Postcards from North West QLD – part 2

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I brought you the first instalment in our western QLD camping trip here and today I thought I’d share a few more photos and memories. It was an experience which we will all refer back to regularly in our ‘best-family-memories’ discussions for many years to come, I’m sure. Our trip has several distinct memories for us, some of which are captured in this series of photos:

:: Long, straight roads where the scenery changes very little even after several hundreds of kilometres travelled.

:: Some firm favourite audio books which will be forever linked to outback QLD in our memories. Including: Winnie-the-Poo, The Wind in the Willows and The History of Classical Music, narrated by Aled Jones (I do agree, it is a strange collection of stories to be linked to a place which is such a stark contrast to the locations in which the stories are set).

:: The HUGE, clear, blue skies which sit so beautifully in contrast to the endless, brilliant, red dirt.

:: Waterholes and rivers which always provided a welcome stopping place – whether it was for a snack, lunch salad or place to set up camp.

:: The full moon (and nearly full moon) rising over the flat surrounding landscape which was made all the more beautiful when our camp was situated on the only ‘high’ spot for miles around.

:: Camp fires and the hours our whole family spent in discussion or quiet, comfortable, companionship as we watched the embers burn low before retiring for the night. And, of course, the unmistakable flavour of camp-oven cooking – YUM.

:: Sunrise and sunset – each and every day. Yes, we enjoyed these bookends to the day immensely, which is quite obvious when looking through our entire photo album from this trip – a large percentage show the natural brilliance which is captured in the dawn and dusk light.

:: And so much more……

 

 

 

Winter PJ’s

After all my talking about the beautiful winter days I did last week. It feel’s completely appropriate to mention here that it’s been getting awfully cold as well. In fact it’s the first time in about 7 years that I’ve spent a winter in a place where frost can be found on the ground – quite thickly, every morning – and even ice on the car windscreen! I think I’ve become a bit soft about the whole cold weather issue, living in the mild climates which I have in recent years.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, winter days are still my favourite time of year, especially when spent in the glorious sunshine outdoors. But it’s the nights and early mornings which are taking a bit of getting used to.

Since my studio is the most lovely, deliciously, warm, sunshiny (that’s a word isn’t it?) place to be found in our home during the day. And as a bonus it’s within cooee of anything happening in the yard and rest of the house as well – a big bonus with four little ones (and not-so-little-ones) running around all day. I’ve been spending a good amount of time here. Perched at my big, white desk, playing with fabric and wool. Such a delightful way to spend these afternoon hours, I do think.

The wool part is still in process – knitting does take time, now doesn’t it. And I’m learning as I go so I suspect it’s taking me more time than some. But that’s just fine. The process is ever so enjoyable. But the fabric and sewing part, I’m much more adept at – a fair amount of practice in this area I suppose.

And the result of my studio time this last week has been my four munchikins snuggled warmly in mummy-made pi’s each night, under a Mummy (or Ma) made quilt.  Ahhhh, it does my heart good to see that as I slip a little kiss on these four sweet faces, on my way to bed at night. Warm children snuggled in Mummy’s love. Yes, a good way to greet the slumber I do think.

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It’s such a pity you can’t feel these fabrics. They are so delicious. Flannels – yes. But the thickest, snuggly flannels I’ve ever sewn with. I would compare them with a wool rather then a typical sewing flannel. I discovered them at one of my favourite patchwork shops last year but refrained from purchasing (I was very aware that shifting house etc. wasn’t conducive to much sewing and they would no doubt sit in the cupboard if I bought them then). But this year a new range of prints arrived. Much more subtle, like ‘grandpa’s pi’s’ was the way I described them. So, of course, I had to splurge. It was a rather extravagant fabric to use for kid’s pi’s. But I figure they sleep in them every single night for a whole season (or more) so why not use the nicest possible fabrics.

I’m Grateful for: Winter Days

Winter in Queensland. It has to be my very favourite time of the year. Clear, blue, sunny skies fill our days and the nights are just crisp enough to make snuggling in flannel pi’s under a patchwork quilt ever so appealing. Once the morning frost and coolness has gone and the sun is out in full splendour, the outdoor world seems to call us with it’s mild temperatures and warming light.

With days as ‘perfect’ as they come, we have been taking full advantage of these winter days this past week.  Any projects we are working one (sometimes known as ‘school’ work) tend to migrate to our outdoor table and the children don’t seem to make it indoors till the cool evening sends them in. Actually, to be truthful, they do poke their heads in the door to make sure food is going to be forthcoming, but otherwise it’s an outdoors kind of life we are leading at the moment.

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My studio has one entire wall of glass and a door leading outside, which makes it all a bit hot in the summer, but in winter it’s my very favourite place to be. I can write, sew or somedays just play with fabric and feel like I’m right in the midst of all the outdoor action, observing it all at a distance. Yes, I think I’ll find myself here in my studio very often in the coming weeks.

