Monday, December 18, 2006

Following Through...

has always been hard for me. I'm a notorious non-finisher, particularly where sport/health related activities are concerned. I have all the good intentions in the world at the get-go, but for one reason or another I lose interest and drift away.

Which is why I'm feeling particularly chuffed today after receiving my Level 2 Certificate for Tai Chi. It means I have stuck with it for the whole semester, and achieved competence in the first two levels. I have a long way to go, as there are six levels of regular Tai Chi, then the Sword levels (which my instructor demonstrated for us today, awesome!).

So I'm proud of myself for staying with it for this long, and feeling enthusiastic enough to want to continue on this path in the new year. Yay me!!!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Christmas Meme

You know I love a good meme, and I picked up this fun Christmas one from DebR. I’m getting into the festive spirit in a big way, particularly since I finished the majority of my Christmas shopping yesterday (so virtuous!!!) so I thought I’d share it with you all. BTW the picture is my gorgeous Emma with Cooper (also gorgeous) in front of our Christmas tree.

1. Apple cider, Eggnog, or Hot Chocolate? Hmmm, I suspect that the apple cider referred to is not quite what we have here in Australia (I don’t mind the odd Strongbow Original on a hot evening, though). I’ve never tried eggnog, again not an Aussie thing, so I’ll have to go for the hot chocolate!

2. Turkey or Ham? It’s just not Christmas without the baked ham, glazed and studded with cloves – yum! This year I will also be serving roast turkey breast - just couldn’t be bothered with the whole bird when I only like the breast meat. Besides, I don’t think my oven is large enough to cook one successfully.

3. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree? Wrapped! Absolutely!!!

4. Colored lights or white on the tree? I’ve just replaced my 20yo gold tree lights with multi-coloured. I loved the gold ones, but they were old and worn out so it was time to update.

5. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree? I love the smell of a real Christmas tree, but have to admit that it just seems too wasteful – they last such a short time here in Australia’s hot summer weather. With the drought this year, decent looking trees were too hard to come by (besides being a shameful waste of resources). So the old faithful fake tree has come out for duty once again.

6. Favorite Christmas song? This year I’m loving Kylie Minogue’s “Santa Baby” – it’s fun!!

7. How do you feel about Christmas movies? I love some, hate others. Ones I love include: Christmas Vacation; The Santa Claus; Bad Santa; A Wonderful Life; Life of Brian (OK that’s not strictly a Christmas movie, but still a fave). As for all those gooshy, sickly sweet ones – I’ll pass.

8. What is your favorite holiday dish? I love it all – you can tell from the size of my backside that I have toooo many favourite foods!!!

9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music? Anything prior to mid-December just sends me into terrible anxiety attacks.

10. What is your favorite holiday smell? Cinnamon.

11. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was brought up without the whole Santa mythology – I always knew. I have, however, made a big effort to give my kids the fun and wonder of the whole fantastic Santa belief – it’s been fun for me as well as them!

12. What kind of decorations are on your Christmas Tree? We have a rather motley, mismatched collection of Christmas ornaments, but I love them all. At present we have a mostly purple and gold colour scheme (tinselwise), and I just bought a new lime green and orange star for the top of the tree (which has knocked “Garfield in a Santa hat” down from his top position).

13. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas Day? Christmas morning, always.

14. Go to someone else’s house or they come to you? When my kids were little, all my family came over here to watch them open their pressies. Now that they are bigger, we go over to my sister’s house to watch my 2yo nephew Cooper enjoy the present frenzy. It’s all about the kids.

15. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Both. Everyone loves to receive gifts, but it’s the shopping and gift-wrapping that really put me in the festive frame of mind. And it is a great feeling when someone really adores the gift I gave them.

If any of you feel like picking up this meme for your own blog, please let me know so I can read your answers. Merry Christmas!!! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Handmade Gifts

My brother and I made a deal this year that we would exchange handmade gifts. We were sick of the commercialism of the Christmas spending frenzy, so handmade gifts seemed like a good idea. I don't know how successful this pact has been for my brother, but I've gotten at least one gift made.
Pictured is the covered journal I made for him. I used a blue batik fabric as a base, and quilted it heavily with wavy vertical lines and an interesting embroidery stitch on my Pfaff. I then appliqued a piece of handmade felt I had leftover from another project and stitched some heavy circular patterns (I added a couple to the back of the journal as well).
I used the last scrap of felt to make a coordinating bookmark. My brother is a talented writer when he puts his mind to it - I hope this might encourage him to keep at it. I hope he likes it anyway. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Today's Adventures

So today we hopped in the car & drove up to Mittagong in the Southern Highlands to visit the Bousaada Winery, who have been hosting a textile exhibition called "Days of Wine & Roses" (I think that was it). There were a nice selection of quilts, all relating to the theme of Roses. My friend J9 had a piece in this exhibition (that's it in the top right corner of the first photo) called "I never promised you a rose garden".

