Sunday, November 29, 2015

Wonder and Grace

Miss G and Miss N - 18th birthdays this week

Miss G and Miss N - June 2005 aged 7

Fig Tree Avenue is one of my favourite places to walk, especially when it's quite enough to walk down the middle of the road. These particular fig trees are huge as they are growing very close to the river. They are Ficus microcarpa 'hillii', a weeping fig native to Queensland rainforests, Australia.

This week was one of extreme heat so I was surprised to find a beautiful magnolia flower one morning and an elegant fungi amongst the dew another morning. Neither survived the daytime heat very well. On the very hottest day our beautiful twins turned 18. The extreme heat of that day, the hottest of the year, lingered on well into the night. I have since made plans to have our broken air conditioner replaced. It was a special day, yet my husband was far away in Sydney having yet another eye operation that day. Your eldest two were also in Sydney, one sitting her last uni exam of the year, the other providing transport for my husband. Today we are all together, the first time since July. It may only be for a few days here and there but these days are like gold, particularly for our youngest (seven year old Miss E ) who absolutely loves having all seven of her older siblings with her!

Life continues on with its many twists and unexpected turns so I will continue to keep the many moments of wonder and grace close to my heart.

Sharing at Our World Tuesday.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Around Home

Sunshine, hot, hot days and spring storms see our home garden brimming with life and bright colours. I know many of you are beginning to see first snow, helping me appreciate our colourful surrounds afresh, wanting to share them with you. 

A blueberry crop of only two, fragrant frangipani (plumeria) with six petals instead of the usual five, magnificent jacarandas, bounteous Italian parsley seed heads, tourists enjoying the colours, fresh furry leaves on our bottlebrush and a kookaburra on our pool fence. Another hot and sunny day forecast for tomorrow....

Sharing at Our World Tuesday.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Playing with Natural Dyeing

Cotton fabric having a quick dip with the simmered blueberries. 

Adding 1/4 cup of salt to my cherry liquid, prior to adding fabric for further simmering.

Immediately after rinsing - blueberry dipped and simmered on left, cherry dipped (lower) and simmered (top) on right.

Blueberry and cherry dyed after first gentle hand wash

Paler and greyer after cold machine wash

Roadside flowers - cosmos?

Deconstructed flower heads in a jar ready for 'solar' dyeing - no added heat 

Turmeric - fresh grated, bottled paste and dry powder all added for no heat dyeing

Turmeric (left) and flowers (right), rinsed after overnight, no heat, soaking

 Bright yellow - Turmeric dyeing after overnight soaking, no heat used

Mottled pink/yellow from flowers, bright yellow tumeric (fades in sunlight)

Like a child playing, I've been enjoying experimented with natural dyeing, or as I like to think of it - deliberate staining. Using only edible plants with my cooking/heat dye trials, I figured I could do no harm. I began with some frozen blueberries and cherries, simmering gently in separate pots for around an hour. I dipped some wet cotton fabric in each. Pretty! After removing the fruit solids I added some salt as a colour fixative, simmering again with some extra pieces of fabric. Following thorough rinsing, air drying and ironing, the colours were delicate with a grey tone. After a machine wash the colours had disappeared further, leaving the fabric pieces looking more grey than blue or pink.

I was about to discard a small ageing bunch of flowers Friday night but thought I may as well try some no heat dyeing. In another glass container I experimented with a combination of turmeric - fresh, bottled paste and dry powder. The water didn't turn bright yellow until after I added the dry powder so I suspect it was the most powerful component. Both of these jars were left overnight to soak with no added heat. I was quite impressed with the results, especially the turmeric. 

As you may know from staining bench tops or utensils with turmeric, the stain fades and disappears naturally with exposure to light. Knowing this I am happy to make some easy and fun decorations for our home and suspect they will end up on our Christmas tree next month. If they fade too much I guess I could always refresh their colour with another overnight soaking in turmeric. My natural dyed fabrics may not be suitable for making a quilt (yet?) but I don't mind for I am playfully enjoying the process, happy to be surprised along the way. 

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Sharing the Joy

Miss E with her jacaranda tree, birds and flowers

She decided it needed a rainbow

Miss E's stitching

Miss E's stitching

My stitching

It is wonderful to enjoy creative pursuits ourselves, yet in many ways it is even more fulfilling to see our children become inspired to walk in our footsteps as they explore their own creativity. Seven year old Miss E, our youngest child, has been very keen to try out her father's new art supplies and also some hand sewing, just like mine. She didn't want to try something 'easier' or larger, she wanted to sew just like I do - and so she did. Miss E chose her little 'macaroon' of basted pieces and with a little help she has completed half a flower so far. You actually have to look quite closely to tell her flower from mine - partly due to her surprising stitching skills and largely due to the excellent Gutermann Extra Fine thread

I've added four flowers to my English Paper Piecing long term work in progress - a pleasant change of pace after recently completing two quilts, Aussie Landscape and Set Free. Some gentle hand stitching suits this busy end of year season.

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

What a Beautiful World

Looking back over photos from the last few days reminds me of how much there is to be grateful for. Our town is awash in purple jacaranda flowers. I love the fleeting, royal display these trees give each year in mid spring. The town's annual week-long Jacaranda Festival has just finished. 

Grace performed five of her original songs at the Jacaranda TAFE markets yesterday, a wonderful experience for her and a delight to the audience. We were fascinated by a back stage tour of the TAFE's music facilities, learning more about the course Grace has been studying this year. Batman and Poison Ivy made an appearance promoting an upcoming Cosplay event.

My birthday happens to fall during this festive floral time. I enjoyed choosing some new plants for the garden, including the two above*, which although they look like Australian natives are actually native to South Africa - close cousins to many of our native flora. The children surprised me with a beautiful Tree of Life pendant for my birthday - I love it!

* Botanical Notes: Both the potted plants shown above are from the Proteaceae Family and are native to South Africa. The orange flowering plant is "So Sincere" - Leucospermum linear hybrid. The silver 'coned' plant is Leucadendron galpinii female, commonly known as Purple Haze as its foliage turns silvery purple in winter.
The purple flowering jacarandas are native to South America, primarily Brazil, yet thrive in our climate.

Sharing at Our World Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Around Town

All around town thousands of jacaranda trees are bursting out in purple blooms - it is a wonderful sight to the delight of locals and tourists alike. Our daughter Grace had the pleasure of singing at our town's most popular street front cafe Saturday morning, something we will likely see more of in the near future.

It has been nearly three years since we visited friends just out of town. They love keeping alpacas which they treat as pets - Lara is 'talking' to Stirling above. The alpacas have recently been shawn in preparation for our summer heat. We came home with some farm-fresh chicken and duck eggs as well as a yellow dragon fruit! We'd eaten pink dragon fruit with white and red flesh but never the yellow variety which is sweeter to taste and juicier. Some describe the flavour and texture as a cross between a pear and kiwi fruit. The eight of us who tried this one yesterday (Miss V didn't want to) all agreed that it was delicious!

Sharing at Our World Tuesday.

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