Sunday, November 30, 2008

Daisy Quilts Giveaway

Congratulations to Robyn on her first anniversary in blogland. Pop over and check out her blog DaisyQuilts. Robyn is planning a giveaway in honour of the big event. Good luck!



Saturday, November 29, 2008

Home Again

My operation went ok (hysterectomy). I came home this afternoon (Saturday) and while I'm a little tired and sore am so glad to be home. Hospital beds are not very comfortable but I have to tell you nurses are angels on earth! So I will be sleeping a lot in the next few days while my body does it's healing thing. Not sure if I will do a post but be assured you are all in my thoughts.

By the way, my darling demented husband reckoned it would be funny to post a photo of me in my hospital bed. Now I don't see that as appropriate. So a quick poll, how many of your demented relatives would think that was ok? I keep telling him he needs to get his own blog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Christmas Tree - After

This is the finished tree.

This is one of the ornaments
that makes the tree so special.
And this one.

These are a few of the others. I made the tree and the angel.
The angel is made from parchment.

I served 4 years in the US Army.

This is my little nativity set.

It was hard to get in to the Christmas spirit. I think it was because
it is so early for me. However, I know I will really appreciate it when
I come home from hospital.

Have a good week and I'll catch up soon.



Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Tree - Before

I know it's early but I need to get my tree up before my operation on Wednesday. After my hysterectomy I'm not allowed to lift anything heavier than my fork (ha ha). Seriously, I am going to be very diligent in following my recovery instructions.

So here is the before shot of my tree. Hopefully tomorrow I will have an after shot that is fabulous (or at least acceptable).

Also, I have finally figured out how to get your comments emailed to me so I have a good chance to reply to everyone. Apologies to anyone I haven't replied to. I honestly am so glad you stopped by and I'm still amazed that anyone finds me the least bit interesting.

You may have noticed the Black/White/Red quilt in my sidebar. I am participating in a year-long challenge to make a black and white quilt and adding only one other colour (of my choice). Many thanks to Jackie for thinking of such a great challenge. She is still taking participants if you are interested. Just click on the picture to go to the dedicated blogspot.
Well, I have a tree to decorate and a couple of things to finish so I can mail them tomorrow. To all my U.S. visitors I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving on Thursday! Have a bite of turkey and pumpkin pie for me!



Friday, November 21, 2008

Inspirations for a Practical Quilter

This is a doll quilt made by my Grandmother for my Mother in the 1940's.

I was having a chat with Julie about what an inspiration Bonnie Hunter has been for me. My enthusiasm outruns my achievements and I am practically paralyzed by my stash sometimes. I need to get it cut and get it used. I have so many fabrics, mostly FQ's, and I absolutely love each one. The tone, the texture, the feel between my fingers. It's so sensual - and I mean that in the innocent sense: "of or pertaining to the senses or physical sensation; sensory". It is obviously gratifying some innate "touch" need. I mean, look how many ladies, even seasoned quilters, can't resist touching quilts at quilt shows! No matter how many signs we put up and how many white glove ladies we have on duty - it still happens. I actually carry my own white gloves so I can get away with peeking at the backs. And I have told many a fine lady to back off too. Still our hands reach out without our minds knowing.

I was never one to want to quilt gorgeous heirloom quilts that nobody used (well, not yet anyway). I consider myself a practical quilter to make quilts that will be used and cried on and dragged around and shared with the dog or cat and thrown in the washing machine with only scraps left of it for the future. I want my quilts loved to death and worn out. There are so many wonderful patterns out there and I just need to learn to trust my instincts and actually cut in to my stash. One pattern I'm totally in love with is Turning Twenty Again by Tricia Cribbs. Use 20 FQ's to make 20 16inch blocks. The leftovers are perfect for some of Bonnie's patterns. So I can feel really good about using up every bit of my FQ without waste. I can let go of my fear of thinking I'm going to make a mistake and just get on with it. The worst thing that will happen is that I will have a (hopefully) well-made ugly quilt. And someone somewhere always needs a blanket, even in a lovely city like Perth. I also need to learn "little and often" for my sewing. The psychology of making "just one block" instead of "making a quilt". This is inspired by Karen. She's making one block a week and calling it Scrappy Sundays. So in articulating my thoughts to you I am clarifying a plan of action for myself.

