Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Sydney Markets -- Yellow

Very early one morning, we went to the Sydney Markets to check out the fruit and veg. It is a pretty impressive place and not one for the weak at heart.

The guys driving the forklifts are dangerous enough driving forward without a load, but load 'em up to the max and turn 'em loose and they become absolutely fearless kamakazis with the need for speed. Which is even more exciting when you consider that, when loaded, they drive backwards while looking back over their shoulder. All of them driving as fast as they can. In all different directions. At the same time.

The truly amazing part is that they are never too busy to sexually proposition you as they zip by loaded up with crates of fruit or veg. Obviously the myth that men can't multi-task isn't true at the Sydney Markets.

It was a memorable visit for so many reasons.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Dog Story

In the mornings, I go for a long walk along the local reserve on Sydney Harbour's foreshores. Because I've taken some time off work between Christmas and New Years Day, I've been going later in the morning and see lots more people out walking than I usually do. And I've seen lots more dogs as well.

This morning there were lots of dogs and their owners out and I saw something I don't usually see during my early morning walks: the dog-smelling-dog ritual greeting. And this, in turn, reminded me of a story that my dad always told my brothers and I while we were growing up and he swore that it was true.

Now, there aren't many stories that my dad told us while we were growing up that I can share with anyone outside my immediate family. But I think I can get away with this one if I tell it carefully.

Once upon a time, my dad would say, there was a big dance hall where all the dogs would go on Saturday night for dancing. Dogs from all around would gather at the big dance hall every week, some coming from miles and miles away.

Before they would go into the dance hall, each dog would hang their dog bottom up outside the door, like people hang up their coats on a winter night, on rows and rows of coat hooks. After dancing the night away, they would collect their dog bottom on their way out of the dance hall and head on home.

One Saturday night, tragedy struck and a fire broke out at the big dance hall. In their panic to escape the flames, the dogs just grabbed any old dog bottom on their way out of the dance hall. Of course, they didn't grab their own dog bottom but got someone else's. Which means that some other dog has their dog bottom.

And that is why dogs smell each other's bottom when they meet, just in case they found their dog bottom lost the night of the fire at the big dance hall.

Even after all these years, his dog story still makes me laugh.

Balmoral Oval

Monday, December 25, 2006

Holiday Wishes

I thought I'd take a break from toilet block shots to wish everyone the best of the holiday season. With our families so far away, we are spending today and the next couple of days visiting with friends and watching the cricket and relaxing at the beach.

We've had some rain over the last couple of days, always a good thing, but not much of it falling in the dams so the water restrictions and the severe drought continue. But, for now, the garden has perked up and I actually have blossoms on one of my azaleas.

For a bit of Aussie Christmas, check out the Christmas Eve post from the girls at Material Obsession.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Hundertwasser Toilet #4

The artist Frederick Hundertwasser designed a public toilet in Kawakawa on the far North Island of New Zealand. He was splitting his time between The Bay of Islands and Europe, mainly Vienna. When the local council decided in 1998 to update the public toilets, he offered his design and it was accepted. This is the only Hunderwasser structure in the Southern hemisphere and one of his last major works.

And it is one of the most photographed public toilets in the world.

Here are a couple of web sites for more information ...
Hundertwasser toilets
Hundertwasser's Kawakawa Toilets
Hundertwasser's Ultimate Stand

Monday, December 18, 2006

Excellent Gift Gifts

What do you get someone who has everything? This year, instead of giving them more stuff, try something different.

Oxfam has some excellent gift ideas that will help make the world a better place.

HRH and some of her band friends have been busking on the weekends and have raised over $200 for Oxfam. They are going to use the money to buy goats and ducks and maybe a pig.

Feel Like We're Being Watched

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Christmas Meme

I found this Christmas meme on Nic's blog, so here's my go.

1. Apple cider, Eggnog, or Hot Chocolate?
Eggnog with nutmeg sprinkled on top. Spiked, of course, not because I enjoy alcoholic beverages but more to keep with the holiday spirit

2. Turkey or Ham? Cold prawns, fresh salads, chilled fruit with nice, cold champers works for me

3. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Wrapped of course.

4. Colored lights or white on the tree? White, please

5. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree? When I was growing up, we had a very attractive silver aluminium tree with royal blue balls and a light on the floor with a rotating disk that turned the tree different colours. Of course, this was in the front window so that all the neighbours could enjoy our tree as well. I'd love a real tree (if only for the smell) but Aussie summer isn't the time for a fire hazard sitting in your lounge room. So we've got an artificial tree that we set up when we are at home for Christmas

6. Favorite Christmas song? Anything by Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole or King's College Choir suits me down to the ground

7. How do you feel about Christmas movies? The old ones are OK ... A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street ... but the new ones are just that bit too unbearable for me.

8. What is your favorite holiday dish? My mom's homemade fudge

9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? Until the Christmas tree is up at home, it's too early. And any time in public before November ... WAY to early!

10. What is your favorite holiday smell? Homemade apple or pumpkin pies baking in the oven

11. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I grew up listening to Santa swear every Christmas Eve. He swore just like my dad did. Wasn't too hard to figure out.

