Consider the lilies…*

… The lucky things just have to be beautiful.

Hippeastrums, or Amaryllis. At left, a Golden Shrimp flower

And they are, which is why I’m thankful for them. It has been a slightly dismal week. We’d looked forward to a nice break, a holiday from the daily grind. Just me, the Husband and doggo in our caravan, doing stuff we enjoy in a different and relaxing location.

Instead, it turned into a week of worry, stress, expense and fairly extreme confinement. To cut a long story short: we broke down (or rather, the car stopped working in mid-highway, just turned itself off) in an extremely inconvenient place. Car couldn’t be fixed, recovery service wouldn’t transport a dog to get us all the way home. We were stuck in a tiny, rather remote caravan park with no car for 5 days in a space 4m x 2m (13 x 6½ ft), in temperatures exceeding 30°C/86°F. Happy days. Good job the air conditioning was working! Worse than hotel quarantine – no bathroom, and three of us in that space 😕

Wild Turmeric, or Curcuma longa

We’re home now. Still no car, that remains in the inconvenient remote spot till the garage gets round to taking a look at it tomorrow. Much depends on what they find. However, the  Husband has his motorbike to get to work and I have my feet and a bicycle for local things like grocery shopping. It will be OK. The caravan is unpacked, finally. The huge mounds of laundry are done. Doggo is delirious with joy at rediscovering all his favourite places and beds. We have friends who will give us a ride if there’s an issue. I’m a bit weary, but it’s under control.

But I do wish I was a lily…*

*Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Luke 12: 27-28

From my (temporary) front door

I’m linking to Cecilia’s blog, where she has invited all her blogging friends to post a video, or show a photo on FB or IG with a view from our front doors this Sunday morning.

My blog plan doesn’t allow uploading videos, and I’m not on FB or IG, so please accept this still photo instead.

For me, in Australia, it’s now Sunday evening, but the photo above was taken today. Not FROM my temporary front door as such, since the view it offers of the side of the next-door caravan is deeply uninspiring, but off to the side, showing my dog enjoying a frozen chicken neck in the grass, our broken car (which is why I’m stranded behind a temporary caravan front door) and out to the pasture full of fat, happy Angus steers beyond. It’s 31°C/88°F, and very still and dry. Every so often, the Sunlander train booms past in the distance. The birds sing, children splosh happily in this caravan park’s pool, and if I have to be stranded, there are many worse places. I’m grateful to be cool, and dry, and fed, and safe.

Roll on Monday, and the start of the process of extricating ourselves from the strandedness. It’s going to be complicated…

ScrapHappy October

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

In addition to my recent scrappy posts here, here and here, I’ve been working on a small project for my lovely SIL (Hi, H!). She’s the one I’m making the Tyger quilt for, and I though it would be fun to assemble a load of scrappy loveliness to make her the TV remote holder she’s asked for in colours to match her eventual quilt. Nothing like a matching set! She’s already warned me that BIL will want his own (competing, naturally) quilt in due course…

Here’s where I’ve got to so far. The idea is that this is a long strip which drapes over the chair/sofa arm, tucks in along the seat and the other end, on the outside, contains pockets for the remote controls. In her case, there are three. Total length still to be established, but I have pocket sizes worked out, and these will go on the end nearest the viewer in the above photo. I’ll  use a dark colour to counterbalance the fairly pale overall effect at this end. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll recognise a lot of those scraps. I think the oldest ones there are from another ‘supporter’s quilt’ I made 8 years ago, called Go the Pies. I really do hang onto my scraps… It will be sandwiched, backed, quilted and bound, and then she can have it as a ‘deposit’ on her quilt, which is next in line after I finish Hopscotch.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at).

Today we are also welcoming Esther to the group. She is a wonderfully talented quilter and makes the most beautiful pieces, so her blog is really worth a visit.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, Edith, Debbierose and Esther

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

Scrappy Book Bag #2

I got inspired by the last one.

I have several blocks left over from making the Twilight quilt, and two of them seemed to go together nicely, together with a nice navy polka dot I have left over from another project. I’ve lined it with the blue and white print which I used for the backing on my Anemone quilt.

It’s just a simple book bag style with a squared-off base and rather longer handles than the previous one. I’ve put a single smallish pocket on the inside. It’s also a bit bigger, and I shall use it for shopping, since it can hold a lot of stuff.

And yes, I’m keeping this one for myself! 😊

Sign of the Times

Chookonia is ready.

The roof is insulated, the fencing is finished, the perches are built, the nesting boxes are done, the straw is strewn, the grain bin is filled and the feeder and drinkers are hung.

All that remains is for the sign to go up. Oh, and the Girls themselves, of course. The latter event will wait until we return from our forthcoming trip. I’ll call to order them on 25th and we’ll be able to collect them a few days later.

As for the sign…

We have a  round ceramic ‘Chiconia’ plaque beside our front door which my oldest friend had specially made for us as a wedding gift. The Girls deserve their own version, I felt.

I found this old section of plank down the side of our garden water tank, when I was clearing out old, dead fern fronds. It came up nicely after a bit of time with a hand sander to take off the old paint splatters and the worst of the roughness, and that knot at top left suggested an egg, so the rest followed on from there.

