Sunday 28 January 2018

The Rest of Our Weekend

Yesterday we had all day to play the tourist, but what to do?  Firstly, we decided to drive across to Stockton to have a look, but there really wasn't much to see there.

Now what?  Why not drive up to Nelson Bay?  Mick and I used to go there each year with our first little caravan and spend a week at the beginning of February, while it was still summery, but the school holidays were finished.  Well, the last time we did that was in 1995, and we haven't been back since.  It has grown a bit since then.

First we had a wander along the marina.  How cute is that flamingo on the front of a boat.

It is a prerequisite to have fish and chips for lunch when at the seaside.  We were lucky to find a seat in the shade of a big spreading tree.  Being the long weekend, it was so very busy.

Having said that, there was still plenty of room on the beach.  My family used to rent a holiday house directly opposite this beach for a week each year when I was little. It was painted pink and white.  My brother took his first steps on this beach......that was 50 years ago.  I used to love watching the fishing fleet going in and out......there is no fishing fleet any more. That house was demolished and replaced with a high rise back in the 1970s.  Times change.

How good is this.  A little boat that goes from beach to beach selling cold drinks, ice creams and coffee.  See the coffee machine at the the back.  They were just there for a short while before heading off.  What a great initiative.

On our way back to Newcastle we were reminded that this is a busy coal port.  There were several of these large ships being loaded and there was constantly a line up of them off the coast.

We had an enjoyable evening at our function last night before heading home today.

At least the Bylong Valley wasn't smokey like on Friday.

As we travelled home we drove through a few showers of rain and saw the evidence of some heavy storms in the last day or so.  About half an hour from home we hit a storm.  Wow! Was it heavy.  It was like driving in a wall of water.  You could hardly see anything.  It finished just before home and we had received next to nothing.  However, we had about half an inch of rain while we were away, which is very welcome.

Friday 26 January 2018

Australia Day

Happy Australia Day!

We always like to do something on Australia Day and, as you can surmise from the photo, we are by the sea this year. Rather unusual for us. 

We left home this morning and travelled through the lovely Bylong Valley. It was all rather smoky as there are heaps of bushfires in the area due to lightning strikes over the last few days. Not nearly as photogenic as normal.

We had no real plans for the day, other than to get to Newcastle. So, when we noticed a sign to Morpeth when we were in Maitland, and it was only five kms out of our way, we made that our lunch destination.  We haven’t visited the historic river port in over 20 years, so we’re about due to pop in again. 

We stuck our head in this interesting antique shop with me announcing that we shouldn’t, as WE DO NOT NEED TO BUY ANY MORE ANTIQUES!!  Can you see where this is going?

Well.......It was one of the very best antique shops we have been in. So many interesting things, well displayed and well grouped. I could have spent ages wandering around. Mick and I went our separate ways (in other words he looks a lot quicker than I do) and when we regrouped he asked if I had seen a certain item.  No, I hadn’t. He showed me........I oohed and aahed, even more than I had with other things.....and needless to say it is wrapped up in the car. I’ll share when we get home. That is twice he has found things that I covet and that I have missed. He’s a keeper.....and he informs me that he is a better shopper for things we don’t need. I’ll believe him. Whatever...

This little, OK not so little, Chappy was sitting at the back door of the antique shop and was fed by the owner. We saw a couple more in the area too. I suppose it comes with living by the river. 

The bridge over the Hunter River was a lovely old one. Yes, we did have a nice lunch too. 

Once we reached Newcastle we noticed lots of activity on the harbour foreshore. It turned out there are boat races this weekend. 

We watched for a little while. They were rather spectacular.   It was lovely by the water. We will probably go back again tomorrow and do some more exploring. 

Meanwhile it was time to find our accommodation. We are staying at an Air BNB for the first time. It is in a loft over a garage and ideal. We are about five minutes, if that, from the beach, with a pub just around the corner and the venue for the party tomorrow evening is about 100 metres away. It couldn’t be better. 

So, dinner at the pub it was. Very nice indeed. 

Followed by a walk along the coastline. It had been hot and humid during the day. We aren’t used to humidity. However, there was a lovely cool ocean breeze this evening. Very pleasant. We may go for another walk in the morning before it gets hot again. 

