Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Keep calm and sew on!

Hello lovelies, we've had some frustrating weeks of late.

To start, our internet was slowed during the week... argh!  This is mostly due to two of my dear children who have become obsessed with compact technical devices called laptops.

We bought these so called 'educational' devices the year before last because they were essential to their classroom learning.  Added to this was the cry from schools across the state that our government hadn't come good on promises of providing enough resources for the schools to provide these items in-house.  So being the good parents we are, we jumped on board and purchased a specifically built, educational laptop for each of our children.

However, in this house, slowly these instruments are being used more and more for entertainment rather than learning.  This month is the second time our 200GB of data has been pushed to the limit.  Now 200GB is an enormous amount of data but it gets chewed up very quickly when people are watching an endless stream of You-Tube clips and playing online games.

Gradually, I noticed they started to withdraw from the family, into their bedrooms more and more.  Even when friends or relatives came over, they had to be asked to come out and say hello and within the hour they would crawl back to the lure of the screen.  Finally, this little black duck said enough is enough and banned lap top use for entertainment purposes (yes, there were tears and protests lol).

I came to the realisation that the kids were becoming addicted to the computer screen and could not regulate their usage.  Despite rules being put in place, the rules were bent to accommodate what they wanted to do.  The reading of books stopped, communication reduced and they seemed to no longer be able to entertain themselves without a laptop.  What happened to reading a good book, indulging in a craft or hobby, writing, playing outside, creating in the kitchen, playing a board game or just chatting about your day?

The good news is that now the option of spending endless hours surfing online has been removed, the board games and puzzles have remerged, they are back sharing the central parts of the house, and general discussion has recommenced.  In my opinion, its a healthier way to live.

Its seems I'm not alone in these concerns.  When I've shared these thoughts with other parents, they too have experienced their kids abusing their internet (sometimes with costly repercussions) and have concerns with the amount of time their kids are spending on gaming consoles, smart phones, tablets, laptops and computers.

I have to be honest, I really regret buying these laptops and even more, I regret not putting tougher regulations of their use in place.  Because these devices are fairly affordable, and commonplace, we think nothing of equipping our kids with the latest resources in the name of 'education'.  And of course, there is the unstated implication that we are investing in our kids future, that our kids will have a lower level of education unless we comply, and their generation is different to ours - it needs to keep up with technology, "learning is different these days".  And whilst some of this might be true, let us not forget to instill our kids with simple values and the skills to enjoy life without the latest and greatest.  I guess every action has its consequences good and bad.  I'm sure people were feeling the same after the TV became common in family homes.

I'm not saying having this technology is a bad thing, you only have to look on the job descriptions on employment sites to know that knowing how to use a computer competently is, in most cases, essential these days.  But we do need to take it more seriously.  This technology is a tool for acquiring information, and needs to be treated as such.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Anyway, enough ranting from me.  Also during the last two weeks, my car had a flat battery (I turned this into a positive by cutting out pieces for a new quilt while I waited for the RACV), kids took turns at having tummy bugs, my course has been slow to start (more sewing time for me) and our search for a new house has come to a standstill.

This is my response to it all:

And thats just what I did.  In my quest to reduce my scrap stash, I came up with this little number.  The pattern is Bonnie Hunter's Dancing Nines and worked up a treat.  That narrow dark purple border really pulls the design together.

Lots of chain piecing which is just what you need when your frustrated.  I cut most of the pieces whilst I was waiting for the car repair guy to come so definitely time well spent.  I can't wait to get started on the quilting!

Once this one is finished I'm going to spend some time making quilts for my kids.  Quilts which are used, cuddled and loved give me the greatest joy.  The ones I made previously, whilst being much loved, need to be updated with themes they are currently interested in. My oldest son has been patiently waiting years for this pirate quilt to be finished.

He took a big role in choosing the fabrics and the layout.  Somewhere I even have a picture of him sewing some of the blocks.  It's only been in the last couple of years of my quilt making that I have become a reasonably good at free motion quilting.  It has sat in the cupboard for far too long (hence the creases!).  It's time to get it finished.  My son, despite being 16 now, still can't wait for it to be done.

Hope you are getting some sewing done at your place...

Until next time,

Leanne x

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

It's a finish!

Hello lovelies, well here I am again, delighted to tell you I have finished another little quilt.  My boy themed scrap quilt is definitely one of my favourites.

It was inspired by my overflowing scrap bin and my longing to make another kids quilt.

I began by finding all the boy or gender neutral novelty and brightly coloured strips that were at least 1" wide and more than 6" long (I'm sorry to say this didn't even make a small dint in my scrap bin lol).  I cut each piece into 6" long rectangles of varying widths.  I then started chain piecing them into long rows.  I used the blue dotty fabric to give the quilt some uniformity and a place for the eye to rest.  This way the varied strips became a real feature.  I then quilted it with a loop de loop pattern.