I chose a font, printed it out at the right size, traced it onto the wood, and burned it in using my pyrography stylus. It should last many years. Not exactly chainsaw art, but hand-crafted nonetheless.

Even a chicken needs a decent address.

 

Flown

Our guest family has flown.

We watched the nest all day today, but they’re all gone, safely out into the blue.

Yesterday, there was a bit of busyness, lots of Mama and Papa zooming to and fro. Sadly, we missed The Launch, but today, all was quiet. I think they must have gone either early morning or last night. The nest is fully intact, so it was a safe exit, rather than a tragic event.

Mouse is relieved at having ‘his’ open door into the backyard available once again. I’m a little relieved because it means I can now get out there to sweep and wash the deck, shake out the cushions and wipe down the table and chairs. Entertaining season is almost upon us, and the Husband needs to give the barbecue grill a bit of love.

I’ll leave you with a bit of bluegrass I love dearly, which is rather appropriate for the case:

I’ll fly away – Alison Krauss

Smartingale…

I couldn’t resist, I’m sorry… Not.

Mouse is, obviously, a greyhound, which is a sighthound breed. One of the results of this is that his head is very long and narrow and his neck is wider and muscular. A regular dog collar doesn’t work so well, because he can reverse right out of it and prance off at speed, sneering at us for being so slow. Yes, that’s experience talking… Consequently, he wears a martingale collar. This is a collar with a second loop as part of its circumference, which extends and tightens when it’s pulled, thereby closing the collar up. There is a limit on how tight it can go, you don’t want to garrotte your beloved doggo, but at the same time, you don’t want him getting loose and into danger. Most of the time, it’s comfortably loose, so that you can get at least two or three fingers inside it.

Mouse wears a Greenhound Collar, which in addition to being a martingale collar, indicates that he’s been through some fairly extensive training to be socialised and safe around adults, children, other dogs and other animals. It has a registration number so that he can be identified, and wearing it permits him to be off-leash without a muzzle in designated off-leash dog areas such as dog parks. However, he’s been wearing it more or less non-stop since we got him, and it’s now seriously grubby.

Time for a wash. Also, I wanted to make him some posh party-wear*.

So I did.

I ordered some rather gorgeous woven smooth webbing online, and some titanium-rainbow effect hardware to match. Locally, I bought wide black webbing intended for bag-straps, and a pair of black square ‘rings’. The original hardware set was intended for bag making and did not contain the necessary additional rings, hence the extra purchase.

I measured his adjustable Greenhound Collar. Because this new one’s custom, I didn’t need to make it adjustable, and used the fitted, finished sizes. I subtracted length for the buckle, and added back in the fold-over at each side of the buckle and both sides at the front. I cut both lots of webbing to size and sealed the ends by rapidly passing them through a lighter flame (Be careful not to touch the sealed ends too quickly. Ask me how I know this…).

The assembly order is important. Assemble the bits either side of the buckle first. Then add the square rings at the outer ends. Then feed the two ends of the front loop through the square rings. Stitch the smaller webbing to the wider webbing, and stitch down the fold-overs for the hardware. Close up the loop at the front, ensuring you create a free section in the overlap to contain the D ring at the centre front. Stitch all fold-overs with a square/X seam, and the overlap at the front with close zigzag to seal down the free ends. I used a thread that co-ordinated with and enhanced the colourful  pattern on the narrower webbing.

To match, I made him a lead, also with the ‘titanium’ hardware and using the same colourful webbing. It isn’t quite as sturdy as the the thick woven cotton Greenhound set, but since it’s not designed for daily walkies but for swanking about in, I’m not concerned.

To finish the whole thing off, we’ve got him an engraved tag. The front has his name and my phone number (retouched out for privacy), and his local government registration and Greenhound numbers on the back. Black with silver engraving. Looks good with the rest of it, don’t you think?

He’s currently getting used to it. The Greenhound collar is going to take a while to dry, it’s very thick, and meanwhile, the swanky collar is a bit heavier due to the buckle, and makes a different noise. He’s shown no signs of wanting to get rid of it, which is a start!

I think he looks rather handsome. And yes, of course he’s spoiled rotten. That goes without saying.

But he deserves it.

*Just wait till you see what I have in mind for Halloween….

A Scrappy Milestone

I know, I know, this is the wrong day.

But I’ve been hammering away hard at finishing up the blocks for the Hopscotch quilt and it’s done. All blocks are now complete.

I confess to a sense of relief. Oceans of 3 inch squares can be, well, dull, no matter how brightly coloured they are. 20 was enough, or 22 if you count the ones I used to make the recent book bag.

I don’t have a photo of every single individual block, since by the end I was moving them around a fair bit to get a layout I could live with. But here are the last 4. If you’re reaching for your sunglasses, I don’t blame you!

ScrapHappy Day will feature other scrappy projects for a while. I need to take a break from this before I start the task of sandwiching and quilting the blocks, and then joining them all together and binding it all. I have several ideas in the pipeline, so you won’t go short of colourful scrappiness.

