Lest we forget…

Today is ANZAC Day in Australia.A time to remember those who fought for our freedom, who made the ultimate sacrifice and who served and are still living with the consequences of their service.

I am grateful, and I do not forget.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

From The Fallen by Laurence Binyon

Ovarian Cancer: The Teal Haul #1

Some people are just SO kind.

A regular contributor was not able to spare any time for making blocks for the latest Ovarian Cancer quilt. Instead, she got online and sent me a gift voucher for Spotlight (think: Joann’s, the Hobby Lobby and your local quilt shop combined). She’s in Europe, and the amount she sent me represents a certain amount of fabric to her, but here, it buys a whole lot more!

Now, I have teal fabrics, but they’re a bit monochromatic in the sense that the values of the fabric colours are all very similar. And to make an interesting quilt, you need variation. So I made a point of buying fabrics which were a little darker, some of them rather teal-adjacent. I’ve also made a point of including colour, specifically the pink which is the wild card in this year’s Ovarian Cancer quilt.

So, there’s 4.5 metres of yardage, 10 fat quarters and a mini charm-pack. Enough for several quilts if combined with what I already have! I could have used the gift card exclusively to buy backing, but this way, I have the ability to make a much more interesting quilt, and I’ve still only used half the value of the gift card. So I can still buy enough backing for two more quilts.

And if you’re contributing, and debating what fabrics to buy, use this as inspiration to be a little playful, a little adventurous. The theme is very forgiving and a little extra colour is OK.

Thank you, E. I’m so very grateful!

Not too strenuous…

I am under orders.

No bending or heavy lifting (over 5kg/10 pounds), no exercise over a gentle stroll, no hot drinks, no nose blowing.

Well, that’s the housework neatly disposed of. What am I supposed to do with my time while I wait for my newly re-cauterised nose to heal?

(And let me just say while I’m at it that both the procedure and the recovery hurt. A punch in the face is perhaps a tad nastier, but not much, and I have a slight black eye and swollen bit beside my nose. He cauterised three more spots and said if it broke open again, surgery will be the only option. So I’d better not let it break open. Quite apart from all the laundry my nosebleeds generate, I just don’t want yet another surgery).

Well, obviously, making scrappy stuff for the Days for Girls raffle. It’s gentle, no heavy lifting involved, and while I mourn the lack of cups of coffee while I work, I’ll struggle through somehow…

So, for my latest offering, I bring you:

A set of 6 placemats, made from remnants and leftovers from the Twilight quilt.

A heat pad, made from leftovers from a top I made myself and a scrap from the Hatbox Quilt

There are 5 more mats/heat pads in the pipeline, and then I shall probably take a small break before launching into bag production.

I’m getting a bit bored. But bored is better than bleeding.


Not what I had in mind…

… for my Easter Sunday.

Firstly, I want to wish everyone a belated-ish Happy Easter or other Spring Festival celebration. This post should have happened earlier, but Stuff got in the way. Mainly Red Stuff.

Some of you know I’ve been have a lot of nosebleeds. It was an excessive amount (18 since Christmas), and I got it treated recently, and for 17 days, all was well. I could stop obsessively carrying around face-cloths, or wearing dark clothes that wouldn’t show stains.

And then today it all went horribly wrong. Suddenly, as I was quietly preparing some lunch, it started pour again. After my nose had been bleeding hard for an hour, I got the Husband to drive me to the hospital, together with my large plastic container of evidence. It continued to pour as they got me set up and did observations. It poured into two ‘sick bags’. It got all over my hands and the black t-shirt I’d changed into once it had got all over my pretty pink and white Easter shirt. All in, it poured for 3+ hours.

So anyway, I then had a very, very unpleasant procedure to insert an inflatable compression dressing up my nose. It’s called, amusingly (not), a Rapid Rhino. Stop laughing. It’s not funny. Well, OK, it is a little bit funny, but only a bit.

The dressing is about the length and diameter of my little finger when deflated, and much thicker when inflated. They pre-soak it in saline, to make it slide in more easily, I suppose, but it also makes saline drip down your throat and face. It has to go all the way in (which feels like someone’s poking the back of your brain. Which hurts.) It feels… deeply unpleasant. Painful. Invasive. It stops you breathing properly. It also stops the endless bleeding, particularly once it’s (painfully, of course) inflated.

Not happy…

But best of all? You get to walk out of there with the tubing dangling out of your nose, for all the world to point at and laugh! No, you can’t cut that off. They need it to deflate the dratted thing when it’s time for it to come out.

That happens tomorrow lunchtime. If it doesn’t start bleeding again, hurrah!  I just have to wait for an emergency appointment with the ENT specialist who cauterised my nose last time. If it does… I get to do the whole thing over again.

