Thursday, December 31, 2015

Finishing Christmas

This was one of my Christmas gifts:
They have grown and started flowering since Christmas, so really needed to be planted out. So what about today before sunrise?

 I hope they'll be happy!
We also planted some belladonna lily bulbs dug up from the old house. They were just starting to grow roots, so should be sending up their flowers in a few weeks.

Another of my gifts was the Mr Ed door for my sewing room:
which as of late this afternoon, is installed
and keeping my sewing stuff safe from dogs! Particularly from Dot, the pin-cushion thief.

So then I took down the tree, and our first Christmas in this house was over.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Time to Stop

You know it is time to step away from the sewing machine when something like this happens:

Not looking forward to pulling out those tiny stitches.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Annoying Pop-Up Malware

A couple of days ago I managed to have my browser (Chrome at the time) hijacked by malware. I'm not sure exactly which site I was on when I picked up the malware, as I had several open and at first I thought it was just a slow internet connection causing the problem. I realised that wasn't the issue when a pop-up message appeared, and rendered the browser unusable. I swapped to a different browser (Microsoft Edge) and installed a malware scanner. The scanner found a few things that my regular virus and malware scanner hadn't caught. However Edge annoyed me because it shows all the ads I'm used to blocking. And then today Edge fell victim to the same thing:
If you ever get one of these, do not ring the number! You will get someone who will want to get remote access to your computer to get rid of this for you, and charge you big dollars. And you can't trust that they aren't actually installing much worse stuff on your computer while they are there, because this is not any official "Support".

I killed off the browser in Task Manager, and re-ran a malware scan:

And then when that was finished, I downloaded Firefox and installed that. Third browser in two days! As well as ad-blocking, I installed a Firefox add-on that has a nice button you use to stop scripts running on websites you visit.  Hopefully that will help me avoid future pop-ups. Although I did discover that with scripts disabled I can't look at Bonnie's link-ups, which is a bit of a shame! Might have to re-enable them carefully just for the link-up.

If you are interested, have a look at this page that explains how the "pop-up tech support"scam works, and how to get rid of it.
Tech Support Scam

Monday, December 28, 2015

House Today

A friend on the other side of the world asked me about the house this morning, and when I went searching for a picture to send her, I realised I have not taken a picture of the house since moving in! I had to go out and take one for her immediately.
So here is the house this morning.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Surprise Step Five

Just as well I put that water-holding mulch on the garden the other day! Look at it this morning:
Actually the mulch did a good job in the heat and wind yesterday. The plants looked much less stressed by the end of the day than they have in recent similar days. But then we had 18mm of rain over night!

I had heard that Bonnie was going to release the next mystery clue a day late because of Christmas, so I wasn't expecting to get any sewing done on it today. But at about 4:30 this afternoon I discovered it was up already! And there was no cutting this week, just stitching together pieces we have already cut or made. So I got the whole lot done today after all.

I'm not a fan of  the "stitch and flip" method, so I used this ruler, which is my metric version of the Easy Angle, to trim off the corners first, then sewed the pieces as if they were half-square triangles:
You may notice in the photo above that the stitching is already there. That's because I didn't think to take a photo of that step until after I had sewn them all. Below, I've pressed the triangle back.
Perfect! And much faster for me than drawing a line, then stitching, then cutting. Actually looking for a pencil sharpener probably would have taken me the  longest time!

Here's a few of the other unit for this clue:
And one way that this week's two units could interact:
This week's clue throws all the playing I did the other day out the window! This is a fun mystery, with Bonnie keeping us all guessing. I wonder how many more clues there will be? Next week could be the big reveal, or just give us more puzzling pieces to play with!

When the link-up is activated on Monday, I will add a link here so that you can easily go and see what everyone else has done. Here it is!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day Moments

How do you gift-wrap a door?
My "Mr Ed" door for the sewing room. That should keep dogs out.

Strawberry Santa:
I've never seen these before, but when I got home I googled it and found heaps of variations on turning strawberries into Christmas-related goodies.

I usually wave to these three chooks as I go past:
But this time I just pointed the camera at them.

We had to drive through the fire area on the way to lunch. At the southern edge of the burnt area there are two houses apparently undamaged, but with their gardens all burnt around them. Fantastic work by the CFA to save them. I don't know if these nearby hay-bale people were set up by the owner of one of those houses, or of the undamaged building in the background of this shot:
Their signs say, "Merry Xmas", and "Thank you".

Elsewhere today fires have caused the evacuation of a few towns in the holiday areas on the coast, and there are reports of up to 60 homes lost already. Let's hope no lives have been lost.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

It must be nearly Christmas, here's a Christmas beetle!
 Found in the back yard this afternoon.

