the most dogged hard rubbishers ever!

That would be me and my mum!  And boy oh boy!  Did we earn this title today!

the drawer

It all started with this very unprepossessing drawer.  We brought it home last night.  It came from a dresser that was lying on its back, in the dark, on the side of the road.  We had to bring the drawer home.  We couldn’t tell what era the dresser was, how well it had been made, nor what sort of wood it was.  Now the drawer mightn’t look much to you, dear reader, but to me and my mum it looked more than promising. Lovely solid wood, a good old fashioned construction, and as sturdy as, with the sort of reinforcing that speaks of a craftsperson who wanted that to which this drawer belongs to last a long while.

So, first thing this morning, we went back.  Of course we went back.

The first time we went back with a bag of tools, prepared to pull the dresser apart and shove it into the back of the car piece by piece.  See, we’d forgotten about the drawer’s sturdiness with it’s reinforcing.  This dresser was not coming apart at all.  Nor would it fit into the car.

So we had to go back again … with the trolley.

the find getting it onThat’s right.  We took the fridge trolley (I knew it was a good investment Jules!) and despite moments of doubt, regular collapses into hysterical laughter, and cheered on by the helpful interventions of many lovely folk along the way, we wheeled this lovely old kitchen dresser all the way home.  Almost two kilometres.  Along a path that included a RAILWAY CROSSING, several traffic lights and two sets of tram tracks.


A lovely young man with long curly locks and a skateboard stopped to help us wedge the dresser onto the trolley, and I swear, if he hadn’t been on his way to classes at a nearby university, he would have wheeled the dresser home for us, so impressed was he with our hard rubbishing spirit.

Whilst he was wriggling the dresser into position, a beautifully dressed woman, walking to the station, stopped for a chat, told us how she’d admired the dresser the day before, agreed with us that it was too nice and sturdy to leave on the side of the road, expressed how marvellous it was someone was giving it a new home, and wished us the best of luck on our trek.

Then, before we reach the afore mentioned railway crossing, a young man, tending to a very posh garden, dropped his tools and dashed out to us to “fix” the positioning of the dresser on the trolley.  ”No! No! No!” he cried cheerfully,  ”Let me make this easier for you!”  and proceeded to flip the whole thing upside down.

So funny lovely.  I do find that when you let go of the ordinary and expected, when you’re not afraid to look a bit peculiar, oh the lovely people you meet :-)

This is what it looked like arriving at the railway crossing – lots of steep and narrow gutters to navigate with an exceptionally heavy trolley and its dresser.  Eeeek!

crossing of dread

The other way … completely inhospitable.  We stood there a good long while contemplating our next move.  Oh how we giggled and shrieked and plotted, whilst many a driver-by stared at the two weird women with the dresser on the trolley.

However, we gathered our nerves and decided that it was best to walk/push briskly across the road whilst the boom gates were down.  There’s no pedestrian crossing on that section, but with the boom gates down, there ain’t no cars going in any direction.   It took us three trains to feel prepared enough.  The fourth time those gates came down, we hot footed it across, jelly legs and all, Mum pushing, me steering, both of us hoping for the longest train crossing ever.

the railway crossing

And it worked!  Only then we discovered the narrowest bit of footpath in the whole suburb and had to shove the dresser through it sideways/lengthways.  Much to the bemusement and worry of a fellow who actually stopped his car and got out to help – telling us we would never get it home sideways like that.  So, once through the squeeze, he helped us shuffle the dresser back into the gardner’s more sensible position and we demonstrated our previous pushing prowess – he was suitably impressed.  Well sort of :-)

jelly legs

Ah look!  Here we are at the last set of lights.  Feeling as if we were on the homeward run.  I stepped back to take a photo … and the dresser blew over.  Yep – that was another moment of hysteria and leg crossing.  And another lovely young passerby stopped to ask if she could help :-)  I tell you, wobbling home a huge antique kitchen dresser on wheels is a good way to gauge community spirit.

the last set of traffic lights

Finally, it was through the gate and down the drive.  Not before another sweet young fellow – dreadlocks, cigarette, headphones and all – stopped and asked if we needed a hand.  When we explained this was actually the end of our trek, he was so tricked, wanting to know all about it.  I tell you – hard rubbish brings folk together.

home at last

So here it is!  Sitting neatly up against the house, the eaves protecting it from any rain that may come this way – this is Melbourne, the rain never falls heavy enough to wet under the eaves.


