Saturday, August 27, 2016

 Starting a Stitching Course

I have always been in awe of the work of Jude Hill and her work in her Spirit cloth blog. Today I decided I would challenge myself in doing her Spirit Cloth 101 course . She has very kindly offered this self paced course for free to teach and share her techniques.

The Spirit Cloth 101 course can be found on

I am going to gather up my supplies in a wee basket and get ready to learn with her.

This is the rough outline Jude Hill sets out for her stitching course ( taken from her website )

1.Intro- An overview of my approach.   What to expect from this class.  Some project ideas. 
2.Creating a base- covering   three approaches... whole cloth, piecing and cloth weaving.
3. Stabilizing  and  basting and preparing a base for embellishment.
4. Composition and Story.  How to build on an idea.
5. Applique- several approaches including turned, ragged edge and  alternative variations on both of these.
6. Stitch as it applies to embellishment.
7. Quilting.  Putting layers together.
8. Edges. finishing touches

I want my stitching to not only be a learning creative process but also a meditative one that will help me cope with the stress and anxiety I am prone to.  I will take my time with the process and enjoy learning .

                              picture of a cloth doll I simply love

Friday, August 26, 2016

Little Pleasures

Some times it seems that one has to find the smallest of joys to keep oneself going . That is how I feel today with the heaviness of heart weighing me down. Perhaps its it just a seasonal thing - my continued battle with the black dog as Winston Churchill would say. Today as I sit by my computer I watch the tiny birds that settle on my newest bird feeder.

I got this wonderful thing from Diacks Nursery - a coloured  rod  ( Windsticks )  that bends and sways in the wind like a tree branch. It has a wee pebble that rests in the middle and allows one to insert seed cakes and fruit for the birds. The lady at the nursery told me it was a wonderful device - simple but really appealing to the birds. The rod costs me about $15 and the seed cakes $2.90 . Not bad if you consider the pleasure that comes from watching tiny birds settle and nibble on the seed cakes. My cats love it too. Sitting and watching to see what comes and feeds next.

Wind Sticks can be seen at

In a world where I am unable to cope with my heaviness it is nice to lift the spirits of others -even wee feathered ones.

It makes me happy and helps me forget for a time my sadness.

So far I have seen tiny wax eyes. These are tiny birds that flit excitedly At times that are 4 to 5 on the rod eating with glee . At times bell birds and little yellow headed finches.

The smallest ones are my favourites. - they are my smallest pleasures.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Flower Friends

Today a treat arrived in my mail box. Catalogues from Wild Flower World 
 ( ) and Garden Post  (

My life is so quiet now - ordinary and still - that these catalogues seem to be a bright spark in my day. I rush indoors -brew some coffee on the coal range and get out the catalogues. Promises . Hope. The Future.  These help when my heart feels low and heavy.Hours spent alone in a small world.

This seasons catalogues are in readiness for a coming Spring - it is full of Dahlias, Begonias , Lilies and Gladioli. I am excited. I start to pick my favourites even if my bank account tells me my dreams are not a possibility. One can dream.

In my dreams I pick masses of Dahlias which I have recently become smitten with. The Dahlia Snowflake looks like sweet round pom poms of petals. 

                                                            Dahlia Snowflake

The Glory of Heemstede a lovely waterlily type with almost translucent clear yellow flowers. They sound divine. I remember reading  about them in a book by Christopher Llloyd as he writes about his garden in Dixter in Sussex. It is my new bedtime reading . I lie in bed and imagine not some handsome hero - but a white haired old man take me through his garden and teach me how to plant and grow the most divine flowers. He is a friend .

The Dahlia Fire pot looks stunning in the catalogue  salmon orange with yellow  centers that they say glow like a summer's fire. I imagine them growing  in a mass  in my little secret garden. The secret garden is my newest project. I am finding it harder lately to cope with the lack of privacy here - the peering of faces over fences and screaming children. My soul seems to crave the stillness and peace of being hidden and unseen. This is something the man is unable to understand and yet for me it is an almost frantic desperate need .

