Red, black, and white crazy quilt

31 01 2018

I made this red, black, and white (with splashes of yellow) lap quilt from fat quarters and fabric scraps, using the ‘Not so crazy’ pattern from Four Paws Quilting.

I quilted it with overlapping spirals, using a yellow thread, with a meandering stipple (black thread) in the border. The background fabric is a slightly off-white cotton, with two flashes of yellow.

This quilt is available for sale from my Etsy store:

Threads used:

  • Top: Isacord (trilobal polyester, 40 wt, colour 0600); Fil-Tec Glide ‘Black’ (trilobal polyester, 40 wt, colour 11001)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (white)

Farewell, good and faithful servant

26 12 2017

We bought a new car earlier this month to replace my husband’s car. We didn’t need to, but decided to do so for several reasons:

  • None of us is getting any younger, and getting into and out of standard cars starts to become an issue as you age and your joints start to ache. We’re not there yet, but no doubt will be some day.
  • Car technology has advanced in leaps and bounds in the 20 years since my husband bought his last car, and if we’d kept that car for another 10 years, there’d be 30 years of technological advances to have to learn with any new car he bought. Better to bite the bullet and trade up into a more modern car now while we are in control of the learning curve than to be forced to if the old one broke down and wasn’t worth repairing.
  • His 20-year old car was starting to cost us — we’d had the engine mounts replaced in the past year, and a few other things. And the cost of the annual insurance was almost as much as the value of the car too! His new car’s insurance is actually LESS than that for his old car.

He traded his 1998 model Mazda 626 Classic Sedan for a Mazda CX-5 Touring model. And it’s very nice!!!!

In the almost 20 years (April 1998 to December 2017) he had the 626, he drove 183,466 km in it (114,000 miles). At least 70% of those kilometres were driven in the first 10 years when we lived in Perth and he was commuting to work. The car didn’t get driven as much once he retired and we moved to the country in 2007. But it was a good and faithful servant, giving us basically no bother at all. It was sad to say goodbye to it, but we’ve stuck with Mazda as our previous experience with the brand has been very good (I had a Mazda Astina from 1997 to 2012 and only changed because I had an offer ‘too good to refuse’ to purchase my current car).

Here’s hoping the CX-5 also gives us 20 years of great service.

Busy as a beaver

23 12 2017

The first two weeks of December were super busy. In addition to my normal work, these things happened — some planned, some not — many of which required tradies in and out of the house:

  • two weekends away (Albany, Busselton)
  • leak from HWS tank (fixed under warranty)
  • air con balance FINALLY fixed (it took 2 years and multiple visits to find the problem!; under warranty)
  • extractor fan motor in rangehood died; replaced
  • plumber to find out why no water was getting to the shed (retic guys had switched something they shouldn’t have when they were here in Nov)
  • alarm guy to install 3G to connect to the monitoring centre instead of landline (NBN means no landline extensions)
  • data cabler to install extra data points, check/terminate extension phone lines in prep for NBN, and install mobile phone signal booster
  • new modem configuration for NBN (and a new USB/ethernet adaptor ‘cos recent laptops don’t have LAN connections)
  • removal and relocation of all visible extension phone lines connecting the multifunction printer/fax, landline, etc. (involved lots of work behind fixed cabinets and on the floor on my back with a headlamp to find and remove/relocate the phone cables)
  • issues with PCs (independent of NBN)
  • NBN switchover
  • roof vents installed (and other work by handyman)
  • the yellow toner in the laser printer blew out, spewing yellow powder inside the printer
  • bought a new car (Mazda CX-5) to replace DH’s 20 y.o. Mazda 626, so that’s been a steep learning curve too — there have been a LOT of technological advances in cars in the past 20 years!
  • booked flights and initial other travel stuff for a trip to the US for a conference and tour next Oct/Nov
  • negotiated renewal of current contract plus a new contract with another company (subsea pipeline engineering).

