Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 - a year of a little bit of everything

I'm not one for usually making resolutions or restrospectives at year's end, but I have been thinking a lot this week about what an amazingly diverse year 2010 was for my little family, and how blessed we were. I tend to keep about 95% of my personal life off the blog, but here's what I can share with you.

I did some truly extravagant things, like fly to Melbourne. To shop for fabric and other delights. For a day.

Tessuti Fabrics - Melbourne

I made 13 skirts, 4 blouses, 2 dresses, 7 beanies and 12 shawls. Not all of them made the blog. One (a dress) only got made yesterday.

I thought about stopping blogging about 84 times.

I did some things that I never thought I would do, like an Old Bus Depot Market day (two of them!) with Carrie.

Buttontree Lane and Fibrewebs stall

Like conducting a choir of 80 voices from union choirs around Australia.

Bread and Roses - Combines Unions Choir

And like travelling to Central Australia to sing with the loveliest people I know.

Singing in Trephina Gorge

I bought a fancy schmancy camera, and started learning how to use it.

Cactus in rain

I started off the year still contracting, applied for 11 permanent jobs during the year, and finally, after tears and frustration (and not just mine) and a long time of waiting for some action, my own job was made permanent, with the announcement made exactly one days before I thought my contract was to be terminated, and half an hour after I'd picked up every bit of non-fileable paper on my desk and shredded it. Oops.

My life changed forever when I started weekly injections for cat and grass/pollen allergies. Seriously - it did. I now have another 5 years of monthly injections to look forward to.

My second nephew on my side of the family was born. I am the proudest aunty ever.

I decided to stop making bags, and then took about 5 months to make the announcement.

But I'm still making bags anyway, for Carrie, and it's so much more fun working together.


And that's pretty much where 2010 finishes up. What's next I wonder?

Have a wonderful new year, everyone. Thanks for the year of reading, company, support and comments. See you in 2011!

Michelle xo

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You say potato ...

Potato and rhubarb

Coming back from our few days away, I was disappointed to see that my tomatoes still hadn't ripened, the parsley has not returned from the dead, and the capsicums were a very miserable size. It's enough to make you wonder whether all this hard work is really worth it, especially when I have to buy tomatoes from the supermarket. And then I just read that Dixiebelle, a local gardener, is of the same opinion.

So I had to put some perspective on it in order to keep my sanity. Just because some vegetables aren't ready yet doesn't mean they won't be. It's all about practicing patience. And when I think more about it, I did manage to harvest rhubarb, my second cucumber, nectarines and potatoes yesterday. I've never managed a successful crop of potatoes before! I was so excited.

My other herbs are doing just fine, and I can toss sage through my potatoes tonight (I just called a friend and invited her around for smoked trout, home-grown potatoes and lettuce, and store-bought tomatoes. And stewed rhubarb. Yum.)

Baked and smashed potatoes

This is what we had for dinner last night - baked and smashed potatoes with sour cream, chives, bacon and cheese. I can't recommend this type of meal enough for summer. Except if it's a 34 degree day and you don't fancy having your oven on for an hour and a bit at 200 degrees celcius. Things could get a bit hot and nasty then.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Christmas Skirt

When I was a girl my mum used to make me a new dress for the school breakup, which was then worn again on Christmas Day when we headed to Brisbane each year. It always made me feel special, and very pretty in my new dress. My mum continued the tradition until I was 17 and had finished grade 12 (it was a white collared dress in a textured cotton, sleeveless, with hi cut shoulders, patch pockets and a pink sash. I'd worn it to my senior dinner at Bulls Britches first)*

This year, for the first time in a little while, we decided to spend Christmas in Bendigo with the Mister's family. Past Bendigo Christmasses haven't been overly happy, nor Christmassy, affairs, but I was determined to make an effort.

The Christmas Dress Skirt was reborn!

