Stitch Along 3: The Wedding Sampler, finally finished

It’s embarrassing to realise that we’ve been married 17 months yesterday, and I wanted to have this wedding sampler ready for our first anniversary. Only 5 months late, then…

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Last time

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The finished thing

But it’s done. At last.

The plan is to have it framed with a pale grey mat and a brushed silver frame. And then it can hang there and look pretty instead of faintly reproachful.

Next time I’ll have a new counted cross stitch project on the go. It’s in black and white and grey, a photographic portrait of the Husband of Chiconia which I took myself and converted into a cross stitch pattern. I don’t know whether I’ll be able to join the next SAL, or whether all my sewing things will be lost in a welter of cardboard boxes, packing tape and deep confusion. I need something to do with my hands in the evenings, so maybe it’ll survive the mayhem!

Linking up with:




and Jule:

Do hop over and see what they’re working on.


The Box Lady

No, that’s not a typo.

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The walls of Castle Chiconia

I have become a slightly mad-eyed eccentric, who, armed with a supermarket trolley, goes combing through dumpsters and cardboard recycling bins after suitable packing materials. I have 28 days to pack up this house, and I’ll be mostly doing it by myself. There’s no point being complacent and imagining it’ll somehow happen in the last 10 days. Years of experience and many moves tell me that this is an illusion and the grim truth is that the last few days will be a frenzy.   I will end up shoving things into black plastic garbage sacks because there just isn’t a box the right size and shape…

I . will . not  buy brand new cardboard boxes for moving. There are hundreds of thousands of boxes out there which need to be recycled, and while I accomplish my mission to Get This House Packed, I can be doing the planet a favour. It’s tempting, mind you. But I won’t.

The result is sometimes unexpected. I was in a well know Australian DIY superstore, where they have bins of empty cardboard boxes for the customers to use to take their bits of hardware and cans of paint home in. (They don’t give you plastic bags any more, which is great.) I asked nicely if I could have several boxes, and was told that it was OK to have as many as I liked on Tuesday through Thursday. On Friday through Monday, however, I will be restricted to one, due to the weekend rush… So I got stuck in.

I noticed a young woman eyeing me as I was head down and bum up in the box bin. I gave her my best Box Lady smile, trying for Mad but Harmless as opposed to Mad and Dangerous… As I pushed my loot out the door, she approached me and asked if I was collecting boxes to move house. Sure am, ma’am. She then offered me 10 large tea chest size boxes she was desperate to be rid of, having been given an ultimatum by her other half; they’d been sitting around her house for 3 months. She didn’t want them back, and would I please save her bacon by taking them away.  Woo hoo! A little more serendipitous planet saving!

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I have a tape gun, and I’m not afraid to use it!

Packfest starts tomorrow after the Husband departs for work in the afternoon. The trick is going to be deciding what I can do without for the next month. The first victim will be the books in my sewing room. Then I can take down the shelves and track. It will make quiltmaking impossible for a while, but I can do other things. Like packing. And stacking, and sorting, and chucking out, and fishing things the Husband really, really wanted to keep back out of the bin.

Now, excuse me while I go and practice my Mad Box Lady muttering and arm waving…

The green light

We’re off and running….

Screen shot 2014-08-26 at 4.30.17 PMThe contract has been signed. Tomorrow I have a flurry of financial stuff to do, but the upshot is that we settle in 30 days.

It’s a good job we don’t have to rush to leave this house, because I’ll be doing a lot of the packing myself, and I’m not sure I can get it done in time.

Now that it’s here, I’m feeling an overpowering sense of relief. I’m going to sleep well tonight, and not only because of the very large celebratory drink we’ll be having tonight. These four walls have grown tighter and tighter over the last few months after we acknowledged that we really don’t have enough space for comfort. In a month, we can expand and grow and stop bumping into things and edging around furniture.

There may not be a whole lot of sewing happening for the next few weeks, but you never know!



The Gardens of Chiconia 19

I have been considering the transient nature of a garden.

Even though they are made of the most solid matter, of earth, and stone and wood, carbon and water and light, they can pass quickly from glorious to heartbreaking. All it takes is a lack of care, of water, of calm weather and sunshine. Or the need to move on and leave them behind…

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The back yard when I arrived. Horrible grass and an even more horrible Lomandra in the corner. Not much else.

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The back yard now. My tropical garden. Leaves, flowers, fruit, water and sunlight and shade. Oh, and a swing seat.

I am slowly beginning to contemplate the dismantling of mine. A tenant will not want to browse among the plants in the early morning, admiring new growth and flowers, removing dead leaves and caterpillars. A tenant will not want the bother of stooping to remove weeds from the cracks in the paving, or cut back that long curling arm of passionfruit vine which is threatening its neighbours.

Screen shot 2014-08-23 at 4.43.41 PMScreen shot 2014-08-23 at 4.43.55 PMI can’t take everything with me, so now begins the hard job of choosing my favourites amongst my green children. The fruit trees, of course; the flame tree, the bird of paradise, the helliconia, the frangipani, the ferns, the hanging baskets, the petrea, the hibiscus, the orange trumpet vine (if it will tolerate being detached from the fence), the potato bags, cuttings from all the succulents, pups from the ones too large, anything in pots.