The plants in my front garden got a Christmas present today - mulch!
 I while ago I mentioned that I was trying to find a mulch that would be alright to use here (can't find that post to link at the moment). We can't use wood-chips because of the fire danger, and I don't really want to cover my garden with pebble. In a comment, Dee suggested mushroom compost. Yesterday I found somewhere that sells mushroom compost, but then I noticed they also had this wool/manure mix. Wool definitely shouldn't burn!
This evening I spread it around all my plants. Hopefully it will stop them drying out so quickly. Tomorrow will be a test - it is going to be hot and very windy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Black and Blue

A drive through some of the nearby fire-affected area this morning:
Black landscape, blue sky.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Longest Day

Today the dogs went on a road trip:
Who do you think is in charge?

While they were away I had a chance to lay out my mystery pieces on the floor without the dogs re-arranging them for me. Here is one dog-free arrangement:

Here's another option, where I have rotated the units in the upper left and lower right so that they make a green square instead of a brown star:
This way it makes more sense that the "santa hat" units from week 2 had to be in sets of 4. I also changed the orientation of the 4-patches.

These arrangements don't include all the shapes we have cut so far. Those other cut pieces may be involved in filling the empty sections in the centres of the blocks. Or perhaps they are part of a border. Or maybe the blocks will look nothing like anything I have imagined!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mystery Step Four

This extra post is for the mystery link-up, without all the extra stuff I mentioned in Saturday's post.

I'm making a quarter of the mystery pieces for starters, so I made eight sets of this week's units:
Green instead of red, and grey instead of black. It was fun to sew these unusual units. I'm really looking forward to seeing how all the different units fit together in the final quilt!

I'll add a link to the weekly link-up when Bonnie activates it later tonight.

Here's the link-up! Go and check it out. There's a lot of beautiful quilts in progress.

Fire Aftermath

This morning we walked to a spot not far from our place which has a view across some of the area affected by the bushfire on the weekend. It showed us just how close to home the fire came. The closest burnt areas are only 2 or 3 kilometres from us.

Burnt grass on the right, and burnt trees in the background. The owners of that house with the green roof up on the hill must be thanking the CFA today. The house is surrounded by burnt bush, but seems to be intact.  We know others were not so lucky. About 14 houses were destroyed by this fire.

Cows grazing beside burnt pasture, with lots of burnt bushland in the background.  Imagine what this view was like on Saturday.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Today we all waited.

Jack and Dot stretched out for a sleep on the stairs:
The weather changed in the early afternoon, bringing lots of rain, and not the fierce winds originally forecast. It was a more gentle, and very damp, change. So we waited for the restriction on returning home to be lifted.

At about 4:00pm, the warning was downgraded to Advice. Advice that the fire is still burning, but not spreading beyond the 4600 hectares already burnt. It is not a current threat to nearby communities. So we packed up the cars, and headed towards Lal Lal. Unfortunately 5kms from the town:

There was a road block. The police had not yet been given authority to let people back in. So we waited. A lot of people waited:
There were about 15 vehicles parked around the intersection, waiting. Others arrived, but drove off, perhaps to look for another road that was open. While we were waiting, we did receive notification that our electricity supply had been restored, which was good to know.

Finally, at about 5:15, we were allowed back in, but only if we could prove we lived in Lal Lal. Guess who hasn't got around to changing the address on her licence yet? Fortunately someone else in the family has.

So, we are home, we are safe, we had a very interesting weekend!

Fire Update

Here's the situation this morning. The black area on this map is the burnt or burning area. The little star I've added to the map is approximately where our house is:

To give an idea of scale, that burnt area is nearly 4,000 hectares, or close to 10,000 acres.

This morning there was a community meeting in Buninyong to brief everyone on the fire. We thought we would go via Lal Lal so that we could check on the chooks, grab some supplies, and just generally make sure everything was OK. As the wind is still from the north, Lal Lal isn't in the path of the fire at present.

However, every road to the area is blocked:

Fortunately we were able to bribe a policeman (not this one) with insect repellent. He let us in for a quick look in exchange for some relief from the flies! At the house we discovered that the power is off. Don't know how long it has been that way, but we might have a fridge and two freezers of food to dispose of when we can get back. We checked on our neighbour who is staying to defend his house. He had his generator on, and sprinklers set up all around the house.

