on christmas day in the morning …

stockings

:: it seems the presents have become wider than the stockings ::

under the tree

:: we’ve all decided we’re quite fond of this funny little tree ::

his apron

mum
lucy

Fu

:: it was all too exhausting for the doggles ::

for lily

:: Julian gave me a new lens for our camera!
It will be sooo good on the farm ::

reading the instructions

:: more complicated then lego instructions ::

practice radical self love

:: my favourite Phoebe Wahl print – I can’t wait to hang it ::
tina

:: Noah needle felted me a Tina doll – it’s so gorgeous I cried ::
noH

:: there’s a new photographer in Bootville ::

ron

:: Yep – Noah needle felted Julian a Ron doll! ::

mum's stocking

:: and the stockings were finished and greeted with delight ::

julian's stocking

Oh it was such a marvellous Christmas – so much excitement, happiness and gratitude.

Isn’t it a lovely time of the year :-)

a pair of christmas stockings

supplies

julian

mum

floss

grass

stitching

hibiscus

mum and her squares

fu

noah

curry plant

beautiful yellow

lucy

noah and the floss

ready for stitching upI must say, it’s much easier to sleep during the day (after night duty) when it’s a wintery one – cold, grey and drizzling is just perfect.  Even better when the whole family are out and our home remains silent and still.

On a beautiful sunny day, just 2 sleeps until Christmas with the family bustling (quietly!) about making presents, tidying boxes, preparing lovely food … not so easy.  By half past two, I just could not keep my eyes (tightly clad in Julian’s airplane sleeping mask) closed any longer.

Instead, out to the back garden we went.  Banana lounges spread out under the oak.  Cool drinks by our sides.  Doggies bumbling about with bones and sticks.  Mum with her crochet squares.  Noah with his laptop.  Julian with his wine.  Me with my cross stitch.

I first started these a few years back.  It was a Christmas when, inexplicably, I just couldn’t seem to remember where I’d stashed the Christmas necessities the year before.  “Lost in the diaspora!’ declared one Jewish friend when I admitted I couldn’t even lay my hands on the nativity set!

With a week to go I set to cross stitching.  I have no idea where I found the patterns.  I think I must have used some of Mum’s old embroidery floss because do you think I could match a single colour to the hundreds in my floss boxes?!

So today they just got done.  I made the best colour choices I could and lay back out there in the beautiful dappled sunlight, needle slipping in and out of the linen, until the wee patterns were finished.  Bliss.

Now – Julian and Noah are watching The Empire strikes back whilst Noah fixes up my floss boxes (Fu sent them flying across the grass!).  Mum’s tucked up in bed with a magazine.  And me?

I’m off to shift 2/3 of night duty for the week.  I’d be lying if I said I was excited or even pleased to be going.  But, as I remind myself, this is what I do.  And it needs to be done.  So I am :-) And if I listen to the Muppets singing Silent Night on route, by the time I arrive I shall be feeling positively loving towards all those poor folk who are having a bummer of an evening.

The stitching up will wait til tomorrow.

 

a very small Christmas

the mantlepiece

shepherd

good king wncelas

cookie cutters

waiting for their turn in the oven

baked

threading the critters

putting up the tree

oranges

angel

in the nappy bucket

julian

trkey brine

books and presents

To be sure, it’s a very small Christmas here in Bootville this year.

Our lovely big tree and the decorations we have been making and collecting for 23 years are at the farm.  So’s the nativity set and the Christmas candles.   As are the Christmas quilts, pillowcases, bunting, banners, gift bags, table linen …

All that’s left here is the funny little tree I picked up from hard rubbish a couple of years back.  Noah and I spruced her up with slices of oven dried oranges and salt dough cookies (which I’ve caught the naughty dog licking).  And in a moment of weakness, I even called into HoneyBees and bought a sweet wooden angel to hang.

We’ve prettied up the mantlepiece with fairy lights and angels and some dear little wooden friends – St. Nicholas herding a few cows, a cheerful shepherd watching the singing angels with his sheep, and Good King Wencelas and his stoic little page.

Presents are gathering under the tree – we’ve no time or room for making lovely wrappings so it’s scraps of packing paper and wool (unless there’s shop wrapping to take advantage of!).

And now, just before I head off to night duty, Julian and I have brined the turkey (we use Nigella’s fabulous medieval brining found in her Feast cookbook – one of my favourites that’s also at the farm – or here!) and since we can’t find the lidded bucket we’ve brining the turkey in for 9 years, we’re using the old nappy bucket – well washed I promise.

Yes, we are swamped with boxes and tumbling over piles of things that were about to be put in boxes and then got left out til next time.  And mess.  There’s so much mess.

