Friday, April 30, 2021


 I quilted my Trail Mix quilt this month:

Can you see the join in the back?

This piece was a long skinny bit of fabric I had left over after using it for the backing of two other quilts. I found instructions on piecing a quilt back with a diagonal seam here and here, which gave me a piece just big enough for this one.

Trail Mix was my selected project to Work On Or Finish (WOOF) for April.

As you might be able to see, I have machined on the binding, which I assembled from various bits of left-overs of binding from other quilts:

But I haven't begun to hand-stitch it down on the back. The events I mentioned in my last post have meant that for the last six days family issues have consumed all my time. Finishing it won't take me long once I get some stitching time.

Linked to Cheryll's WOOFA link-up.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

View From Another Room

 The photos are not in the order I tried to put them in

but this is the view from my father's hospital room
It is much nicer that the view my mother had last year, because it is on the opposite side of the hospital.
Unfortunately my father cannot enjoy the view. He has been unconscious since he collapsed on Saturday, and he is not going to recover.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Above it All

 To travel between Lal Lal and Ballarat, there are two possible roads:

The yellow road to the west is the Midland Highway (A300). The white road via Yendon is more direct and generally quicker.

Right at the moment though, both roads are undergoing roadworks. The highway works have been going since about October, and are expected to be completed in the middle of this year. Not a problem, as I usually take the back road. However, now the back road is all dug up, too. On either route you can find yourself stationary for extended periods, while traffic is reduced to one direction to allow work to proceed. To get anywhere on time it is best to leave home about 20 minutes earlier than normal.

Today while stopped at a roadblock on the highway with the car turned off (no point burning petrol to sit still for 10 minutes) I saw a pair of eagles soaring above me. I scrabbled for my camera, and couldn't open the window because the car was off, but managed to get one recognisable photo:

Wedge-tailed eagle, as seen through a tinted and not very clean car windscreen!

It was wonderful to see the pair of them gradually make their way to who knows where, floating apparently effortlessly far above us.


Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Shepherd's Daughter

This morning the desire to go for a walk somewhere "different" struck us, and I thought of a place near Lal Lal I had heard of but never visited. 

Getting there was an adventure, as we had to drive down rough unnamed roads, (tracks, really) through forest it would be easy to get lost in. We saw a mob of kangaroos at one point, but they disappeared into the bush before we could get photographic evidence.

I parked near this patch of grasstrees:

And wildflowers:

Epacris impressa, the common heath

We set off on foot, not knowing quite how far we needed to go. Along the way we found this fungus:

Ghost fungus, Omphalotus nidiformis

Ghost fungus glows green at night, which would be amazing to see. But I'm not driving down those tracks at night! Plus this fungus was right beside an old, unmarked, unfenced, mine shaft, which could be just a little dangerous in the dark.

Eventually we found our destination:

The grave of a young girl who died in the 1860s. This article from the ABC in 2018: Shepherd's daughter's grave includes some information about who she probably was, and when she probably died.

The wooden fence was put up 80-odd years after the girl's death, and these carved details were added some time since 1951. The photo from 1951 shows bush including grasstrees right beside the grave, but now the surrounding area is bare. Too many visitors, perhaps. 

Some of those visitors leave things behind:

I wonder what a 6-year-old in the 1860s would have made of plastic flowers, or a stuffed toy dog.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Another Step

Last week I showed you the four steps built out of the bluestones a friend gave me. Today there are five, and each step is now a little wider. We found someone in Ballarat with some bluestones for sale, and added to the collection. Here's Jack checking out the edges (more work to be done there), while Dot chases a ball up the steps:

Each step is not many dog-steps when taken at full speed:
She flies over them!

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Garden in April

A few parts of the garden are undergoing a renovation process at the moment. Things have been dug up, relocated, trimmed, pruned, and generally disrupted. Hopefully it all means that next year the garden will be flourishing!

Fortunately there are still flowers to be found.

Variegated ajuga 




Graffiti geranium (really a pelargonium)

Treasure flowers (gazanias)

Baby sage

Echeveria "Topsy turvy"

Pink gaura

A pink salvia that I don't remember from previous years?


Viburnum tinus





Red hot pokers



Hakea "Burrendong beauty"

Lion's ear, Leonotis leonurus

Melaleuca nesophila


White Japanese windflowers

And pink ones.

