Friday, December 31, 2010

racing towards the finish line

It has been a week of extremes
half the country is under water. Seriously under water.
Not here though.
After all the rain we had in October/November, the dams are still delightfully full, but there's been little evidence of moisture of late.

A week ago we had overnight lows of 4C/39F
... and today?
While it wasn't the hottest New Year's Eve I've experienced up here [ that distinction belongs to ... I think ... 2006, when it reached 48C, and was still over 40 at midnight ]
it did still get to 40.9. That's 105.6F!
4 degrees above freezing to " OMG I'm going to die of heat prostration" in less than a week.
Makes it very difficult to acclimatise
especially for the elderly.
My 90 year old, just-had-a-triple-bypass, darling Godmother came up for the day today, and I just kept thinking
"Thank God for the A/C"

After the visitors left, I was at a bit of a loose end, pottered around a bit, knitted some lace, browsed a couple of books ... your basic dithering
then I decided to make another of those wrap aprons. Ma-in-law liked her Christmas one so much, I promised her another for her natal day in March.
I'm not sure whether this will be it.

It might be.
Or it might be for DIL who said she'd certainly wear one.

At least this way I've got MIL covered :)

Happy New Year to you and yours, from me and mine
and I'll be back tomorrow with news of some big changes Chez Catsmum

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

sometimes ...

it all comes together

right place
right time

and with camera in hand:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Sewing

I never do this
I don't race around at the last minute trying to finish off gifts ... mainly because that's normally a sure fire recipe for having everything go wrong, right ?
but here's the thing
even though MIL is blind and won't know the difference, I really wasn't happy with the wrap-around apron that I made for her.
It is pretty enough, and would serve the stated purpose, but there were things about the finishing that I wasn't thrilled with: the purchased bias was too narrow and I didn't really like the way I'd zig-zagged in on.
So I've just spent a couple of hours making version 2.0,

and this time I grabbed a hunk of contrast fabric and cut 2" bias strips with my rotary cutter, then fed them through my handy dandy [ seldom used ] Clover 1" bias maker.
Much much better.
and no I'm not showing you the first one.
That was the whole point of remaking it.

one sleep to go!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Be Warned

Basically, if you put your head through my door between the start of December and January 6th [ Twelfth Night ] you are going to find yourself admiring the Christmas decorations whether you want to or not
and I will grasp at any excuse that will get a few extra people through the door.

... you have a busload of Senior Cits to entertain? Bring 'em over
... require a venue for this year's choir break-up party? No worries!

Need to kill 90 minutes or so with two busloadsof disabled adults from David's thursday social club before pizza-dinner-and-Christmas-Lights-Tour ? *

Bring 'em here for junkfood, a visit from multiple Santas - and an elf - plus presents, candy canes, and a total overload of Christmasness

and someone obviously knows the hostess well:

I scored a really nice Christmas mug stuffed full of Robert Timms coffees, shortbread, & Twinings teas: English & Irish Breakfast, Earl Grey and Prince of Wales.

If you'll pardon me, I'm off to become better acquainted with the Prince of Wales.

* a note for my Northern Hemisphere friends: because we are only a day or so past the Summer Solstice, it doesn't get dark enough to see the Christmas lights until after 9pm. Hence the need to kill some extra time before dinner.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wee Jake

has had two blood transfusions, has lost a bit of weight, and is being treated for jaundice, but despite all that, is now out of Intensive Care and in the High Dependency Unit. A huge step forward methinks.

... and he's wearing his aunty-made knitteds

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A quilt, some goats and a good day out

After His Royal Beariness and I dropped David off in town this morning, we choofed up the Freeway to Bendigo and picked up my newest quilt from Jodi Abel, longarm quilter par excellence.

Ms Jodi has done her usual wonderful job of enhancing my patchwork with her meticulous Japamese inspired machine quilting and I'm thrilled to bits with the result.

Then an already quite good day got even better, as we proceeded out to see PND and Brenda at Emu Creek.
Bear got to visit his extended family, which was why he was along for the ride, and I got to snuzzle - and bottle feed - some of the newest lot[s] of baby goaties:
some beautiful pure-bred Saanans

and some sweet little Nubian cross babies that have the same sire as my Ruby and Rowan.

