Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Quilt Q & A

I've been sewing the pieces of my daughter's quilt together, for two days now. It took a week, prior, just for preparation. First I had to enlarge the image, then trace the individual pattern pieces out, just so I could add a 1/4 inch seam around all of them.

Then I had to go through it all again, to cut the fabric out. Lot's of triple handling, but worth the effort.

Dining chair on left, for size comparison
{click to enlarge}

So this is the result, after a week and two days work! It doesn't look like much, but there was a lot involved. I constantly have to refer to my original blow-up, to check for alignment. I've gotten to know my seam ripper, well. Overall, it has been fun though, learning a new skill.

Now a question for all those experienced quilters out there. What kind of batting is best? I'm leaning towards the polyester, given it will be my daughter's quilt, and the most forgiving for washing. What is your experience with batting?

Also, how do I get high loft? Do I sandwich two, low loft battings together? The polyester batting I've been looking at, is advertised as high loft. However, if it's anything like the polyester quilts purchased from the shops, they flatten after a few years. Any, and all feedback welcome.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rainy days

We finally received some of that wet stuff, which our land has been quenching for quite some time. There's a collective sigh amongst all the citrus, who are attempting to keep their fruit. More rain is predicted over the next few days, which will be even better.

Because it was a steady, slow, rain though - it was a perfect day, for two exciting activities.

That would be, playing in puddles with bare feet, and for mum, propagating new plants to drink in the rain. I've had this frangipanni cutting, drying off, for just over a week now. Today was perfect weather to pot it up, and let it sit in the rain.

Not long afterwards, I was broadcasting seeds in my wicking boxes, in hopes they would sprout.

Other things to do on rainy days, are internet surfing. How cute is this...

Because I've spent nearly $100 on two different feet for my sewing machine, to make my daughter's birthday quilt - I wanted to know, other useful things I could make via quilting. That's when I found this uber cute caravan, which is actually a sewing machine cover!

I won't be making it, because I already have a machine cover, but the clever things people do with their sewing machines, just need to be shared!

Especially on rainy days...

Friday, March 10, 2017

Material things

Oh my. I rarely do anything by halves, and in this case, I think I may have bitten off, more than I can chew!

It's my daughter's birthday, in approximately 2 months, and she'll have the Easter holidays off - so that's two weeks less I can work on her present. I'll have roughly, six weeks to finish a quilt, I always promised myself I would make her.

Click to Enlarge

I've never made a quilt before. I made a duvet many, many, years ago, with a small amount of appliqué. Never tackled a quilt though, so I'm absorbing Youtube videos and hoping I can pull it off in time.

This middle panel (not the whole quilt) measures 90 x 120 cms. It's taken me two days to draw the large image, that fits on our dinning room table.

Internet image printed on A4 paper

I took an image from the internet, and drew a grid on it, then scaled it up to the size I was looking for. In this case, I used a scale of 8, which I multiplied the individual measurements of each square by. That was the easy part! Then I had to sketch the details, into each grid, on the larger piece of paper. This will be my pattern for cutting out material pieces.

For those who are not familiar, this is Wolf-Link - a famous character in the "Zelda" games made by Nintendo. Sarah's favourite game in the series, is Twilight. So that's why I decided to make her a quilt with Wolf-Link. I hope I can finish it in time.

Wish me luck!

In the meantime though - how cool is this? Man sewing. Not a man sewing (even though it is) but the Youtube channel called, man sewing, is really cool. I've learned so much about quilting, from this guy. Let's hope I can put it to good use.

I'm sharing this particular video, because he demonstrates how to recycle old material bolts (what quilting material comes on) into a portable ironing board. Loved this idea.

Not that I buy much quilting fabric, mind you. I hope to use some of my regular sewing material for my quilting project.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Big projects

If I ever take a while between blog posts, I'm generally doing something big. At the moment, I'm painting our verandah. I've completed most of the front and side, but there's still that much more to go.