Never mind.  I think there may be a bit of stocking-sewing action tomorrow, there’ll be a bit of Christingle action on Christmas Eve (if you’d like to make some, there’s a sweet little history and description of them here), there’ll definitely be Midnight Mass and probably Christmas morning mass too (I get so carried away with the carols!), and at any moment, my Mum will be here.

Yes, it will be a much smaller Christmas than that which we’ve become used to – but one with plenty of good cheer and love.

the hugeness of it all

sunrise

morning sea of mist

Whether I’m standing on the front verandah of our little cottage at Wombat Hill, or looking back at these photos, I am simultaneously thrilled that this is about to become our permanent home, amazed that we’ve managed to land us something so beautiful, and full of gratitude that we’re in a position to take advantage of all the loveliness that lays before us.

In just 3 weeks I will have finished my grad year.  In 4 weeks the removalists will have collected all of our belongings here in Melbourne and we will all be living on our little farm.  In 5 weeks the removalists will have delivered all of our belongings (and we’ll probably still be trying to squeeze it all into the shed) and we will be truly at home.

But oh my, this has been a huge year.  Huge.

the chairs

the bookcase

We spent the first half of the year in the throes of finding and buying this lovely property.  There were literally thousands of kilometres driven, many hours spent traipsing up and down hills, false starts involving ridiculous planning legislation, hours juggling finances, and weeks wondering whether we could ever pull this off – when they say buying a home is one of life’s great stressors, man they were right!

Of course, things have only hotted up since the contract was signed, sealed and delivered and for the last five months we’ve been living amidst the chaos of moving, with boxes stacked everywhere, mess that I could never usually tolerate, and no sense of routine or down time.  We are so done with it and just want to be there!

During this upheaval, Julian and I have nurtured and encouraged our child through the end of his formal schooling, all the while supporting and loving him through the first stages of his transition. Our steepest parenting experience yet.

Then, halfway through the year, my beloved Grandad died amidst horrible and ongoing extended family unpleasantness.  And at the end of his funeral (a dreadful affair) I literally had a young motorcyclist (who was racing a mate through a red light) hit by a 4WD and land on the road in front of me – his femur snapped in half and sticking out through his horrifically injured leg.  There I crouched, on the phone to the paramedics, terrified this young man’s femoral artery would begin to bleed, and crazily thinking, “oh my god! I’ve only got a dress on! (the postmaster’s granddaughter’s dress)  I’m going to have to pull it off and use it to staunch the blood flow and I’ll be standing here on Lutwyche Road in my knickers and bra!” – thankfully that didn’t happen, the ambulance arrived very quickly and the young man survived.

layers of green

across the fields

And then, of course, there is the whole “Grad Year” experience, where I’ve spent the vast majority of my time pushed totally out of my comfort zone (and the habits of a 17 year veteran of stay at home mummying), expected to behave with confidence, compassion and competence, whilst balancing on the lip of a very steep learning curve.

I’ve had a patient die whilst cradled against my body.  I’ve had several others come very close – let me tell you how long that adrenaline takes to leave your body!  I’ve had shifts where it is so confronting I’ve literally wanted to lay on the floor and wail “I can’t do this!!!!!” And others where I have had to say to the nurse in charge “This patient is just beyond my skills and experience.” And there have been many crazy, chaotic shifts in Emergency where I get by by practising my best Dory impression “Just keep swimming/smiling/nursing/writing/observing/comforting/caring … “

skull and grapes

refreshing

Then, yesterday morning, as I was preparing for a long shift in RITZ (that’s where the patients come after they’ve been triaged), I was very aware that my chest felt funny.  Not asthma funny (44 years experience with that one).  Not anxiety funny (something I thankfully seem to have had under control for the last few years).  A different funny – like every few moments there was a pigeon fluttering in my chest trying to get out, followed by a heavy-feeling thump.

Now I had noticed this, on and off, the day before when I was at work and thought I was just tired. But yesterday morning, it started the moment I got up and just kept happening.  So, at my mum’s demand, I got ready for work quickly and headed in early, thinking I would just mention it to one of the senior staff to see if they thought it needed looking at.

See, when you work in Emergency you see a lot of people who aren’t dreadfully sick – they’re a little bit off, worried, unsure of what to do, and need to know that it’s all okay and they’ll be fine.  I’m cool with that but I didn’t want to be one of those people.

However, when I arrived at work, it was chaos.  So I just popped my stethoscope around my neck and got working whilst that pigeon fluttered away.

Eventually my nursing educator arrived and innocently asked how I was.  I almost cried and whispered “Actually, I’ve got a really weird feeling in my chest.”