12. What kind of decorations are on your Christmas Tree? Handmade or the ones from friends. We've got a collection of Texan, Mainer, quilt and Australian ornaments spread throughout the tree branches. And then there are the ones that HRH has made over the years and the Green Pickle

13. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas Day? One on Christmas Eve ... the rest on Christmas morning

14. Go to someone else’s house or they come to you? Usually we are at home in the morning and go over to a Luke & Linda's for Christmas lunch. We are rarely home before dark

15. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? I love the giving part best

Thanks for this meme, Nic. If any of you feel like picking up this meme for your own blog, please let me know so I can read your answers. Merry Christmas!!!

If you are English or enjoy English cricket, I suggest that you stop reading now.

You were warned.

This meme doesn't cover on my favourite Christmas tradition -- the Boxing Day test in Melbourne. It's the first day of a 5-day cricket test for those of you who live outside Australia and, with the kids out of school, marks the official beginning of summer in Australia. This year, Australia is playing the English for the Ashes, a rather diminutive trophy that carries with it the pride of a nation. The Aussies lost it to the Poms last year, so this is a pretty important rematch. Unfortunately the Poms sent their B team Down Under this summer, so I am quietly confident that they won't be taking it home with them when the series finishes. Tonk a Pom!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Ugly FQ Swap

At the Sydney SCQuilters Christmas gathering, I tossed a couple of really ugly FQs into the swap with the hope that my run of never winning anything would see me through this one safely. But Lady Luck, she is nothing if not fickle and these little beauties are now mine to make into something before next year's SCQuilters Christmas gathering.

Given the 'unique' charater of these FQs, I'm not sure that a full year will be quite long enough. I'm going to have to muster all my courage just to take them into a patchwork shop and try to find something, anything, to go with them.

Perhaps the answer is to play Dr Frankenstein and subject them to a number of fiendish textile experiments first ...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006


This is an excellent way to support our struggling farmers and ensure that we quilters continue to have the best quality merino wool for our favourite wool battings (wadding) and jumpers (sweaters) and blankets.

This blog also has some more information about the drought and just how tough those on the land have got it.

Add to that the bush fires being faced in a number of areas in Southeast Australia, and it's going to be a long summer.

Friday, December 01, 2006

MNO Challenge Top

Here is my Mosman Night Owls Challenge quilt. The challenge fabric, an off-cut of a Marimekko fabric, is the tiny blue, green and white check. I've used two woven FQs, the FQ I used the Shivas Paintstiks on, a bunch of hand-dyeds and two commercial fabrics.

There are three pieces of fabric in each block so the piecing is dead simple and the character of each fabric isn't lost in the piecing.

The blocks looked different lying on the lounge room floor than they do assembled into a quilt top. I'm not sure I like how they went together and am thinking about taking it apart and putting it back together again. Would help fill the time created by my inevitable procrastination about how to quilt and embellish it.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

MNO Challenge -- Woven Fabric Update

My second attempt at weaving two fat quarters went a bit better using a heavy duty water soluble stabiliser. It was a bit sticky on the bed of the sewing machine when I first started sewing through the layers, but that didn't last long. No gunk on the needle althrough there was a bit of fluff around the bobbin case. I'll have to remember to clean it out after using this water soluble stuff.

Here's a close-up of the front ...

And a close up of the back ...

When I dunked it into cold water it got slimy for a minute and then dissolved away cleanly. I squeezed it out in a towel to get rid of the extra water and hung it up to dry. After ironing, it was a bit scrunched up around some of the stitching but that added some nice texture to the finished fabric.

One lesson for next time: be sure to weave strips so that there aren't any gaps in the corners between the strips. I've got a couple but don't know if the wadding will migrate through or not.

If it does, I can always write a book with my new embellishment technique and going on the international lecture circuit.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

MNO Challenge -- Shivas Paintstiks Update

I got some more colours and finished up my fat quarter. It helps now that I understand more about how to use the rubbing plates more effectively. The metalic white really adds sparkle to the patterns.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


As we flew into Kingsford-Smith and banked for our final approach over Botany Bay, the smoke from the Blue Mountains bush fires was blowing out into the Tasman.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Through Smoke Haze

While I was in Brisbane for the Ashes, the bush fires in the Blue Mountains continued to burn with more fires in the Hunter and Hawkesbury. It looked pretty smokey as we flew over the Harbour.

You can see the Harbour Bridge in the middle and, a bit down and to the left, the Sydney Opera House through the smoke haze. Once we had landed, the sky didn't look so hazy.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Pinku Maniac

This quilt was made for HRH for her 6th birthday. She chose the fabrics while on a fabric shopping marathon with her grandmother and Aunt Jan. HRH also chose the name based on her belief that the Japanese word for pink is 'pinku'.

Looking back at this quilt, it was the last one I had machine quilted before I decided that I could learn to machine quilt myself.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tiled Tables

In a moment of parental weakness, I agreed to take HRH to the mall to find a dress for the Year 6 Farewell at her school. While wandering through the cultural wasteland to her favourite shop, we came across these tables at a coffee shop that was part of an Asian imports shop. Tres kool!