I still haven't bleach cleaned the other sides, yet to be painted. But the results are so much nicer, when it's all done. I've used textured paint, so it's covered a multitude of cement sins. Just normal wear and tear. I've spent close to a grand on paint. More than I thought I needed, or wanted to spend.

I consider it an investment however. Which I'll share more about, when I finally get this job finished. It always takes longer than I think!

Now for the rest

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Back to business

As I recovered from the heatwave, which finally broke, I suddenly came down with a cold/flu. Sarah got it first (most likely from school) and then we all did. It was one of those colds, that was very forgiving with the regular symptoms – but knocked your energy levels out, for about a week.

Today, was the first time, I've been able to get back to business in a serious way! So I rolled up my sleeves, and set to work on the verandah again.

Something is growing on the concrete

Our verandah is 1.8 metres in width, all around the house. At certain times of the year, some areas don't see any sun. I've never cleaned the concrete, so it has moss and mould growing in certain places.

There's a deadline I have to work to, to tackle this problem. Well before winter, I hope. Because once we head into the colder months again, when the sun sinks lower in the sky, I won't get a chance to dry the verandah I'm cleaning. So it was imperative to get my cleaning supplies out, as soon as possible.

Minus the hose for water supply

Concentrated bleach, water and a squirt of dish-washing liquid, went into a bucket. First, I wet the concrete down with water, then scrubbed my cleaning solution in with a stiff bristled broom. I also have a small, hand-held brush (with stiff bristles) for getting up close to the brickwork and around the posts.

The moss is proving to be difficult to remove, so a straight mix of concentrated bleach and dish liquid is best applied to those more mossy areas. Never apply the concentrated mix for the whole verandah, because you'll waste a lot of water, just trying to get the suds out!

I have nearly 60 metres of verandah to get through! Thankfully, the moss only gathers on the edges, where the soil touches.

Creating better conditions for circulation

I managed to muster enough energy yesterday, to clear around the verandah with a mattock. Part of the problem with mould growing, is a lack of air circulation. Weeds grow over the concrete, and when the sun goes into winter hibernation - whulla - moss!

I've definitely got my work cut out for me, getting it under control again. It would have been best to manage it, from the get-go. Once I finish our verandah renovation, I'll have some tips to share about maintenance for concrete areas. I know concrete is tough stuff, but there are things we can do to make it easier to clean on a regular basis.

All clean

This is what the verandah looks like, once it's been cleaned. What a difference, removing the mould makes. I wish I could have done it sooner, but in reality, our verandah has served as a much needed storage area too.

I like having a wrap-around verandah. It's one of the things I always wanted, if we built our own home. The reason I like it, is the all-weather protection it provides to the brickwork and windows. We'd have to get serious horizontal hail, to do any damage to the windows. It also means if one of our gutters starts to overflow in a storm, we have the protection of the verandah, to get out and empty the leaf catchers on the downpipes.

The downside is the maintenance. There's a lot of ground to keep clean. Which is why I'll be happy, when I finish this renovation, to have an easier time of it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The great exchange

David's employer kindly allows him to take the food scraps home for our chickens. It's not always consistent, but it helps curb the cost of feeding them. We've also received surplus from the same employer, who has a veg garden in town. As well as another employee, who gave us surplus veg too. We eat some of it, but the chickens get a healthy portion.

With nine new layers, we hatched and raised, joining our existing four layers, we've had a surplus of eggs to get through recently. When our fridge started exploding with full egg cartons, it was time to return the favour.

Fried eggs & fresh tomatoes - ones I can actually eat!

We've given away 4 dozen eggs, to 4 people in David's workplace. The first two said, "are these REAL eggs!" We were happy to inform them, yes, they were indeed, real eggs. And the chickens who laid them, were indeed grateful for their food offerings.

