Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Well another year is drawing to a close and I've finished it as I started- by quilting.
The news of the extensive floods in Qld which is also expected to spread to NSW means that people will need comfort and quilts. The sudden burst of hot weather has also meant that the fire danger period is with us across the lower states of WA, SA and Vic, so I'm praying that no lives will be lost this year.
I have managed to finish off more quilts this week as well as a premmie hat, a scarf and a beanie and I'm enjoying the air -conditioning today. Tomorrow we're off to Melbourne for a family wedding and it will be fun to catch up with family again. I hope to finish off another QAYG quilt before we leave at lunchtime so I doubt that I'll stay up to see the New Year in. I'm sure there'll be enough time tomorrow to celebrate. The photos of this week's finishes are on the other blog at Oz Comfort Quilts.
Take care, Jan Mac

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Bags Today

I had planned to blog yesterday after working two days of paid work. Unfortunately our eldest DD and her fiance came down with a severe bout of food poisoning and were unable to do anything for themselves for a while so I went to look after them and clean up. Thankfully they are getting better today and will be fine. They attended a friend's BBQ which seemed to have been the cause of the trouble.
Anyway yesterday before the home-nursing I managed to quilt 4 quilts, 2 of which were cot panels and it was good to get back into the machine quilting.
Today was very productive too with the bindings being finished on two of the quilts and making two bags from donated blocks. The bags will be needed when giving quilts to the homeless and they are fairly easy to make. I don't use a pattern and just make them up according to what bits and pieces I have on hand. I also made a fabric outer pocket for a bag that DH was given at an agricultural exhibit and I used the pocket to cover the advertising slogan. It's an easy way to get some good bags made quickly and another way to recycle. It's one of my pet peeves that displaced or homeless people usually only have plastic bags to carry their meager belongings and I find it very demeaning so I like to give out tote bags when I can. I remember reading about one elderly man who survived Hurricane Katrina and all he wanted was a cloth tote bag to carry his clothes in and that has stayed with me.

Those lovely people who regularly follow my blogs will realize that my photos are never works of art but are done quickly to show what I've finished before I get back to the machine. I know I should do better but it would cut into my quilting time so I doubt that they will improve much. I pin an old pale sheet to a hanger and pin the quilts to them which doesn't show them to their best advantage but DH was watching the cricket and I didn't want to disturb him.
We've just eaten our evening meal and cleaned up so I think I should be able to get a bit more done on putting a QAYG quilt together. With all the floods in NSW and Qld, I'm expecting that there will be many people who will be able to use a quilt or three so I'd better get some more done. Photos of the latest quilts I've finished are on my other blog at http://ozcomfortquilts.blogspot.com

More to come, Jan Mac



Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas


I hope that all my blogging friends are having a pieceful Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.
Unfortunately for us our youngest DD, is celebrating Christmas in New York while on holiday so we hope she has a White Christmas as she's been dreaming of this since she was a young child.
I've included a couple of photos of our tree so she can enjoy it via the blog as she always decorates it for us every year, as long as I pack it away again. LOL!!
Kate commented on my last blog that she doesn't know how I get so many things made to donate. I thought I should remind everyone that I don;t usually have to make things from scratch as I often gets donations of UFO's or finished QAYG blocks and I only have to finish them off. I can make 3 lap sized QAYG quilts or a QS one in a day if I do nothing else, but this doesn't happen unless I have an urgent request for a quilt, as for the bush fire quilt appeal.
When I say that I have finished off a baby jacket that doesn't mean I made it in a day but over a couple of days and I usually don't post photos until they are finished. I have been quilting since about 1978 and I work quickly so I'm blessed to find so many places where quilts can bring some warmth and comfort to others.
I'd just like to say a very big thank you to my blog followers as you inspire me to show what I've been working on and I hope that I can inspire others to create and donate.
Also a very warm thank you to everyone who has sent me quilts, tops, orphan blocks, UFOs and knitting or tapestry wool as it all helps to spread the love and cheer to others who are going through hard times.
PS The pillowcases are quick to make and I made 4 in an hour or so. I used poly cotton which had been donated and they will wash and wear well for the kids in care.
Merry Christmas everyone and I'm off to sew a couple of QAYG blocks now as I need 48 for a quilt for a homeless person and every block helps.
Love and hugs Jan Mac