And for now the outdoors action is pleasing me no end. Knights can be found in battle while the lovely damsel keeps their armour intact and delights all with her beauty. Or maybe it’s a 4WD ute driving around the yard (made out of an old packing box, of course), or a lovely young lady, dressed in a smocked dress, sawing away at wood for some project she has in mind. It’s all putting a smile on my face and reminding me of the absolute joy and beauty to be found around me every, single day.

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Postcards from North West Queensland – Part 1

3 1/2 weeks; big, open skies; long, empty roads; bright, starlit night skies; a camper trailer and my fantastic family. It was a recipe for success, yes, really it was. Days spent meandering throughout this diverse state of QLD, new areas to discover and explore fully, ‘famous’ rivers to throw a line into, campfires to cook on, creeks to swim in and driving hours filled with new music and audio books.

Just typing that brings back so many delightful, lifetime memories. Our original plan for this trip was to head to the southern states but as the time drew closer the outback of Queensland seemed to draw us. It was all a new area to explore for me and the children which made it even more adventure-like. While these kind of landscapes are familiar to me as I’ve seen enough photos having lived my whole life in this state, I’d never actually experienced the vastness, the openness and the raw, rugged beauty myself.

So with provisions stocked (grocery shops, I figured, would be few and far between on the routes we were taking) and a family raring to go we turned the car North-West and drove. With only a very basic idea of where we would like to go, we explored new areas, stayed till we were ready to move on and took the advice of other travellers to help determine our next destination.

As expected we returned with memories a-plenty and a stock of photos to match. So I thought I’d share some of the beauty we captured on film here with you. Random shots which capture the essence of our trip. I’ll spread the visual feast over several posts (otherwise I’ll bore you to bits with the same red dirt/blue sky kind of look over and over again) and if you want any more details of specific places feel free to leave me a comment.

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When The Family Gathers

A new family member – niece/cousin – is most certainly cause for a family gathering and celebration. And all of ‘us’ descended upon the new parents this past weekend. You know how it goes: a long weekend, a one-week old baby coupled with the prospect of spending a few days with some of my most favourite people, whom I’m blessed to call my family. Yes, most definitely cause to gather, celebrate and simply enjoy each other’s company.

The long hours of driving have become almost ‘normal’ to us now, so we jumped in the car at first opportunity and revelled in the fun, joy and laughter that these 20 people gathered in the same place create.

Cousins who live so far apart became inseparable for the entire weekend. Aunts (yes, me) kidnapped the baby as often as possible and reminisced as I smelt that gorgeous new baby smell and listened to those sweet little sounds only a very new baby makes. The biggest cousins were infatuated with this new addition to our family. Coffee shops were inundated when we arrived (some a little fearful at the prospect of 10 young children!). And generally it was a gentle hum of chatting and laughter which accompanied us wherever we were gathered.

Oh, the delights of family gathered together.

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Finding Home Again

Oh my, we are coming and going to far flung places around the country with an alarming regularity these days.

Some of our travels have been long in the planning – like a 3 1/2 week camping trip around north-west Queensland. (photos and stories to come soon, I promise)

Other trips have been very much unplanned – like the unexpected death of a Grandmother and the various visiting/travelling which surrounds such an event.

But some journeys have been taken by choice – silly, wise or crazy, I’m not sure which, but there are some things you just ‘NEED’ to do in life – like driving for an 18 hour round trip to meet a new little niece (and visit the parents and rest of my family in the process, of course!).

And the tripping isn’t finished yet – tomorrow night we are off again…..

But today, just today, I find myself at home. Just me and the children with no great ‘to-do’ list in front of me – only the usual roundup of unpacking bags, washing clothes and repacking bags. A whole day for us to find the rhythm of home again. Oh and how we are enjoying it. In between trips to and from the laundry and clothesline, I’ve delved into the things which signal home to me most of all. With children by my side I have read several of their old favourite books while drinking tea, found my sewing table again (after the hive of activity in our 2 days home last week as Holly and I found it essential to sew for our new littlest family member), got the almost-finished winter pi’s out ready for a spot of quiet sewing this evening, drank more cups of chia-mint tea as we all sat round the table working on diaries from our recent trips and more of those type of things – all with my delightful companions/children by my side.

Yes. It is essential to breathe deep on a day like this. While the washing and cooking all continue at a greater-than-normal volume, I’m finding many moments to be still and enjoy finding ‘home’ again.

Sewing Table 2(This was the state of my sewing table prior to it’s clean-up, as it was littered with the remnants of little, baby girl sewing projects from last week. The choice of fabrics was the hardest – far too many gorgeous combinations – and of course I planned on making far more than was humanly possible to create in the limited time I had. But some of these fabrics will sit patiently and wait till my sewing time is more prolific – because little, baby nieces have got to be the most fun to sew for, I do think.)