I've skipped a few because this post is too long already. But I had to include this one:

The first spring flowers, long before autumn is finished. In the background, the leaves of my redbud are turning yellow, but haven't started falling yet. I've had jonquils open in May before, when living in the city,  but here they usually start in June or July.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Bulk Buy

My supply of sewing machine needles was almost depleted, so I went looking to buy some more. There are not many places nearby that sell them. 

There is a Spotlight. They sell all varieties of Schmetz needles at $8 for 5 needles, but the local store seems to be always out of stock of the commonly used sizes. I could mail order from their warehouse, but that would add $12.99 for delivery.

There is a Lincraft. They no longer sell Schmetz needles - they seem to have moved down-market in all their haberdashery items. Their needles are  $3-odd for 5, but very poor quality. I had one bad experience and wouldn't buy them again.

My only other option is a sewing machine dealer, who sells needles labelled "Janome", which are also about $8 for 5.

So I went looking online, to see what I could find. I placed an order on 1st April, and only 2 weeks later (not bad considering the Easter holidays) this arrived from the UK:

For approximately $33 including postage, I now have 50 Schmetz needles in the size I use most. Hooray! That should last me quite a while.

I wonder why they don't sell 10-packs in Australia?

Saturday, April 10, 2021


A couple of days ago I had to jump up in the middle of a meal and throw the top I was wearing into the washing machine, as I had just splashed some tomato-based sauce on it. Fortunately it did not stain, but it did push me to finally make myself an apron.

I've admired the Japanese style cross-back aprons on various internet sites, and downloaded 3 free patterns over the years. It was time to actually try one out! I decided to use Tessuti's pattern as it has an A0 copy-shop file included, so I wouldn't have to assemble lots of smaller sheets of paper. I got the large scale print done at Officeworks for $4.35 - worth it to avoid sticking together the 25 pages of the print-at-home file, I thought.

Picture from Tessuti's site

One potential issue with the pattern is the sizing - "One size". I am probably outside the size range they had in mind when drafting the pattern - taller and wider. So rather than use anything too precious, I found a couple of remnant pieces in my fabric stash that I could use for a trial version. I made the pattern exactly to the instructions, and it looks pretty good on a coat hanger:



However, on me it is a different story. The apron is obliviously too small. No photos, you will have to take my word for it! The cross-over, which on Tessuti's sample and on a coat-hanger is towards the waist, is between my shoulder-blades. There is no rear coverage - which perhaps doesn't matter for practical reasons, but it is not a good look.

On this close-up you can maybe see how I had to use a different fabric for the straps. I didn't have enough of either for the whole apron:

The top edge is too close to my face, which adds to the impression that I am wearing an apron a few sizes too small. I could fix that by cutting longer straps. I think they will need to be quite a bit longer, as the "armhole" section, which looks like it is at waist level or below on the Tessuti models, is well above my waist. The apron length in the Tessuti photos appears to be at least knee-length, but on me it is mid thigh - only just below finger-tip length.

So, I can wear this apron, and it should offer some protection for my clothes. But it does not have the look I wanted.

Adjustments required:

Add length to straps.

Add length to apron - above the waist, and at the hem.

Add width to apron - centre front, and also under the arm (slash and spread pattern).

Don't add the pocket until the apron is made, so it can be put where most useful.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021


 I can't believe we are a week in to April already. How did that happen? 

I missed showing the progress on these steps:

They have been like this for a few days. There's still more to do, but they will definitely make it easier to get through this part of the garden once the wet weather starts. The bluestone pitchers are these ones.

When I came home from work yesterday, one of the "temporary" kitchen lights had been replaced. 

Then today a second
and then a third were installed:
I bought these pendant lights a couple of months ago, and it is lovely to have them out of their boxes and hanging from the ceiling now. The cardboard ones from Ikea did the job (for 5.5 years) but I think these ones look a lot better.

I've been working on my WOOFA unfinished project for April, Trail Mix:

So far I have only stitched in the ditch between the blocks, but it is progress.

Late today a couple of ducks joined the menagerie:

The two on the left are the new ones. They are like clones of each other, so we will never tell them apart. They teamed up with the old ducks to form a flock quite quickly. None of the "pecking order" conflict you see with chooks.

As I was waiting for the ducks to get close enough to photograph, I noticed some little eyes looking at me from the crabapple tree:

It is a tiny Ewing's tree frog!