Christmas Eve

Wow where did the time go. It's hard to believe that Christmas is almost here but at least I'm organized.
The family have all been here for Christmas Eve with the exception of our youngest DD who will be having a White Christmas while on holidays in New York.
Yesterday was very productive with the completion of 4 pillowcases with teddy bear prints, a polar scarf, 3 baby polar fleece wraps, a knitted premmie baby jacket and 5 QAYG blocks.
Today I posted off another box of 6 quilts and some more gift items which the Salvos will distribute to their clients during the festive season.
Today was spent buying last minute food and all the cooking etc but I also had time to finish off a knitted scarf and almost finished a knitted beanie as well as some more QAYG blocks.
I hope that you all have time to celebrate with family and friends during Christmas and New Year and that you are all blessed with good health for the coming year.
Piecefully yours, Jan Mac

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Giving

I managed to finish off another donated top before I took the quilts to the Women's Refuge. This lovely bright batik top was made and donated by quilters in Alice Springs. I know that a teen will love it as it's bright and fun. I delivered 10 quilts to the refuge and also sent off a box of 4 quilts, toys and craft items to be distributed by the Salvos in Gawler (SA).
In the box for the homeless of Gawler I also included some dolls with their own quilts which will give some kids a cuddle too.
Today I've been washing dolls which have been found at thrift shops and I'm trying to re-style their hair but finding that it's still a bit frizzy so it needs more work. When I have that conquered I'll make some clothes for them as well as a dolly quilt and they will be donated to kids in foster care. I'm always on the look out for dolls in good condition as well as knitting wool and acrylic yarn so I can make something useful for someone else to enjoy. I get the fun out of creating but don't have the problem of storing all of these items so it's a "win win" situation. I'll post photos when I've made more progress with the dolls. In the meantime I'm finishing off another premmie baby jacket and hope to get them in the mail tomorrow.
I seem to be organized for Christmas so now I have time to play with a few projects that have been in my mind for a while.
More later, Jan Mac

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Serendipity...

an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. ...
I received a lovely parcel of fabric from Barbara D. in Vic and the bright batik was perfect to use for binding the bright quilt and there was a lovely caramel fabric with small green and red snowflake designs which was ideal to use for binding strips for the country red , green and caramel QAYG blocks. Don't you love it when it all comes together. The photo of the bright quilt is on my other blog at Oz Comfort Quilts.
I heard this week that many farming communities are having a tough time due to 10 years of drought and then rainfall which came too late to save their crops and which caused wide spread flooding, causing many to have to leave their homes. We live in a country of harsh weather extremes. So now as well as finishing off the quilts for the Women's Refuge, I'm now getting more done and these will go to Gawler (SA) to be distributed by the Salvos, who do a wonderful job of supporting communities in need.
While I was in the US I also saw the tragic news about the coalminers who died in the mine accident in New Zealand. I was intending to send some quilts to their families but Shirley Goodwin (NZ) has asked for heart blocks and has received enough to make the quilts as well as finished quilts, so I'll send some to the farmers who have become homeless instead.
There always seems to be a need of comfort and I'm blessed to have so many donated QAYG blocks and fabric etc to continue to make and distribute the quilts where comfort is needed. The second quilt was from a donated top of bright kid's prints and will warm a child this Christmas.
Today we had heavy rain storms as well as hail which was more like snow balls, so I think quilts will still be needed even though we're supposed to be in summer here now.
More to come tomorrow.
Cheers, Jan Mac

Friday, December 17, 2010

Endurance Award

Where has the week gone? Well for me it's been a blur of attending social events and sewing. On Wednesday I received a lovely silver photo frame, certificate and two wine glasses for reaching 25 years of service in the one job. The only time I've received an award for endurance and they give them out for every 5 years of service after 10 years initially so will have to see if I am still working here in another 5 years time. I actually semi-retired 15 months ago so DH and I could travel and now I only fill in when someone is on holidays or on sick leave. It suits me fine as it gives me some money to pay for my donation work and time to spend making more quilts to donate.
Thursday morning I managed to finish off another quilt as well as some Christmas presents and then we drove to Melbourne to visit our youngest DD who has flown to the US today and hopes for a White Christmas in New York. She and a girl friend were in the semi-finals of a karaoke competition and we did enjoy the night, hearing them sing, and the standard was very high. She didn't qualify for the finals as she was going to be away when they are held next week. We came home from Melb yesterday and spent the day watching the cricket and having a nap so today I did get into action and quilted 2 children's quilts, finished the binding on one of them and have half-finished a QAYG quilt. I'll get them done tomorrow as this afternoon and evening I'm at the paid job and I'll post photos of the quilts tomorrow.
Christmas is coming very quickly here and I'm not quite ready yet!!
Hugs Jan Mac