The next thing, I was triaged, in the white patient gown, on the trolley, cardiac monitor hooked up, with bloods being taken.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so awkward in my life as junior doctors waved and smiled to me from the desk, orderlies made kind jokes about me being today’s “mystery shopper”, and my nursing colleagues popped in and out of my cubicle to give me a hug, see how I was doing, and watch the monitor.

Turns out I was having premature atrial contractions – little “ectopics” that were randomly firing off every now and then. They were the flutter.  Then because they are pretty useless, the next proper contraction had more blood behind it which created the “thump”.  My colleagues watched the monitor and would say “Oh did you feel that one!  I saw it!”  “Yep,” I’d answer.  Surreal.

My bloods were perfect.  My blood pressure remained a rock solid 117/60 (thereabouts) for 3 hours.  The consultant checked me out, gave me the thumbs up, and deemed it best if I went home and rested for the rest of this day and the next.  I’m not at any risk of anything awful happening.  It may never happen again or it may be something I experience on and off  for the rest of my life.  Premature atrial contractions are the most common cardiac arrythmias and they don’t need treatment unless they become symptomatic (i.e. shortness of breath, dizzyness, or coming in a regular pattern)

These things just happen sometimes – more common in women then men, and common for women experiencing menopause.

Wow!  Isn’t menopause the gift that just keeps on giving.  I can add trapped pigeons fluttering to the floods of blood I have during my really frequent periods!

roses

the moon

So here I am at home.  Amidst the appalling mess.  I haven’t vacuumed for a fortnight so there’s Fu fluff everywhere (she’s having her summer moult).  Do you know, I haven’t even cleaned the shower floor for over a month.  I no longer have ANY domestic aspirations for this house.  I just want to get out.

Oh and it’s tipped to hit 42 degrees today.  Yay Climate Change! Nothing like a mess to make me feel ten times hotter.

There is still so much to pack.  There are Christmas presents to finish, buy and wrap.  Remember – there’s only 3 weeks and 2 days until those removalists arrive.  And I still have two blocks of night shift, one block of days, and a quality project to get through at work.  And Christmas to celebrate.

But I also have this beauty above to look forward to.  Is it any wonder my heart is all a flutter :-)

not a creature was stirring

appliquing the banner

Well, this little design has pleased me so much I’ve made it twice in the last week – with plans to make it again :-)  Once for an Instagram Christmas swap …. and once for someone’s present – shshshsh! And I’ll certainly make it again :-)

I just adore those little sleeping faces tucked into their quilty bed.  I think when I make it next, I’ll make some more faces – it could be a pattern with a variety of many faces and you could choose your own!  There could be all different sorts of boys and girls.  Teddies!  Dollies!  Dogs!  Cats!  Racoons!

It could be a veritable Ten in the Bed!  Hey – now that’s a fabulous idea!  Oh yes!  A much bigger quilt for a child with 10 in the bed and then words embroidered in blocks throughout the quilt.  Cute.

I got the idea for the little faces from a dolls quilt I’d seen on Pinterest where they embroidered the faces using a simple running stitch.  Here it is

And the felt applique – well, I just adore felt applique.  I often dream of making children’s books with felt applique.  I would love to do one of the animals we live with at Merimbula.  And then stories about children in Merimbula at times over the last 150 years …

I dream big.  I just need the organisation and discipline to sit down and do something about it.

adding the lace

You don’t need to know this wee quilt was pinned onto a vintage blanket, do you?  Because you know of course it was.

pin pin pin

And each room I worked in – piecing it on the little green Husqvarna in the front room – appliquing in the dining room – quilting in the spare ‘oom – my dearly loved sweetheart followed me round with her laptop.

Reading funny things out to me.  Working on her drawings.  Showing me what she’d designed next.  My, how I do love her.  I am especially grateful that even though she is a teenager and all, she still loves to spend time with me.

We have a lovely relationship.  We are both very blessed :-)

my companion

Unfortunately, one thing I’m not is Anne from Green Gables.  Do you remember how she reckoned she never made the same mistake twice.  She always learnt her lesson.  I don’t.  I regularly make the same mistake over and over and over.

Just this afternoon, as I lay on my bed tired and having one of those silly moments when I didn’t know what to do next (cooking supper would have been a good thing), I noticed my skirt was covered with little bits of thread.  They’re from all the unpicking I do.

Mmhm.  I am the queen of unpicking.  I looked at that minty strip of green with its red balls the first time I sewed it and thought – I could quilt it with a contrasting red and it would look really pretty.  Well it didn’t.  So I unpicked it.  Second time – I thought, I can DEFINITELY quilt in that green stripe with red – I just need to do it nicely.  Aaaaaaaaand I had to unpick it.