After a substantial lunch, it was back home [ very carefully ] with a car loaded with wooden pallets, and also my very country Chrissie pressie from PND&B : a spiffy new water gauge to replace my cracked old one, a very fancy goat hoof-pick-and-brush, and last but not least, a box of Ferrero-Rocher chocs.

... and here's the newest quilt in all its oriental splendour ... which could be a pretty good name for it now that I come to think of it. What do you think, hmmm? Oriental Splendour ?
Yes ?
No ?

I still have to put on the binding and hand sew it down but I couldn't resist laying it on the bed,
It'll probably stay like that until after Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010


It is one of the inescapable truths of blogging that the more there is happening in one's life, the less time or inclination there is to blog about it

I would have expected that, because I'm not having the family Christmas dinner here this year, that perhaps the pre-Christmas run-up might be a little calmer than normal

I should have known better

Lunch at Maldon with friends on Thursday [ for my birthday and to stop me from dwelling on the other implications of the date ] was followed by frantic last minute house cleaning before about forty past and present members of our women's acapella choir 'Chat Warblers' descended upon the premises for our annual Christmas knees-up.

So the next few hours yielded
birthday flowers aplenty

copious amounts of delicious edibles,

good friends,
and some really great singing.

Judging on past years, I expected the girls to start heading off at about 9.30 - 10pm, around the time David was dropped back home after a meal at the pub with Carer Graham, but nope. Everyone was still having far too good a time singing to even contemplate leaving.
Not even the ones with an hour drive ahead of them.
The same ones who needed to get up at 6am to get ready for work!

Instead of Dave heading for bed and Graham going home to a well earned rest, the boys both settled into the rumpus room and listened to the carols, etc emanating from the other end of the house in three & four part harmony.

Fast forward to a little past midnight, and was I fast asleep in my virtuous bed ? kitchen clean and shining ?
Aaah ... that would be a no
I think we'd worked our way round to the Banana Boat Song [ Dayo! Da-a-a-y-o! ] and the Happy Wanderer by this stage:

Castlemaine ladies certainly know how to party [ or should that be par-tay ?]
They did eventually all depart, declinig my offer to roll out the sleeping bags

Friday was reserved for doing the dishes,

taking out the rubbish
finding all the hidden champagne flutes,
and making a tally of the things that people had managed to leave behind:

2 tote bags - one with sheet music and one with a large jar of Italian Nougat [ which may not make it back to its owner. Just sayin'!!]
one large salad bowl
one large casserole w lid
one pair of salad tongs
one large serving spoon
one blue cardigan
a marble cheese board
sticky tape
a packet of safety pins

and a bucket of tomato plants

I think they had a good time
I know I certainly did

Friday, December 17, 2010

introducing Jake

my great nephew Jacob was born on November 30, weighing 896 grams or 2 pounds, and 2.5 months early.
This photo was taken on day 14 and already I can see that he definitely favours the Italian side of the family.

I did not make that hat

it's a perfectly nice hat
made no doubt with love and care, to be donated to the NICU

but don't you think he should have a hat made by his great aunt ?
Of course he should!
which is why these will be passed over to his great grandmother tomorrow for delivery asap.

I look at the size of those horrifyingly tiny hats and am just so thankful that Jake is hanging in there.
You know, I've been sending off similar tiny hats for a long, long time, and only rarely have I known the intended recipients. This puts a whole different slant on my NICU knitting which I am struggling to put words to ... and not just mine, of course, but all those other legions of knitters [ and crocheters ] worldwide, churning out tiny garments with just one aim: to keep these fragile little bundles of humanity warmed and comforted.