And in other domestic news, I am happy to announce the hatching of Baby Sunbird(s?).🥂🐣

Mrs Sunbird is no longer sitting; she and Mr Sunbird are now business shooting to and fro with beakfuls of hatchling-fodder, mostly of the wriggling insect variety. Since this is a sensitive time, I’m respecting their privacy and restricting access to that area for both man and dog. Which is why this photo was taking through both glass and the screen door. You are seeing Mrs Sunbird moments after stuffing something leggy into a gaping baby beak. It must be a relief to stretch her wings after all that relentless sitting.

I’ll try and keep you posted. Hopefully I’ll be lucky enough to capture the next life-stage for your entertainment!

Time to go and look at something fabricky that isn’t a 3″ square.

Scrappy Book Bag

I needed a bit of light relief.

There are 4 more blocks to stitch before I complete the top for my scrappy Hopscotch quilt for Days for Girls. I needed to stop and have a breather, and also to find a use for two blocks which didn’t quite fit into the lineup. They’re too strong, and without enough contrast between dark and light to fit with the other blocks.

It was obvious. These are 15 inch blocks, and large. I’d make a bag; one on the front and one on the back. I hauled out some leftover fabric: mattress ticking for the handles and gussets, and some old kitchen curtain fabric I had left over after recycling most of it to make a quilt duffel, which would be the lining. It’s a simple structure: front, back, side and bottom gussets, handles and lining. Make up the outer, baste on the handles. Make the lining and stitch them together at the top edge, right side to right side, leaving a 3 inch gap in the seam to turn the bag  through. Topstitch the top edge to neaten it and close the opening. Done.

It looks nice, doesn’t it?  I wouldn’t mind keeping it, except that I’m committed to making prizes for Days for Girls for their next annual raffle and cent sale.

Well, I’ll buy some tickets when the time comes. Maybe I’ll win it back!

Chookonia rises!

It has been a very long time coming.

We first talked about keeping chickens in our previous home. I had the spot marked out, the coop and run designed, and…. well, it just never happened. At that point, we were still doing a lot of travelling on the motorbike and had no trusted neighbours who’d take over chook care in return for eggs while we were away.

The Girls. Three Australorps and three Isa Browns.I miss keeping chickens. I had a nice flock of 6 when I lived in northern NSW, three Australorps and three ISA Browns, which was enough to feed me and have some to sell. I’ve been eyeing various parts of our backyard for years, mentally installing chickens. Again, it hasn’t happened. But in the past couple of weeks, something has changed, some inner switch has clicked over and now, we’re ready. Construction has begun!

The Husband is losing the very slight use of a mostly-empty garden shed. It contains an old lawn mower, some empty paint cans, exactly 4 tools and some planks of wood. It’s also the perfect size for a small flock of between 3 and 7 chooks. I’m proposing 5, on the basis of two laying hens per person plus a spare. You need an odd number, it works better with the pecking order dynamic, I find. I’m hoping to order point of lay ISA Brown pullets from a local supplier called Just Got Laid…!

We have installed vents (we used leaf catchers for ground-water drainage) in two of the shed walls to allow free airflow and let in a bit of light. We have a solar shed light and nesting boxes to instal, and will need to add insulation to the roof to stop it getting too hot inside in the summer. I have a couple of broomsticks for perches, too, one higher than the other, because of the pecking order.

The water tank which collects run-off from the big shed is literally 2 metres away. There is both sun and shade. It has structures on three sides already, so only one fence needed to be built. All we have had to buy is a galvanised bin for feed and the gate (and yes, we could have built one, but sometimes, life is too short and this one will last far longer than whatever our only adequate carpentry skills could produce.

There was a handy pile of bricks from which I constructed the skirt for the fence. They’re laid dry, but it’s adequate for the purpose. It gives a hard line to mow up to, and stops chickens and other animals from squeezing under the bottom of the wire. We already had the wire and the star pickets. There’s some fairly random bricks laid out on the ground for who knows what original purpose which I’m going to grub up to give the Girls more scratching area. There’s a brick path to the shed, and a brick apron out the front of it. The rest will be grass and straw yard. They’ll be let out into the main back yard once they’re accustomed to their new home and come when called for feeding time. The chook house and run comprise 9m², or nearly 100ft², which is almost double what is required for free ranging. Once they’re allowed out into the rest of the back yard, that will increase massively, and they will have extensive green pick to enjoy.

There’s not much in the back yard they can destroy. I have no vegie garden at the moment. But I do have plans to convert the disused orchid shade house into a vegie raising area. It’s constructed of scaffolding pipe, with a roof, a door and shelving. If some of the shade cloth is removed, it will become a very useful caged area, safe against marauding chickens, possums, bandicoots and greyhounds pelting around stretching their legs…

Still plenty to do, and I’ll do an update once we’re a bit further along. We still have to introduce Mouse to the concept, but he has a low prey drive and doesn’t chase either cats or the chickens that casually let themselves out of a chicken yard at the bottom of the street to forage in the surrounding area, trotting off home at the end of the day. I’m not too concerned.

Must brush up on my Chicken-speak. It’s been a while…

Took, took, Bork!