Same with the appliqued band.  Abby said warned “No!  Mum! It didn’t work the first time! Remember!  The foot kept butting up against the felt heads!” I cheerfully replied “Yes, but I know what to look out for this time so I can do it better.”  I didn’t. Unpick! Unpick! Unpick!

Tonight, I’ve got 4 rows of top stitching to unpick on two pillowcases.  The first one didn’t work.  Did I stop and reevaluate.  Nope, I just kept going.  Sigh.
quilting

tulip

But squiggly-wiggly?  It’s a bit hard to go wrong with that – I do love it so.

red tulip

Now here is Lily-Anne trying to learn … I thought maybe I could fit more of the verse on if I wrote the words out on paper as I guide to how big to make the letters.  It didn’t work.  Oh well.  I’m hopeful that the letters will become finer and smoother with practice.  I’m a huge believe in Practice :-)

I’m thinking of doing a Christmas carol next.  I just can’t decide which one – We Three Kings?  O Come All Ye Faithful?  I love both of them.  No! No!  O Little Town of Bethlehem.  With little appliqued houses.

didnot help

closeup of ginger

Look at the sun hitting the felt – doesn’t it make the texture so utterly beautiful.  And I love perle thread.  I know I said it above, but I adore felt applique.  It is my hands down favourite stitchy pursuit. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

close up of coco

writing

tulips

the whole

There you go.  A wee quilt of little people dreaming of Christmas.  That will be us in just 13 short nights !

And it was pure bliss making it.

 

the teachers’ presents


crafting table

Hmmm … it’s just occurred to me, as I uploaded these photos and thought back to the crazy busyness of last week, that this is my second last season of teachers’ presents.  It truly is so unbelievable it gives me a jolt.  Surely it was only yesterday that I cross stitched a Prairie Schooler Christmas Sampler for the lovely Mrs. Solomon and sewed it into a little hanging quilt as a thankyou for a wonderful Year 1.

That’s one of the curses of just one child.  There’s no second and third etc. go round.  Nope – only one chance to get it as close to right as you can.  And no time for savouring.  But I also know how privileged we are to even have one go and for that I am grateful.

We’ve always given teachers’ presents.  Maybe because I spent so many years working in education, I know just how lovely it is to have a student and her family recognise the contribution I made to their year and present me with something sweet and thoughtful.  I’ve always wanted to pay that forwards.

And I want Abby to understand how important it is to show gratitude – it’s a sign of respect and affection.  Maybe I’m just getting old and crotchety, but gee whizz, I think there’s a little less gratitude bumping around every year.  I want her to be one of those lovely people who are remembered and appreciated for showing gratitude.  It’s not hard or expensive – just a bit of time and effort.

Also – I am so very grateful for all that my Abigail has been given by her teachers.

She’s not the most straightforward of students and, apart from a couple of grim years half way through primary school (the Year 3 teacher – we seriously wanted to present her with the dirtiest lump of coal we could find – she was a drunk and a bully), has been blessed with lovely teachers who have always recognised her strengths, enjoyed her quirks and cheerfully walked the extra mile.

As for her high school teachers – my goodness, they regularly reduce me to misty eyes and choked up throat they are so wonderfully thoughtful, compassionate and encouraging.  No matter how grey and wobbly I become, I will never forget the incredible contribution they have made to our lives and will cheerfully sing Star of the Sea’s praises to all.

However, with the plethora of teachers Abby has in highschool, we’ve whittled down the handmade gifts to those who are TRULY marvellous.  For the rest we whip up a more generic but still homemade gift.  This year Abby chose her Japanese teacher – Mrs. Devine, her textiles teacher – Mrs. Pearson, and her Legal studies teacher – Mrs. Maraschello.

Well – no surprises who this cushion is for :-)  I am always a little dubious about themed presents – we can blame my Year 10 Music Teacher for that – she told us at the beginning of the year she HATED musical gifts.  But Abby assured me Mrs. Devine loves Japanese looking things so I dug this piece of simple sweet fabric out of the stash – I like to think it’s quite elegant and not at all corny – and found some pretty calicos to go with it.  I worked up the patchwork on the computer and quilted it with one single large chrysanthemum. It just seemed to need a yoyo in the middle.  Mrs. Devine was delighted.

japanese cushion

little people

The lovely pink and red fabric and the floral used for the binding are MADE in Japan – so that was an extra bonus!  And the blue check made me think of all those lovely indigo woven fabrics to be found in traditional Japanese textiles.

corner

yoyo

The crazy tote went to Mrs. Mara.  We gave her a cushion that last time Abby had her in Year 9 – Abby thought a bag would be a nice alternative for this year.  This was a truly last minute gift.  I had been mulling over the design for a few days and the night before Abby wanted to give it, even DREAMT about how it could go together.

