Monday, August 18, 2014


 About three years ago my friend Annette showed me how to make soap. The first time I attempted it, I was very nervous and needed Annette to supervise me.
 At that time, I gave Annette a bottle of good olive oil and some lye, and asked her to make me a batch of Castile soap, which is pure olive oil. These are some of what she made me. The trouble is, I only got to use a couple of the bars. One of my sons used the rest. He obviously goes through soap much faster than me.
A few months ago, I decided to make soap again, but once again I needed Annette to watch over me.  I was able to use some for Christmas gifts, and the rest gets used in the bathroom. I love the heart shapes. This soap dished actually has pieces in various stages of use and wear. I am going to grate up some of the small scraps for laundry soap one day!

 Here is some  packaged ready to give a visitor or caller.
 About six weeks ago, I felt the urge to make more soap, and produced a batch of pure coconut soap, using pure coconut oil and coconut milk. It was a little softer than I was used to, but I was told it will get firmer if I leave it for a while - and that is what is happening.
 This past week I have been busy making several more batches, trying out new recipes and ideas, and making use of all sorts of different fats and oils. The jug below contains coconut and olive oil.
 These ones contain oatmeal, and I have made them in a variety of shapes.
 This the first batch I made in a bar, which I later sliced up. They will probably get used in the laundry and the washing up sink.
 And here is the special goat's milk soap, which I made using half a litre of fresh goat's milk which Liam was given when he visited the Hilli Goat Farm. It crumbled a little when I sliced it, I think I should have left it longer. But I can't wait to try it.
 I am getting quite a collection of moulds, and Annette has lent me some more.
 The olive/coconut soap has more natural colour than my previous efforts.
In one of my earlier attempts, I used food colouring, but it soon faded. I am going to try beetroot juice next time!

Thursday, July 31, 2014


One of my earliest memories is going through my mother's button box. Funnily enough I do not remember particular buttons, but I do clearly remember things in the box like suspenders, buckles and cigarette silks.
I have often thought about those silks over the years, because I would love to have included some in my Crazy patchwork.

A year or two before my mother died 19 years ago, I asked her about them. She told me she had been looking for them, so she could pass them on to me, knowing that was the sort of thing I would like. But she simply could not find them!!
In the meantime I had an opportunity to acquire a few other silks, in quite good condition. 
Some were just printed, but I had the opportunity to buy a few old woven ones at a good price. 
We had a lovely shop here that used to sell Cash's woven silks as bookmarks and in cards, and I often bought them to give to friends and family, asking the recipient to return them to me when they had finished with them!  
But wished I could have my mother's.
Then a few weeks ago, there was a small discussion on Facebook about old tins of buttons, and I reminisced about my mother's collection, and about the buckles and silks there. My sister responded that they were still there!
But sadly she was only referring to the buckles and buttons.
Then today, a parcel arrived. There was a present for my birthday next week. But there was another package containing the cigarette silks!

Sally had found them in a box in her garage, At some stage our mother had sewn then together with a very fine machine stitch.
Sally carefully unpicked them, cleaned them according to Sharon Lush's instructions for cleaning old silk, and sent them off to me. She kept a couple for herself, I am glad to say.
They are so fragile and delicate. I  shall probably have to put them behind glass, like this one, perhaps combining them with old lace.

They would be very old, older than me!
In the meantime. I shall continue producing my own little fabric pictures using my computer and printer, but they will never be the same!

Sunday, June 29, 2014


I have been selling some of my creations at a local store. Elizabeth, the lovely owner, offered to sell some of my bits and pieces, which provides me with some good feedback, not to mention some pocket money to buy more supplies!
I was just about to deliver this batch of bookmarks when I realised I had not photographed them.

So you will have to see them through their cellophone bags, with price tags all attached!

I have done a number of bookmarks with embroidered pine trees on linen, which have been popular. But I have run out of just the right coloured variegated pearl thread, so I produced some lavender ones instead.

 Then I worked on some in my favourite style, which I call classic romantic.
 I really enjoyed these as they came off the production line, and have some ideas for a few variations, plus some more streamlined ways of producing them.
These bookmarks are backed with silk, which matches the borders. I have quite a few of these little graphics printed from my computer, but after this effort I will need to do more!

