll see how that goes!). I have even had success with some fig tree cuttings from my mum's tree. I haven't grown fruit from a cutting before and didn't really know what to do with the cuttings. After some internet research and advice from Sabrina Hahn I dipped the cuttings into rooting powder and stuck them into pots filled with propagating mix. Thirteen of the nineteen cuttings have struck and are growing leaves. I can already taste the fig jam!
Fig tree cutting
 Of course, there are parts of my garden that are full of (ahem) weeds. I have set myself a goal to be weed free by the first week in October. Feel free to send a message around that time to see if I was successful!

What do you grow in your garden?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Stars and Log Cabin

Eli and I enjoy checking the letterbox each day. I think we each secretly hope that there will be something exciting in there for us. Unfortunately for Eli, exciting things don't often come for him in the mail (I send him something from me every so often to make up for it!) - I'm certain I didn't get any mail when I was two! I am always more than happy to share my exciting mail. And so, it was Eli who opened the envelope containing these two beautiful blocks from Helen. I love the interplay between the solid  blue and the prints. I really didn't use solids much until recently and am loving all the options they create. Through Helene's clever use of the solid fabric the same star pattern looks very different in each block.

Another block also arrived today (Eli was just as excited as I was) - a beautifully sewn Log Cabin from Vicki (my apologies for the poor photo - I couldn't wait for daylight!). The fabrics used are just delightful. I am so lucky!!

The joy and excitement was relived all over again when the three older children came home from school. Zoe in particular loves to see the blocks that arrive. It is quite wonderful to think that someone took the time to make something special just for us!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Moda Bake Shop

Ruby, Pearl & Opal Quilt
I love the Moda Bake Shop site; it would be so easy to spend hours looking at the beautiful fabric and projects shown. I will admit to always going straight to the quilting section though! There are loads of fabulous free patterns shared by an array of very talented quilters. Most of the patterns use pre cuts - I adore pre cuts! One of my favourites is the Ruby, Pearl & Opal quilt designed by little miss shabby. I am participating in my first quilting bee and it's my turn to be the Queen Bee in December. It has been difficult to choose a bee block, but I have finally decided to use the Ruby, Pearl & Opal block in black and white prints, with one of the tiles in a tone on tone rainbow colour. Soooo...a tutorial will be forthcoming!

Have you ever participated in a quilting bee? What block did you choose?

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Beautiful Star From Gerri...

I am sure my neighbours heard my squeal of delight when I opened the squishy envelope containing this beauty! Gerri lives in the US and was my August partner for Quilt Block Swaps Australia. Gerri also included a lovely piece of blue swirly fabric. Thank you Gerri - I love your block!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Zoe's Quilt

I recently received an email via Quilt Club Australia about a competition for quilters under the age of 35. I happened to read it out loud and Zoe immediately began asking questions. The competition theme is How Does Your Garden Grow! and has categories for primary and secondary students, as well as older age groups. Four days before the deadline Zoe decided she would like to enter. This didn't give her much time, as the quilt also had to be sent to NSW which would take a whole day even if it was express posted.
Zoe at the sewing machine
Using a disappearing nine patch pattern with two Hoopla charm packs Zoe then added two side panels in a tone on tone purple fabric from my stash. The same purple fabric was used for the backing, and Zoe chose Vintage Modern jelly roll strips for the binding (very wise I thought - no cutting!). I marvelled at Zoe's vision of the quilt she wanted to make - right down to the spiral she quilted right in the middle of the disappearing nine patch panel!
Zoe's 'Hoopla' centre panel
Zoe is 8 years old. Making her quilt was an experience that required great patience, determination and persistence. The quilt making did not go smoothly - two broken needles and a blown sewing machine light globe were just two of the challenges to be contended with - yet Zoe stuck to her goal and finished her creation. I am very proud of her. She now has a beautiful quilt and has experienced that wonderful feeling of creating something despite the challenges.
The finished quilt and a very happy (and tired!) Zoe

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Poppy, Rosie and Charlie Brown

Meet our chickens - Poppy, Rosie and Charlie Brown. They supply us with a wonderful supply of fresh eggs and eat up all our kitchen scraps.

Chickens also make great pets!

Their poo is great for the garden, particularly the acidic soil loving blueberry bush I recently planted. I love using eggs collected from our own backyard - they really do taste extra good and the colour of the yolk is magnificent. The freedom of not having to consider how many eggs a recipe uses is also something that I am grateful for. Of course, this means I can bake things like this chocolate cherry pavlova!
Yes - it did taste as good as it looks!

Popcorn Tree

Spring came early this year and the fruit trees I planted in our backyard last year are all blossoming. The nectarine, peach and apricot trees inspired this popcorn tree art activity.

While it does require some simple preparation beforehand, this activity is simple and looks great with its three dimensional 'blossoms'. Eli loves anything that involves glue and was very proud of his tree.

I popped some popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave (1/3 cup for 1 minute or until the popping slows down to 1 - 2 pops per second) and then shook it around in a freezer bag with a few drops of food colouring. I won't bother with the food colouring the next time we do this, as the colour is barely noticeable!

After painting a tree shape on an A4 piece of cardboard (I bought a pack of 10 at my local $2 shop, though the inside of a cereal box also works well!) and letting it dry we were ready to go.

Glue sticks aren't up to the task when it comes to popcorn trees, so get out the pva glue and plop it all over the tree. I gave Eli free reign with a small, squeezy bottle of pva glue and there was very little clean up to be done. On with the popcorn and voila! Another piece of art for the display wall.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Fathers Day Gift Idea

Coming up with a different idea each year for Fathers Day is not an easy task. While the older children usually create at least one thing at school, my two year old cutie needed something to make for his Daddy! I came across this quick, easy and fabulous looking gift idea from Hannah over at  Paint on the Ceiling and decided that this would be perfect.

What you'll need:
  • t-shirt (ours is from Target)
  • bleach cup/container for bleach
  • paintbrush
  • newspaper
  • protection for clothing and floor surfaces!
Choose a practical painting area that is well ventilated, as the bleach can be a tad smelly. I chose the floor for Eli and spread out a flannel backed plastic table cloth that appears whenever painting is to be done.

Get everything ready and then paint! Eli loved this and so did his Daddy!

This is our dedicated painting cup - clearly marked and always stored in a different place to the drinking cups!
A practice drawing before painting on the shirt.

Newspaper inside the shirt to prevent the bleach from seeping through to the back of the shirt. I tucked the sleeves underneath the newspaper so that only the front area to be painted was exposed.

Ready to start.
The bleach painting starting to appear.

The finished shirt!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Block Swap: September for Helene

Helene requested a block in green and purple, so I made this Woven Ribbons Block.
Concerned it was a bit too simple, I also made Helene a Wonky Star that I found on The Silly BooDilly blog.

I hadn't actually made either type of block before. One of the reasons I enjoy participating in the block swap so much is it presents the opportunity to try new quilting blocks on a small scale (i.e. one block!). And, of course, I love receiving squashy envelopes containing the blocks people make for me! I also enjoy getting to know all the people I 'meet' - such a lovely bunch!

Block Swap: August for Gerri

This is the 'Depression' quilt block I made for Gerri. She requested spring colours, so I took the opportunity to showcase lots of spring colours from my stash! While it was still winter here when I made the block, spring has now arrived in Perth.

A Star From Melody

This is the wonderful block I received from Melody for July. I signed up for Quilt Block Swap Australia a few months ago and thought I would practise posting blog entries by showing the blocks I have made and received! Melody included some extra surprises - fabric and two lovely quilt labels!
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