Monday, March 30, 2015

Ready to Go

The TreeProject seedlings are big:
They've grown quickly! I normally get a kit in late summer. Then trees germinate quickly, but grow slowly over winter, and are ready to be planted out in spring. This time I have one of the early batch, which grow through summer and are planted out in autumn. I haven't heard yet when they will go, but most of these are ready now.

Manna gums, Eucalyptus viminalis in the front, red box, E. polyanthemos, behind:
These two species are about 50cm tall now, but the champions are the river red gums, E. camaldulensis:
60 centimetres tall!

There are more trees here than we had to cut down on our block, which is a little bit of a comfort. Over the years I've grown around 6,000 trees for TreeProject. It's nice to know that there are so many trees out there somewhere that I've grown from seed. Maybe some of them will still be growing hundreds of years after I've gone.

Friday, March 27, 2015


Last night the builder emailled me a couple of photos, but as I couldn't relate them to anything (no landmarks in the photos), I couldn't really make sense of them.  They were just pictures of dirt and trees. They didn't look like my land. Today I went to see for myself.

Remember this picture from Monday last week:

Well here's how that looks today:

Slight difference? I wasn't standing in exactly the same spot, but I think you can tell there's a bit of a gap in the trees! The darker ring you might be able to see in the middle is a gravelled vehicle track around the site. Our house will be in the middle of that track.

Actually it doesn't look as bad as I had imagined, but a big part of that is because only the "inner zone" has been cleared. There is another 15m in all directions which was supposed to be thinned out significantly, but I suppose we can do that without the help of a bulldozer at some later stage if necessary. (And I wouldn't mind if no-one ever noticed and we could leave it alone.)

One of two piles of tree trunks:
The timber is not in great condition (many are rotten in the middle), but some may be able to be used more constructively than for firewood. The remainder will be keeping us warm for a few winters to come.

And here is the pile of roots, branches etc:
It is huge; about 4 metres high. Apparently the way to deal with this is to get the CFA (Country Fire Authority) to come and burn it! It seems a waste when we have so much need of organic matter in the soil, but there doesn't seem to be a practical alternative. Any suggestions?

And over to the side, the topsoil from the scraped area:
We can use this to establish some garden areas after the building is complete. But do you notice how small this pile is compared with the pile of branches etc? The topsoil layer is very thin in this area.

So there it is. I am glad I wasn't there at the time. I have watched time-lapse footage of the whole process, which was interesting but less horrific than it would have been in person.

Now on with the building!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cactus Pincushions

This cute display is at Morris and Sons in Melbourne, where a group of my quilting friends from Southern Cross Quilters (SCQuilters) get together once a month.

Just last week I found a sewn version of a cactus pincushion on a German blog (link removed because the blog no longer exists) and thought I would have to try making one. These crochet ones are very cute, though. Perhaps I could make a sewn one with a crocheted flower?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


This is something I don't usually do:
Taking up a skirt! It's not for me; I've never needed to take something up for myself.

Concentrating on trying to keep that slippery fabric in place was made a bit more difficult as I knew that while I was removing a chunk of the skirt, bulldozers and chainsaws were removing a chunk of the trees on our block. I was a bit teary at times. I haven't seen any pictures yet, but I'm pretty sure I'm glad not to have seen it happening.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pullet Egg

One of the new arrivals from December has started laying:
Compare the cute little egg on the left with one from the big Australorp cross on the right.

In other news, I spoke to the earthworks guy today (finally), and now he says he will be there on Wednesday. We'll see.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Loving Indigo

As we still hadn't been able to get in touch with the earth-moving guy, and we have things to do in Melbourne next week, we packed up and headed back to town.

A stop-off in Ballan on the way gave me the chance to see a wonderful quilt show, "Loving Indigo: The world of Shigeko Asada". There wasn't much information on who Shigeko Asada was. Her quilts feature indigo-dyed traditional Japanese fabrics, and are full of symbols and memories of her life. The final couple were very sad; one full of memories of her husband of over 50 years, who died in March 2005, which she stitched in hospital while undergoing chemotherapy, and her final quilt before she died later that year, about which she said, "After embroidering symbols of happiness and good fortune, I set aside my needle."