And what are we going to do with it, you may ask?  Well … it’s not quite decided yet.  Mum would like to take it home and put it in her downstairs room as a bookcase and fabric storage dresser.  But there’s the s*l*i*g*h*t problem of getting it there.  Wheeling it to Merimbula is obviously out of the question.

So I reckon it will probably stay here for now and become part of MY fabric storage.  And then, when we Boots make that move to the coast in a few years time, it will come with us, all nicely restore and polished, and maybe it will finally reach Mum’s downstairs room.  Or it may move into our Merimbula kitchen as a pantry – now I think that role would truly make this dresser happy.

against the wall

As for this here chair?  We left it there.  There’s a limit to how many armchairs one needs.  Even I can see that :-)  But we did test it.  You can never be too sure … and if you would like it, drop me an email and I’ll let you know where it is!

we left the chair


A little story today.  A bit of a fable.  The sharing of this experience prompted by a lovely chat I had today with the checkout operator at the supermarket.  An opportunity – no matter how Pollyanna-ish it may seem to some – to stop and think about the amazing opportunity we have, every day, to influence another person’s experience.

A few months back, I was riding the tram home from classes.  Not long after leaving the city, a very dishevelled youngish man boarded the tram and skittered across to the bench opposite me.  His clothes were very poorly kept and worn.  He had no shoes on.  His hair was lank and badly cut.  His skin was awful – the sort of skin that has almost no life left in it.  It was grey, marked with many sores, and grimy.  He had track marks on his arms and home made tattoos.  His teeth were in a terrible state.

He shuffled and his movements were jerky.  He muttered to himself, kept his gaze averted and picked at his sores.  When he did look up, his expression was agitated.  Fellow passengers gave him long stares, then quickly looked away lest he should notice them watching.  No one chose to sit near him.

Having just spent several months studying and working in mental health, he looked so like many of my patients when they first arrived in the acute ward.  So vulnerable.  So unwell.   I smiled and said hello.  He ignored me.

Shortly after, a mum and her little girl boarded the tram.  The little girl was about 3 years old.  Very jauntily dressed and bouncing along, humming to herself.  She had that gorgeous confidence and joy little people have. Her mum sat down in front of the vulnerable young man, the little girl beside her, standing on her seat, holding onto the seat rail and perusing the rest of the tram with curiosity.  The next thing, she began to sing, bobbing up and down to the music she created.  She wasn’t sure of the words, so just sang la-la-la to the tune of an old Australian cricket cheer – C’mon Aussie C’mon.

This made me and a lot of other passengers smile.  Oh my, the number of summers my sister, cousins, friends and I chanted along to this song.  The little girl noticed the vulnerable man and really seemed to be making an effort to catch his attention.  Bopping up and down and cheerfully singing, all the while watching him carefully for a reaction.  After a few choruses, he looked up.  He watched her for a few more silent moments. He stopped scratching at his arms.  His eyes grew less fearful and you could literally see the jerky tension that had defined his earlier movements, slide away.  He began to grin.  That only encouraged her more.  Her singing became ever more enthusiastic, the dancing more vigorous.


[here's the ad from my era for those
who cannot even begin to imagine what I'm talking about]

The next thing, nodding his head in time to her rhythm, he began singing the words along to her tune.  Oh my, she was so delighted, and kept darting looks at her mum as if to say – look at me!  I’ve made a friend and he’s singing too!  The young man was delighted.  The whole tram was watching and grinning.  It was magic.   Pure and beautiful magic.  He was no longer an eyesore to be kept under careful but discrete observation.  A small, funny, sweet child had given him an opportunity to join in and it had made such a difference to how comfortable he felt at that moment.  It truly did.  You could see it as clear as day.

My stop came up shortly after.  I hopped off the tram, bursting with love and my eyes wet with tears of awe.  I don’t think I will ever forget this wonderful moment.

Every time we interact with somebody – be they the person serving us at the supermarket, the person standing at the pedestrian crossing with us, the person sharing an elevator – as well as those we know well and share our daily lives with – we are given the opportunity to contribute something to their lives.  We are given the chance to share love, good cheer, a listening and compassionate ear, simple observations, even a song!  And when we do we create or reinforce a bond, a connection, that has the power to really make a difference.