It leaves me wondering how it will look once I have dug up and potted the chosen ones. I think I had better get some more mulch to fill the gaps, encourage the other things to sprawl and trail in a way I wouldn’t have tolerated before.

It’s sad to leave it. But the ones that come with me will have Paradise to play in.

Amistad Chapter 7: one third quilted

It was a very long and tiring day yesterday.

I baked all day long. Two lots of chocolate fudge brownies. Two lots of carrot cake with lemon creamcheese frosting, a big vegetable frittata, 6 chicken and mushroom pies, a gingerbread and date loaf. I had to get more plastic containers to transport them. The orders have gone from 3 items once a fortnight to 5 items per week, so it’s looking hopeful, but on baking day it has me on my feet all day in a small kitchen, having to wash up constantly because I have no space!

I also got the AHQ quilt finished, packed and sent off, in good time to reach HMAS Toowoomba before she sails. I just love waltzing into the post office and plonking down a box they can’t charge me for! Parcels under 2kg to an AFPO are free. I have had to straighten a couple of people out about this, and managers have been called, but they know now at my local…

Screen shot 2014-08-22 at 5.40.39 PMScreen shot 2014-08-22 at 5.41.03 PMWhat I didn’t get a chance to do is work on Amistad. So today, after I sorted out all my tax return paperwork (oh yes, I got that done too!), I sat myself down in a peaceful frame of mind and just got stitching. I’m now about a third through the quilting. It’s getting easier and quicker. I have everything neatly to hand at my sewing table, I rest the hoop on the table edge to save my arms and shoulders, and I have a brilliant LED work light with a magnifying lens for when my eyes get tired. Like now…

Screen shot 2014-08-22 at 5.39.39 PMBack to the needle.

AHQ: Objective achieved

The rush job is done.

It’s a simple quilt – I didn’t have time for anything fancy, but I believe it will suit the requirements of a young man who likes Manchester United! The whole thing was completely unplanned and I just added strips and bits as I went. And for the back I thought I couldn’t go wrong with red, white and blue… The quilting is somewhat wonky and I haven’t been particularly anal about lining things up, but I doubt its recipient is a member of the quilt police!  It’s colourful, it’s warm, it’s the right size and it has the right team logo on it!

Screen shot 2014-08-21 at 1.56.51 PMScreen shot 2014-08-21 at 1.57.15 PMAHQ posted a blog about ensuring that all red quilts were pre-washed before being sent out. So this one’s been thoroughly tubbed and dried with colour catchers, and I’m sending the AB three colour catcher sheets to be used the first few times he washes it, for the prevention of pink uniform…

Right, back to the kitchen. I have another GF Bakery order to fill!

More soon.

And we’re off!

I promised to show the house we’re buying if the building report came through OK.

It was fine. So here we go.

The house is split level. At the front, you have the garage and a large room next to it, with the laundry behind. Up a few steps, and you come to the kitchen, dining area and living room, with the long sun porch and front door off to the side. Above the garage and the room beside it, we have 4 bedrooms and a generous sized bathroom. There are polished floorboards everywhere, the colours are neutral, the bathroom is clean, new and fresh. The kitchen, although not large, is well considered and has a gorgeous wooden benchtop with the natural edge retained and polished. There’s a huge 5 burner gas stove with a double width oven.

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The front of the house, from the road. To the right, further back, is the sun porch and front door. Plenty of parking for visitors.

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Kitchen view 1. Check out that stove….

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Kitchen view 2. Hurrah, a dishwasher!

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Not our taste in living room furniture, but the floors are lovely, and those are french windows into the porch all down the side.

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The only thing I’ll want to change eventually are the basin taps, and I’d like a glass screen for the shower.

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This one’s going to be my sewing room… It’s big!

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Picture Sunday morning here, with coffee and a newspaper…

Out the back is a large covered patio, which is reached through sliding doors in the dining room.The back  yard is enormous. There are lots of trees; many palms, two mangoes, a yet-to-be-identified sad thing that needs a big haircut, what looks like an ancient mulberry, a large citrus of some description, several albizias, a large ficus, and so on. Only time will tell what we really have. There are two extremely dilapidated back-to-back sheds, which we will replace with something a little less scary in due course, half for garden tools and machinery and the other half a chook house for the half dozen hens I’m planning.

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The covered patio at the back. That gigantic spa bath is going, thank goodness.

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From the end of the back yard, look back up towards the house right up at the end behind the palms… We’re going to need a ride on mower, I think.

At the end of the yard where it abuts the road, I’m going to plant a hedge of fast growing pittosporum to reduce noise and increase privacy. I’m madly pinning plant and garden ideas onto my Pinterest boards; it’s probably rather early in the day, but otherwise I’ll certainly forget what I’d planned.

We took loads of measurements today and I now have to produce a scale plan so we can start planning where everything goes. One thing is certain: my new sewing room will be twice the size of what I have now, and it’s going to be fabulous!

We should be exchanging contracts early next week, with settlement day to be confirmed.