The work was lovely and the venue gorgeous - such a peaceful and picturesque spot. Alistair (who owns the winery) was a most gracious host, chatting with us about quilts and vineyards, geese and vegies, and even gifting us with fresh lettuce out of his abundant garden (which included the biggest pumpkin patch you've ever seen).
It was a fun day, but I wish it had happened at a different time of year. I've also been to a doctor's appointment, plus a wool sale this afternoon, and my ride will be here any minute to take me to a Christmas party with my 'stitch and bitch' girlfriends. I'm worn out!!!

I've posted only a few photos, there were lots more quilts but I'm not the best photographer. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Festival of Em is over for another year!

Firstly friends, I apologise most sincerely for my infrequent blogging over recent weeks. Things have been rather frantic in my little corner of the world, what with one thing and another, and I'm just coming up for air.

Last week/weekend we celebrated the annual Festival of Em (also know as my darling daughter Emma's 11th Birthday). We had lots of good times, including a lovely family BBQ with my parents, brother & sister and their families; a sleepover with her friend Katie, making and decorating cupcakes; and culminating in a trip to Jamberoo Action Park with her girlfriends (and us) for a day of swimming, watersliding fun.

Our family has a tradition of not beginning Christmas until after the completion of the Festival of Em - certain traditions must be strictly upheld when birthdays fall in December, so that she doesn't feel that the two occasions are blended & she's missing out.

So we have now put the Christmas tree up and decorated the house, and we are officially getting into the festive spirit. There are 12 days until Christmas, so I thought I'd make a special effort to blog every day and share some of the fun things that will be happening from now until the big day. Stay tuned!!! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 02, 2006


This is my sample for today's contemporary techniques class. The class is entitled Glitz, and demonstrates several ways to add shimmer and glitz to your quilts. I provided kits which included fun stuff like foil, angelina, organza and lame.

We had a fun day, the last for the year with this group. I have really enjoyed working with these girls and watching their confidence grow with their skills.

Look at what Cheryl did! She thought her chosen fabrics were more watery than leafy, so she went ahead and changed the images to suit, adding seaweed and bubbles.

I can't tell you what a thrill it was for me to see her run with her own creativity. This is what these classes are all about! WOOOHHOOOOOO!! Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 24, 2006

ICAN Summer Show

Here are some pics of any exhibition we set up this afternoon at the Old Wollongong Courthouse. It is the Illawarra Craft Arts Network summer show. The venue is a lovely historic building at Belmore Basin, right in the middle of Wollongong's tourist precinct.
There are many different artists participating in this show, we are the only fibre artists. If anyone is heading down the coast this weekend it will be worth a look. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 23, 2006

New Work!!

This is my latest effort - looks sort of impressive until you realise that it's only 12" square! It is called "Rasperry Sorbet" and was made for the Quilters Guild Calendar Challenge. I did have fun making it, and even did the quilting on the domestic sewing machine (couldn't justify loading a 12" quilt on the Gammill, even to myself). I do like to quilt on the DSM every now and then - it keeps my hand in.

When I first got the longarm machine, I was so absorbed with perfecting the new skills that it required that I didn't quilt on the DSM for a long time. So when I began to think about teaching patchwork and quilting, I really had to apply myself to regaining my machine quilting skills on the DSM.

Although the two skills are definitely related and relevant to eachother, they are quite different and required some work to be able to do both. I'm happy to say that I didn't lose the ability to quilt on the DSM (as I initially feared) and actually now enjoy working on the smaller machine on a regular basis.

I guess the moral of my story is that even though I have moved on, the past continues to be of great value to me and I need to honour both past and present in my life - hmmm, seems that might apply to life in general and not only quilting. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Girls Night Out

This is my friend Janine and I, captured last night at the Chris Isaak concert. Please note that all double chins are entirely due to the camera angle. We had a fun night!!
Here is the man himself in action. It was an excellent show - we sang along and laughed the whole time at his clowning around with the band.
Get a load of this suit - entirely covered with mirrors. It was very hard to get a good picture - most of them show only a glowing bright light in the centre of the stage.
And here he is after the show, autographing my t-shirt!! Can you believe this man is over 50? He's very gorgeous (sigh). Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In today's post

Look what arrived in today's mail - my new business cards! I thought it was time for an updated image, so I enlisted Jo from Design91 to come up with a new logo design. I'm thrilled with the end result!!! Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

New Work

Here is my latest quilted piece "Touchstones #2", just finished yesterday for inclusion in the upcoming exhibition. I pieced the blocks last week, and added gold foil in the border and some of the blocks after the quilt was constructed. The piece measures approximately 38" x 48".

I quilted in my usual "more is more" fashion using variations on the greek keys or square spiral designs. The quilting was done mainly in two colours of variegated thread, with just a small amount of gold metallic thread in the borders (surrounding the foil highlights).

I think you can see some of the quilting detail in this closeup shot. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Meme on Sunday

Don't know about you guys, but I really like to read meme's on other people's blogs. I guess I'm something of a voyeur - I love a glimpse into someone else's life. So here's a meme I found on this blog for your voyeuristic pleasure...

Someone knocks on your door at 2am, who do you want it to be? Probably bad news in reality, but if I could choose? Hmmmm, can't really think of anyone I'd be happy to see at that time of the night.