I think I will be ok. I'm seeing so many wonderful quilters in blogland and I know they are women just like me with work and family and health issues. Although I am so new to blogging all the comments have been nice and the encouragement is so helpful and gratefully accepted. And it doesn't matter what country or what language. Our hearts speak the same language.

Thanks for visiting and writing me.

Hugs to all


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

National Quilt Register

I am fortunate enough to own several old family quilts. Some I received years ago and others were passed to me after my mother died. I have registered my old quilts on the National Quilt Register. I don't have digital photos of them yet but you can visit the Register. I left home at a young age and traveled and then emigrated so I have missed out on a lot of the family stories. Sadly there is no one left to ask so I've only sketchy information, but I have written what I know. This is one of three small quilts my grandmother made for my daughters. She was over 80 when she made it 1998 or 1999. It is machine pieced and quilted. The flash has over-brightened the colours, but it is a charming little quilt. I need to figure out the best light for taking photos and keeping the colours true. Any advice is appreciated.

Today was my last day at work until next year. I'm having a hysterectomy next week so will need to be a lady of leisure for six weeks. Between long service leave, sick leave, annual leave and my Christmas bonus we are looking happy happy for Christmas this year. Unfortunately I won't have the energy (or the doctor's permission) for any marathon shopping. I've been madly trying to organise a few gifts, clean my house, stock my pantry and plan non-physical activities (evidently sewing is too physical) so I won't be too bored. I am determined to avoid day-time tv so I have a stack of books ready, a few dvd's and daughters on standby to cater to my every whim. So I will have a quiet Christmas and I am looking forward to not going onto the usual merry-go-round (I can be a bit of a social butterfly when I'm well enough).

I'm pretty sure I can manage to keep up with my blog. Will just have to do it in short bursts rather than long sessions. In fact I'll probably start rambling on about nonsense and ya'll will need to give me a good talking to to keep my act together.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Camera Shots

Ha! Bet you thought you would see some interesting photos - nope. Just wanted to show you the camera I'm using. I like it because it is BIG. How we came by it though is an interesting story.

My sister-in-law is a teacher in a local high school. When she came to be at that school a couple of years ago she cleaned out a store room and this camera was in the box. A student had inserted the floppy disk incorrectly so now it didn't work. She took it to a camera shop where it cost $70 to get a quote on how much to fix it. It was going to be over $300 to fix. As the camera was already several years old (although only used once or twice), the department wrote it off and replaced it with something new. As my husband is the local "I can fix anything" guy it was passed on to him, complete with all original packaging, books and software.

My husband took a look at it when we got it home, removed a cover, heard a little spring sound, put it back together and it was fixed. Less than a 10 minute job. He didn't actually fix anything, just made it possible for the little part that had been shoved out of place to return to its correct position. He offered it back to my SIL but she said it had already been written off and it was too old anyway to use. Further examination revealed that it also took a memory stick. This camera has a lot of neat features which I won't go in to but I'm slowly learning to use it. It's been in the cupboard for a little while now and I've only started using it since I've been blogging.

Must away now to accomplish something tangible in the house before work.



Saturday, November 15, 2008

Christmas Card Box

I'm learning how to use both my camera and this blog so thought I would practise with a little lesson on making boxes out of greeting cards. I'm sure you've all seen this before.
You will need a greeting card (last year's Christmas cards work well), ruler, pencil, paper scissors, eraser and tape.

Cut the front of the card from the back on the centre fold. Then trim a scant quarter inch from one short side and one long side of the back of the card. The front of the card becomes the top of the box and the back becomes the bottom. As the bottom has to fit into the top, the bottom of the box needs to be slightly smaller.
With the ruler line up the diagonal and mark a short line in the centre of the card. Repeat with the other diagonal.

Where the two lines intersect is the centre of the card.

Fold each short side to the centre, lining up the edges to keep the fold square.

Do the same for the long sides.

In this photo I have drawn a line along the fold to indicate where to cut the card. I don't normally draw these in but just follow the fold.

Cut along the fold, stopping when you reach the perpendicular fold. (These are my husband's hands in this photo.)

At this point you can choose to erase the pencil mark, or not, as you prefer.

Fold the long sides up and overlap the little flaps as shown.

Fold down the short flap over the side of the box. This flap can be secured with tape if desired.

Repeat the process with the back of the card to make the bottom of the box.

Box is finished.