This was the scene at Buninyong Town Hall:
We thought this was the queue to get in to the meeting, but it turned out the hall was full, and none of us would get in. They eventually set up a loud speaker, and a pop-up shade shelter, and distributed water and ice to those outside in the sun before the meeting got underway. There wasn't a lot they could tell us, except that there are 300 fire personnel fighting the fire, and 15 helicopters and fire-bombers. Several homes have been lost, but they are still evaluating how many. There were welfare specialists available to help those who have suffered losses of property and livestock. The weather forecast doesn't look as bad now as it did last night, but roads won't be re-opened until they are sure it is safe to do so.

As we left the meeting, one of the helicopters flew over:

So we don't know when we can get back home. If we are lucky it will be later today, but it might not be.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Fiery Mystery Step Four

Today is the first day of Extreme fire danger since we moved. I decided to leave, and spend the day in Ballarat. I took the essentials: the dogs, my sewing machine, the fabrics for the mystery, a rotary cutter, etc.

I managed to get all the cutting done for the latest step of the mystery by lunchtime. After lunch I started sewing. Here's the bits lined up ready to go:

Some time during the day, a couple of fires started in the vicinity of our town. At first the nearby towns had "Watch and Act" warnings which means "Don't wait, leave now". Later a couple of  "Emergency" warnings were issued, which means "You are in danger and it is too late to leave". I was glad I had left the area straight after breakfast.

Not a good photo, but here is Mt Buninyong from Sovereign Hill Lookout in Ballarat this evening. Behind the mountain you can see smoke from the fires near us.

I completed 8 sets of this week's mystery units:
It was nice to have something a little different to do, to take my mind off the situation at home.

Here's the emergency website a little earlier this evening:
A "Watch and Act" warning in effect for our place. Looks like I will be staying the night in Ballarat.

These fires burnt 3,000 hectares today. Our builder contacted us to make sure we are OK - he knows someone who lost their house and everything in this fire this afternoon.

We will be hoping that it is fully under control before the forecast wind change tomorrow. Otherwise it could turn around and threaten many more homes.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Geese Again

This morning I felt like doing some simple sewing to help me get through the hot day. Rather than start a new project, I printed out a few more Wild and Goosey units. It's a while since I made any. A quick search through this blog shows me that I assembled my last blocks back in March. I've been busy with one or two things since then.

So here's today's output:

Also today I was looking back through my blog, reminding myself of what I was doing at the same time in previous years. Guess what I did on the 17th December a year ago?

Yep, exactly the same!

Even used some of the same fabrics.

The pattern is by Bonnie Hunter, and the paper-piecing foundation sheet is available on the Quiltmaker website. Link to pdf file.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In the Garden

Here are a few flowers open in the garden today.

Look at the fantastic colours in this daylily:
It is one that we rescued from the house about to be demolished in our old neighbourhood.  I'm really happy to have it blooming here!

Penstemon grown from cuttings from my old garden:

Salvia "Indigo Spires", also a cutting from my old garden:

Crinum lily rescued from the hard rubbish collection. It was planted out in the garden, but some of the bulbs were dug up and came here with us. It is still in a pot at present:
 There are at least 4 flower spikes developing, so it seems to be happy here.

And lastly, vireya Princess Alexandra:
She has been blooming since before she came here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


This fascia join couldn't handle the heat today:
I contact the architect, she contacted the builder, he contacted the plumber, and hopefully this will be fixed soon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

More Painting

Managed to get a bit more painting done this afternoon:
Drawer units, and a few smaller shelves. Still only undercoat at present. I have now undercoated about a third of the pieces I need to do. The last piece I need to do to complete this section is buried under a few other cupboards, so I think I need help to get it out.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mystery Step Three

Another colour added to the mix! And for me, it's blue. Because I'm only making a quarter of the units, and I wanted maximum variation, I didn't work with strips for this clue. I just cut two squares from each fabric, and sewed them together in a staggered way so that no pairs were the same as each other:
So far, so good! But then I made a slight error. I flipped the pairs from the bottom row up and sewed them to the top row. And it wasn't until I'd made the whole lot that I realised that wasn't a good idea:
Can you see what I've done wrong? If I had offset those rows of pairs, I would have had a complete set of unique 4-patches. Instead, I got this. Look at adjacent units, and you will see that I have the same two fabrics on one side or the other. I may as well have just sewn them as strips!

Probably no-one will even notice when they are all jumbled up in the final quilt, but I was kicking myself when I realised!

So here's a bit of fun with the units so far:

When Bonnie activates the link-up tomorrow night, I'll add the link here so that you can go and check out everyone else's progress.

Here's the link-up! A bit late as it wasn't active before bedtime on Monday, so I'm 58 this week.