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Cool Quilt

I'm racing the clock again with the news that the women's refuge I supply with quilts would like 12 for Christmas instead of the usual 4 to 6. This means I need to get some finished off ASAP and I've bound one and finished 3 QAYG quilts since yesterday.
This quilt I've just finished yesterday was donated as 12.5" blocks made in the QAYG style, with batting and backing already in place and the blocks have been pieced using crumb pieces and scrappy fabrics. I used a dark binding to sash them and make them play nicely together. If you asked me if the colour is black or a very dark navy I would have to say "yes!" as I couldn't tell the difference in my sewing room last night. Either way I love it and the bright colours will cheer someone up for Christmas. I'm sorry that I can't give credit to the person who made the blocks and donated them to me so if you recognize it please let me know. The other finished quilts will also be shown on my other blog at http://ozcomfortquilts.blogspot.com

I've also made two baby wraps and knitted 2 baby jackets and hats for premmie babies. I also have a couple of baby quilts to finish off and these baby items will go to the wonderful ladies who care for premmie babies in foster care. I need to keep my foot to the pedal to get more quilts finsihed and I've just heard two loud bangs from my sewing machine and I've detected a smell of burning. The funny thing was that I wasn't using it at the time but the machine is hot so that is now unplugged and I'll have to get DH to check the wiring. Luckily I've managed to get my other old machine to work again after having problems with the tension so I hope I can keep working to get these quilts finished for this week. Joining the QAYG blocks does take it's toll and I don't want to use my newest machine on them as I don't want to wear that one out too. I may have to look out for another older sewing machine which can take the heavy sewing required.
I forgot to say that the river level has gone down again and we managed not to have water through the house again so we were blessed. Luckily we could leave using the 4WD so we could still have one of our Christmas gatherings.
Back to work.
Jan Mac


Friday, December 10, 2010

Life on the River

Yes it's happened again- we live on the Broken River in Victoria and it is known as being the river which falls or rises the fastest in Victoria. The river was slowly rising yesterday and overnight we had our access road cut off again. It's not rising as much as it did in Spetember but we wouldn't be able to leave home unless we had a 4WD. Unfortunately our youngest DD has come home for an early Christmas celebration as she will be in New York for Christmas this year. She's hoping for a white Christmas but she at least won't be having a flooded one. Hopefully we won't either!
We will drive into town tonight to have our celebration at one of our relative's so we will still be able to have a get-to-gether, and I've also been able to get into work this week, attend my quilt meeting in Melbourne, celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary and knit some premmie baby clothes, so life is full as usual. I also finsihed off a large quilt which only needed binding and I'll show that on my other blog at http://ozcomfortquilts.blogspot.com
At least the rain has stopped for the last two days and our home is high enough to be out of the river and we only live in the river occasionally. So far this year we've had drought, floods and plagues of locusts. Just pray that we are spared from more bushfires this summer.
Take care and enjoy the coming holidays and I hope the other Aussies affected by floods will also be spared although many have lost valuable crops they were relying on for income.
Hugs Jan Mac

Monday, December 6, 2010

Back To Normal?


It seems like we have been back from the US for more than a week now. So far I've been fitting work in with unpacking the suitcases and catching up with family and friends. The biggest change has been the weather as it was below freezing when we left Denver in the US and here it has been very humid and the temperatures have been in the high 90s. We've also been having thunderstorms and the river we live on (and sometimes in) is at the height of its banks so we are hoping we don't have a flood again.
I did manage to fit in a trip to Melbourne to attend my Melbourne quilting guild's Christmas meeting and had fun as usual despite the hot weather. No photos to share so I'm showing one of our last flood in early September and also one from our camping trip to the Flinders Ranges in late Sept. Now with all the rain and humidity the grass has been growing super quickly and we've had to mow the areas around the house more often than normal to keep the snakes away.
My parcel of books and fabric that I posted from Philly has now arrived and I'm dying to get started on fondling the fabric and putting it away on a shelf where I can see it for inspiration. Unfortunately I said that I'd work today so the fabric will have to wait until tomorrow. I may be able to browse through one of the books on antique quilts though. I'm also knitting premmie baby jackets and hats for a group of foster carers here so hope to get some finished before work today.
Hugs Jan Mac