Tuesday 23 January 2018

A Finished UFO and Making Progress on Another

As my blue and white quilt had been sent off to my quilting fairy it was time to select another UFO.

Back in September 2016 I started this project at the Bathurst Blog Meet.  You can read about it here. It is to be a trivet.  At the time I completed it up to the point where I had to cut it to shape and bind it.  That's where it came to a screaming halt because I had been given the pattern booklet and the paper piecing papers, but I didn't have the large hexy pattern.  It required thinking and I obviously didn't want to think.

So now I got my act together and made my pattern.  It didn't take much.....

Cut it out and bound it.

Ta Da!  It didn't take much. 

It's so nice to have another thing finished and off the sewing table.

Meanwhile, my quilt has come back home.  I've sewn the binding on by machine and trimmed back the excess fabric.  Now just for the hand stitching.  Like the last quilt I finished, this one if relatively BIG, so will take just a little while to finish.  I'm not sure if it will be finished this month as we have quite a bit on in the next week or so.

I've decided this time that I will have several needles in my new teensy pincushion threaded, ready to go, rather than having to stop and start each time my needle is finished.  Maybe I'll try to stitch the four needles full each day?  Nah, probably won't happen, but we can try.

You will also see my glasses.  They are new.  I've worn multifocal glasses for many years and I'm a big fan.   However, when I was stitching my last quilt I was having a bit of trouble finding the "sweet spot", so for long stitching sessions I will try some dedicated reading glasses.  I did try them when I was doing the binding of the trivet, but I was sitting in front of the cricket, so my everyday glasses were much better. We'll see how we go with just concentrating on stitching.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Elvis Festival

Elvis Presley had his birthday on 8 January.  To celebrate, the town of Parkes in central west New South Wales puts on a little shindig each year.  Why Parkes?  Why not.  It is a good way to get people to visit the town in the hottest time of the year.

Mick and I have been saying that we should go for years, but each year comes around and the weather is stinking hot - like 40 degrees C.  All I can envisage is middle aged men in lycra jump suits.  It doesn't sound appealing - it actually sounds sweaty.  We keep saying we will go if there is a year when the weather is a bit cooler.

This year the temperature on the Saturday was only forecast to be in the low 30s and Mick's Saturday job had been cancelled, so we decided to head on up.

We dressed in nice cool clothes and lathered on the sunscreen ready for a nice day out.  Take a cardy?  Nah - it's still going to be hot.  Take a rain jacket, as there were showers forecast? Nah - it's still going to be hot. As we drove up - about two hours from home - we had some spitty rain and it was nice and cool.

When we arrived we had a bit of a wander around - lots of stalls selling everything Elvis, cool drinks, slushies, neck coolers.  They really are geared up well for the hot weather, which is good to see.

The main event on Saturday is the street parade.  We found ourselves a good spot and settled in to be entertained.

The town cryer set the tone.

There were lots of large classic American cars.

Many with Elvis impersonators as passengers or drivers.

Love the hair.


The firies got in the swing of things.

Lots of kids were involved in the parade.

That's novel.

Celebrity spotting - Rock music historian Glenn A Baker wearing his typical hat.

How cool.

I want.

Don't these girls look great.

Every parade needs a band.

Marilyn even turned up for the party.

So many nice cars.  So many Elivses (or is that Elvi?)

The parade went for an hour and a quarter.  Quite a turn out.  What we noticed as it progressed was that it was trying very hard to spit rain, but fortunately held off for the duration.  It also was getting progressively cooler.  It had been about 25 degrees C a bit after 9.00am.  When the parade finished my phone told me it was 19 degrees C, feels like 14 degreesC!!! Say what??  That's crazy.  It had been 39 degrees C on the previous day.  No wonder I was starting to get goose bumps in my summer sundress.  Not many neck coolers or cold drinks would have been sold on the morning.

After the parade we had another quick walk around the stalls and then we made the decision to drive across to Forbes (33kms away) and have some lunch.  You see, you couldn't exactly call either of us Elvis fans and we had seen the fun bit.

So, we had a yummy burger in a coffee shop in Forbes, which was really quiet on a Saturday afternoon, and then took the scenic route home via Eugowra and Canowindra.  