I know this to be so true.  Many of my patients have described the huge difference this connection can make … to an elderly patient who experiences such loneliness, an anxious patient who feels overwhelmed by what is before her, a young patient with schizophrenia who feels so humiliated and worthless.

The woman at the supermarket today described it to me so eloquently – the value a customer who makes eye contact and cheerfully chats with her bestows upon her working day (and how very grateful she is for this), compared to how long the hours seem when she only encounters those who snatch and snap or are completely disengaged and uninterested.

And I can assure you, there have been countless, wonderful times when the friendliness and generosity of a person I’ve found myself next to has shone warmth on a previously not so great day.  I’m sure you have to :-)

I’m not Pollyanna-ish enough to think a little bit of singing and dancing on the tram is enough to transform a very vulnerable person’s life.  Who knows what the young man felt capable of when he hopped off the tram, or what choices he made.  But he had a moment of happiness.  He was included and wanted.  That has to be a good thing.

So today, after writing an essay on human dignity, chatting with the woman at the supermarket, and remembering the little girl and the young man on the tram, I just wanted to say … let us find moments to share joy everyday.  It has the potential to truly enrich the lives of those around us.  I think it’s the most important responsibility we have each day.  What do you reckon?!

a little bit of a rearrange

A little bit of a rearrange is always a good thing.  At least I think so :-)  Julian sometimes disagrees.  He says it’s a girl thing.  But with cold, wintery temperatures here to stay for the next few months at least and us soldiering on with our no-heating winter, a few small changes were in order.

And just like that the french doors between the front room and living room were closed.  Personally, they’ve always annoyed me slightly.  They are picturesque and all but do take up a lot of space.  Space that we can readily use given all our indoor pursuits  … and my delight in bringing home hard rubbish.  From a warmth perspective – it means both rooms warm up much more easily – all that body warmth making a smaller enclosed space positively cosy.

So, in the living room, the sofa was pushed back against the closed doors, instantly making the living room so roomy and light, and adding plenty of floor space for Abby to stretch out.  And in the front room, the record player occupies the other side of the glass, low enough not to be overwhelming or block the light that pours in from our front windows.

record plater gentleman's wardrobe

The craft and games cupboard has come in from the hallway and now sits cosy in the corner, her beautiful wood glowing richly.  The bookshelf has changed walls, giving us a fresh chance to peruse its shelves and rediscover old favourites – amazing how a simple move does that.  The singer sewing cabinet has moved into the hallway where it is so much lighter and prettier by the front door.  I even found a lamp to sit atop it – now I just need a nice long extension cord.  Our old home is very short on powerpoints.

bookshelf by the window

The white armchairs have moved into the centre – sitting squarely opposite the sofa.  I like the geometric look – and the move away from the window stops Fu from leaping onto one where she stands up on her back legs and spies on the neighbours and passerbys.

littl folk sofa

And in between emptying and moving and refilling – moving the games and craft cupboard and bookshelf is certainly a time consuming task – there was a little time for this …

bit of this

… as well as time for giving everything a much needed dust with a beautiful juniper scented furniture polish, the baking of shortbread (to match the new novel Abby and I are reading together each evening), the slow cooking of goulash for a post babysitting supper, and the sharing of piping hot cups of tea with my girl who was home early from school today.

Such contentment.


the drawing satchel – a sale!


Thankfully, my people sleep in.  No matter what exciting things are planned for the day ahead – even CHRISTMAS DAY – my people sleep in.  This used to annoy me.  Then I realised just how very useful it is to have a good 2, if not 3 hours up my sleeve in the morning before they stagger out to the kitchen, ESPECIALLY when there is something special about to happen (ahhhh last minute present making!)

Cue last Saturday – the day of our birdwatching adventure to Phillip Island.  Now, we’d only decided to do this the previous Monday breakfast after Abby had described the amazingly gregarious bird with a face like a parrot, the neck of a goose, the long legs of an emu and a fat, fat body that followed them around everywhere on school camp.  Thankfully, you can type this exact description into Google and it takes less than 2 seconds to tell you “that’s a Cape Barren Goose!”  They sounded so marvellous and their history since white settlement so incredible, I just had to see them for myself.