The exhibition is for one weekend only, with the quilts returning to Japan on Monday. I am so glad I saw it.

A glimpse of the exhibition:

As you can see, many of the quilts are large. As well as being pieced, they are covered in sashiko-style stitching:
The text in the round medallion is a Buddhist saying, "I am content with what I have - he who is content with his lot will always be at peace".

Mrs Asada's final quilts:
On the left, "The Heart Sutra - in sadness", memories of her husband. On the right, "A Pair of Cranes Bring Good Fortune".

Here are close-up views of a few of the quilts:
"The smell of indigo is the scent of Mother - a woman's joy, a woman's sadness."

From the catalogue, "Pieces of indigo cloth which have lived with other women are now quietly gathered here. From grandmothers in the distant past they were handed down unchanged."

It was an incredibly moving exhibition.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Quilting Day

Guess what? Still no earthworks guy today!

At least I got to spend some time playing with my Sweet 16:
The owl is a cot panel I specifically bought for quilting practice (only $4 at GJ's). After I'd stitched around the printed design, I added a few more leaves to fill in some of the background.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dog Door

Still no earthworks guy...

So today's task was to find a dog door and install it, so that the dogs could move between their sleeping area in the garage, and the yard. Until now we've had to leave the side garage door open all night, and lock the dogs out of the garage if we had to go out somewhere.

I wanted to get the same sort of door they have used in Melbourne. My old dogs don't need anything else to confuse them! It needed to have a soft, flexible flap. Finding one took visits to the RSPCA store, and four large hardware stores. Masters hardware had a display door, but wouldn't sell it to me even though they had no other stock and have discontinued selling them. Everyone else only had doors with hard metal flaps, or ones with a hard plastic which we know from experience is not very durable as the hinge breaks. Finally I found what I wanted at the second Mitre 10 store. It was the last one they had, too!

Jack going in:
Jack coming out:
It looks like there is no flap at all there, because it was temporarily tucked up inside.

By the end of the day all three dogs were using their new door.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Settling In

Jack's favourite spot:
Sitting on the stairs he can keep an eye on what everyone is doing, including anyone walking past on the bike path.

And here's the first load of washing on the line!

And still no word on when the earthworks will start. Maybe tomorrow?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Clothesline Construction

The tree clearing and earthworks isn't happening today, after all, so it gave us a chance to get the bargain clothesline set up.

Here's Jack posing in front of the first stage:

And here are Jack's fore-paw prints preserved for posterity in the concrete:

After lunch, stage two:

Tomorrow it should be ready for some washing!

Jack seems to have settled in quite well, but Scruff and Merle are a bit confused. They have each fallen off the edge of the deck a couple of times (a drop of about 30cms), so I can't imagine what was going through Scruff's head when she climbed up onto the lower shelf of the kitchen island:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Before the Destruction

The earthworks and tree clearing are meant to start tomorrow. We wanted to make sure that the trees to keep were clearly marked. Originally we used two different plastic tapes to mark the trees to stay and those to go:
Orange ones to stay, pink must go. (Not that you can see either clearly in my photo.) But just in case that was too ambiguous (what if the bull-dozer driver is colour-blind?), we removed all the pink tape today.

It looks like some of the trees we marked as "keep" will be going after all. This one has ended up right where the waste treatment plant will go:

Last look at the block before all the destruction:
I'm still not happy about this part of the process, but there's nothing I can do about it. However, I was even less impressed to find that someone just a little further along the road has recently done a lot of clearing of their block without getting a permit, and therefore without having the environmental assessment done that we had to do, and without purchasing any environmental offsets as we have to. It is a little tempting to ring the council and let them know about it, as removing native vegetation without a permit is meant to be a big no-no.

Then it was back to Ballarat, where we will stay for the next week or so.  It is the first time the dogs have been here. Here's Merle and Scruff investigating the yard:
It is all a bit strange to these two old dogs (both are 16.5 years).