A nice day out, we can now say we've been to the Elvis Festival, ate well and drove through some scenic countryside.

Meanwhile, we have continued to have cooler weather, Sunday was quite cool - I needed a cardy. However, that is to be short lived with temps back to the high 30s again in the next few days.  Oh, the joys of summer.

Tuesday 9 January 2018

January Rainbow Scrap Challenge Blocks

A actually did even more sewing on Sunday.  As I was on a roll and the blue fabrics were still out I decided to make a start on the January blocks in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I"m making the 10 inch version.

I planned to just cut them out, but once that was done I kept going and got them all pieced.  Yippee!

As there were half square triangles involved I used the shortcut method for making eight at a time. However, some of my scraps weren't large enough to cut a six inch square and my chosen placements meant that some blocks only required either four or six small blocks.  I don't like using the method where you sew around the outside of a square and then cut diagonally across to make four block.  It means that you have bias edges and your pattern placement is out of alignment.  Here is how I do it.  It's probably quite common, but isn't a method I see in most tutorials.

I just mark out two blocks side by side, adding one inch to the finished size of the block.  For my finished blocks of 2 inches I cut my fabric 6 inches by 3 inches.  Unfortunately it isn't showing too clearly, but I marked a vertical line to divide the blocks and then drew zig zag diagonal lines.  Then I sewed a quarter of an inch either side of the zig zag, just zig zagging up and down the fabric.  It was all sewn in one go.  You can use this method to make as many blocks as you like.  Handy when you have a long strip of fabric.

Then just cut on the drawn lines to create your blocks.

I like to press the seams open on my blocks and then trim to the finished size with seam allowances, in this case 2 1/2 inches square.  

Do you see my nifty little rotating cutting board.  I won this some years ago from Spotlight.  I love it.  I also have the round rotating mat, but this one works so much better for me.  The mechanism is simply a hole in the base and a round bit stuck on the bottom of the cutting board that sits in the hole. Very low tech.  It rotates nice and freely and the size is so handy.

I decided that when I get a few finishes under my belt I would treat myself to the larger version of this, but I was able to snag one on special just before Christmas, so I now have to do some finishing to earn it.

Not only will it be useful for squaring up blocks, it is also rather handy to use as a mini design board.

Now for the finished blocks......

Ta da!

I'm so pleased with them.....but when I downloaded this photo I noticed something.........

Do you see it?  The top right hand corner of the top block is rotated incorrectly. Blast!!! How did I miss that at the time?  Time to get out the quick unpick and fix it up. That will be another day's worth of 10 minutes of stitching.

Now for a proper Ta Da!  That's better.  I can put the blue left overs away now and get out my next project.

I've linked up with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge here at So Scrappy.  Details of the sampler blocks are here on the Academic Quilter.

Monday 8 January 2018

Another Finish and Progress

Yesterday, as planned, I prepared the binding for my blue and white sampler quilt, ready to get stitching when the quilting has been completed.  That took more than ten minutes, so I'm up to date on the challenge.

Then, I got to work on the steamer basket sewing box.  As I mentioned previously, it is the hand sewing that brings me to a stand still, or in this case the hot glue gun work.  After I came home from Nundle I finished off the main stitching and I even added another coat of paint to the steamer itself to hide the annoying little bits of the bamboo that were showing.  I just haven't used a hot glue gun very much, so was a bit nervous about it.  So, I bit the bullet, trimmed the quilt top to fit and got gluing. No problems.  There was nothing to worry about.  I'm just a big procrastinator.  Then it was simply a case of appliqueing the panel of the needle keep to the sheet of felt.  Job done.  So happy to tick another finish off my list.

My One Monthly Goal for January is complete.  Happy dance. Linking up here.

Now, where to put it? 

I have recently put Mum's old magazine rack to the side of my chair.  It is a little shabby and doesn't really match anything, but boy, is it handy. (I may give it a spruce up one day.) However, I didn't have anywhere to put my pen and pencil that I use to do some puzzles and had nowhere to keep the basic sewing bits and bobs.  Now they all have a nice, neat home.  I'm glad I have found a use for the basket.