That gave me five days prep.  Five days to do a bit more research – during which I discovered Phillip Island is brilliant for all kinds of bird watching.  Five days to find some thrifted binoculars, plan and prepare a picnic, gathering drawing supplies, and make each of us a drawing satchel.  Now at this point, a non-sewist might say “Make drawing satchels!  Silly Lily, just chuck the stuff in the picnic basket”.  But a fellow sewist will say “Ah!  Of course!  Why not make a drawing satchel” :-)

However, I didn’t buy the fabric until Friday evening.  Which meant my drawing satchel production looked a wee bit doomed.  Until you factor in the sleeping-in habits of my people.  I’m up between 6.30 and 7.00 most mornings, so that gave me three hours to sip my tea, plan my bags, make Julian’s as the test run (he’s a boy, he doesn’t notice these things) and then whip up Abby’s and mine.

Which I did.  The design worked a treat (with minimal unpicking on Julian’s) and the satchels proved both useful and beautiful – the required test for anything made in Bootville :-)  In mine, I carried my drawing pad, a very dense little book of Australian birds, pencils, rubber and phone.  Abby managed to fit in half her desk … her laptop, 3 novels, drawing pad, pencil case, pencils, pens, phone, doll …

will it work done lift the flap

[ Julian's - the prototype - has a three slot pencil holder.
The revised design includes a five slot pencil holder

closeup abby's three bags amazing what she fitted in

So because it was so much fun making them, and they were even nicer to use, and could be used for all kinds of things (as Abby proved), and only used half the fabric I purchased, I made three more.  Which I am offering for sale through my shoplocket app in the right hand tool bar of block-a-day.

All three have a sturdy 100% cotton duck outer and are fully lined (body, flap and front pocket) with a contrasting 100% cotton poplin.  The strap is constructed with 4 layers with a reinforcing top stitch and 3 rows of stitching sandwiching it between the outer,  lining and flap layers – making it very durable. It is long enough to be worn over the shoulder for adults and across the chest for children.   The front pocket is designed to hold standard sized pencils and pens and the large pocket on the right is useful for rubbers, sharpeners and phones.  The flap is designed to cover the front of the bag completely, keeping the front pocket safe.

The price is US$14.  I will post worldwide.  Shipping is extra (currently calculated at regular post – registered, i.e. signed for on delivery will be extra) and will be added during the checkout process.

I have tried and tried to find a feature on shoplocket that allows the customer to add a note.  But have failed.  So please – in order to select which colourway you would like, please send me an email on the top of your order through shoplocket.  There are currently three satchels available -one in each colourway – but if the sale is successful I will cheerfully make more so please do enquire.

Let me see, what shall we call the colourways – the Olive Waves (lined with vanilla pigs on a chocolate background), the Navy Kanji (lined with winter white with a teeny black dot), and the Blue/Grey Birds (lined with blue and little bit multicoloured repeating scale pattern).

a glimpse of the liningSo there you have it!  The drawing satchel – handmade by Lily Boot – for all kinds of folk who like to be prepared!  Buy yours today!

~ loveliness found ~ 21/52

I’ve missed a few weeks … not that there wasn’t loveliness … I just didn’t seem to have the camera by my side.

today … moments of loveliness from an ordinary week.  If you would like to join in, leave your lovely moments in the comments or a link to your space.

putting it to use pie~ making the most of my mother’s day gift
& the pumpkin season ~

newly arranged

~ gathering fabrics for a new quilt ~

another dolly and his jumpsuit

~ marvelling at her creativity & every increasing skill ~

sun on the desklucy in the sun fu in the sun

~ joining the doggles in their wisdom
on a frost morning, you stick to the sunny spots~


