Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas memories

My very best wishes to you and your families for a blessed Christmas. I hope your celebrations are filled with great joy, special times with family and friends, and of course some spectacular food!

As I have been preparing for our Christmas today, I have been reflecting about some favourite things that make my Christmas special. Some of these things are simple pleasures, and many of them are borne from childhood memories.

While many people have a song that might trigger a memory, I find that flowers often trigger mine. Nothing signals Christmas to me quite like hydrangeas and agapanthus.


One of the farms I grew up on had beautiful hydrangeas growing along the length of the house, and I remember as a child gathering up bunches of them, both pink and blue, to bring inside for Christmas lunch. I would put them in my Mum’s biggest Bohemia crystal vases.


My agapanthus memory is from one of my University lecturers when I was studying for my Doctorate. Dr Edith was the only woman in the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, and in an attempt to pretty up the annual Christmas party, she would raid the University gardens in Science Road and return with armfuls of agapathus. She placed them in the largest glass cylinders she could find from the lab and we would stand back and admire them together. I’m not sure that the men of the Department even noticed!

My all-time favourite Christmas foods from childhood are pickled pork and condensed milk mayonnaise! To this day, I still request them from Mum. 


Condensed milk mayonnaise is one of those food oddities, like Vegemite, that you either love or hate depending on whether you have grown up with them. The mayonnaise is made from condensed milk, vinegar and Keen's powdered mustard. I suspect it originated in country days when the only milk available was in a can. How food availability has changed! My favourite Christmas meal these days is this mango, avocado and dill salad, combined with fresh prawns. Mmm!

My favourite Christmas carols have always been ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Silent Night’. As a child, I would go for a walk out to the paddock by myself and sing these at the top of my voice, trying to hit every note perfectly. I grew up with three younger brothers, so I sung in isolation to avoid the teasing!


These are just a few of my Christmas memories. I am sure you have many too. I hope you have time amongst the madness to remember some! Wishing you all peace and joy as we celebrate Christ’s birth.

Bloom x



Thursday, 28 November 2013

Playing

Playing about with linens and crocheted blooms
in the late Thursday afternoon sun.


Preparing to teach a class at Marally on Saturday. 
We will be making journal covers.


Stitching up a couple of last minute variations.

Friday, 15 November 2013

TGIF

Friday ... time for a little end-of-week tipple in the garden - and to play with photos in Picmonkey!


Still admiring my purchases from The Home Patch last weekend, including some of Anni's 'Love to Garden' fabrics and some sweet-as thread keepers from The Red Thread that I've been searching for.


Hoping to make some progress on Anni's 'Heart & Soul' pincushion kit in whisper-soft Tilda fabrics.


Although too much tippling might put an end to the sewing - or perhaps lend a more relaxed look to my stitches :) Happy Friday evening everyone!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Bathurst blog meet

I have returned from one of Chookyblue's infamous blog meets re-inspired for sewing, blogging and socialising, none of which I've done for some time! It was a great time reconnecting with old friends and putting faces to so many names.
Especially lovely to see Peg and Dale (and their namesakes) from Club Quilt again. 


It was wonderful to meet Lynda in Wonderland. Lynda (centre)and I have read each other's blogs for ages, and she recently got me out of trouble with a project when the instructions were less than clear. 


Beautiful gifts were exchanged in Chooky's 'Make it, Bake It or Fake It' swap.
The Show & Tell was jaw-droppingly good. Lynda showed us her Gingham Girls quilt - so much work in this. She stitches beautifully.


Michelle had several beautiful quilts on the go, and I was especially taken with this happy yellow piece. She says it is a fusion of several designs. Lovely!


And Susan's creations were something to behold. They are ¼ inch (I kid you not!) hexies on the left, and her divine version of Irene Blanck's 'Floral Beauty'. 



