Scrappy quilt

16 12 2007

When you make a quilt, you always end up with bits of fabric left over, none of which seem to be much good for anything. But being a pack rat, you don’t want to throw the leftover bits out, and so you keep them for “Justin” (that’s “Justin” as in “Justin Case”… just in case). And that’s where a scrappy quilt comes in handy.

I saw a picture of the “Road to California” block and thought it would be a good candidate for some of my scraps—and so it was. I made the block, then yesterday I quilted it and made it into a 20″ cushion cover. I had to buy the fabric for the back, but the rest of the quilt was made from scraps. Now my scrap stash is a little less!

Road to California cushion cover quilt

More photos…

Quilting Tip: 6

16 12 2007

Eyeballing a quarter inch is still a bit of a black art for me. When I’m using my standard sewing machine foot, it’s easy as the foot is exactly a quarter inch from the outside edge to the central needle position. But when I’m using my ancient Bernina’s walking foot, the measurement is 3/8, not 1/4… as I found out yesterday. Fortunately, I noticed the seam allowance seemed a little wider than usual before I’d stitched too far.

I solved the problem with some painter’s tape, laying it so the left edge was exactly at the quarter inch width from the central needle position (see the picture below). Another solution is to use a small pad of sticky notes so that you get a little ridge and can’t move the fabric so that it has more than a quarter inch seam allowance. But that doesn’t work for my walking foot as the foot would be up on the ridge and thus lopsided.

Quarter inch mark with painter’s masking tape

White tea

16 12 2007

I’d never even heard of white tea before last week, then my friend Whitney sent me some (and some other Adagio teas). I’ve now tried it and it’s delightful. Tasty, very calming, and just wonderful. Highly recommended! I have it without milk, sugar or lemon—just plain.


16 12 2007

Much excitement in town the other day. I popped in to see a friend and she asked excitedly if I’d been in to town yet, or heard the news on the radio. I hadn’t done either, so she told me that some protesters had stopped a logging truck in the middle of the main street and chained themselves to it.

To put that in to perspective, Bridgetown is cut in two by South West Highway which runs from Perth to Bunbury, then on down through Donnybrook, Bridgetown, Manjimup, etc. to Albany. Manjimup is the heart of timber country and over the years logging protesters have done some interesting stunts to prevent the logging of old growth forests. As a result, old growth logging has almost stopped, and most timber logged in the area is plantation timber. Manjimup was hit very hard economically with the closure of many of the timber-related industries and a massive loss of jobs, and is only now starting to get back on its feet (truffles at $3000 a kilo anyone?). Other towns in the region were also hit hard. Personally, I supported the move to stop logging old growth forests as many of these ancient trees only grow in this part of the world and their species and related ecosystems are under threat both from logging, agriculture, and development. I have no problem with growing and logging plantation timbers, especially on land previously cleared for farming.

Anyhow, back to the other day… It seems these protesters had dressed up as road workers, erected some bogus “Roadworks ahead—prepare to stop” signs, then someone with a ‘lollipop’ “Stop/Slow” sign stopped a truck outside the video store. (The double-bogey log trucks all go through the town’s main street, but that’s another issue…)

Once they stopped the truck (which appeared to me to be carrying pine logs, not jarrah, marri, or karri), they chained themselves to the axle or somewhere underneath the truck.

It seems this happened around 8:30am. By the time I was in town, it was 11:30am and the truck and the chained protesters were still there. Traffic was slowed to a crawl through town, some 15-18 police were in attendance from other towns in the region, an ambulance was in attendance, as were other emergency and shire workers. Oh, and the local media from Bunbury were there too.

I’m not sure when the protesters were cut from the truck, but the statewide regional TV News had footage that night (the butcher cynically said that the police wouldn’t cut them off until the media got there…). And when I drove past, some enterprising local had painted another sign—”Slow protesters—Stop the dole!” (or something like that).

So my question is “why?” What did these protesters hope to achieve? Fame? Notoriety? A spot on the TV News? People like me writing a blog post? Arrest? Well, they got most of that, but as a local I have NO idea what they were protesting about—the logging industry, the trucks going through town, or something else. They were arrested and charged with creating a public disturbance or somesuch. They got their pictures on TV, just reinforcing the ‘rent-a-feral’ image many people have of them. I still  don’t know what their cause was, so they didn’t achieve their aim of getting their message across.

