Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good-Bye, 2011

2011 consigned to the recycling bin.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Filling Gaps

Took a trip to the nursery and found a few plants to fill patches of the garden that are bare at this time of year.
Now I have to dig out a few excess belladonna lily bulbs (anyone want some?), which are taking over parts of the front garden, before I can pop these in.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Life And Death

The rain we have had in the last year has left the block at Lal Lal green and lush and full of life.
Can you see all the butterflies? No, you can't, but they are everywhere. At every step, several fly up from just in front of your feet. I would need a movie to show you them fluttering everywhere; a photograph just doesn't work.
Occasionally they alight where their camouflage is ineffective - this one is on the car door.

Sadly not everything at Lal Lal is alive. As I was working my way around the block, pulling out hundreds of bluebell creeper plants, I found this poor thing:
A koala.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Butterfly Pair

A pair of butterflies in my garden today:
I think they are a line-blue butterflies, possibly the Double-Spotted Line-Blue (Nacaduba biocellata). But if anyone knows for sure, please leave a comment!

Later:  Many thanks to Dee for identifying them as Long-tailed Pea-blues (Lampides boeticus).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family Get-Together

Some people have large family gatherings at Christmas time, but for us it's a smaller occasion.
My parents and my son.

Monday, December 26, 2011


Because we were still on the road during the worst part of yesterday's storm, I only know there must have been hail here because of the holes torn in the leaves of plants like the cannas:
Fortunately my home is undamaged. I've spoken to a couple of people whose cars were dented, and the local supermarket this morning was mopping up the water which had come through their roof.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Contrasts

Red and green at lunch time:
Black and white at dinner time:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Empty Nest

This morning the blackbird's nest is empty.

The remaining nestling wasn't big enough to have flown off yet, so I can only assume that it has met an untimely end. It is not pleasant to think that the most likely animal to have been able to reach this nest and remove the babies one by one is a rat. I know which European invader I would rather have around the house!

Friday, December 23, 2011


Finished sewing my last Christmas gift:
Oven mitts made from a Saffron Craig softie print from a couple of years ago.
Back view.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


The second clutch of blackbirds has not been as successful as the first. Last time, three young ones left the nest, although a week later only maybe one of them was still alive.

There were four eggs in the second clutch, but I think only three hatched. Here's how the nest looked a week ago:
And here's the view today:
Definitely only one left.

The adults have behaved differently this time. One or the other of them has been sitting on the nest for a lot of the time since the eggs hatched. We never saw Mr Blackbird on the nest the first time, but he has been lately. Both parents spent all their time feeding the first batch, but the second batch seem to have been fed much less frequently. Is that why fewer have survived? Or are the parents feeding less because there are less mouths to feed? Are they sitting on the remaining nestling to keep it warm, because it doesn't have siblings providing warmth? Or are they protecting it from whatever happened to its siblings?

Many questions, but no answers, I'm afraid!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fifty Metres of Elastic

How long do you think this will last?
I think 50m should keep me going for a while.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Across the Rooves

Tonight was my work Christmas outing. To get to it I walked along a street which gave me this unusual view of the city.

When I was at school, "rooves" was the correct plural of "roof". But now my spell-checker doesn't like it, and an internet search tells me that apparently "rooves" is outdated and no longer correct.

Who else was taught "rooves"?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Another Day, Another Do

Book Club's turn for an end-of-year do:
There can't be too many more left...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Do Number Four

Another end-of-year get-together, with another quilting group. There were the usual gifts all round, and too much yummy food. One smart person brought along an activity for us to do, which was fun and which kept everyone quiet for a while.

Here's my first attempt:
The idea is to make two of these origami-style hexagons, place them back-to-back, sew buttons or beads to cover the messy centres, and attach a hanging ribbon. Instant [not at all] Christmas decoration! It's a bit difficult to see the details on this dark fabric, but if you want to try it yourself, you can get the folding instructions here.

I'd recommend starting with larger hexagons than we were using, unless you have tiny fingers!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Four frames loaded into the honey extractor:
Then you close the lid and turn the handle. The frames spin around, and honey flies out. Over 13 kilos of honey from the six frames that were extracted today.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Daylily (Hemerocallis) Huckleberry Candy flowering in my back yard today:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


A few days ago, I found this wire rack on the side of the road while out walking. I carried it home as I thought I could find a use for it.
Today I re-organised some storage space. The rack fitted inside this cupboard, so it is now where my shoes live. Thanks, whoever threw it out!