~ tea, tea and more tea
my favourite – Yorkshire Gold ~

crazy cosy

~ some cheery soliders and cosy flannel
for a crazy skirt ~

tree tops

leaf hunting our efforts

~ leaf hunting & naming with a little one
they don’t make waxed paper like they used to
but it was still a marvellous afternoon ~


moon and cloud

~ remembering to look up
- there’s always so much beauty to be spied ~

shetland yarn

~ it arrived!
more beautiful yarn from the Shetland Isles
as requested by the husband, I’m turning my needles to Argyle ~

pecks paste and wool tea and toast~ a strangely delicious lunch & one of my favourites
Peck’s paste on hot, buttery toast
I blame all those Malory Towers books as a child ~

looking into basket what shall I take this time oh fine I'll leave it alone

~ an incredibly friendly and mischievous Raven
who made ourfirst bird watching adventure such a delight
you should have seen him tilting his head sideways to survey the basket contents
cracked us up every time~

vintage binoculars

~ thrifted, vintage, Japanese binoculars
two pairs, not perfect but
allowed us to see like we’ve never seen before ~

pin grass~ tempting country roads & pink grass ~

weekending with the birds

Phillip Island … bird watching … picnicking … drawing …
comic writing … strolling … exploring …
delighting in the notion that when we stop and really look,
there’s so much more there then we’ve ever before realised.

everywhere in twos

cape barren geese – these are the sweeties that drew us here
Abby met them on school camp

cows on hillcows


Kitty Miller Bay
wild surf, jagged rocks, a gentle lagoon, the perfect picnic spot
and cows – don’t forget the cows

bags picnicking soudough and pate

plenty of supplies
drawing books, bird book, binoculars, camera
salami, pate, sourdough and chocolate

our friend the raven

we made a new friend - Raven
he was very fond of us … stayed the whole afternoon
insisted on trying to knit, enjoyed a cup of tea, and was very excited by the tissue box

drawing her story abby's raven storyAbby was smitten
filling page after page,
insisting on calling him crow
because the Japanese word for crow is so cool

checking out the herons

though she was happy to down pencil for binoculars
so as to help her mama work out what the birds on the far rocks were …
“yep … they’re birds”

hooded ploversthere were wee hooded plovers boinging up and down the shoreline,
sooty oyster catchers dipping their toes in the little waves,
& white faced herons strutting across the far out rocks

spur winged lapwing cape barren goose dusky moorhen

spur winged lapwings hanging out with cows,
more pairs of Cape Barren geese everywhere we looked
- have they not the sweetest faces you’ve every seen on a goose,
& gorgeous jewelled chested dusky moorhens.

walking rising up out of the grass

we took a walk through the mangroves of Rhylls Inlet
where wallabies thickened fields
that were used a decade ago to breed the CPGs
who were almost extinct – very successful breeding program

acrobat in the mangroves

we could hear the birds here
but could nary see but one tiny, shimmering Superb Fairy Wren

sun across the inlet

golden water so peacefulAnd then the light grew so rich and beautiful …
before vanishing and leaving us in the dark

Time to go home.


winter warmth

:: A simple recipe for a warm winter’s eve ::

stained glass lamp

light the lamps

slippers and flannel skirt

pull on your fleecy slippers and a cosy flannel skirt


snuggle a soft knitted shawl round your shoulders


share steaming cups of tea

hot water bottles

& whilst brewing tea, make hot water bottles


add a wee glass of muscat – warms the throat so sweetly


then make like the doggles … 


… & burrow into a quilt


if hot water bottles aren’t your thing, make the most of smoochy doggles

knitting& settle down for a very warming, very peaceful start to the weekend
with a basket of knitting

This family recipe has been well tested & guarantees success everytime!

squishy baby bottoms – a quilt!


on the fence post

I am pleased to report that the May Gibbs/Blue Cross Quilt – known in Bootville as the Squishy Baby Bums Quilt – is finished and there was no further loss of fabric.  In fact, the final stage went smoothly and quickly and all were satisfied with the outcome :-)  Very satisfied.  Thank goodness the lovely Miss Amy posted her Crosses quilt on Instagram – I would never have thought of putting blocks together in this way.  Huzzah for Miss Amy!

It has such an old world look about it, this quilt.  I love it!  I love the striking big blue crosses. I love the higgledy-piggledy Blossom babies with their squishy pink bottoms and rolls of delicious baby fat nestled in amongst the Australian bush.  And oh the red border – how it sets it off.  Yum!

all at once

from the right from the left

Apart from all those squishy babies, the other feature I especially love about this quilt is one particular fabric … the yellow background with gumnut babies lazily resting in the trees watching the sunrise.  These particular illustrations have a beautiful slow buzz about them – a real Australian, summer bush buzz.  That still, almost hot beauty of an Australian summer morn when you stand in front of the open window and sigh with deep satisfaction as a soft breeze caresses your body, knowing that in a few hours, it will be too hot to move, but right now, it’s perfect.

facing the road on the bench

The image of the rising sun is one I’m soooo fond of.  You see it everywhere from the turn of the last century through to the 1930s.  Check out this lovely example – we see heaps of these gates around our neighbourhood and you can be assured, if I ever see one in hard rubbish …  Ooooh and this is such a lovely one too.  Here’s a rising sun in a lead light window – gorgeous! The rising sun is all through Art Deco sculpture and architecture … the Empire State Building is crowned with a beautiful rising sun, as are many of the lovely old buildings surrounding my university.