So, Tuesday morning I was up at 5 knowing just what to do.  I cut and sewed the strips, used a dinner plate to make the circular bottom, added a heavy piece of cardboard (chopped out of the back of a large drawing pad) that I covered with the same red lining as the bag, lined it, added the strap and catch, sewed the two cylinders together and voila!  A tote.  I adore it.

And the funny thing – Abby left the Christmas card on the dining table.  Then popped the present on Mrs. Mara’s desk without a note.  Yet, that afternoon Mrs. Mara sent a lovely email saying as soon as she unwrapped it and saw the colours and lovely sewing, she knew exactly who it was from and loved it.  That brought a happy smile to this mum’s face … and the daughter’s too.
the bag

side on

the toggle

princess

lined

flat bottom

Mrs. Pearson’s cushion.  Same pattern as Mrs. Devine’s.  A few different fabrics.  Same chrysanthemum.  And yet it looks so utterly different!  So busy and hot and energetic compared to Mrs. Devine’s cool, quiet elegance.  Hmph – amazing what colour can do, huh!  I used precious Owl and Pussycat fabric because Mrs. Pearson is a fabric guru and I knew she would recognise and love it.  She did.

owl and pussycat

close up quilting

looking across

pink corner

For all my cushions, I use Ikea feather inserts – they just keep their shape soooooo well.  They can be completely flattened to pancake thickness by a sleeping dog, then with a few punches, be brought back to looking plump and gorgeous.  And, hating zippers like I do, I always use a simple envelope back – but I like it to cross over by a good 20cm.  That way there’s no gaping.

cookie jar

The rest of Abby’s teachers – and darling Bob, the lollypop man – each received a jar with the layered ingredients to make Donna Hay’s Choc-chip and Cranberry Oat Cookies.  Recipe included.  They were a big success.  Highly recommended.

Next year – our last year of teachers’ presents – will probably bring more presents for the same lovelies.  But there will be an extra special one for Bob.

Apart from my grandad, Bob is the loveliest gentleman I have ever known.  From the very first day he has shown Abby such friendship and enthusiasm for everything she does.  He waves to me every morning when I drop her off.  And I make sure to come at least 10 minutes after the bell rings every afternoon, because sure enough, Abby will be standing there with Bob and they’ll be chattering away about what they’re both up to, flipping through Abby’s drawing books, carefully inspecting her latest doll, or he’ll be nodding enthusiastically whilst she tells him her latest story.

He’s like her grandad.  (Apart from my dear old grandad, poor Abby completely lucked out in the grandad stakes).  I’ve got those teary eyes and a lump in my throat just writing this.  Words cannot express how grateful I am to Bob for being there for Abby everyday.  I know that she knows that even when some days are a bit hard, there’ll always be Bob in the afternoon.  He’s a school treasure.

So next year, for Bob, there’ll be a quilt – with stars of course.

 

granny busy

out the window

new balls yesterday's four smiley little mouth snip new faourite

The morning may have dawned extra cold and foggy – but after a trip to my favourite Wondoflex for some extra balls of crochet cotton – the rest of the day was gloriously spring, spring, spring!

I spent it on the front porch, baking so warm in the sun that after shedding two jumpers, I simply had to get changed into a skirt and tshirt – which of course, proved a little chilly once the sun began to set and the night chill set in.  Ah, the change in seasons – keeps me on my toes.

And what filled my hands – why Granny Christmas Baubles of course!  All the photos for the pattern are taken, just setting it out now.

There was also a little extra something put together this afternoon – in a medium completely new to me – bamboo and wire – it was a bit fiddly.  But I think tomorrow – with some extra tweaking – it will be just right.  Especially when there’s more Granny Baubles finished for hanging.

supplies and tools almost

much trebling :: a Granny Christmas Bauble

one

It all started here.  Wondering what I’d get if I didn’t add any increases to a granny circle.  A-ha!  A granny bowl.  A very wee granny bowl.  It sat so prettily upon the table.  It was a jewel like jelly fish washed up on the sand.  A very pretty jelly wobbling on a fine china plate.  A limpet covering the low tide rocks with a floral carpet – oh I can’t wait til the summer holidays – Abby and Julian, I’ll need your help!