 I then finished it off with some grass green check binding,

and a printed label.

Its such a fun and easy quilt to make as there are no rules, you just sew and sew and sew!  I enjoyed it so much I am making a second one in girly colours :)

I am linking up with My Quilt InfactuationSew Fresh Quilts and Free Motion Mavericks at Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing, Pink Doxies Pet Project Show and Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Would you like me to do a tutorial on this?  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time

Yours in stitches

Leanne x

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Yes, I know what you're thinking... "Cauliflower... don't mind it but in a soup? hmmm think I'll pass"... am I right?  Well then you would be missing out because this soup is devine!  To me it tastes a bit like cauliflower but a lot like potato and leek soup.  It's a rather elegant soup but made from the simplest ingredients and easy on the purse too.  Anyway, here goes:

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Serves 4 - 6

750g cauliflower
1 tbsp oil
3 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of milk or cream
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the cauliflower into small pieces.  Heat oil in large pan, add cauliflower and stir fry until starting to soften.

Add stock and simmer, covered for 10 - 15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.

Blend the soup with a stick blender until smooth.

Add milk or cream.  Season with salt and pepper.

Delicious served with warm crusty bread.

Until next time

Yours in stitches

Leanne x

Monday, 2 February 2015

Crikey! It's February already!!!

Well hello there... yes I'm afraid I've done it again *sigh*... time has slipped away yet again, without barely a word from me *hangs head*.... I just realised its been three months since I last posted!  Sorry about that....

But anyway, welcome to the new year!  Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year and spent your time with family and friends.  We had a lovely Christmas, catching up with friends and relatives.

I really love Christmas and I have to say, despite all the hectic-ness (yes I think I just made that word up!) it's still a really magical time of year.  These days, its not so much about the presents for me, but spending time with those we love, decorating the tree, seeing all the festive displays in stores... its the whole atmosphere!  In recent years I've been more organised to avoid over stressing myself - I buy presents during the year and put them away, have a collection of wrapping paper and ribbons in the cupboard ready to be used, and plan meals for family gatherings in advance. This way I don't feel overwhelmed by it all and can just enjoy it.

It's been so nice having a break from studying my course.  I managed to get my assignments in on time and was very pleased with my results.  The course has now reopened for this year, and once I get my magazine submissions out of the way, hopefully by the end of the week, I will reenrol in the next units.

Prior to Christmas, we had a few special guests at our quilters guild... Rose Lewis, a local award winning quilt maker, was a guest speaker and brought along her two amazing quilts for us to look at.

This quilt is called "A Caterpillar's Dream"...

The back of the quilt

 Another enormous quilt called "Through the garden gate"...

Each of these beauties has taken a couple of years to create and Rose has documented the journey of each one.  She is such a vibrant person and it is truly amazing the energy she has - we were just mesmerised by her.  Just look at these inspiring works of art, the appliqué is exquisite and the quilting... oh my.... just incredible and using a domestic machine!

Please visit Rose's website for more information on her stunning work.

We also had a day workshop with Pauline Rodgers of Pauline's Quilters World called 'Quilting with L-plates".  The workshop was focused on learning to free motion quilt.  Whilst I can already FMQ, I am self taught and was very keen to improve and learn how to do it better.  Pauline taught us so much about our sewing machines (things we never knew!) and how to FMQ with ease.  By the end of the day we were feeling a lot more confident.  I highly recommend Pauline's workshops, she is such a lovely lady, and I'm hoping to do her next workshop 'Quilting with P-plates' in the near future.  She also sells some pretty nifty gadgets (which you can try out in the workshops) which make sewing much easier.  Sorry, I didn't take any pics of our day but hopefully you will see my quilting improving in future posts!

Speaking of quilting, over the holidays I really focused on spending quality time with my family so not a lot got done.  I must admit I got pretty lazy in the sewing department but have recently got back in my sewing chair and am now creating with gusto!  Before the end of the year I started on my 'Vintage Happy' quilt using a fabric collection of the same name.  I'm really happy with how its turning out and just have to sew the rows together and figure out a border.  I love the colours and can't wait to see it finished.

Also, I decided that I really, really needed to do some scrap busting and I really, really needed to make a charity quilt, so I gathered all my boy I-spy scraps and came up with this...

I really love it and have already started on a girl version.  I'm going to try a loopy quilting design and see how it turns out.  Charity quilts are great for experimentation!

Finally, my Chunky Churndash quilt returned from the long arm quilter and I have just now got around to sewing on the binding... I love it so much.  But of course it wasn't entirely complete until I slept under it :)

Quilted with a feather and fan pattern

Anyway, I'm hoping this year to make more of an effort to blog, not just about quilting but about life in general.

Until next time,

Yours in stitches

Leanne x