I first became aware of this image when watching the wonderful English film “Hope & Glory” – the Boorman family had a rising sun in their wooden front gate – as did everyone in the street – and Mac (cynical family friend) mocked the sun along with the street name (I think it was Rose Avenue and as Mac pointed out there were no roses and a treeless street does not an avenue make) and the whole intention of the new purpose built family friendly suburbs declaring it all to be part of a government conspiracy to delude ordinary British folk into thinking life was good and the times ahead would be prosperous and glorious.

rising sun aqua stripe blossoms red blossoms baby birds

Whilst I know there are some things in life that are safest viewed through my rose coloured glasses, I cannot agree with Mac’s sentiment.  Whenever I see the rising sun, be it illuminating Gumnut babies in May Gibb’s illustrations, welded into humble 1930s garden gates, or delicately painted onto Clarice Cliff’s gorgeous pottery, I am filled with an optimistic warmth.  It symbolises that a new day lays in the palm of my hand, promising opportunities filled with light, life, strength and indeed hope.  Even on the dreary days, the stretched out fingers of the rising sun remind me that no matter what, she will return tomorrow, just as beautiful.

I’m sure that that is what people, who for thousands of years and in every culture around our globe, have thought/felt as they’ve included the rising sun in their art, mythology and literature. Such good and powerful stuff.  You’ve only got to look at those little squishy bummed babies perched high in the gumtrees – unlike their friends in the other pattern ways who are all busy and bothered, hurried and excited, the babes facing the rising sun are completely satiated and calm.  There’s nothing else they need but that lovely warmth :-)

folded with the dandelions

Now, where are those quilting pins …


the second last block … a very silly tale

block pieces

Remember the May Gibbs fabric?  I made pillowcases and laundry bags, fat quarters and goodies were posted to a lovely reader, and I even tried putting together a block that by the end of the evening I hated.

Then the moomin quilt didn’t fit the blue and cream checked vintage blanket – entirely my fault – I’d cut a strip off it to make the Christmas Gingerbread Bunting.  So then, in spite, I made it even smaller by cutting more off to make the Lighthouse Hottie Warmer.

And then Abby scolded me, telling me that the blue and cream checked blanket was in fact the cosiest of our blankets and she thought I needed to make it a quilt, measured to fit exactly what was left and stop chopping it up.

So I did.  I pulled the May Gibbs fabric back out.  Added a delicious blue floral that I’d bought to bind the Moomin quilt.  Became smitten with a glorious quilt the wonderful Mrs. Schmenkman treated us to a glimpse of on her Instagram account.  And with Julian away and university almost finished for the term, set to making blocks.

I thought alternating the blue crosses with red ones would be lovely.  Abby disagreed.  It’s her quilt.  We stuck to blue.

Then, with three strips of 6 completely sewn up and the last strip only missing its last two blocks – all because I cut the final piece of sashing at 10 1/2 inches instead of 13 1/2 inches and it was too tricksy to get the scraps back out of the cupboard and cut another piece – well of course it wasn’t, but you know how you get into a mindset – I neatly folded the May Gibbs / Blue Cross quilt and have admired it ever since as it has hung over the arm of the barley twist armchair.

laid out

Then, on Saturday past, I thought it was high time the last two blocks were added.  So stitched a piece of correctly sized sashing to the second last block.  And then neatly folded the quilt and put it back on the armchair.  I can’t remember why.  I can’t even remember what I did on Saturday night.  Did I knit?  I might have knitted.