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We're Home

We had a very long flight home and as on our flight over we were just getting off one flight in time to catch another but Air New Zealand were fabulous again. Ray and Stephanie met us at the airport in Melbourne and we stayed and had our third breakfast for the day with them before leaving Julie to catch her flight to Tasmania.
It was hard to leave her after being joined at the hip for 4 weeks and having a wonderful time. We loved all the cities we visited and it's hard to choose a favourite. Boston had lots of history but was very cold. New York had all the shopping and Broadway shows to enjoy. Philadelphia also had lots of history and we stayed with an internet friend who made us very welcome. Washington DC was wonderful with lots of history and museum to visit with the DAR being my favourite, closely followed by the Museum of Fine Arts for the exhibition of French impressionists. Houston was our first city and we really enjoyed the Texan hospitality.
After all the walking we did it's a much slower pace at home now but we are enjoying the rest and are eagerly awaiting the parcel of goodies we posted home. As you can see I just had to buy a Texan stetson to match my Texan boots. Off to work for the next couple of days and then will be busy with preparations for Christmas.
It's hot and humid here and we're having lots of rain which is great for our drought-affected areas but very different from our stay in Denver where it was below freezing.
Take care, Love Jan Mac

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Mile High City

We decided to fly to Denver from Boston to break up our flight and so we didn't spend too many consecutive hours sitting on a plane. We also wanted to see the Rockies. Denever was beautiful and sunny and if you didn't go outside you wouldn't realize that it was below freezing at 26 degrees F. We are heading home to temperatures in the high 80s so we'll have climate shock when we get home. We found a lovely little bakery for breakfast and I ordered scrambled eggs without the eggs as they they came with fresh fruit, toast and a bacon, tomato and avocado mixture. It was delicious! I still haven't tried pumpkin pie or brownies but it looks like they'll have to wait for my next trip. We had a lovely view of the Rockies while we flew to LA this afternoon and now we're waiting at LAX for our flight home via Auckland.
We're both a little sad that our adventure is almost over but we're looking forward to seeing our families and friends again. The US has been a wonderful travel experience for us and we will return again.
Hugs Jan Mac

The Boston Freedom Trail

We stayed at the radisson in Boston and had a wonderful view of the city. The weather was sunny but very cold with temperatures of 32 degrees F. We decided to stick with our daily schedule of leaving the hotel at 9am and walking until 6pm but the wind was so cold that we stopped off at an indoor market for lunch and to shop. Then as we were still cold we stopped in at the Cheers bar. We did however manage to see most of the Freedom Trail and get our history lesson for the day. We walked across the Boston Commons and watched some ice skaters and also visited Paul Revere's house which is now a museum and also the Granary cemetery where the graves date back to the mid 1600s. Amazing to think that the dates of the deaths pre-dated the discovery of Australia. We really loved Boston and wished we had more time to explore- oh and that the weather was warmer while we did. Nevermind we saw as much as possible and hardly shopped at all.
Off to Denver next for an overnight stop on our way home.
Hugs Jan Mac

New England Quilt Museum

The New England Quilt Museum was well worth a visit as they had a blue and white exhibition of antique quilts as well as a contemporary exhibition by African American quilters. We spent quite a bit of time admiring the very fine applique and quilting stitches on the antique quilts and then the vibrant colours and art quilts with a theme of woman's work.
They all told a story about the women's inspiration for their quiltmaking and used many varied techniques with a lot of embellishments with shells and beads.
We also managed to finally find a supermarket so we could buy some freezer paper for applique as it is very hard to get at home and very cheap to buy it by the roll in the US. Then we had more shuffling of the various bags to fit it all in again. It was well worth the planning and all the walking to reach the museum and spend some time seeing the town with quaint cobblestones on the roads.
More to come.
Cheers, Jan Mac