I’m tired, slightly anaemic and sore. If at the beginning of today you’d offered me the option of a quiet day with carrot cake and chocolate vs lots of extra laundry, lots of inconvenient red stuff and having my nose packed with an inflatable tube, I’d have gone for the cake and chocolate.

But nobody asked me. Happy Easter, y’all.

ScrapHappy April

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.

This month’s scrappiness is for the benefit of one of Mouse’s new friends. We met a new greyhound family in Townsville on our last trip, who had sadly lost their darling doggo, and were waiting to adopt a new one. Well, Miss Libby is now home and becoming accustomed to getting spoiled rotten, so Mouse suggested to me that he’d like to send her a Welcome Home gift. Your wish is my command, O Master. He feels that all greyhounds would welcome a nice cushion cover to lean on, especially if it features a portrait…

I did the usual, manipulated a photo, reversed the image and printed it on transfer paper, together with her name. I then ironed the transfer on a scrap of white fabric (this was sheeting left over from making the caravan bunk sheets). Around the central image of Libby I made a ‘piano key’ border of pink and black & white scraps to pick out the colours in the photo. The pillowcase back is a remnant from the Anemone quilt I still haven’t got round to hand-quilting. The binding is scraps from both the Floribunda quilt and the Lullaby baby quilts.

I hope that Miss Libby will find this offering acceptable, and that her new human sister Lucy will enjoy it too.

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).

KateGun, EvaSue, 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 Viv

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

Chasing a ‘solution’

It works!  The grasshopper net has made its inaugural catch.

As luck would have it, I was the first successful net operator, and was able to capture the details. Here is the solution to the grasshopper problem: chook protein. I could go on about the balletic grace with which I leaped about in the shade house…. but I’d be lying. There was a lot of crashing about and salty language. But I got her, and she was a big’un, at nearly 3 inches long.

In some haste (because she has sharp claws on those long legs, and strong jaws) I marched over to the chook yard and shook out the net. Instantly, 5 pairs of beady eyes focussed on the stunned and briefly still insect. And then it was on! Blanche* was the quickest off the mark.

Blanche in (temporary) sole possession

First one, then another of the birds would grab it and run hectically around with the thing dangling from its beak. Another bird would catch up and steal it. And again. And again. I swear, I stood there for a solid 20 minutes watching. Thing is, the grasshopper was too large for any of them to deal with all in one go. The legs are just too long and spiky. I mean, chickens can and do hunt and eat mice, but insects tend to be smaller and more manageable. The poor girls just needed a quiet moment to dismember it, but no such luck. Eventually it disintegrated from being pulled from one beak to another…

Ruth making a break for it, with the rest in hot pursuit

So I’d rate the whole thing a roaring success. Because 1) I got rid of a pest; 2) The chooks got extra protein and honed their hunting instincts; and 3) Lots of entertainment!!

I must see what they can do with a worm. I have plenty of those!


*The Girls have been renamed. All the Egg’ names were very clever and all that, but not really user-friendly.  So we have: Elizabeth, because she’s Queen of the flock; Ruth, because she’s the darkest, with a white ‘lace’ collar and is named after RBG, my heroine; Blanche, because she’s the lightest and has white undies; Peachy, because she has peach undies; and Lacey, because she has laced feathers on her back – she’s also the smallest and naughtiest, so her nickname is Madam Houdini.

Mend It Monday

It’s a perennial problem.

The Husband drives for a living. He wears a seatbelt for an average of 80 hours in his working week. It’s safe, but it’s rough on his work shirts. By far the most frequent repair I have to make is not lost buttons, split underarm seams or torn pockets, but the ‘seatbelt shoulder’.

I can’t actually keep up with the demand for orange work shirting fabric recycled from his old shirts. Mostly the backs of his old shirts become a ‘glove rag’. He has to wear heavy duty rubber gloves delivering the diesel, and once he’s done with them they get wrapped up in a large cloth until the end of the shift, when the whole lot gets washed. The shirt back is perfect for this purpose.

I know this patch is really visible. It’s because it’s come from older, more faded, but still intact sleeve cloth. Usually, I turn under the edges, but I’ve found that the raised edge catches the seatbelt even more. So I serged the edge and stitched it down with first blanket stitch and then straight stitch inside that. My mending has had to evolve over time to meet the demands of the job!

One more shirt saved from the rag bag. It’s a shame the rag bag is running low!


Ovarian Cancer Quilts: We’re back in action!

Great news! Ovarian Cancer Fundraising is back on the agenda.

