Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quilt Inspirations

Red Bridge and Wisteria by John Millington

Pyramid Rock Waterfall by John Millington

Claude's Bridge, Tribute by John Millington

Forest Pool by John Millington

A visit to our local art gallery to view my cousin's work last week yielded far more than I had anticipated. Patrycia's work was thought provoking and her co-exhibitor, Jan Pilgrim, had some amazing three dimensional fibre art to share. Both are local artists which happened to grow up in the same street as each other in Sydney. 

However it was the work of another local artist which really caught my eye. John Millington's exhibition titled Bridges to Abstraction was filled with bright colours, sharp lines and beautiful images. The quilter in me was fascinated by his use of colour and shape and the effects he produced.

Unfortunately I cannot share more than the images above as I have recently discovered no photography is allowed at the gallery. Above are photos of the images on gallery's literature which I collected. I hope to return for another visit before these exhibitions are finished.

Very old entryway to a local chemist/pharmacy

Children's wear at our local Target store last weekend

I'm discovering quilting inspiration in unlikely places and now that I have a phone with a useful camera, I can quickly capture these for future ideas. So nice to find inspiration in the real world to supplement the ocean of ideas online. Where do you find creative inspiration in the "real" world?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

April's Unseen

Experimenting with making stamps from rubber using lino cutting tools

A welcome statue outside our new library

While taking photos of my Musical Stairs quilt top I found this

Good Friday marked the beginning of a withdrawal process from using topical steroid creams for my husband. This was the state of his forehead after 24 years of steroid creams for "eczema" and on the rebound from a long tapered course of oral cortisone which enabled him to participate in our February family holiday. His face and hands are currently the worst. In fact he has had great difficulty using his hands for the last 10 months due to "eczema", being unable to drive etc.

A few days later, covered in petroleum jelly, beginning to look and feel worse and to swell all over etc, we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. (Thanks to our children for the cheesecake, lovely dinner and homemade card!) 

Hopefully by this time next year his skin will be well on the way to healing. A good deal of my time is now spent caring for him as the symptoms worsen, it is a long and brutal process on both the body and mind but eventually brings complete recovery.

 Homeschool is due to start again this week - quite a challenging mix of responsibilities. One day at a time.... 

My girls are growing up - Miss O (12) at church

There are only a few signs of autumn in our area

Miss E explaining her creation at a lego competition held in our local shopping centre. It is a lighthouse to protect the people and animals from the sea monsters - a little too creative for the judges I fear.

Looking down river on an early morning walk - with my husband currently unable to work our routines are ever changing

Friday's new adventure!

Still smiling!

I hope your April has had some happy memories too! Life isn't all roses but there is always, always something to be thankful for.

Friday, April 25, 2014

ANZAC Biscuits

Today is ANZAC Day, a day when we in Australia remember and honour those who have fought in wars to keep our country safe and to uphold justice. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The 25th April is the date which marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War (Gallipoli in 1915). My great uncle Ernest was in that first landing. He died a week later, the day before his 25th birthday, after being wounded 28th April 1915 at Gallipoli. My father's eldest brother was named after him.

One ANZAC tradition which we enjoy is baking ANZAC Biscuits. ANZAC biscuits were originally baked by family at home and sent to loved ones stationed overseas. ANZAC biscuits were chosen as they are hardy and survived the long trip well and were still edible when they arrived. Miss O baked these ANZACS this afternoon, nice big ones which are disappearing quickly.

ANZAC Biscuits


1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut 
125g/4oz butter
1 Tbsp golden syrup*
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 Tbsp boiling water
    *If you have difficulty sourcing golden syrup you could use a little treacle or maple syrup mixed with honey.