Christmas Skirt

I used a NEW! pattern - McCalls 2873. It's a great pattern - no waistband, fully faced, and 8 darts in total with a back zipper. Ah - if only I'd followed the instructions correctly for easing the side seams into the facing - I took it in instead, and the skirt doesn't sit quite right. Plus my posture in these photos is thoroughly shite. The Mister took them as I left for church on Christmas morning and I was getting cranky with the locusts flying into my legs. Please do note the awful blouse I'm wearing, and the fact that I have broken my own rule of fussiness around the hips of hippy girls. Please also note that having seen these photos I will arm myself with the unpicker Tout de suite.

Christmas skirt

It's a really happy skirt. Coupled with my sunny yellow Saltwater Sandals (which arrived in the mail as we were leaving for Bendigo) I was the brightest person at church that morning. I was also the brightest person at Christmas lunch.

Christmas Day in Bendigo

As for Christmas Day, well it was wonderful. The table looked festive, for once, probably because I set it. There were no plastic plates, other than some used for serving meats. There were still bowls of vegetables in aspic, but I made a lovely garden salad with local fetta and parsley olives which my fellow aspic-haters scoffed down. The company was good, some superb Christmas treats were enjoyed for dessert, and sporting battles were fought and lost in the formal dining room.

We got a Fußball table for my father-in-law for Christmas. How much fun is that? Heaps of fun, I say.

Christmas Day in Bendigo

Christmas Day in Bendigo

Then I spent the afternoon wandering around my mother-in-law's garden with my camera. She's such an amazing gardener - she manages to get flowers despite the climate, and at the moment she is even having to contend with a locust plague. Garden = still looks great.

Beryl's garden

Beryl's garden

Beryl's garden

Beryl's garden

And then on Boxing Day I took the train to Melbourne, wandered around town for a few hours and hit the Boxing Day sales a little before returning to Bendigo that night. Twelve hours later we were on the road again heading back to Canberra. But that's a whole other story.

* Do you see that? I can't even remember what I had for lunch yesterday, and yet I remember what I wore and where I was for my Senior Dinner in 1986. And I think I had the roast buffet that night.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hello yellow

We've been having very cold weather in Canberra the last couple of days, and I'm ready for summer to start. I'm so tempted to push the summer feeling along a little by getting* a pair of these.

Saltwater sandals

I don't know what's going on. I don't even think I like yellow very much. But these sandals just holler happiness, don't you think?

* Gotten. Late night shopping never felt so good, especially right before Christmas...

P.S. I've made a special skirt for Christmas Day, and I'll be showing you all very soon, OK? Just to prove it's not all about Glee and yellow sandals around here (even though it really is).

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Skirt 'n' blouse

Very often I see a fabric I love, but I have no idea what I'd do with it. I spotted this shibori-style 100% cotton at Tessuti Fabrics in Sydney last December, and hummed and hawed over the red version of it, but left the shop without it. A couple of weeks later I tried to track it down, having made up my mind, and the only colour I could get was this "Night" colour in the end of year sales. It's the perfect mix of blue and charcoal.

Simplicity 2372 blouse

I spent the next 12 months procrastinating finding the perfect pattern for this fabric. And I found this one - Simplicity 2372. I cut it out a couple of weeks ago and finally had a chance to make it this morning. So easy. No adjustments required, except for letting out some of the side seams for my hips. All the markers matched, and the facings were perfect. The fabric made things easy for me - it being a seersucker I wasn't expecting this at all.

Could this be the perfect blouse pattern? I think it could be.

And then there's that age old dilemma that all sewers have - if this fabric is to be a blouse, then what will I wear it with? I had in my mind that camel would be a good colour, and a skirt (of course) because since I started making skirts a year ago I have become a Skirt Person.

Simplicity 5208 skirt

I thought I might try a new skirt pattern, given I've been making the same two patterns all year. And then I realised that was crazy talk - so I pulled out the pieces for Simplicity 5208 and starting cutting.

The one fault with this skirt pattern is the lack of pockets. I added some patch pockets to the front of the skirt (I was going to add them to the side seams, but that hip-flounce theory for blouses in my last post applies to side pockets on skirts too). I had some top stitching thread left over from the last time I hemmed jeans, and I used that to topstitch the yoke, front seam, hem and pockets.

