Thursday, 28 May 2009

Winter florals

I've been finding more and more material for a quilt that is growing out of the Dark Days quilt I began after the bushfires. The two are proceding in tandem. I think because I find it hard to work only in dark colours, the colourful quilt keeps both works alive.
These materials came from the Op shop at Creswick and from the wonderful Beaufort Op Shop.
Yin and I used to go to Beaufort for the real French croissants made by the real French chef in Cafe Jour. Sadly the cafe has just closed, I don't know why, but the Op Shop remains.

I have some holiday time to sew and write and research, and I've been very busy. Books, materials, plants are making me happy.

Here are some winter buds from the yellow tea rose next to the bare peach and quince trees. This rose has a cool, wintry, tea scent that is unlike any of the other perfumes in my garden.

My very first camellia. I brought it in from the garden this evening. Unfortunately I couldn't catch the drops of evening rain on its petals for you.

Dog's breakfast

It's 9am, forget the plants, what about breakfast?

Come on, the kitchen's this way!

How long do I have to wait?

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Too dry for mushrooms

We went to Creswick to see if any pine mushrooms had come up under the pine trees yet.

We have mostly found them in early May before, but it's been very dry this autumn so we waited until some rain finally fell.

It was plain that not enough rain fell to bring on the fungi, so here is a man with no saffron milk caps or slimy jacks.

But there are other pleasures in Creswick which is only quarter of an hour drive from Ballarat through some farms and forest. This is the view from one side of the main street.

On the other side there is an excellent Op Shop.

Even though I was rationed to one Op Shop this trip I still found batik material and some old blankets and a book. Even better I found more windows.

Since I was given this camera I've been collecting windows. Here are some beauties from Creswick.

If you had a chair set at this window you could look out at the pines on the hill across the road and watch for golden frilly fungi pushing up through the pine needles.

These beautiful windows were lent to me by Jo at the Elephant Patch, a textile paradise. If you sat behind these elegant curtains you could see the whole world come to Creswick for coffee and cake and haberdashery.

Not only did Jo let me borrow her front windows, she is going to teach me to embroider at one of her classes next Thursday morning. I can do good plain handsewing, but having seen some of the work in her shop I know I have to learn to do this sort of work too.

Next Thursday I'll catch the Creswick bus, have a cup of coffee and stroll up here to the Elephant Patch to play with threads and needles. I can hardly wait.

The last leaves

The wind blew hard for two days and most of the leaves have fallen from my trees. The tiny maple was in a protected corner and so I have a last bit of autumn colour to enjoy.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The lane out the back

Early in the misty morning I took my secateurs and went down the back lane to get red leaves.

Out the back, round the corner and under the gum tree with huge clusters of gumnuts,

past the corrugated iron fence that hides two laden apple

right down to the end of the lane,

where the persimmon is fruiting,

and some trees are already almost bare,

to the red grape vine where I picked some overhanging stems of red, pink and maroon leaves

and put them in a vase with the yellow grape leaves from my garden.

Mandarins once again

I love to see the mandarins heaped up in the shops in Autumn.I love their scent and colour and the crumply feel of them. Mandarins make the best fruit juice, not a luxury at all when they are, briefly, cheap and plentiful.

All the peel can be saved and dried over a couple of weeks on a sunny windowsill. It makes wonderful aromatic beef dishes and sweet bean soups in a Chinese kitchen, and it adds zing to a pot pourri.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Just dogs

I've walked, eaten brekky and now I'd like to sleep until the afternoon, thank you. Call me at three.

I've walked, had brekky and done a bit of guard duty.

What else is going on around here? Gardening? Fine!

Secateurs - yes I can manage those too.

You're sure you don't want me to run off with them so you can chase me like we did with that garden trowel?

I'll just check out what you've moved over here then. Nice pot plant.

Cameras and quilts

I went out to a great op shop in Dana Street to get more pure cotton shirts for a blue and white quilt I've been working on. I can get a lot of good material on their five dollar bag days.
I love the beautiful old church hall, but this time I really looked at the tiles paving the entrance and saw a quilt pattern that I will have to make up soon.

It was a grey, drizzly warm day with a bit of sun, a day you might see a rainbow and so I took along the camera to experiment. It's big and clunky and I still feel selfconscious using it, but it is proving to be a wonderful way to make me take a fresh look around me.

Taking photos made me look again at this building, and processing the pictures I took gave me some fresh ideas for quilts. The same tiles seen from another direction emphasise different colours and parts of the design.

The dramatic windows are also inspiring. These are spare and industrial, and I have some fabrics that I am putting together in a new way having looked again at these above the door.

I haven't a good picture of the gorgeously floral windows in the second hand book section. They remind me of the quilt I'm well into and that I've described to myself as having a pink Victorian gothic feeling. I'll try to take some decent images of them and post them next week. Good practice for me and a joy to look at if I can manage it.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Buttoning up

I piled a handful of autumn-coloured buttons together when I was playing with my button jar.
I thought they would brighten up the wool jacket from the op shop that I'd just washed and mended. I need a jacket now the days are chilly.

They seem to lose some of their brightness strung out in a line, and so I'm still trying to decide which five buttons I'll sew on.

When I've fixed the jacket I'll go for another long walk back to this street and enjoy the autumn leaves again.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


A peaceful morning meal before the busyness of work. Croissants brought home on the train from distant Fitzroy, red grape leaves from over the back lane fence and strong coffee in my autumn cup. It was hard to get up and go in to work today.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Cooking the quinces

Here are the quinces growing in my garden. I had only a few this year because the tree is very young. These are the last of my autumn fruit.

I bought some more quinces from the Farmers Market in neighbouring Buninyong so I'd have enough for quinces baked in honey and for some jars of quince jelly. These are a much larger and deeper yellow variety than the quinces in my garden.

I love quinces. My mum and my grandma both made excellent clear red quince jelly from the old quince trees that were a so common in gardens in my childhood. Ripe quinces smell exquisite, and quinces seem to be able to produce generous amounts of fruit in even the harshest years.

This is the casserole my mum always used to bake her quinces in a honey and sugar syrup. Quinces take five slow hours to bake in a very gentle heat. I tend to add a couple of rose-scented pelargonium leaves in the last hour.

I have two varieties of Rose pelargonium growing, this one has a slight hint of lemon in its rose. I use the leaves to scent pot pourri, fill vases in the house, and add them to custards, sponges, cooked fruit and jellies.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Books from Clunes

This weekend Clunes was full of second hand and antiquarian booksellers. I spent Sunday there fossicking through wonderful collections of books.

I only bought a few; a complete Banjo Patterson because I had to read The Geebung Polo Club and The Man from Snowy River again and vol IV of Manning Clark because I think I saw vol II in a Ballarat bookshop, and a couple of other good books, none of them more than five dollars.

I took a picture of the horse trough. In the early 1900s a good person spent a fortune building these in every Victorian town and along the roads, to ease the thirst of the horses who worked so hard. There's hardly a horse to be seen in the countryside now, but one memorial of his kindness remains here.

There were lots of other people looking for books, drinking coffee and enjoying the autumn sun.

And watching over them, with his wreaths still bright from Anzac Day, another touching memorial from last century.

I loved walking round the town as much as bookshopping.