Recently, we received two large bags of tomatoes from David's employer's garden. Several kilos worth. They were big, red, and tasted like REAL tomatoes! No astringent after-taste, which I find comes from store bought ones. I can't normally eat tomatoes, as they're from the nightshade family. I tend to have reactions with itchy skin, bloating and twitches. I could eat these however, without any problems.

 Home grown tomatoes

We can't seem to grow tomatoes here, but we can grow chickens who lay eggs - where David's employer doesn't have the time or space to keep them in town. So a good exchange of produce, from two productive households.

None of us "expected" these acts of generosity. It just seemed the right thing to do when a surplus came alone. Use it up. Don't waste it. That's what a community does - keep it in the loop. We also help David's employer, by taking buckets of coffee grounds home to put in our garden. It saves them from having to pay to throw them out. Plus it helps our garden!

Haul of coffee grounds - December 2016

We even started giving some of the empty 10 Litre buckets of ice-cream away from his workplace too. They accumulate, after we empty the coffee grounds. But an acquaintance, we met at playgroup, thought they were perfect for planting their daffodil bulbs. So we've passed on, at least a dozen their way too. They said to keep them coming!

I'm happy to report, all our chickens managed to survive through the scorching heat over the weekend. They predicted 42 degrees Celsius, for our area - but I recorded 44 degrees  (111 Fahrenheit) on the verandah at 4pm. So I don't know how hot it got during the day!

With the new tank we installed last year, and the rain that filled it, we were able to hose down the coops, on both days. Which probably made the difference in their survival. Instead of sitting still with their beaks open, attempting to cool down, they would come over to the wet ground and start clucking. They even rolled themselves in the cooler, dirt - despite the fact it was wet.

Birth bath

You should have seen our birdbath yesterday though. The above picture was taken back in November, last year. With 2 rainbow lorikeets, having a drink. I didn't take photos yesterday, when the kangaroos, brush-turkey's and every imaginable species of bird, wanted to take a drink.

It was full, they just had to wait their turn. I even put an extra bowl out there at ground level. But I still had birds come up to the house, near the verandah, as if to say, "come on human - bring the water!"

I'm relieved it's a lot cooler today though, and I pray we get that predicted rain! The ants have become really active, which is a good sign.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Almost there...

I am so tantalisingly close, to finishing my mini room renovation. So, so, close!
You can see what I'm working on below, which should be the last improvement to make. I love this feature. I love all the little features I've added to this room.

A little ornate woodwork

But the heat has sapped my energy for now. I don't feel like driving half an hour to town, for the few remaining parts needed. Sometimes I can get tetchy from the heat. I spent the first 7 years of my life in Darwin, in the Northern Territory.

Darwin had the kind of sapping heat, days on end, like we're experiencing presently, in our temperate region. I got heat stroke once at school, and I reckon it must have fried my patience metre, or something. I can handle the heat, so long as I don't have to do a lot. So all my projects are on hold, at the moment.

I love green!

Although, I have enjoyed some knitting time, because it doesn't require much energy to sit and knit. Making dishcloths helps to pass the time, as the heat runs through the course of the day. We only have ceiling fans, but I'm glad we don't have air-con now. We had it at our last house, in town. Going outside was a lot harder, once I sat in air-conditioning all day.

Now when the sun goes down, the cool of the afternoon brings us outside the house, and I think it's healthy to feel what the outdoors is feeling. I like looking forward to going outside in the afternoons - like, I look forward to our home-made ice creams from the freezer.

Making mango ice-pops

Or eating a chilled bowl of fruit salad in the middle of the day. Fizzy kombucha, is a refreshing beverage, to help bring a little zing back to my day as well. I remember winter isn't far away, and I'm sure at some point, this heat spell will break. I'm also looking forward to hearing the raindrops on the roof again, which inevitably comes with such heat.

I hope you're staying cool in the summer heat. Or staying warm, if you're in the northern hemisphere. The seasons will be changing for both of us, soon. And maybe, I'll get that room finished too.