  • Preheat oven to 160C/320F. Combine rolled oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl. 
  • Melt butter and golden syrup over low heat. Add boiling water to soda, then add this mixture to the melted butter and syrup (it will bubble up a little). 
  • Pour into dry ingredients. Stir well. Roll into balls, place on greased or lined baking trays and flatten slightly (allow room for spreading). 
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until dark golden in colour. Remove from oven, stand for 2 minutes. Loosen biscuits and cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 24 medium sized biscuits.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Love Kindness, Walk Humbly

Sometimes we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. With so many images and endless information at our finger tips, the greatest, biggest and best seems to be constantly visible and there to inspire or challenge. 

But life often dictates that our time and talents are used for serving those immediately in front of us and providing the necessities of life. With creative desires and ideas far beyond our reality, it's easy to become disenchanted, discouraged. 

What really matters in life, what is required and expected? Life on this earth is short, we want our days and actions to count for something, to use our time wisely. 

I was thinking on these things as I took a brief walk amongst the fig trees this morning. Then this verse came to mind, of loving kindness, doing justice and walking humbly with our God. That's what's required - no mention of doing big things, fulfilling your creative potential or being "successful" in the eyes of the world. Ultimately it's the invisible which lasts.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Three Facts

Our pastor shared these facts today and challenged us to think of reasonable explanations.....

Historical Fact 1:  Jesus lived, and died by Roman crucifixion.

Historical Fact 2:  The tomb was empty.

Historical Fact 3:  Jesus later appeared to over 500 disciples.

Easter memories 2014:

Miss E and Master J's uni/college mid semester breaks overlap for this Easter weekend only. So lovely to have them both home, the family all together again, very briefly.

Our church's Blue Cross on the Hill has been a red cross on the hill for the last week. Today the lights were changed back to blue.

My Musical Stairs quilt top is now basted in preparation for quilting the layers together.

My husband has started a new course of action to bring an end to his skin problems of the last 24 years. The downside is he will become worse before he becomes better and it could be a very long process, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. 

Miss E made delicious hot cross buns with cranberries and sultanas, baking them early this morning prior to church.

Sharing at SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Musical Stairs Top

At last my Musical Stairs quilt top is finished! Yesterday I arranged and sewed the rows together. The seams don't match perfectly from one row to the next but that was never the most important part of this project. What has been pleasing is the joy in piecing and that both twins helped in making this quilt which is for their bed.

Mmmm, the difficulty of attempting a photo shoot by myself....

Today I have bought batting for this quilt and discovered that one of our two small independent fabric/quilting shops in town has closed  :(

Tomorrow I will wash the backing which was bought on sale at The Fat Quarter Shop June 2013 when I had just begun the quilt (Patty Young's Flower Shop from her Lush fabric range). It surprised me to realise I've been working on this quilt so long - definitely a slow quilter, with more than one quilt on the go. Our autumn weather is good motivation to finish this quilt and see it put to good use. Now I'd best hop to and start trimming all those loose threads on the back.....

NB My Musical Stairs quilt is based on Sarah Fielke's Bass Line quilt.

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse

It was a Blood Moon this evening, quite fascinating to watch and I was very grateful for a clear sky. A Blood Moon is a spectacular type of full lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse can only occur at full moon and a total lunar eclipse happens when the sun, Earth and moon are perfectly lined up, the Earth shadowing the moon.

Just as a sunset appears red due to the refraction of sunlight through the Earth's atmosphere, so a lunar eclipse can also appears red, hence the term a Blood Moon. The greater the amount of dust in the atmosphere, the darker the red.


At first, it was nearly impossible to even see the moon for it rose already fully eclipse. However as the sky darkened it became clearer and more spectacular.

6:12pm                                         6:38pm                                              6:44pm

As the eclipse gradually cleared I changed my settings to focus on the "light" rather than the "shadow" of the eclipse. The timing of the photos above overlap with those below.

6:44                                              6:45                                          7:05

7:15                                            7:20                                           7:30

7:40                                        7:50                                           8:00

It was the first time I had watched a Blood Moon and hopefully not the last.