So today!  I unfolded the quilt, laid it across the sofa and pulled the two remaining blocks out of the huge pile of fabric that has mysteriously gathered on the living room craft table.  Except that there weren’t two blocks, there was one.  And I knew there were supposed to be two.  And look!  You can see in the photo above, there are TWO blocks missing.  I knew I had sewn the sashing onto one of them on Saturday and now it wasn’t there.  It was 2.37.  I had to pick up a little one from school at 3.30pm.  I wanted to finish this here quilt and photograph it before the thin, cold sunlight disappeared and share it with you tonight.

I scoured the house – frantically.  Muttering Hugh Grant’s wonderful poetry from Four Weddings and a Funeral – you know the part when he’s in the teeny weeny car with Scarlet and they’ve missed the turnoff.  Could I find that block!?  I could not. At this point, if he’d been home (thank goodness he wasn’t) Julian would have hooted with laughter and exclaimed – “Of course one little quilt block is not jumping out at you!  The whole house is camouflaged with quilts you silly woman!  I’m amazed we can find anything!”

So with four minutes to spare, I ripped the May Gibbs scraps back out of the cupboard, hunted down the leftover blue floral – of which there was only one strip, the rest having been used to bind the Lighthouse Hottie Warmer – good job Lily! – and cut out another block – having to remeasure one of the original blocks because I could no longer remember the dimensions of each piece.  As for the combination of fabrics – the other twenty three blocks were carefully constructed with the hope of achieving the right balance of fabrics.  I couldn’t have cared less about this block and guess what!?  It doesn’t look any different to the others – there’s a lesson there.

only one block

a skerrick of bluethe scraps

Then it was off to school to pick up the wee one.  Home again for afternoon tea and homework.  And somehow, I managed to find an opportunity to finally stitch those two blocks onto the last strip.  Actually, it was simple – I offered the little one a chance to watch a little bit of The Borrowers with Abby.  Hey!  It’s classic literature – in film form.  Yes, that’s how determined I was to finish this quilt.  I bribed a small child.


I laid the quilt back out – evenly this time – and guess what.  THE MISSING SECOND LAST BLOCK WAS THERE ALL ALONG – ATTACHED TO THE BLOODY FOURTH STRIP!  As my Nanny would say – Jesus, Mary and Joseph!  What an idiot!  I must have added it on Saturday when I stitched on the sashing.  See – have a look!  When you line it up properly there is only one block missing – not two :: huge forehead smack ::

wait a minute frantic sewing

The light outside was disappearing fast.  The sewing was speedy.  The ironing was patchy. The fourth strip was pinned and added.  Three borders were hurled on.  The light vanished.  The child needed a bath.  :: deep sigh ::  I had to declare defeat.

fu thinks its done grand unveiling

I laid the quilt out in the dim, golden light of the bedroom.  Fu liked it – she promptly climbed on and settled down to sleep.

Now – it’s neatly folded awaiting its final border.  I think I know where that is.  Maybe I should pin it to the fridge.

As for you, dear folks – at least you’ve had a glimpse :-)  There is a May Gibbs / Blue Cross quilt here in Bootville.  It’s just about finished.  It’s lovely.  The girlie loves it.  There’s a blue and cream checked blanket waiting for it.

As for me?  I shall go to bed :-)


the dreams held in a fireside quilt

chaotic sewing table

Life in Bootville is by no means perfect.  Like most folk, and as I’ve sometimes shared, we struggle in many ways.  Some days – some circumstances – are certainly harder than others.  There are many things we have not yet achieved – home ownership being a glaring one of these.  Some long held hopes will not come to fruition – I’ve made my peace with these.  Others are dreams we hold close, accepting that at this moment we are only in a position to take them carefully from their box, lay them out to admire for a few moments, then gently tuck them back in * whilst we busy ourselves with the more everyday aspects of life.

This is not to say that such “everyday aspects” do not possess their own loveliness.  Oh they do.  Sometimes, when I’m scanning through the archives of block-a-day looking for a particular post or photo, I am struck by just how much loveliness we have created and shared over the last five years.

And I am very mindful, that whilst we Boots might feel that we are not yet living our perfect life, my goodness, we are living an incredibly privileged one.  One that is full of love and happiness, good health and security, opportunity and adventure.   One that should thus be savoured and gratefully experienced one moment at a time – even when it feels a bit awkward or worrying.  You would be amazed of what I’m capable of worrying about – truly, you would!