Signs seen in Albany, Western Australia

8 12 2017

We were in Albany last weekend, and on the drive out to Emu Point we saw heaps of signs warning us of turtle crossings (their nesting time is October to December), and quite a few for bandicoots, neither of which are very common signs in Australia. I like how they think turtles can go 40 km/h!


Red, white, and blue quilts

23 10 2017

At our annual quilting retreat in July, I took along a heap of navy and red fabric scraps, plus some white fabric with the intention of making a couple of quilt tops. Well, I made them then, but only recently got around to quilting them and finishing them off. So, it’s taken a while to get them up on the blog, but better late than never. Both are available for purchase from my Etsy store:

Red, white, and blue square-in-square quilt

All the blocks were made from various navy blue fabrics surrounded by white, expect for the two red and white blocks, which add a pop of colour. I added a quarter-inch border in bright red fabric to set off the predominantly blue and white colours, then added a wide navy border, with red binding to pull it all together.

I quilted most of the small squares with a ‘cathedral window’ (or ‘orange peel’) quilting motif, using a white thread. In the large border, I quilted with a large meandering stipple, using a navy thread.

The backing fabric is navy, with two red and white blocks for contrast. Dimensions: 44.5″ (H) x 39″ (W) [115 x 99 cm]

Red, white, and blue crazy quilt

I had fun making this ‘improv’ quilt. All the blocks are made from navy blue and red fabric scraps that I stitched together, then slashed apart, then joined to other scraps to make my own ‘fabric’. I then cut my ‘made’ fabric into blocks, and surrounded each block with white fabric. I added a half-inch peeper in various red fabrics to set off the predominantly blue and white colours, then added a wide navy border, with red binding to pull it all together.

In keeping with the angular shapes of the ‘made’ fabric in the blocks and the red, white, and blue of many flags, I stitched stars in the blocks, and diamonds in the wide white sashing strips. The backing fabric is navy. Dimensions: 38″ (H) x 34″ (W) [97 x 87 cm]

Invading roots

31 05 2017

Guarding the entrance to our house are two massive strelitzias (Strelitzia nicolai). They have the most enormous flowers, and are just beautiful. But they have a dark secret — a root system that’s pretty invasive.

Magnificent white flowers of the Strelitzia nicolai

Magnificent white flowers of the Strelitzia nicolai

I’d suspected them of causing some driveway problems — cracking the asphalt, splitting the kerbing — but internet searches weren’t conclusive. One camp said these things had invasive roots and not to have them in your garden; the other camp said they were fine and no problem.

Over time I’ve noticed more cracks in the driveway near these plants and more recently, raised bumps and split kerbing (where there’d only been a hairline crack before). I also read a gardening article in our state’s main newspaper where someone had Strelitzia nicolai plants excavated (!) and was concerned about the roots and whether they’d sprout or if they needed to be dug out too. The gardener’s response was that no, they wouldn’t sprout, they didn’t need to be dug out, and she could plant something else in the hole.

I spoke to my garden guy and he suggested the cheapest solution for me as a first step was to prune the huge old branches, leaving the newer branches intact. He said that would likely stop the roots from invading any further, at least until the newer branches got as big as the old ones. The more expensive option was to get them cut out entirely and the roots ground out, ready for another plant species to take their place. I decided to go with the less drastic measure as a first step, and see if that solves the problem for the next few years. If I get no further cracking of paving or kerbing, I’ll take that as success, and make sure the older branches get pruned every few years.

During pruning - look at the height of that plant!

During pruning – look at the height of that plant!




Before pruning

Before pruning


After pruning – we can see the house over the road now, but have lost the magnificence of these big plants


Ratty McRatface

31 05 2017

Rats! Yes, real rats. In our shed. One of the ‘advantages’ of living in a semi-rural location.

I’d seen evidence of them in the shed before, and had put down RatSack. Some time later there was a god-awful smell that could only have been a decomposing rat somewhere in the shed. We couldn’t find it, but eventually the smell went away (it’s a BIG shed — 6 x 12 m).