 I think there will be more pinetrees coming up in the next batch, perhaps using homespun and neutral colours. The visiting tourists love the pine tree theme when they are looking for mementoes.
Meanwhile I have moved my sewing room to another room in the house, which provides more light but less glare. It is also off the hallway, and the mess cannot be seen from the living room in the way t could before.
The new room is still too messy to photograph. There are still a few organising tasks, and things to find homes for. But that is boring stuff!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Charlene and John went to Sydney a fortnight ago to await the new arrival. They are staying with our dear friend and distant cousin Ray Nobbs.
On Monday my sister and her daughters and their menfolk, plus granddaughter all went up to Pymble to spend time with them, and have a mini Bounty Day picnic lunch.
From right to left - Ray, Dave, Mark, Sally, Bronte, Roy, Mandy, John, Charlene. Ray's wife Alanna flew in from England the next morning.

As you can see, Charlene is very pregnant, and in fact, that evening decided the time had come (after a false alarm a couple of days before), so off they went to Hornsby Hospital.
 And here he is, very new, but very healthy and a good size. John tells me he is very long, just like John was as a baby. I might add that John is NOT tall now.
Mum and Babe get acquainted!
 I do not have all the 'statistics' yet, but he was over 7lb, which is a big baby for our tiny Charlene!
 The pictures are a little fuzzy. They were taken on John's Iphone, and my PC has a job using the images in programmes, so I ended up scanning them.
 This one is my favourite - he has his Dad's mischievous eyes and mouth! In fact he is incredibly like our first photos of John!
We are all very excited about our new grandson. The name is not finally decided yet, but his second name is David, which is a family name for Charlene (it is her second name too) and was my father's name.
And here he is 24 hours later. It is official - he is James David.
 7lb 5oz. Born 10th June 2014. Mum and son both doing well.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Georgian Houses

Now Norfolk Island probably has the most extensive, intact and unspoilt collection of Georgian buildings anywhere.
The old penal settlement at Kingston is still there in all its glory, with only a couple of more modern structures - the toilet and change sheds down by the beach.

Some of the buildings remain in ruins, others have been used continually, others have been restored.
The cottages along "Quality Row" are used and lived in. Some of the buildings are used as museums. One of the larger buildings is the Church, and others are government offices. The Golf Club house and the Lions Club occupy two others.
Over the years, I have made "batches" of mini-cushions to represent the lovely old Georgian colonial houses. I decided it was time to create a few more.

 Usually I only use neutral and sepia tones, but this time I decided to add a bit of gentle colour to some of them. As you can see, they have been stuffed, but at the time I took the pictures I had not sewn up the openings. I have basically used foundation piecing for them, which means they come together fairly quickly.
 I think most people who have bought them use them as a pincushion, but some just use them for decoration. Someone told me recently she uses hers as a "wrist rest" when she is at the computer.

Although the area is a reminder of a brutal period of the island's history, the buildings themselves retain a gracious beauty and charm.

Monday, May 12, 2014


 It will not be long now before Charlene and John's baby arrives. Sister-in-law Kim suggested we hold a Baby Shower.
 We invited lots of Charlene's lovely friends to share the occasion.
Charlene was expected to drink from a baby bottle.

 It was a reall happy afternoon, and Charles said he could hear the laughter from a long distance off!

First Kim brought out a potty, contents included!
 And Charlene was expected to eat it! (Actually, yellow jelly and chocolate biscuit do no taste too bad.)
 Then came the nappy. Bernie, who had seen the two rather offensive objects in the kitchen earlier, nearly had a fit1


 We were all asked to smell it, and guess what the ingredients really were!

 Tracey did not want to smell it, and Connie, who is John's godmother, did not want to get too close either.. (It was chocolate Turkish delight all squashed up.
Nate and Kenzie are only recently out of nappies themselves.
But the kids joined in the fun.

There was a lovely array of gifts for the baby.

Lots of ooh-ing and aah-ing over little blue things.

 Such a happy occasion, and we all feel so blessed with lovely friends like these.
Meanwhile, Charlene is going to have fun putting away some of those lovely things in these new chests of drawers that John has been making for her.

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