For me, right now, these feelings of have and have not, of what is here right now and what is missing, of what I dream of and what I must make the most of, are summed up in this quilt top.  It’s been at least four years in the making.  Possibly five.  I started it when I was working at the patchwork store in Brisbane, living with mum.  Standing in the store one quiet afternoon, I realised there was only half a bolt left of this sweet Heather Ross fabric so snatched it all up.  Along with the last of one of my favourite Kaffe Fassett’s – the richest of the millefiores.  After supper that night, I quickly cleared the dining room table so that I could began slicing and stitching.  Imagining a quilt that would rest draped over a rocking chair by the fireside in our soon to come Melbourne life.  I dreamed about it. Pieced a little of it. Photographed it.  Wrote about it.  Then it was tidied away and forgotten.

As you can see, I recently found it.  Tucked away in a box.  As I pulled it out, I ooohed at all that lovely fabric still pristine and uncut.  Then, as I opened the lengths of fabric out, small pieced squares and countless strips of varying widths and lengths drifted to the floor and I remembered what it was – what I had dreamt it would be.

heather ross fabric

stitching it up

I laid the pieces out on the bed and shook my head.  Well here we are in Melbourne.  There’s no fireside and no rocking chair.  Some of what we hoped for when we moved to Melbourne has come to fruition in wonderful ways – especially Abby’s school.  It is more than we could ever have hoped for and so very perfect for her.   Other things haven’t panned out as we thought they would, but there’s time.  Some things have been truly heartbreaking.  But what we’ve had instead has given us opportunities to grow – in wisdom, resilience and love.

Now, there is a finished fireside quilt.  In this our winter without heating (remember we are in Melbourne, not Moscow!) it will be promptly finished and put to very good use in our living room – Abby is so very stingy with the Moomin quilt and Julian declares that the 4 inch floral is his and his alone.

in the basket finished on the sofa squashed centre close up of centre beautiful sun looking down

This rich and glowing quilt, along with so many other treasures we’ve collected, restored and created with an eye to what we dream will come next, will be part of the here and now.  And it will serve to remind me that our dreams will not come bursting out of their box like a Jack-in-the-box on Christmas morning, with a marvellous “ta-da!”.  No.  They will be achieved slowly.  Some pieces will be hard won.  Some carefully chosen.  Some will fall blissfully into place.  Some will keep us awake at night.  Some might be elusive.

And in the meantime, with our dreams there to guide us, we shall make the most of every precious moment we share.

looking towards the door folded on stone ledge hanging on the doorknob

* this is not an original analogy, but an imperfect and much loved remembering of what Mrs. Darling told Wendy when describing Mr. Darling as a hero in the wonderful 2003 version of Peter Pan.

a very finished chess board

Yeah, yeah.  You’re sick of hearing about the chessboard.  And I didn’t live up to my promises last week.  I know.  The week kind of wobbled off course.  These things happen.

But today!  New week.  New to do list.  Board FINISHED.  Family playing. Good stuff!

raw edges

It only took an hour to move the board on from here …

looking at blue

to here …

corner with pieces orange

and then as soon as the girlie was home and tea was brewed …

abbys lineup abby little blue pawn knight king my hostages

Personally, I think chess is made so much more fun by having such darling little pieces :-) I bought them from a lovely local woman on ebay.  What a find!

Playing, I always imagine I’m Empress Matilda – wife to the German Emperor, heir to the English throne, and dogged combatant of her usurper cousin King Stephen.  Not that this brings me any luck or skill – bit useless at chess I am.

I first met Matilda in Ellis Peter’s marvellous Brother Cadfael books – have you read them? They are so enjoyable.  Fortunately, I was studying history at the time and was able to enrol in subjects that allowed me to dip further into this awesome woman’s life and struggles.  I wanted to name Abigail after her.  My family pooh-poohed the idea – a girl born in Australia and named Matilda will always be asked if she’s named after that blasted song with the thieving swagman!

her next move

After whipping me soundly, Abby prepared the board and waited for a more serious opponent …

julian and abby cosy evening… and from the sounds drifting down the hallway, I’m guessing the moves that swiftly defeated her mother just don’t stack up against her father :-)



Meanwhile, the rain pours, the temperature drops further still, soup bubbles gently on the stove, lazy doggles snore …

Such is the perfect winter’s eve.