NOTE: the teeny weeny prem BSJ is an adaptation of the classic EZ Baby Surprise Jacket, as engineered by my friend Yvette
The hats were all just improvised

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


If you'll allow a mountaineering metaphor or three, today we step onto the summit ... the peak ... the pinnacle
After weeks of hard slog and unremitting effort, we have finally reached the other end of the House Tour from whence we started lo, these two weeks ago [ gotta love the opportunity to stick in a 'whence' and a 'lo!']
today we're in the rumpus room ... the domain of Father Christmas ... Saint Nick ... Santa ... aka the fat bloke in the red suit

The room once likened to an explosion at the North Pole

I can never get a truly accurate count, but there's a little over a hundred Santas in here, plus assorted bears and moose in santa suits ... which is probably why I can never get a proper total. Where do I draw the line in defining 'santa-ness'?
Is a bear in a Saint Nicholas robe, complete with luxurious, long, fake santa beard, a santa or not ?
No. I can't decide either.

I try to acquire at least one Father Christmas - bought or made - per year, and usually exceed that quite easily. This year was no exception. Now, okay, this year I didn't make any [ did manage multiple Christmas quilts though !! ] but Nadie bought me three little guys back in July, and I've added another two or three since then from a local gift shop that was changing hands.

There probably won't be time for a post tomorrow - 't'is my natal day, so a lunch out with friends is on the cards, and then a Choral Christmas break-up party here later [ obviously with lots of singing ]
I like to keep busy on the 16th
As well as being my birthday, it's also the day I lost Marc in '99
so mixed emotiions

but I'll be back on Friday

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 10 : Into Snow Country part 2

and for the crochet challenged amongst my knitterly friends, here's a link to a lovely little KNITTED snowflake:
so you too can have your very own white Christmas

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 9 - Into Snow Country part 1

I was going to act as your guide through the snowy hinterlands of my kitchen, but the family members who were coming tonight ... and then were probably going to leave it until tomorrow ... are back to coming up tonight
[ and don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled to get more time with them ]
but I'm afraid my brain translated 'probably' into 'we are coming tomorrow morning'
... so now I'm going to have to leave you to your own devices, while I get stuck into the vacuuming that I really knew I should be doing today instead of

reading another Charlaine Harris [ Poppy Done To Death ]

and starting a new Christmas quilt [ triangles ]

and watching Dr Who DVDs.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas House Tour 2010 Day 8

As you can probably tell from the glimpse of vintage postcards in the extreme left of the photo, we've just moved a little further along the wall from yesterday.

This is my 'main' tree, and it's decorated with mercury glass

crystal, and frankly-fake acrylic.
This year I stumbled across some palest pale blue baubles [ $1.50 each !! ] ] so I grabbed all eight that the store had in that colour. If they'd had more, I'd probably have bought at least a dozen - or two :)They are so barely blue that I'm sure most people don't see it, but they tone in with the nativity and the newly finished Arctic Saint Nicholas wallhanging

... or wallhangings, depending on your point of view ... it's three separately quilted and bound pieces, which hang as one, but the two star panels can also function on their own as table runners.
The left panel and the centre one have been hanging for the last two weeks ... and looked just fine ... but ... I wanted all three done and crossed off my list.

As Tara can attest, I was still hemming the third panel last night !

This Stack-N-Whack quilt is folded across the back of one of the couches at the moment, but I opened it out for the photo.
I guess I must've made that one in the late '90s. The colours are actually much deeper and richer than the photo has captured but you'll just have to take my word for that.

The reportage has been pretty quilt-centric of late, but that imbalance is about to be addressed Tomorrow it's the kitchen
Snowflake Central!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Still in the Big Room

Today I thought that I'd share my collection of vintage Christmas postcards

these are the fruits of many years of scouring antique fairs
and most of them only cost me a dollar or two.

There ARE scarcer, more expensive ones out there. I just haven't bought any .

Most of mine are from the US, a few are English, a couple appear to be German and one at least is Norwegian. Not a single one was printed in Australia, so I suppose that will have to remain my Holy Grail. I don't even know if they produced them in Australia during the Edwardian period, which is when most of mine date from.

and you might want to click and enlarge for a closer look at some of the graphics.
There's the expected holly, ivy and poinsettia, but quite a few feature subjects that don't strike a modern eye as particularly festive ... pansies for example ... or violets ... a stylish Gibson girl ... kittens with roses

I especially like the ones that have postage cancellations [ dates are always good. It puts things in context. ] and faded, spidery copperplate writing.

One hundred years ago, Amelia wished Molly in Minneapolis " very merry & happy Xmas times"

I wish you all the same