After a two year event hiatus thanks to The Rona, The Trudy Crowley Foundation is back in action, and a fund-raiser is on the agenda for early September, to help support the work of the newly-opened Trudy Crowley Centre. Take a quick look at the FB page on the link to see the amazing work they do at the newly opened Centre. I was there for the opening, and it was fantastic. They’ve created a marvellous safe space, conference room, self-care and advice haven for those with ovarian cancer and their families. It’s sterling work, and I’m proud to support it.

For those of you who previously worked on Ovarian Cancer quilts, you’ll be happy to know that the In the Arms of the Angels quilt is hanging prominently in the main meeting area for all to see.

As stated above, the event will be in early September. In order to co-ordinate, quilt and assemble the quilt in time for their photography deadline in mid-August, I’ll need the blocks mailed to me by the beginning of June. If you can fit this into your schedule and you’d like to participate, either for the first time or as a regular contributor, just email me (details on my Contact Me page) or leave a comment below and I’ll email you a brief.

And the name? Can you Teal the Love?

The problem is the solution

We don’t have a grasshopper problem.

We have a chook protein solution!

Well, ok, it is a slight problem. Valanga irregularis is Australia’s largest grasshopper at a documented average of 75mm long (but has been known to go up to 90mm). For those who don’t speak metric, that’s about 3 – 3½ inches long. I know I’ve seen them bigger than that, though… They’re endemic to tropical and sub-tropical Australia, and we have them in the back yard. The little devils are hard to catch though, because they’re fast. Also, being so large they’re very destructive. They have a place in the ecosystem, but I wish there were fewer of them, now that the back yard is going to become more productive.

Anyway, the previous owners of the house had left behind a few very dilapidated garden tools and pieces of equipment. Amongst them was a rather tragic home made ‘butterfly’ type-net. The handle and frame were cleverly made from plastic-coated heavy-duty wire, but the home-made net part was totally rotten and full of holes. No self-respecting grasshopper would be held for long by something as inadequate as this.

We wanted a decent net to catch the grasshoppers. They’re a pest and they’re protein. The Girls would be gaining both nutrition and enjoyment from clearing them up for us, whilst at the same time doing sterling pest-reduction service. (They’re already playing merry hell with the green ant population – go, Girls!). So I dug out my roll of leftover mosquito netting, cut off a chunk, serged it into a sort of bag and stitched it around the frame. Item: one grasshopper catcher.

I look forward to feeding the resulting catch to the Girls. It’s almost as entertaining as bacon rinds…

3,287 days

We have been married for 9 years.

Some people were dubious at the beginning. We hadn’t known each other long at all, we lived very far apart, had very different lifestyles and backgrounds. But we knew. And we weren’t spring chickens any more, and, well, carpe diem and all that.

I think older people have learned the art of getting along, of not insisting on being always right, or in charge, or better. We have arguments, like everyone, but resolve them before going to sleep at night. We express our issues instead of stewing, or believing that the other should be able to read our mind, or ‘just know’. In short, it has been, and continues to be a successful and happy marriage.

So yes, it was very recently our ninth anniversary, and although the Husband was on day shift on the day itself (and therefore required to go to bed at 8.30pm), we decided that yesterday was a suitable substitute.

And I had planned and hoped and worked to be able to get into the dress in which I got married. And dear reader, I did!

I think it’s going to become a tradition, to wear it at our anniversary dinner. Just because I can.

The Husband was going to go for the full wedding outfit too, but I persuaded him that he was OK to go rather more casual, and he just wore the shirt, tie and shoes.

We got married beside this pool, then walked into the restaurant (on the right) and had a smashing lunch.

We went to the venue where we got married (The Ocean International), said hello to the manager (Hi, Hannah!), with whom we’ve remained friends ever since, and had the most delicious dinner. Listen to this:

Seafood Assiette: Seared Shark Bay scallops with panko and black sesame seed crusted chicken livers, truffled cauliflower purée and salmon roe. Poached prawns and avocado salsa, salsa verde and seafood remoulade. Citrus, peppper and polenta dusted calamari, radicchio salad with finger limes and bush tomato.

I mean, it sounds complicated, but it was fresh, and light, and zingy, and flavourful and not at all heavy or filling (and was extremely diabetes-friendly).

The dessert?  Not so much….

I had the Black Forest dessert (mainly because it was lactose free). I wasn’t sorry I chose it.

Disks of squidgy choc fudge brownie, layered with whipped coconut cream and preserved sour cherries, decorated with a strawberry and edible flowers.

Not light, not at all diabetes-friendly, but totally yummy. And I finished it, although it was a teeny bit of a struggle by the end!

Oh, and I had a glass of champagne. I haven’t had any alcohol for nearly a year, and it went straight to my head, in a nice way.

We had a lovely, lovely evening. I’m looking forward to the next 9 years!