More importantly, they tied up the emergency and security resources of people across the region, thus placing others at risk. The local police station would be lucky to have three officers, I’d suspect, so the other police had to come from somewhere—Manjimup, Donnybrook, Nannup?, Bunbury? The local ambulance was in attendance, so it and its volunteer staff were out of action for other work for those hours.

There’s talk of charging the idiots who set off flares up north last week for the $200K cost of sending out the search and rescue boats, helicopters etc. These protesters should also be responsible for the costs of wasting police, ambulance and other emergency services time and efforts.

There have to be other ways of protesting and getting your message out.

Restaurant review: Fre-Jac, Balingup

16 12 2007

We went to the French restaurant (Fre-Jac) in Balingup, Western Australia for my birthday on Friday night.  Here’s the review I submitted to the EatingWA website:

Overall, we were disappointed.

We shared the Canapes Nicois ($12) for entree. I’m not sure what I expected, but a single slice of slightly warmed/toasted soft brown bread spread lavishly with honey and topped with a blob of goat’s cheese wasn’t it. My previous experience with goat’s cheese has been that it’s quite sharp—this had no discernible flavour at all, or else it was so overpowered by the sweetness of the honey that you just couldn’t taste the cheese. Somewhere in the cheese was meant to be some basil, but I couldn’t taste that either even though I could see little bits of green. I guess I expected canapes to be bite-size pieces, not a single slice of bread plopped on a layer of English Spinach leaves. The over-powering honey flavour spoilt this dish for us as we expected something sharp to prepare our palates for the main course.

We both ordered the beef fillet ($25) for mains—mine medium-rare, my husband’s medium-well. Parts of mine were medium-rare, the rest was very rare, almost raw; my husband’s was medium at best and had more ‘pink’ than he likes. Again, our expectations weren’t met. The beef was served with prunes in a madeira sauce (well, maybe the tablespoon of liquid could be called a sauce… at a pinch), and with boiled potatoes. There was NO salad or vegetables available on the menu, and none on the plates either—not even as a garnish. This was a meat and potatoes dish only, and was very heavy on the palate as a result (maybe that’s why they serve prunes with it?). And for me, eating the almost raw meat at the thick end of the steak was nearly stomach turning.

The desserts ($9.50) looked interesting, but we were taken by the cheeseboard ($15) as the description was that all the cheeses were imported from France. This was probably the biggest disappointment of a disappointing night. A large dinner plate was served with two paper-thin slices of two different hard cheeses, a largish slab of a soft melting cheese, and small wedge of something that looked like it was found behind the fridge, and two small wedges of a blue cheese. With this came five—yes, five—tiny rounds of bread no more than an inch across. And that was it. No crackers, no fruit, nothing to fill the spaces of the huge plate. And nothing to eat the cheese with except these five tiny rounds of bread. It would’ve taken more bread just to do the soft cheese justice, let alone the rest. As for the cheeses themselves, I liked the soft one, and had tastes of the paper-thin ones, but didn’t touch the wedges as I’m not a fan of blue cheese or stuff with so much mould on it that’s it’s not even recognisable as cheese. My husband’s face on trying some of these cheeses was a sight—I’ve never seen him drink copious amounts of water at the dinner table before. Let’s just leave it at that.

The service was perfunctory. The ambience was nice—a room in an old house, with cloth napery and decent cutlery. Though I’m not sure about the little stones on the table—I was tempted to play ‘knucklebones’ with them!

There’s a $45 fixed price menu which is the same as the a la carte menu, but works out slightly cheaper if you want a three course meal. The choice of entrees includes snails, scallops, a zucchini tart (or quiche?), and the canape nicois we had; the choice for main course was from rabbit, beef fillet, duck, and fish of the day; and there were also four desserts to choose from as well as the cheeseboard: creme brulee, raspberry parfait, hazelnut and chocolate something, and a fruit salad type dish.

Would we go back? Unlikely.