At one point in the afternoon, I was talking to Peg & Dale and conversation turned to how our memories are failing as we age - surely not! I proposed a theory that it's not so much that we are forgetting things, but that there is just so much more to remember these days. We nodded in solemn agreement. I then left, forgetting to pay for my lunch! I am sticking to my theory!

Here is a list of the talented ladies who made it to Bathurst 2013 ... just so that I don't forget :) Everything that I've neglected to write about will be covered in their posts I'm sure.

Kris @ BaiSiNoLil
Suze @ Bear's Mum
Donna @ Chookyblue 
Janice @ Jannimary
Kate @ Show & Tell

Hope I've not forgotten (!) anyone. Apologies that I've pinched photos from everyone. I was so busy remembering everyone's names that I forgot to take photos! Look forward to chatting with you all online soon. Bloom x

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Daybook entry #14

Today, I am ... a bit slow, recovering from a day trip to Sydney yesterday with daughter for college interviews. 


In the garden ... not today, but not long ago, Prunus 'Elvins', entirely laden with blossoms.


I am thinking about ... my Mum, who is soon to return from her very first overseas trip. Some friends took her to Tahiti.

I am trying not to think about ... the prospect of impending rain on our ripening crop.


At the machine ... there has been some progress on this quilt.


I am reading ... 'At Home' by Bill Bryson.


I am looking forward to ... a blog meet of likeminded souls, organised by Chookyblue on Saturday. A great chance to catch up with old friends, and to make some new ones :)

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Smiles all 'round

And so it is finished - HSC done and dusted!
She hasn't stopped smiling since.


Nor has the rest of the family :)

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A thing for green

The newly 18-year-old daughter of my last post has deemed that she needs a birthday quilt. She spotted this collection of 'Daisy Chain' by Amy Butler in my stash and swooned. She has a thing for green just now.


She declared that she wanted something simple and understated, not too fussy. I asked her to draw a sketch of what she was thinking:


We all fell about laughing at her expense. Her father said we could call the design, 'Excel Spreadsheet'! Poor sweet! Her brain is full to overflowing with HSC content. No room left for quilt designs obviously!


I pulled a few more aquas, navies and tans from the stash, to calm down the green. Can't say I'm big on green, but emerald is the 'go to' right now. And daughter has decreed it, so green it is.


After some consultation with the designer, we decided on a modification of her original plan. I did a quick mock up on my Quiltography app, which I can highly recommend. In the early days, Quiltography was restricted to a set of prescribed blocks, but with later updates, I can draw up my own blocks. It is lots of fun, quick and easy, and a whole lot more productive than Candy Crush! (If you're quick, you can get it for 20% off this weekend). Watch this space. Hoping to start putting this quilt together soon. Bloom x

Monday, 14 October 2013

In a heartbeat

In other news, the last few weeks have seen our eldest daughter graduate from high school. So there have been final assemblies to attend and speeches to be made. She had herself, me and many others in tears! 


She has been blessed with sincerely lovely friends at school, and has many happy memories to take with her as she embarks on an exciting future.


And of course, there was a graduation ball, where all the beautiful, young things dressed up and laughed and danced the night away ...


... leaving their parents huddled in corners, shaking their heads in disbelief at how the years can have passed, and in wonderment that their children have grown into such glamorous and accomplished adults!


I have just dropped her off for her first HSC English exam. It is also her 18th birthday! Ever the optimist, she says she feels sorry for everyone who doesn't have a birthday today, claiming that at least she has something to be happy about!

Best wishes to all the beautiful, young things who are starting their HSC exams today. They will be all over in a heartbeat ... just like the last 18 years!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Short & sweet #2

Yes, well my short & sweet idea worked well, didn't it?! I will persevere. The undisputed highlight of this year's musical production was our youngest daughter being cast in one of the major roles.


This is the same 12-year-old girl who was so desperately sick for six months last year. She is much improved this year, but still has an occasional bout of headache and stomach pain. 


So it was a significant personal achievement for her to manage a major dramatic role. And manage she did! 