Or it could be half a Christmas bauble.  Oh yes.  I could definitely see Christmas bauble potential.  So, instead of rising from my desk and doing some of the sewing that awaits me on the kitchen table, I gathered my balls of cotton and began more trebling.

blues bowl how it begins

I do declare, choosing the colours to put together is such fun.  And they rarely turn out exactly as I think they will.  Well actually, I can’t really picture the finished combination when I start so as I finish I find myself thinking “oh that’s what you are – you’re so pretty” or “really?  hmmmm …. “.  Funny enough, when I show my family and ask which ones they like best, they almost always like the ones I’m not so fussed on.  Goes to show.  One person’s perfect cup of tea is another person’s dishwater.  Or something like that.

like a bo-peep biscuit elephant orange fingers

Now it was obvious that there needed to be two of each little granny limpet.  But true to Lily form, after hooking up the first two, I dedicated the rest of the day to making the first half of each bauble.  Because it was fun.

two

Until I had a wee pile of granny limpets.  By this stage, they made me think of patchworked echinacea.  So because my lawn has no spring bulbs shooting and summer flowers are a long way off,  I planted my limpets, just to see if they could indeed have a floral future – and they so could!  Wouldn’t they be so sweet lining a garden path for a birthday party!  You’d have to finish them off properly with a felted wool ball for the echinacea head, and have them firmly attached to the stick.  With a couple of felt leaves embroidered with the names of the party guests – then they could pick theirs and take it home as a party favour.  Much better than lollies.  Oh my goodness Abby – have another birthday party dear!  A flower fairy party.  What?  You’re 17 this year and flower fairies just aren’t your thing any more?  That doesn’t matter nearly as much as indulging your mother’s fancies!

wee bundle in my gatden beige red and yellow amongst the weeds

Sigh.  Well, despite it being a FABULOUS idea and I SHALL do it one day – for myself if needs be – these limpets are destined for more jolly things.  And so I stitched their shells together – turned them into ocarinas it did – and stuffed them with fleece.  Now there was a brief interlude when the first one – the yellow centred one below – had a crocheted yellow border finishing it off.  And it was as irritating as the chicken pox.  It just didn’t sit right and I confess, I was disappointed with the effect and cursing as I fetched Abby from school.  I’ve spent all day making these bloody things and there’s six of them and now I don’t really love them.

But when I got home, ripped that yellow off, and SEWED the two shells together with the same thread as the final border …. oh.  The chicken pox feeling cleared up immediately and I was much pleased.  I also changed the pattern slightly from the first yellow centred one.  It had chained spaces between the granny clusters – which made for a slightly floppsy integrity.  So they’re gone – making my limpets much tighter and more bauble like.

ready

facing swinging in the breeze swinging blue bauble front and side
red in the tree blue in the tree on the bench

I am very excited about this pattern – I hope to make many more – for our tree, for Nanny and Grandad, for Abby’s school teachers, for Mum to take to family in Vancouver at Christmas … I think they’ll make marvellous little presents.  Quick to crochet.  Frugal with the yarn.  Just right.

And I did announce, via Instagram, that the pattern would be here tonight.  But it isn’t.  Sorry.  I have written out all the instructions but I would like to take several more photographs to illustrate some of the more difficult-to-describe-in-writing steps.  And put it together really nicely as a proper pattern you could print off with my “pint of cream” details.  So that will happen tomorrow when there’s plenty of light to take nice, clear photos and I can coerce Abby into helping me with the layout.  Hope that’s okay and you didn’t have your yarn and hook ready and waiting.  Yeah right :-)

I also had a rather good idea involving some little secret bits to put inside … you’ll see.

on monday morning before I leave for a late

crumpled sofas

:: the sofas are crumpled with quilts … speaking of the cold but cosy nights we are having as we move past the winter solstice and once more towards the sun

crochet basket

new version

:: so many corners filled with so many projects … a little dabbling in last summer’s crocheted cotton throw, and turning a doily pattern, written for fine mercerised cotton, into something so much chunkier and more colourful – plans for something silly and wonderful!

blue sky

:: the back door opens to the first blue sky in days … look at our funny winter trees – the oak still dressed in its autumn leaves, the flower buds already colouring and tentatively venturing out on the magnolia

umbrella

:: first morning in ages that I haven’t had to take the umbrella with me on my morning visit to the chicken and rabbits

unknown berries

magnolia

:: more signs of our strangely bothered climate (look around you Prime Minister Abbott and Environment Minister Hunt – you woefully ignorant, head-in-the-coal, intellectual and moral pygmies!) – the birds never touch these berries so nor shall we.  As for the magnolia – best flowers it’s ever produced – even if they are several months early

srtichokes
tea and crumpets

:: wintery mornings call for tea and honeyed crumpets, then more tea, and more tea and more tea and more tea … as for those artichokes – they’re just so pretty but I’ve never cooked with them – hmmmm ….

vintage stools

:: smiling at our newly thrifted kitchen stools.  They absolutely don’t fit in our kitchen, but we’re tolerating them there at the moment.  Red re-upholstering would be just the ticket – yes?

