Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year in Books

It seems everyone is doing "year in review" blog posts lately, so here's mine.

Here's the Goodreads analysis of the number of books I've read since I joined the site in April 2009:

It looks as if I'm reading more every year. But that doesn't seem right, because I don't think the time I have available for reading has increased, or that my reading speed has improved.

Altering the display to show pages read gives a more accurate picture:

It seems I consistently read around 15,000 pages per year (an average of 41 pages a day). I must have read shorter books this year.

Happy new year, everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2012


This cat is about to get a shock, because just after it arrived to check out the front door of a friend's house,
her two terriers came in through the back door and didn't let the front screen door stop them in their quest to chase it off the premises. No chance of photographing that, I obviously couldn't manage to get the whole cat in focus before it took off.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Easy Street - Step Six

Step six of Easy Street involves green triangles and black-on-white squares:
Easy Street - Step Six
These triangles, along with the four smaller ones we cut a few weeks back, mean that the main part of the quilt will be set "on point". But how the bits in the middle go together is still a mystery.

There will be no link-up for this step, and the next clue is being released on Monday instead, so this might be the last time we actually have to cut new bits. We still have 64 flying geese and 64 background rectangles which I am assuming will be sewn together to make the same size block as the other units, but that might be it. Or maybe Bonnie still has a few surprises up her sleeve!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Insect Life

This green mantid of some variety was on a friend's front door when I visited this morning:
Identifying the actual species is tricky, as it doesn't look like any of the photos in my insect or wildlife guides. But it is probably female, because if it has got wings they are small ones. Or perhaps it is an instar, so not fully developed yet?

And while out walking later, I saw many bees enjoying a beautiful flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia

I also saw what I think was a dainty swallowtail butterfly, but it wouldn't land anywhere so that I could photograph it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Back to the Titan Arum

I heard on the radio this morning that the flower had opened yesterday afternoon, so it was time to drop everything and head back to the gardens. One or two other people had the same idea:
Queue outside the greenhouse

Inside, 30 minutes later:
Centre of attention

But how does it smell?

Quite a few flies were buzzing around the spadix (the sticking-up bit) which produces a smell like stinky dog bones.
Titan Arum flower
But I think it is beautiful, and feel very lucky to have seen it right here in Melbourne.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas

Two versions of Christmas:

1. The "Alpine Village" advent calendar I've enjoyed this month:
Lots of snow and wintry fun, given to me by a friend who does come from a snowy part of the world.

2. Australian Christmas dinner:
Lunch with lots of yummy summery food, and fortunately not too hot.

Happy Christmas, everyone.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Easy Street - Step Five

The Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus) street trees are in flower and full of bees. Each tree hums loudly from dawn to dusk. Last time I mentioned them, I hadn't been able to get a shot of a bee, but today I managed one:
Bee in Lophostemon confertus
Don't know if it is one of my bees, but it could be.

After that walk, I made a few of the next units of the Easy Street mystery:
Easy Street Mystery - Step Five
I'm glad this step used purple and aqua, as I found a few more fabrics of each of those colours this week which weren't where they should have been, so now I've had the chance to add in some of each.
There's a few more units to do, but they will have to wait a while. I've got some other sewing to complete first.

As usual, I'll add the link to everyone else once it is available. Here it is!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Titan Arum Flower

In the tropical greenhouse at the Royal Botanic Gardens, a titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is about to flower:
Titan Arum flower
The flower is expected to open early next week, but it is amazing to see even at this stage. The next shot gives you an idea of its current size:

The gardens were beautiful this morning. Here's the canna rain bed, in front of a lovely jacaranda which is brighter purple in real life (usual camera problem with purple):
Much nicer way to spend the morning than Christmas shopping!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What I Wanted

After the disappointment of the yellow and orange dahlias, today was my lucky day:
Dahlia Mystic Star
Dahlia "Mystic Star"

I first saw (and coveted) it last year in a lovely garden near where I work, but getting my hands on one has been harder than I expected. Today I was very happy to get a couple from the owner of that garden. I also discovered that the garden won a 2012 "Garden of the Year" competition.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Express Purses

It took me a little longer than I planned, but here are the purses with their frames:
Because of the delay, here is how I had to send them:
Fortunately it didn't cost me quite as much as it might, because I found a $2 coin on the ground near the letterboxes!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Purse Production

Did a bit of production-line sewing today, but there's still an important step to go:
Frame purse pattern designed by Nicole Mallalieu. But mine don't have frames yet! They better get them soon, as I need to post these interstate very soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Easy Street - Step Four

Visited a quilting friend for afternoon tea. She has been busy making fabric Christmas decorations:
You can tell she is a quilter by the quilts you can see in the background.