Here are a few that I have made. One year I made 120 boxes and filled them with lollies, stickers and little treats. I was a volunteer Scripture teacher and I made one for each of my students. A friend of mine once did a Christmas present swap with her family and the present had to fit in the box this size. I have a few around the place for special buttons etc. Cards with a centered design work really well.

I hope the instructions and photos are clear enough for you to make your own if you didn't already know how.



Friday, November 14, 2008

Just Saying Hi

Hello to everyone who pops in to see what I'm up to. Unfortunately my week has been busy busy with work and sick children and church meetings and more work etc. I've been organising projects but not done any sewing. Not sure yet about tomorrow. There's Book Club in the afternoon. And of course the ever-present laundry and miscellaneous housework etc. And shopping. And coffee with a friend who needs a chat. Then Sunday there's church and finally, hopefully, a little sewing time. I've pulled out my Christmas fabric to make a cottage block for Mel and a little fabric basket as seen on Pink Penguin.



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How I Met Your Father (aka How I Met My Husband)

From time to time I am asked how I came to live in Australia and it's a nice story and people always suggest I should write it down so I will.

I grew up in North Platte, Nebraska. This is a relatively small town (around 15,000) and the main "industry" is agriculture (wheat and corn), cattle and the railroad. My family were railroad people. It was a great place to grow up. When I was in high school my step-dad suggested I apply to be a Rotary Exchange Student. I had in mind that I would one day travel to Australia so I applied. Amazingly the excellent men of the Rotary Committee decided I seemed a suitably mature young person and at the age of 16 jetted off on this incredibly long trip to the land of Oz. (It's still a long trip).

I stayed with several different families while in Perth. At Christmas time I was invited to spend a week in a caravan park down south at Margaret River to participate in a "Beach Mission" - a Christian outreach program run to witness to children and families staying in the caravan park. It's kind of like vacation Bible school. People from many different churches participated. This is where I first met Max. He was one of the volunteers. We were immediately interested in each other and our first "date" was a little sailing trip on a small catamaran borrowed off another volunteer. Sounds romantic, you say? Let me describe it for you as best I recollect.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon. The catamaran was a small, two-hulled craft with a 'trampoline' stretched between. It had a single sail on a 20 foot mast. The beach curved in a gentle bay and about 3/4 of a mile from shore the waves broke against a small reef. Yes, there were palm trees, and Norfolk Pines (look them up, magnificent trees). I was nearly 17 by then and oh so excited about the whole adventure. This would be my first venture onto the Indian Ocean (although I had had a swim in the surf by then). I remember the blueness of the sky and the bright sun and warm sand and cool water. As we pushed off the beach and gently scooted along it was magnificent. It seemed so daring to move away from the shore. Looking back the beach seemed so distant and the people little ant-like figures. Suddenly a gust of wind caught the sail and the boat flipped on its side and we landed in the water. I must confess to being a little alarmed but Max assured me that the catamaran was easy to right again. It was all about using our weight to pull the sail out of the water. Using a rope and standing on one of the hulls and leaning back the sail rose out of the water, only to be caught by another gust of wind and whipped over and into the water again. No problems, just turn the boat a little to accommodate the wind and try again. The rope broke. Tied it back together. Rope broke again. By this time the sail and mast are full of water and the boat is completely upside down. I'd been treading water, not much help. Max told me to rest on the hull and we simply had to wait for help to arrive, which it eventuall did. I remember sitting there with the sun on my shoulders and thinking how far away the beach was. We were nearly at the reef, the mast was occasionally hitting the slope of the reef. I was shivering slightly, not only from a little reaction, but just being young and in the company of a young man in his mid-twenties. Rescue came in the form of a fisherman in his dingy with an outboard motor. He came with the owner of the catamaran and another chap, whom I can't recall all these years later. The owner of the catamaran, Richard, was a tall, solid bloke who didn't need the leverage of a rope to right the catamaran, even with a wet sail. I returned to shore in the dingy with the fisherman and the other chap, while Richard and Max sailed the catamaran back. By this time it was late afternoon. A shower and a change of clothes refreshed me greatly and Max and I had tea with a family staying in the caravan park. A nice family with four daughters. We had spaghetti. I came to learn that the fisherman who rescued us had been catching 1 to 2 metre sharks in the little bay that afternoon. (I'm the one on the right with the Rotary t-shirt on) (Max's Sandman)