a very cosy nook pins

:: making the most of the few hours I have at home before heading into the hospital for a late – making time for my home’s ordinary everyday needs as well as sneaking in a bit of creativity every day is essential for maintaining a cheerful perspective during these long and intense weeks of placement!  When I don’t do this – and focus manically on the here and now – the long hours, the constant learning, the stress of new and tricksy things, the relentless insomnia – I forget that what I am living right now, is not what the forever more is going to be!  Pinning out a quilt, chatting to the chicken, tidying the corners of Bootville is a good reminder that nursing will be an extra string to my fiddle, not the entire orchestra.

stuck pins

:: how DO these pins get so entwined!  More baffling then coat hangers.

ready for christmas bunting

:: two left over strips of festive vintage blanket – perfect for a Christmas banner – and perfect time to start thinking about this as we turn the corner of the year!  Oh how I love Christmas :-)

bloody eye

:: and finally, as I pull my hair back and clean my teeth, I am reminded that viciously rubbing one’s eye when it’s itchy is NOT a good idea.  Oy!  I look as if I’ve been in a pub brawl!  My poor eye!

So – any moment now, one of my fellow nursing students will be pulling up outside my home and we shall choof on in to the hospital together for another afternoon in the ICU.  It’s full on my friends, full on.  I’m seeing things I never knew existed – and lots of things that are not usually visible.  I’m caring for needs I had never before imagined.  But when, for the first moment, it feels a bit overwhelming and a sense of horror begins to creep into my thoughts, I look into my patient’s face and all I feel is love and empathy.  It goes a long way.

 

christmas pillowcases

 

piecing them

As usual, once I started thinking about Christmas giving for this year, my head was full of all sorts of wonderful and creative ideas of homemade.  I was going to sew up and print tshirts, make a wooden cutout of a traditional Swedish clock, start and finish quilts, piece and quilt table runners, applique cushions, fill jars dressed in crocheted covers with homemade lollies … it was a lovely list :-)  I even thought I’d try my hand at creating a mini world in a broken terracotta pot with succulents … check it out here, it’s entrancing.  I just hadn’t factored in how tricky that four week placement would be – especially once I added in the bad back, endless hayfever, hours of driving, and insomnia.  It certainly wasn’t the sort of Advent I’ve enjoyed and loved for many, many years.  2014 – I definitely need to start early!

However, on that last Friday of working, I rushed home, out to the sewing shed, gathered an armful of fabric (the pieces I wanted to use had been percolating in my mind for the last few days) and set to work.  Christmas pillowcases.  I pieced and ironed and measured and cut and it was bliss.  Such bliss.  And by suppertime, 2 pairs of pretty pillowcases were ready for giving.  Just a shame I’d missed the last post before Christmas.  Never mind – they’ll arrive in the New Year and be just as fresh and useful.

little houses close up lace

This set is for my dear old Nanny and Grandad.  They love the pretty old fashioned look and Nanny will especially like the reproduction pieces in this.  That gorgeous blue paisley is one of the Julie Rothermel reproduction fabrics from Sturbridge Village.  More of it to come!  The two reds are civil war reproductions from Karen at the Quilter’s Store – she has the most extraordinary and beautiful collection of reproductions – I have never seen its like anywhere else.  Oh how I loved just standing in amongst it all.  Let alone loading up my arms with bolt after bolt, then staggering off to the cutting table to ask for just 30cm!  And the the wee houses – well they’re not reproductions obviously but add to the whole charm of it, yes?  They’re from my wee houses quilt that is a.l.m.o.s.t finished.  The beautiful blue stripe is a fabric I found at The Fabric Store a few years back – it has a wonderfully crisp and sturdy hand.  And the broderie trim is from The Button Shop in Glenferrie Road – the old gentleman who owns this store has an awesome collection, some of which I think has been sitting there for at least 30 years.  My kind of place.

floral and patches
little gumnuts favourite fabrics

with chair legs

And for one of my sweet aunties – a riot of colour and florals.  So many of the pieces have been used here and there.  I love this – it’s like my quilts and cushions and trims are all cousins.  There’s pieces from Caleb’s quilt (Cousin Elena’s babe), Gumnut Fairies from Francesca’s quilt (Cousin Clara’s babe) and my blue crosses quilt, some Anna Maria Horner from Mum’s picnic quilt … I picked up the floral background from Karen years and years ago.  I had long forgotten plans for it … never mind.  That’s the fun of having a stash.  And the trim – why from that Button Shop again :-)  If ever you’re in Melbourne and you feel like stepping back in time, you really must visit it!

tumbled side by side stacked up

So here they are, my quartet of Christmas pillowcases, beautifully pressed and folded (thank you Mum) and waiting for the reopening of the post office on Monday morn.

ready for posting

Perhaps I should start next year’s Christmas pillowcases this summer!