Sunday, March 15, 2015

One Thing

Leads to another.

This morning I went to get a needle that I had promised to give to a friend. In the same bag there were a couple of other items that needed to be unpacked and put away. Then the next thing I knew, I was assembling these:
Four "Wild and Goosey" blocks. The (already made) corner sections were in a bag I had taken to the last quilting group I attended, so instead of just putting them away, I sewed them together.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The View From Here

This is what I see looking north as I wake up:
This is looking east:
And to the south:
One of two windows looking south in the bedroom. I love seeing the trees in every direction.

Today I finished this little wall-hanging:
It has a few meanings for to me. When you don't know where to start, just pick one thing and then take it from there. If everything seems too overwhelming, just do one thing and don't worry about the whole big issue. If there's too much to do, don't try to do everything at once, just do one thing at a time. Perhaps slightly ironically I've quilted it with about 18 different designs. The letters are paper-pieced, using a pattern called "Just My Type" by Kristy at Quiet Play. The "flower" pieces are machine pieced, and the leaves and stem are appliqued. I started quilting it on my Elna Lotus last year, but gave up because some of the paper-pieced seams where thicker than it could cope with. But my lovely new Sweet 16 quilted through those thick bits without even blinking!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Big Day

Today is my parents' 59th wedding anniversary. I couldn't meet them because I had to be somewhere else.

Today I went to Daylesford, where I saw the GayTM:
which is apparently only going to be decorated like that for two weeks. That's a shame, I think they should leave it that way.

Today the real reason I was in Daylesford was to sign about a million documents, which constitute the contract with the builder for our new house!

Monday, March 9, 2015


Stitched down binding while enjoying afternoon tea at a friend's place:
Almost done!

Sunday, March 8, 2015


My unit for some strange reason has no clothesline. It's one of those things you don't notice when you inspect the property, but once you move in you realise something is missing.

Other units in the same group do have them:
If you look closely, two can be seen in this photo (another shot taken by the plumber when he was on the roof). So who knows why mine doesn't have one.

Earlier this week I found someone in Ballarat selling a line still in its box on Ebay:
Brand new, for less than 30% of the retail price. I snapped up this bargain. I still needed to get the post kit, which is about $90. But look what I found on clearance today:
It is even the same colour!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Kitchen Island

I had my eye on an Ikea island for the Ballarat unit. But how about a custom-built one instead?

Under construction in the workshop a few days ago:
Assembled on-site with professional assistance today:
It is a little larger than the original - I wanted it a bit longer, and a bit higher.

The Ikea original is $500. So far this island bench has cost about $30 in timber. It will be getting a nice timber top, which will add a bit, but it's still a bargain!

For now it has a temporary chipboard top so I can use it.  It fits perfectly in the space, and works well with a couple of barstools I picked up on Ebay for only $8 each.

Friday, March 6, 2015

When Two Go to Ikea

Sometimes there's only room for one in the car on the way home!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Lucky Brick

A few days ago, a friend sent me a photo of this brick she found in her back yard:
She said she would give it to me, and hoped that it would bring me some luck. Well, it seems to have worked, because we now have a builder who wants to build the new house for us.

Thanks for the lucky brick, Jenni!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Polar Bear for March

Completed March block of the Zoo Animals BOM designed by Kristy @ Quiet Play.

I'm linking this post to Kristy's March link-up. Check it out here. There's only a couple of other bears there so far, but if you look at it later in the month there should be a whole tribe of them.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Making Eyes

The eyes are the fiddliest parts of the animals in the Quiet Play Zoo Animals blocks. This month's animal has two of them, as seen in this progress shot:
However, they are rather large eyes this time, so not too tricky. I got most of the block done today, but it is not quite finished. Maybe tomorrow.

I was a bit surprised to get an email this morning from someone I don't know, asking me to send them the pattern for January's flamingo block. That's a bit rude! Kristy (the designer) makes one pattern available free each month, and if you miss it you can buy the pattern from her online shop. They are only $3 each. So the requester did not get the pattern from me, just a link to the shop and a little piece of my mind to be going on with!