Look what happened elsewhere around the house:
Two of Mr and Mrs Blackbird's second clutch of eggs have hatched.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Do Number Three

Busy social day today, with a couple of birthdays to celebrate in the morning, and a Christmas break-up do this afternoon. More details of that available here, where you can also get a better look at how one of those Japanese pouches turned out.

After all the festivities I took advantage of the space at the neighbourhood house to spread out my fabric and check there is actually enough to make the dress. It may not look like it, but there is:
For people who know how these things work, don't panic! There are actually four layers of fabric there. Some pieces I need to cut four of, and of one I need eight. But I only need one or two of all those overlapping pieces closer to the camera, so they will fit. Really.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Do Number Two

Fourteen quilters met in a café in the wilds of an unfamiliar (to me) suburb for lunch, lots of catching up on news and events, and the distribution of Kris Kringle presents:
It was great to see everyone!

The little Japanese pouch I made went home with Pam, who had travelled for 3½ hours to join us. My gift was some lovely fabric from Shirley. Thanks Shirley!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Production

Completed my production-line items with some hand-sewing while catching up with some recorded TV.
They look kind-of cute arranged like a big flower, but they are actually six separate things. Now I have to get at least one of them wrapped up ready for a Christmas get-together tomorrow.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


A bit of production-line sewing:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Walk In The Park

Walking through this park on my way to work is much nicer than the walk along the street I've been using.
It's a shame I found the park on the very last time I need to walk this way.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

In Which I Meet A Famous Person

A Dress A Day is one of the first blogs I ever read. Erin McKean is an entertaining writer. She's in Melbourne at the moment:
She signed a copy of her novel for me:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Name That Plant

Does anyone know what this is?
It's either a large shrub or a tree. This one is about 4 metres tall, but there are branches all the way down to the ground. It is flowering now in a neighbour's front yard. The bees love it. It seems to flower at the ends of the branches first, then buds open further along the branches. Each bud opens into a pom-pom of pink flowers.

Any ideas?

Thanks, Dee, for identifying it as the pompom tree, Dais cotinifolia, from southern Africa.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Do Number One

Trip north today for the first Christmas Do for the year.

Stopped at interesting nurseries, antique shops and galleries, spent time with lots of people and ate lots of food, and didn't even think to get out my camera until on the way home I saw hundreds of birds in a paddock. There were many sulphur-crested cockatoos, galahs and corellas, and a handful of ravens, all eating grass seeds (I assume).

Apparently a person walking towards them with a camera is a little more threatening than cars roaring past at 110kmph. I only took a couple of steps before they started taking off:
You will just have to believe me that this is only a small section of them.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

She's Back...

Mr Blackbird is still feeding at least one of the fledglings in the vegie garden. From what I've read, the parents keep feeding them for up to two weeks. But Mrs Blackbird is busy elsewhere:
Starting on a second batch!

Friday, December 2, 2011


This morning on The Age website I saw this tiny picture beside an article about the best games of the year:
I might be a little preoccupied at the moment, but what does the dark-blue thing look like to you?

It's obviously a sewing machine, right?

Half my brain was puzzling over the concept of a game about sewing (how would that work?), and the other half was just happy that there must be a game about sewing, so clicked on the link before the logical side kicked in...

Strategy games, sewing, it's all much the same, isn't it?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Summer Already

Fortunately the first day of summer wasn't too hot to be in the sewing room, or in the garden.

On Tuesday while I was sewing, I noticed that a bird has built a rather insubstantial-looking nest in one of my callistemons. Today she wasn't sitting in it, so I took the opportunity to snap a picture:
I don't know if she has abandoned the nest, or if I just didn't happen to look up at a time when she was there today. It's another non-native bird, I'm afraid. This time it's an Indian import, the Spotted Dove (Spilopelia chinensis).

I made a second trial bodice, lengthening it and changing the shaping. This photo gives absolutely no indication of how it fits, with the wacky fabric and the dummy who is a different shape to me. The photo is only here to show that I did actually do something!
I don't know whether to play with the shaping more or not. I'm not totally happy with it, but I'm not sure of the best way to tackle the bits I don't like.