I sat in the audience, quietly astonished at her ability. A daughter of mine on the stage? Who'd have thought! She seemed born to it.


So very proud of her. We are not out of the woods with her health concerns as she has lost a lot of weight and is struggling with her appetite. But her performance in the musical has been a wonderfully positive experience for her.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Musical time

Our annual primary musical production happens in Term 3. I have been helping with the costuming for six years now, and I love working with the kids. We have a very talented Year 6 teacher who writes and produces the musical each year. This year's production had a tribal jungle theme, so costuming was lots of fun!



There was the 'Bocconcini' tribe, who were prime targets for the cannibal tribe because they were little and tasty!


 Lots of hawaiian print, a bit of snakeskin and colourful floral head dress for the 'Bocconcini'.


 There was the 'Bigboogi' tribe ... 


... my personal favourite in their black and white. I loved the different scaled prints with their red trim. They worked wonderfully on stage.

 

And of course, the cannibal tribe, the 'Kukabarbi' ...


... complete with papier mache eyeball necklaces and thigh bone headware!

 

The tale was a complete reworking of the Tarzan story,


 but with twin Janes ...


... and a Julia Bollard thrown into the mix! It was hilarious.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Short & sweet #1

Life in the Bloom household has been so full that the prospect of blogging about what has been happening seems overwhelming. In an attempt to get myself back into regular blogging, I've decided to do a series of 'short & sweet' posts every day or two; to whittle away at the mountain of news in small instalments.


I am going to start with the most recent newsworthy tidbit. This happened yesterday. We have been at the farm for the school holidays. I insisted on some 'quality family time' in the garden yesterday evening, which translated means, "I need some help weeding what I thought was a flower bed".


My Sweetness was weeding this patch of irises when he was startled by a sudden movement as a tiny bird took flight from amongst the leaves. On closer inspection, he found the most perfectly formed nest, carefully constructed on the ground and complete with three pretty speckled eggs.


My guess is that this is the nest of some sort of quail, not sure what sort. She flies away in such a hurry when we approach that she is difficult to identify. Perhaps a stubble quail? We all 'ooohed' and 'aaahed' over the find. Glad I insisted on the 'quality time' together! I think we'll do it again today, hey kids? ... Kids?!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

A living treasure

We took some time out from what seems to have been the busiest school term ever to wander with some lovely friends in their garden on Sunday.

 

Sometimes it seems God smiles upon me and gifts me with a moment of perfect light for taking photographs.


Late Sunday afternoon was such a time,
our friends' garden basked in a warm glow.


Our friends bought their property about five years ago from an elderly couple who were obviously avid gardeners and serious plant collectors.


Their garden is a real treasure! With each season, new delights emerge in wondrous succession.


 There are so many plants in this garden that are unfamiliar to me. I love the challenge of working out what they are, seeking clues from unfurling buds, or new leaves. 


As Australian gardens burst into springtime bloom, our friends' garden is spectacular.

 

There are sweet surprises waiting at every turn!


The daffodils form a veritable sea in every shade of gold.


There are countless different varieties, 


some with peachy pink, frilly trumpets ...

 

... others with simple, electric orange centres ...


... and around another corner, these sparky Pheasant Eye beauties!


The resident Crimson Rosellas kept a cheeky eye on us as we wandered the garden. 

 

 No doubt they will have their way with the fruit trees at a later date. For now, the orchard is in glorious bloom.

 


  

The magnolias were magnificent,


especially bathed in the warm, afternoon sun.


Both the pink and white varieties of Magnolia stellata were true to form,


shooting starbursts from bare branches.


 Now if you happen to have made it to the end of this rather epic post and like a horticultural mystery, try this one on:


This unusual specimen sits quietly in one corner of the garden. It has the  most wonderful cream and green mottled stem.


And the leaves have really interesting white markings. Hmmm, intriguing! Clues anyone?

I will no doubt coerce my friends into sharing this special garden with me again soon! A very lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon :) 

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