 

christmas

Such a merry Christmas round here with moments of …

the boot

:: packing ::

last minute sewing

:: last minute stitching ::

under the tree

:: receiving ::

gifting

:: giving ::

tieing the pudding

:: tying ::

steaming

:: steaming ::

dancing

:: dancing ::

cooking

:: cooking ::

brining

:: brining ::

snacking

:: feasting :

reading

:: reading and re-reading old and new Christmas favourites ::

relaxing

:: relaxing  ::

picture making:: reflecting on and sharing what
Christmas means to us and why we love it so ::

Thank you for all of your encouragement and friendship throughout 2013.
It means so much to me and so often provides the extra oomph I need to push me through the busy and demanding times we often find ourselves in.

I do hope you and those you hold dear are enjoying a wonderful festive season,
whatever your special celebration, and that there is much love, kindness and joy.

a wee christmas tree

 

I’m sorry I’ve been so silent this December.  It’s this placement thingy – it’s been really hard.  The first two weeks – agonising back.  Now into the last of the second two weeks – streaming hay fever.  All four weeks – relentless insomnia.  I’m so buggered.  And so over it.  

Only four days to go … then I am anticipating a terrific summer of loveliness and lots and lots of creativity.  Until then …

higher up number 1 the fiddler blue goose girl rosy 10 looking down the wax one a cluster 14blew over insituOh my goodness, aren’t we hurtling towards Christmas!

I do declare that you folk in the Northern Hemisphere have it so much easier.  Down here, Christmas coincides with the end of the year – end of school, end of university, end of placements, winding up of work – and the start of the long summer holidays.  So there’s always so much else to finish before we can truly prepare for and enjoy the beauty of Christmas.

Perhaps I’m just feeling it more this year.  But here we are, 16th December and there’s still a week’s worth of nursing placement and assessments to finish before I can truly hang up my busy year and revel in the Christmassy-ness of it all.

On the creative side, there are so many gifts started – and none finished.  But one thing I have managed to stay atop of is our Advent Tree.  This year, we are using the funny little tree I collected from hard rubbish on a grey rainy day a few months back.  At the time I christened it the Oehlenschlager tree – I  declared it was to be covered in cross stitched Danish Christmas decorations as per the lovely book a sweet friend from Instagram gave me in return for Mr. Pollack’s vintage glass juicer.

However, I need another couple of years stitching before the tree can be suitably decked out in these wee stitchings alone.  So – the Advent Tree.  And given we simply cannot find the Tomtems we have used for many a year, I picked up the crochet hook and got stitching.  I give you Advent Roses.  Each with its own wee numbered tag.

Each morning, long before Abby arises and according to a long held Bootville tradition, I hang the day’s Advent Rose somewhere in the house and it’s Abby’s job to find it and hang it on the Advent Tree.  I must confess, she doesn’t do this with the same gleeful anticipation she possessed ten years ago – ahhhhh the teenage years.  But we all enjoy the sweetness of it nevertheless :-)

I’ve even managed to keep up with the stitching of the Advent Roses – there were the perfect project to pack for morning tea and lunch when I was nursing in the Oncology Ward – and extras made lovely gifts to sweet patients.  However, a small hitch has only just emerged.  I still have 7 to make … and I cannot find the wee basket that is stuffed with the pretty Brown Sheep rosy yarn for the centre, some left over cream, red and mustard Beaverslide from Abby’s Blaithin, a ball of green Paton’s leftover from Abby’s Owl Sweater, and a ball of buttery Rowan leftover from my fairisle tunic (that I don’t think I have ever shared!).  That’s right – the whole basket has vanished.  I’ve just spent the last half hour first walking briskly through the house confidently looking here and there, then slowly – slightly worried – poking into each corner, and finall,y grumpily crawling around under furniture and behind doors … I even checked the car.  I cannot find it.

It must be here somewhere.  It’s almost certainly in the living room.  But as Julian has observed many a time before – crafty things are sneakily camouflaged here in Bootville.  And I have a terrible track record of tucking things into forgotten corners.

A-ha!  Found it!  Behind the sofa cushion – no wonder I couldn’t shove the cushion back into place each time I sat on the sofa over the weekend.  Never mind.  Now the kitchen is glowing, the washing hung out, the chooks in bed, a glass of milk is on the bedside table and I am ready to hop into bed and stitch a bouquet of Advent Roses.

Yes, little by little, this Christmas is coming together.