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Niagara Falls to Boston

We took the train from New York to Niagara Falls so we could see more of the countryside while we traveled. We arrived just on dark and stayed on the Canadian side of the Falls as that gave us the best view. Our hotel room overlooked the falls and they did look spectacular with the floodlights on them.
We wanted to fly from there to Boston which was difficult without a car so we took a limo ride to the airport at Buffalo. That was a smart decision as it was raining quite heavily for the first time on our trip and being picked up at the hotel and dropped off at the airport was made very easy by hiring our own limo. The driver even made the process of re-entering the US very easy and we didn't even have to leave the limo.
Our flight to Boston went via Baltimore and we are now here for three nights and sadly the Great Race is almost at an end. Today we took a train ride to Lowell to visit the New England Quilt Museum. Lowell is a very pretty little town and we really enjoyed our visit. Thanks to using Google Maps for our research it was easy to find our way to the museum from the train station. The Christmas lights have been set up in the town and the streets were cobbled near the museum so it was a lovely place to spend the day.
I also forgot to show the photo of the Soup Nazi shop, of Seinfeld fame, we saw in New York. It was quite crowded so there must have been lots of tourists checking it out.
More to come soon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

New York on the Run

We finished our last two days as we started, on the run to fit as many things in as possible. We extended our stay by one night so we had to move hotels as ours was fully booked for the Saturday. That actually worked in our favour as we found a smaller hotel at a better rate and closer to Penn Station.
On our second last day there we saw Ground Zero, took a boat ride out to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, walked to the Empire State building and then walked back to Times Square and saw another show that night.
On Saturday we moved hotels, walked through part of Central Park, and saw the American folk Art Museums where they had exhibtions of antique quilts. Luckily I'd done my research before we left home as they were showing the Bird of Paradise quilt which I am currently making. Corliss from Threadbear in Castlemaine has made a pattern based on this quilt and it's called The Civil War Bride quilt. It was wonderful to see the quilt top hanging in the gallery.
If you look carefully you can see a photo of it in the distance. The top was never quilted and it has more green than the more recent version but it was one of many lovely quilts we saw.
We left New York for Niagara Falls and were happy that we had made every moment count while there. Off again to sight see now.
Hugs Jan


Friday, November 19, 2010

New York, New York

We're still in New York and took an on/off bus tour yesterday. The sights were good but we were freezing. I borrowed Julie's hat and tried to buy her gloves off her too but she declined. LOL
It was an easy way to cover a lot of distance but boy was it cold. In fact it was so cold that I had to have a cosmopolitan and Julie had a martini to warm us up. One wasn't enough but as we had another Broadway Show to see we had to survive on just the one drink- oh and the one we had before we took the evening bus tour!
The show we saw last night was the romantic comedy Promises, Promises, starring Sean Hayes from Will and Grace. It was very funny and well worht lining up in the cold for an hour to get tickets.
Today we are off to see a lot of places such as Ground Zero, Statute of Liberty and the Empire state building. We're also going to visit the American folk art museum as they have a quilt exhibition. We love the museums here but haven't yet ventured inside the museum shown in the photo here. Julie was keen but I'm not sure we'll have time and what would you see in a sex museum anyway?
Time to hit the pavement again and see as much as possible and probably another Show tonight. It's a hard life but someone has to do it.
More to come, Jan mac



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Liberty Bell

We stayed in the old part of Philly for a day while we saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and of course more autumn leaves. The buildings are of beautiful red brick and the whole area of the old city is lovely with many impressive buildings and parks. We caught the train from Philly to new York and arrived here at lunchtime yesterday.
So far we've been to see 3 Broadway shows - Billy Elliott, Mary Poppins at a matinee today and we're just on our way home from seeing The Lion King. What can I say- we love New York and are currently sitting in a Starbucks on the internet and drinking hot chocolate.
There were several streets blocked off and many police in evidence but we don't know why. We feel very safe here and the city never sleeps. One thing we have found is that the traffic lights for pedestrian crossings are just a suggestion as many cross the street when the lights are on red, particularly if the traffic isn't able to move. We used to wait for the lights but have found that we're crossing when the others do regardless. Even the police don't seem to be bothered by the lights and I keep telling Julie that they are just a suggestion!
We are going to do some more sightseeing again tomorrow and spent today just wandering around and found ourselves in the garment and fabric part of New York. We seem to have a homing device for fabric.
The last photo shows a cute little Italian restaurant we found in Philly and we are looking for one like it in new York. So far we've been eating in Diners and enjoying it but still ordering small serves as we really can't each eat a pound of meat at a sitting.
We've loved the Shows we've seen and plan to go to another one tomorrow night. We've been lining up for cheap seats at the Times Square ticket office.
Time to go and get ready for another big day of walking and sightseeing. We walk for blocks and just enjoy seeing the sights.
Cheers, Jan Mac