Max and I spent a lot of time together between his work and my schooling and other side trips. But the time eventually came when I had to return to the US. I lost touch with Max for a little while. I finished high school. Joined the US Army where I met another man, married, was stationed in Belgium for a while. After two years of marriage I became pregnant and only a month later my husband left me and moved in with his girlfriend. I was discharged from the Army, returned to Nebraska where I had my lovely daughter Jessica. After she was born I went through my address book and wrote to a lot of people with a sort of 'this is what I've been doing for the last five years - how about you' letter. My letter to Max eventually caught up with him and we began to correspond. When my daughter was a year old I got my divorce, moved to Denver to go to business college and kept moving forward with my life. Max and I continued to correspond with our relationship growing closer. We wanted to see each other again so after I graduated from business college, and while Jessica stayed with my family in Nebraska, I travelled back to Oz. Max was living in Queensland (Mooloolaba, pictured)at this time and I was able to stay with some friends of his. I fell in love all over again. Max was a little more cautious. I could only stay two weeks and when we parted I didn't know what the future would hold. Two weeks after my visit Max proposed to me long distance. I was very happy to hear that! It took months to do all the paperwork with documents flying between Perth, Queensland, Denver, San Francisco (where the Australian Consulate was). Finally Jessica and I arrived in Queensland where we married. We had a great wedding. Two more beautiful daughters. And now we've been married for 20 years. I am still incredibly in love with my husband and know how blessed I am to have him and our three daughters and to live in this wonderful country. I'm typing with a silly grin on my face.



Saturday, November 8, 2008

Congratulations Christine!

Congratulations Christine on your first anniversary of blogging! Thank you so much for sharing your world with us!

Pop over and see her blog and leave a comment to win a prize!



Installing a Husband

My husband thought this should be posted. I didn't write it.
Dear Tech Support

This year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 un-installed many other valuable programs, such as
  • Romance 9.5 and
  • Personal Attention 6.5,
then installed undesireable programs
  • Rugby Union 5.0,
  • Friday Night Football 3.0 and
  • Golf Clubs 4.1.

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Household Cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems but to no avail.

What can I do?

Signed, Desperate

Dear Desperate,

First, keep in mind,
  • Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while
  • Husband 1.0 is an Operating System.
Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do for forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.

If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember overuse of the above applications can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1.
  • Please note that Beer 6.1 is a very bad program what will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.
Whatever you do, DO NOT, under any circumstances, install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not try to re-install the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend
  • Cooking 3.0 and
  • Hot Lingerie 7.7.
Good Luck.

Tech Support

Magazine Swap

Wow! Is it Saturday already? I've had a busy week with work and sick children and a bit of housework. And today promises to be busy as well and the morning practically half gone already.

I received a lovely package in the mail this week. Mel and I did a magazine swap. I sent her some Australian quilting magazines and she sent me a lovely assortment of American magazines, along with some country Christmas FQ's and a lovely card (that would make a great quilt). Thank you so much Mel!! I've only had time for a quick glance, but am really looking forward to getting stuck in to the Quilters' Home with Mark Lipinski. A dear friend Lurline brought one back from America last year and I thought it was great. Will have to see what I need to do for a subscription. I'm also looking forward to trying some of the recipes in the Family Circle. Lurline has also made some cute fabric baskets. There is a great tutorial here from Pink Penguin. I'm planning on trying it for Christmas.

We have had a really cold, wet week but the sun is shining today and it will be a lovely 25C. My oldest daughter Jessica is coming for a visit this afternoon. She's been in and out of hospital this week with what is most likely to be glandular fever - tests so far have been inconclusive but it takes a few weeks for the antibodies to become detectable. She's on the mend but really tired, and just so happy to not have a fever. Hannah's been off school a couple of days as well with a vague virus (headache and tummy ache) and the doctor basically shrugged her shoulders and prescribed rest etc. And my Corbie has a cold and a pulled muscle. I remember this sort of thing happening when they were little fairy princesses - all sick at once. It's never easy when your kids are sick, but it is better when they can help look after themselves - but I still have the worry lines. I'm the Mom, it's my job.
Time is running away with me so better sign off until next time!! Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Solar Power

We had a 1kw solar power system installed on our roof yesterday (3.11.08). For our latitude etc we have an excellent orientation with our roof at 26deg pitch and only 4deg off due north. And that's almost as technical as I'm likely to get. A government rebate brought it into financial reach and we thought that with the likelyhood of the price of energy going up by 30% or more in the next few years it would be a good idea. We sell electricity back to the power company so our overall bill will be reduced. Hopefully we will be able to add more solar panels eventually. It is cold, rainy and partly cloudy today but we are generating around 470 watts. My husband said that with daylight savings we should get an extra hour of sunlight and generate even more *lol*.