 So I have found a small area of my garden where I am making a quiet spot. - a tiny strip of land wedged between our house and my neighbours high fence and line of trees. They are seldom there and when the are - it is only the hum of quiet voices through the trees . I have collected mounds of chunky driftwood logs  and made raised beds . Filled with soil and compost from a nearby farm - ( a trailer load of well rotted compost in exchange for a box of beer - barter country style ) - it will become beds with masses of flowers and plants. I go through what I have in the garden - find plants to add to it - divide and split. They will fill up quickly.

I hope to add some Dahlia bulbs that I bought recently with some birthday money from my brother. I picked Dahlia Burlesca , Dahlia Rococo , Dahlia Rembrandt  and Dahlia Fuzzy Wuzzy. These came from Bulbs Direct in New Zealand . I am excited and cant wait for them to be ready to go into some warm soil.  For us it will likely be later in October.

                                                                 Dahlia Rococo

                                                               Dahlia Burlesca                                                                        

                                                             Dahlia Fuzzy Wuzzy

                                                          Dahlia Rembrandt

 I smile as I notice all the bulbs I have picked are shades of pink. I have grown Pinky in my years...a delayed childhood perhaps or maybe the colour of a survivor  like those pink ribbons women wear to say they beat cancer / will beat cancer . For me maybe the Pink is a colour to say I am still me and still here .

I have always wanted a garden - Planted many over the years only to have to uproot and leave them - never seeing the seeds planted grow or bulbs bloom. This garden now seems like my own. For keeps. Or so I hope. It has become a friend - someone to spend the day with and to talk to when I am low and the world does not understand. It is a party to which I am always invited. It is my solace.

Back to my catalogues and the prospect of choosing more friends from the flowers. I get an email to say another catalogue is on its way to me. Happy days.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Some days are just comfort food days. With the end looming for our freezer vegetables from last Summer I decided to get out the trusty old crockpot and make a stew of sorts. In went potatoes from our neighbours garden , carrots, pumpkin , swedes , cabbage and home grown leeks. It had somehow escaped me that one does not put on the crockpot later in the day. So and hour before Greg gets home - nothing is cooking yet. Out the crockpot and onto the coal range. I decided that some nice floury dumplings might be nice and I tried this recipe. they were easy and really yummy. Its a keeper for sure!!  Judging from the response from Greg - he thought so too
here it is



  1. Put the flour, seasonings, & suet in a large mixing bowl, mix thoroughly.
  2. (If you are adding herbs or extra seasonings, add them now & mix well.).
  3. Add sufficient cold water - bit by bit - to make a pliable dough; it should not be too sticky, but just bound together.
  4. Divide the dumpling mixture into 8 portions, and roll into small balls with floured hands.
  5. Drop them into your soup, casserole or stew 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time, making sure that the soup, stew or casserole is very hot.
  6. Put the lid on IMMEDIATELY and do NOT take the lid off until just before the end of the cooking time, about 15-18 minutes to check that they are nearly ready.
  7. They should have doubled in size at least, and be very light & fluffy looking!
  8. Ladle the soup, stew or casserole into warmed soup bowls & serve 2 dumplings per person.
  9. Oven baked: place the dumplings on top of your stew or casserole and cook for about 30 minutes at 200C or 400F, or until well risen, golden brown & crusty.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

What makes a friend.

I sometimes wonder at life and all that comes our way. Often friendships that once seemed so dear and so important to us - fade to nothing - at times not even memories. Sadly I have known friendships that have ended with cruelty and betrayal  and any thought of them are now only tinged with the grief and anger . So what makes a good friend . I have to say some of the most wonderful friendships I have had are not with people but with animals. The love they give is unconditional and there is so little judgement. How is it my dog seems so delighted to see me when I come home after being away for only hours and yet some people make no acknowledgement of you after you have been gone for years...Why is it when you cry and are at a loss for words- a cold nose says more than any human voice has ever attempted. My dog stays with me when I am too unwell to scramble over the rocks at the beach  even though she wants so much to explore. This past week we lost another friend - a dear old dog we both adored . Pip was a lovely soul - tough in her own way and yet full of love and fun. She was clever and used her cuteness to worm her way into hearts - who could not bear to scold her when she was waving a furry paw at you. Grief is so hard alone. The trees are in blossom now as Spring comes with her promises. Winter took away my friend. And with her a piece of my heart.