 

I’m Grateful For….

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When the days trundle by in a semi-predictable routine, it’s refreshing, essential even, to stop and appreciate the life we get to live. So I’ve decided to start a semi-regular segment here in this on-line space which I share with you. ‘I’m Grateful For…’ will be a place for me to share the little (and big) moments which make my heart swell with gratitude. It’s a beautiful life I’m privileged to live and I rather like the idea of giving you a peek into the beauty which fills my days in this way. I hope you enjoy my ‘Grateful’ columns and please share what you are grateful for in the comments and even link to your own ‘Grateful’ blog posts to share with us as well.

Scenes like this are fast becoming the ‘normal’ in our family. Picnics by a river somewhere. Grand, old, gum trees lining the banks with roots down deep, making the most of the water when it’s available.

This picnic was a bit different to others in recent times. The recent rains have meant the drought isn’t so extreme in these parts. The river is filled with fresh water. Green grass lines the banks. Birdlife is prolific (along with mosquitos and flies but I’ll ignore them here). And the air breathes fresh optimism and life.

 

{this moment}

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week.

A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.
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 Stitching

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Inspired by Soulemama

Hexagon Quilt

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It’s been such a bustling, creative time in my studio lately. I’ve been finding moments here and there to hide away and stitch yet another seam or cut another piece – you know how it is when the creativity is bubbling over in your head and there is no other solution but to utilise those little pockets of time to recreate the beauty in real life. This creative bug seems to have hit most of the family, with various children accompanying me in making things – sometimes working on their own projects and other times actually helping me – I’ve been taken quite by surprise to find that the older ones are now ‘big enough’ to really help me out – pinning quilts, cutting fabric, even sewing a seam or two…. very capable. Oh, it’s been one of the nicest surprises to discover.

With all this making happening, I thought it was high time I called in here and showed you some of our creations. It’s one of those things I find hard to balance – the creative input seems to run in spurts and I get so caught up in it that I forget to come to this place and share with you lovely people – and I really enjoy doing that and along the way hope that you enjoy sharing our lives as well. So let’s grab a cuppa (I’m enjoying a freshly brewed, black coffee in case you would like to join me) and I’ll tell you about this bright, spring-like burst of colour which currently adorns my table.

It was a project which just kind of evolved while playing around with the pack of pre-cut triangles which I had bought a year or two ago when I was teaching children’s sewing classes but it was never used. In the effort to finish off some projects and clean out the sewing cupboard a bit, I thought I’d put these bright triangles into use. I really liked the triangle/hexagon shape mix so sewed them together as such – this took many weeks in between travelling and other projects and of course everyday family life! Then it sat waiting for my quilting pins to be finished with another project (to be revealed here soon).

Still without any final use in mind Eamon decided it made the perfect blanket for himself and his teddies and almost daily he would come and get it off my sewing table for whatever use he had in mind before returning it when he was finished (hmmm, at 2 years old he isn’t always this efficient in returning things to their correct place). He even tried to use it while it was in the sewing machine in process of quilting, this required a high level of negotiation skills on my behalf  to convince him to use a different quilt that time.

Then as I finished the last hand stitch on the binding late one evening last week, I lay it over the table to look at it and decided it really looked at home with the mis-matched brightness of our chairs. And there it has stayed for the past week or so without anyone, including Eamon, using it for anything else – so I think it has found it’s home (for now at least).

 

Cooking Tomato Sauce

My kitchen has been a hive of activity this week. So much fresh produce has been processed, cooked, frozen, bottled and eaten. It is such a great feeling to wake Monday morning to a pantry and fridges laden with fresh produce (thanks to my bulk buying of fruit and veg last weekend) and a crisper full of greens and herbs from Dad’s garden. But it also means a very productive week needs to happen to make use of it all.

After a few batches of lemon and lime butter were made, it was time to use a case full of beautiful, ripe tomatoes, so tomato sauce of all varieties has emerged from my big pot on the stove. Apart from my usual tomato ketchup (with spices and plums added to the tomatoes) the family favourite is this tomato pasta sauce which I now have about 9 litres of, either in bottles in the pantry or in my freezer.

I’m not much of a recipe follower so I just filled the pot about 3/4 full with quartered tomatoes, then added a whole heap of fresh herbs – basil, oregano and parsley, along with some garlic, celery, onion, carrots and a bit of water. It bubbled away for about an hour, I suppose, then I blitzed it into a sauce consistency. Yum. Yum. Yum. Especially served by the bowl full with hot sourdough bread to accompany it, or over roasted spuds with parmesan sprinkled on top or ….. well the list goes on.

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