Photographic note: All photos taken with my Canon 600D and S55-250 kit lens on Manual mode. For the top two photos and first collage focused on the "shadow" I used ISOs between 800-3200, shutter speed 1/2-1/4 second, f.10.
For all the other photos focused on the moon's "light" my settings were ISO 100, shutter 1/100, f.10. As I don't have a tripod, all photos were taken hand held, most while leaning the lens against a pole/pillar.

* In June 2012 I captured a partial lunar eclipse - you can see it here.

*** More information regarding lunar eclipses and the term Blood Moon can be found here.

Sharing at SkyWatch Friday.

Friday, April 11, 2014

No More Grey Whites in Blogger! :)

My first orange (saved as a png file)

Once upon a time a girl who lived in the Land Downunder planted an orange tree. One day her orange tree finally bore its very first orange! No no no no......Wait, what! Let's try again.

Once upon a time a girl who lived in the Land Downunder was happily blogging using Blogger. Her photos were never perfect but she enjoyed sharing them and keeping a record of her days. Then late 2013 something changed. Some of her images became weird and even ugly when they were uploaded to Blogger - like the one below! Exact same image - two very different looks.

Exact same image, saved as a jpg file, which still looked like to top image until uploaded and auto enhanced by Blogger

Oh no!!! What had happened? Google had changed Blogger so that it would auto enhance all images as they were uploaded. No matter how hard she tried to re-edit her photos or work around the problem, nothing could overcome the awful auto enhance and some images were affected more than others.  The only remedy she could find to fix this terrible state of affairs was to join Google + which then allows access to switch off the auto enhance option. Stubbornly refusing to join Google+ she even contemplated moving her blog to Wordpress or stopping blogging altogether - and she was not alone.

png file which loads as is to Blogger, bypassing their auto enhance 

Identical image (as a jpg) when upload to Blogger 

Yum became yuk. Some favourite photos were never shared.....and there was a sadness.


This jpg image has less white/contrast and doesn't show so great a difference in Blogger


Identical image as a jpg after uploading to Blogger

Then one sunny day in April - that would be today - she/I followed a fresh trail and found the key which she/I had almost given up hoping for. Did you see that one line UPDATE near the top of Lo Sauer's post?

"Update: After a quick test it shows that apparently Google does not enhance png's with an alpha transparency."

Not understanding all things technical I began looking into this idea to find it held the answer. I can export directly from iPhoto as a png, or I can save my jpg images as a png in PicMonkey which I use for final editing and watermarking. In PicMonkey there's a dropbox for choosing jpg or png right beside your image file name in the save window. Easy! The png images are very large so I resize them once saved as a png before uploading to Blogger.

 *The auto enhance only effects some images, particularly those with a lot of white or great light/dark contrast.  Jpg format still works perfectly fine for most images.

Such an easy answer - at last. Oh, by the way, the orange was sweet and juicy, even though not picture perfect - I loved it just the way it was! (As I like my photos - just the way they are!)

Sharing at Weekly Top Shot.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Brand New!

The beautiful golden foil-like chrysalis had turned black by yesterday morning. Had the contents died? Was there to be a sad end? When we returned from church at lunchtime the truth became apparent - the butterfly was alive and free! An Oleander Butterfly was the mystery inhabitant. Its wings gradually unfolded and filled out. This morning it was not to be seen, having flown away for good.

Today held treats of its own. Our new town library opened! The crowd patiently waited, the town crier added a touch of old fashioned drama.

Then it was time to enter the doors, past the ribbons, cameras and official party. The town crier's job was done.

Folks young and old were thrilled by everything they saw. The new library offers much more than anticipated, along with the well loved books and wonderful staff. Our youngest two loved it so much they were eager to return again - today - and so we did! In fact both have just asked if we can go again, tomorrow! 

Our new library's motto is "Your Library - Your Place". They have definitely succeeded and making us feel very much welcome and at home.

Update: My friend Erin has just posted many photos and details of our new library - you can find then here.

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