Here is the control box installed in our garage.

The reading on this day was better with the sun shining. Here is a close-up of the panels on the day of installation.
My husband Max is now going to add some technical details so he can direct people to my blog if they want information.
The system is a 1kw Grid Interactive Solar Power Generator. This means that it does not store energy in batteries but sends any power we are unable to use at the time into the Power Grid. As you can see from the photo there is an array of six solar panels on the roof. They are connected in series and can generate up to 225 volts at 5 amps DC. The voltage from the panels is fed into a Fronius Grid Interactive Inverter which converts the DC voltage into 240 volts AC and inserts it into the electrical switchboard where it is used by our appliances or lights and sends any extra power into the Western Power Electricity Grid. We get paid for the power we generate and send to the Grid as it is considered "Green Power" and we also have been issued with 21 RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates). The system we purchased is upgradable to a 2kw system by the simple addition of 6 more solar panels. The Grid Interactive Inverter is a Fronius I20 made in Austria and the solar panels are made by Nesl Solartech of China type DJM-170D. The system was supplied by Renewable Logic of Bayswater after we saw the special deal that was being offered when we attended the 2008 Perth Sun Fair at the University of Western Australia.
Shari (and Max)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pink Blocks

The weekend always disappears so fast! Starting work at lunchtime on Monday though is great. For many years I did the morning shift and when a change in staff meant I had to do the afternoon/evening shift I was not too happy. But it has certainly worked out! I can get a lot done before work including those annoying errands that need to be done during "office" hours.

I work as a medical receptionist in a small, family-run general practice. We have three doctors on staff with generally two on at a time. Our patient base consists largely of migrants and low socio-economic clients. One of our doctors is also an ob/gyn although he no longer delivers babies. He still does public list surgery once a fortnight. The doctors are also migrants (Chinese, Vietnamese and Sri Lankan). I find it busy, challenging, exciting and very rewarding. I have been there for 14 years now and generally have a good relationship with the patients, although they all hate me when I can't fit them in immediately or if they have to wait. I suspect that is the same everywhere.

Not much progress on the border this weekend so I will talk about something else.

In Australia October is breast cancer awareness month and their theme colour is pink. My sewing group was the hostess group for the state guild meeting (West Australian Quilters' Association) so we did a "pink" theme. Our group had made a charity quilt and we obtained permission to raffle it with the proceeds going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. We raised $562. Also as one of the activities our dear friend Teena donated some pink fabric for people to make a 12" block for charity quilts. The idea was that people would combine Teena's fabrics with their own pinks for a planned scrappy look. Teena gave the fabric out in September with the blocks to be returned at the October meeting. This was no mean feat as Teena made up forty packs with about a metre in each pack consisting of FQ's and F8's. The ladies responded beautifully with 86 blocks returned on the day and more on the way. We are going to have a sewing day in January to put them all together. Here is some of the fabric and a couple of blocks that were dropped in to me after the sewing day (Teena has the rest.)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Outside Task

Here it is Saturday again and we are top-dressing the back lawn. We were able to get the sand from a neighbour who put in a new pool. Max (DH) had to bring it across the street by the wheelbarrow load. All of the neighbours have been able to top-dress their lawns. We should have the best block in the neighbourhood come summer! I spread the first half on Tuesday but didn't put my gloves on and ended up with a blister. Today I will wear gloves!

I've gotten my border sorted out. I decided to do a braid with a "post" going down the middle. This probably has a proper name but I don't know what it is. I haven't done a braid before and I know I have the directions in a magazine somewhere but I didn't take the time to look. So it's been a little hit and miss but I've got it now. I really like the aquatic colours - perfect for a cooling effect in our hot summers. It should build pretty quickly now once I get started again - probably tomorrow as we are going out for tea at a friends' place.

In a side note - the Red Bull Air Race is being held in Perth as we speak. If you get the chance to see it on tv or the internet, you will see our beautiful city show-cased to the world.



Mumsyblossom's World