Simplicity 5208 skirt

I'm really happy with my new outfit, and I think I'll get a lot of wear out of the linen skirt, especially. But I really do think it's time to move on to a new skirt pattern.

I know! Crazy talk!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Sometimes I do silly things, like today. I bought a blouse at a shop, paid too much for it, and had already decided to take it apart before I'd left the store.


Here it is in it's 'before' state. I'm not too sure whether that bottom frill is channelling Elly May Clampett or an 80s nightie from Sussans, but it doesn't looks good, and it doesn't sit right. Women with hips, like myself, do not need extra flounce at the bottom of our blouses. But the blouse is 100% cotton, will be cool in summer, and has a neck ruffle which I love (and it's red gingham!) so a little extra effort will be worth it, I think.


I took to the bottom ruffle with my trusty unpicker. It only took 20 minutes to detach the offending piece.

In between

I now had a short blouse, and a very wide piece of fabric from the ruffle. So to make the blouse longer I trimmed the ruffle piece to fit the bottom of the blouse, folded it in half lengthways, and then attached it to the bottom hem with my overlocker. A little pressing, and a little more top stitching and I have a blouse I love, and can wear much more comfortably.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Baby, it's rather warm and rainy outside

It hasn't been all about project sacks around here, you know. Or even Glee.

Because I finished little Felix's onesies for Christmas. He's only 2 months old and doesn't read this blog, so I think I'm safe showing them off here. I'm rather proud of them, actually. Every wee child in my life from this point on gets at least one embroidered onesie.

Onesies for Felix

Onesies for Felix

I finished the last of the project sacks on Sunday, and then baked two Christmas cakes, 24 mini quiches, and made two batches of rum balls and one of apricot balls for a Christmas Treats swap I was doing on Monday. No photos of the baking and making - I could barely stand by the end of my marathon in the kitchen.

This week I've been enjoying some sewing time for myself. I cut out a shirt and skirt - the shirt is a shibori type of cotton print from Tessuti's, and the skirt is caramel linen blend from Spottie's. I think they'll go well together. It's a shame I won't have them sewn by the time I go to Alex on Friday, as Queensland is the perfect place for cotton and linen but they'll be waiting for me to finish them when I get back, I'm sure.

Sewing clothes for me, for once

Unless the sewing fairies take over, of course.

My photography course continues, and I'm still learning so much. I'll be sad when my course ends next week, but we are already considering more courses next year. Last night we learned to twist the lens at the same time as taking a photo, to get effects like this:



And we also learned about photo composition and then were given assignments to do photos on themes such as leaves, fun, lines, simple... this was my offering for the theme "black and white".

Black and White

When I return from Alex next week, this blog may well be filled with photos of surfers, as I'm taking my new tripod (an early Christmas present - thanks Mum and Dad) with me, and intend to set up on the headland early in the morning.

Ha ha! Sneaky Glee video!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The final countdown

Before the final construction

Every night I've been doing a little bit more, and tonight I got to a happy stage. I just have to give the linings boxed bottoms, and then I can start constructing sack bags. Straps, tabs, outers and inners, all sewn together. I love it when it gets to this stage.

I've been listening to the various Glee soundtracks while sewing these. Actually, Glee is on constant shuffle on my iPod - all 99 songs. I write ministerial briefs, ride the bus, proofread consultation documents, walk into work, and sew to Glee. The novelty would normally wear off, but they keep putting out more CDs and uploading more songs to iTunes, and I keep sticking them on my iPod.

Soon enough I will have the need to listen to my new Wailin' Jennys album, but in the meantime it's all Glee.

Glee Glee Glee. Makes me happy.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Raining, pouring, old man, snoring

It's been raining almost non-stop since Sunday, with no end expected for at least another week.

I do love the rain, but I think there should be more singing in it. And perhaps more Gwyneth in the puddles in the vegie patch.