I was in there a few weeks ago and vacuumed up more rat scat, but when I went in there a week or two ago there was a whole heap of rat scat, particularly in one place. Ewwww! I swept it up (I wasn’t using the vac for that!), then discovered more in the shelves above. These shelves house my gardening supplies and chemicals. Most of the stuff is in lidded plastic tubs, but some taller items are in small open tubs. And these tubs had lots of rat scat. The worst was the tub that had two packets of green snail pellets.

And then I discovered that the dirty rat had eaten a big hole in the snail pellet packet and had left his (I don’t know if it’s a male or female, but use ‘his’ here) scat INSIDE the packet. That explained why some of the scat was dark green… He’d started to attack the other packet, but no doubt was still feasting on the first one. He’d also eaten part of the foam handle of a gardening tool — there were teeth marks and tiny little claw marks where he’d held it! Little bugger.

Teeth marks at the top of the handle, and claw marks in the foam grip

Teeth marks at the top of the handle, and claw marks in the foam grip

Teeth marks at the top of the handle, and claw marks in the foam grip

Teeth marks at the top of the handle, and claw marks in the foam grip


I cleaned everything up and tossed out the snail pellets (how they didn’t kill him, I don’t know — obviously he found them very tasty!). I also put down more RatSack.

Two days later I went back into the shed. The RatSack packets I’d tossed onto the floor were gone! The little sod had taken them somewhere, so I put down three more packets. The next day they were all gone too. I didn’t put down more. I figured that 5 packets of RatSack should be more than enough.

What I did notice when I went back into the shed after putting down the first lot of RatSack was that instead of rat scat, there was a small pile of white stuff below the benches where the tub was that had held the snail pellets. It wasn’t rat poop, and then I saw that it looked like white plastic. I looked a little closer and at the shelves and saw that this rat had chewed through an entire corner of a hard-plastic tub and had started work on another one! Unbelievable! I thought storing stuff in tubs would prevent vermin getting in, but not so. This was one determined rat — and possibly one crazed rat from the RatSack it’d eaten.

Hard white plastic bits on the floor below the shelves

Hard white plastic bits on the floor below the shelves


How on earth did he eat this? It's hard plastic and it's three shelves up from the floor, and there's nothing he could stand on to reach it. Unless he ate it from inside, but that would've been a feat to get his teeth into that rounded corner.

How on earth did he eat this? It’s hard plastic and it’s three shelves up from the floor, and there’s nothing he could stand on to reach it. Unless he ate it from inside, but that would’ve been a feat to get his teeth into that rounded corner.

He started chewing on another tub, also 3 shelves up and nothing to stand on. It's clear he's attacking it from outside, not inside the tub.

He started chewing on another tub, also 3 shelves up and nothing to stand on. It’s clear he’s attacking it from outside, not inside the tub.

I left everything for a week, then ventured into the shed again. This time there was a faint odour of decomposing flesh, which I can only assume was the rat. A couple of days later the smell was stronger, but we couldn’t find the rat’s body. Oh well, it will eventually decay, dry out, get eaten by ants, whatever.

I think we got it. And I’m not going back into the shed until the smell has gone 🙂 Fortunately, it’s not summer, when the pong would be unbearable.

Update 25 June 2017:

Operation Rat – over? Since I wrote the blog post above more have ‘passed away’ with the help of RatSack packs. Then on Friday my wonderful handyman discovered where they were getting in (not where I thought) and has now concreted those openings and another set of openings where I thought they might be getting in. I thought it was over…

But this morning (Sunday) I went into the shed to get some gardening tools and noticed 2 packs of RatSack (which were there earlier in the week) were gone, and there was more dead rat smell. My DH used his nose to hunt the dead rat and found it inside a big empty box – with a live rat!!!! After much to-ing and fro-ing, the live rat is now a dead rat, is buried with the other dead rat and a dead baby in the no-man’s land behind the shed, and the box (which stunk of dead rat and was likely their nest) has now been burned.

I think the rat problem is no more, but just to be sure, I’ve put down another 3 packs of RatSack… Stay tuned…