While chatting and enjoying afternoon tea, I trimmed tiny corners from my Easy Street flying geese:

After I got home, I completed step four of Bonnie Hunter's online mystery quilt, by sewing blue and purple geese to white and purple geese:
All done!

I'll add the link to another 240-odd other people participating in the mystery here later, when Bonnie activates it.
Here's the linkup!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Easy Street - Step 4a

Made 64 blue and purple flying geese, but I need to trim all their bunny ears before I sew them to the previous ones.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Blooming Orange

Spot the difference:
On the right, the packet which claimed to contain one tuber of Dahlia "Marie Antoinette".
On the left, the first flower from that tuber. It is beautiful but I don't think it is what it claims to be! I was getting a bit suspicious of the colour as the bud grew, but now those suspicions are confirmed.

Also in flower for the first time, an unnamed hybrid vireya that came from the Friends of the Botanic Gardens plant sale last year:
Rhododendron (vireya) lochiae x macgregoria.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Waiting for Transport

After a day which was a little bit too warm, a cool change was welcome.
But perhaps not just as I stepped out of the door after work!
Taken as I was sheltering in a factory doorway close to the unprotected bus-stop, getting ready to run if the bus appeared.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve Twelve Twelve

The dogs and I didn't venture out much on this rather warm 12/12/12. I had an exam to write and they had a lot of sleeping to do. After the sun had gone I found this delicate umbel on a carrot. Not just an umbel, but umbellules!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

After Dark

Tonight I was watering potted plants under my back verandah when something moved in the corner of my eye.
Huntsman spider. Unfortunately he is on the INSIDE of the window, and that's my sewing room in there!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tiny Pud

At a quilting group break-up today lots of gifts were exchanged, including these tiny puddings made by one member. The puddings are about 2.5cm across, and very yummy as well as cute. I wonder if any will last until Christmas?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Easy Street - Step Three

The third part of Bonnie Hunter's online mystery quilt. First lots of cutting, then some chain-piecing, then some pressing, repeat, repeat, finish!

Adding the second background triangle.

Adding the larger triangle to complete the square.

All done!

64 of these units made.

I'll put a link here to all the other people making Easy Street when Bonnie sets it up on Monday. 249 people linked-up last week!
Here's the link: Monday Link-up

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cherry Berry Goodness

Fresh from the tree and bushes this morning.
Lunch with friends.
Spending some time with my sister and a niece.
Welcome cool change just when it was time to head home.
Not a bad day.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Turning Blue

How did this happen?
For 15 years my hydrangeas have been pink.

2009 here.
2010 - a hint of blue starting here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Easy Street - Step Two

I rushed home from work today to check my letterbox, but the postie had let me down again.

One problem I have with doing this mystery quilt is that I can't convert the measurements into metric ones, as I don't know where it is all going and what size the final bocks will be. So, I'm reluctantly working in inches. I have only one large ruler in inches, so at an online sale last Monday I purchased the rulers Bonnie uses to make her flying geese. (Companion Angle and Easy Angle). They were apparently posted on Friday, but unfortunately they are still in transit somewhere.

In anticipation of them arriving, I have cut the strips to suit:
But tonight I had to make a few by a different method just to have something to show! Once the rulers arrive I'll make the rest. Another 124 or so.

To see a couple of hundred other people around the world who are participating in the mystery, visit the part two link-up on Bonnie's blog.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Seen (and heard) feeding in a street eucalypt: a family of what I thought were rainbow lorikeets, but something was missing...
The rainbow! These birds had red on their heads, and a tiny bit of yellow on their shoulders, but were mainly green.

Not rainbows, but a family of musk lorikeets (Glossopsitta concinna).

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Happy Summer!

While out walking today I passed through several clouds of flying insects. From a distance they looked like swarming bees, but they weren't:
Each cloud was associated with a flowering tree, but different trees each time. If I zoom in on that photo, you can see that the insects are beetles, and definitely interested in the flowers:

And here's a closer view of one, courtesy of someone who was able to snatch one out of the air as it flew past:
A plague soldier beetle (Chauliognathus lugubris), seeming to live up to its name more than the last time I had one on my blog.