Your boss tells you he/she will give you a $20 raise if you'll do your job naked. Do you stay and take the raise? Nobody needs to see me naked, not even the dogs (who are my working companions as I work for myself).

Put yourself in a nutshell. No thanks, I'm a bit claustrophobic...

Ever see a ghost? No, though I've sensed/felt them at different times in my life.

Happy with your body? No - this is one of my biggest issues at the moment. I've been avoiding mirrors.

A reason to move to Iceland. I don't know anyone there, though I'd love to visit.

A place you've lived that you miss. None really, I'm pretty happy with where I am right now.

A job you'd never do, no matter how much you were paid. Call centre operator - can't think of anything worse than cold calling and constant rejection.

A band/group you thought was cool when you were 13. Human League is one that springs to mind - the new romantics were so big in the eighties. I hadn't yet gained a real appreciation for rock and roll.

You have a nightmare, who's the first person you think to call? I'd just snuggle closer to my sweetie & try to go back to sleep.

Wanna have kids before you're 30? Well, I did. And I can't imagine having another baby at the age I am now (in my 30's) so I guess that was for the best, wasn't it?

A memory from high school. High school was a blur of awkwardness, hormones and rebelliousness. Constant anxiety.

Ever had a crush on a friend's parent? No, definitely not.

Do you look more like your mom or dad? I look alot like my Mum (so much that relatives I've never met come up to me in public, pronouncing "You must be an O'Leary girl!" (this has happened several times in recent years). But I think my personality/dispositon is more like my Dad.

Something you've always wanted to learn to do. There are so many things I'd love to learn - latin dancing, to speak another language, to play an instrument, to be confident in social situations. I have regretted for years my lack of tertiary education, but have plans to remedy that situation.

How you'd like your life to be in 10 years. I'd like to be more content with myself.

Something you learned this year. That I'm not as strong as I thought I was.

What do you want for your birthday? I'm yearning for an Ipod (but maybe I'll get one for Christmas!).

Name 4 things you did yesterday. Taught a class; caught up with the blog; worked on one of my latest artworks; cooked pizza for dinner.

Last item you bought yourself? Some gorgeous hand-made glass beads.

What did you have for breakfast? Cereal & juice.

Name a celeb you crush on. I have to agree with this one - David Tennant aka Doctor Who.

Name the last 3 songs you heard. Hmmm, I was listening to Chris Isaak earlier, so I guess three of his songs - Only the Lonely, Blue Hotel, Somebody's Crying.

How many hours of sleep do you get each night? About 7 hours.

What do you wish you were doing right now? Travelling.

Who's the first person in your phone book on your cell? My son Adam.

Last time you witnessed a fight? Couldn't say, unless you count the kids' bickering.

Name 3 places you'd like to travel to. Paris, London, New York.

Do you know how to ice skate? Yes, but not lately.

Name something you like that's out of the ordinary. Misty, rainy days.

Is bigger really better? Probably not (unless we're talking about chocolate).

What do you think of Brad Pitt? Too pretty for my taste.

What color are your toenails.Moss green.

Do you own anything with a skull on it? No (though my son has some socks with skulls).

Traveled to Europe? Only in my dreams.

Last movie you watched? The Island - not a bad flick, but nothing to write home about.

Where were you when you had your first kiss? Behind a tree in the playground, I think I was in third grade (little hussy).

Last board game you played? Scrabble.

Leather or lace? Leather, definitely.

Ever had a black eye? Yes, when I had my wisdom teeth out. Looked like a battered woman and drew many odd glances when I went out in public.

Have you ever worn fishnet stockings? Once, to a "perverts & prostitutes" fancy dress party.

There you have it! Let me know in comments if you want to pick up this meme, so I can read your answers.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Spiralling out of control...

These are some of the quilts I've finished in the last couple of weeks - by some strange coincidence I had four quilts in a row which required spirals, so I've been feelings like I'm quilting spirals in my sleep.

Which seems quite appropriate when I consider how I've been feeling - like my life has been spiralling out of my control. Which in turn, is why I have been absent from the blog for a couple of weeks.

I have been trying to bring everything under control and back into balance, and have had some success I suppose. But this time of year is always far too busy for my liking, and when exhibition preparation is added into the mix things get flaky.

I shall try to be more diligent with my blogging from here on in. Promise!!!! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Meme 2. For the Elucidation of the Masses.

I have not much to say today, so have pinched this meme off Kirsty's blog so you all have something to look at - sorry, best I can do!

48 things about me that you probably aren't interested in at all but I'm going to tell you anyway
1. first name? Nic - Nicole really, but only if I'm in trouble.
2. were you named after anyone? No, Mum & Dad just liked the name.
3. when did you last cry? Earlier today, for no good reason - it's just been a crappy day.
4. do you like your handwriting? No.
5. what is your favorite lunch meat? Double-smoked ham.
6. if you were another person would you be friends with you? No - too boring & needy (today anyway)
7. do you have a journal? Only this blog - I have the commitment & dedication of an amoeba when it comes to journalling.
8. do you still have your tonsils? No, taken out when I was 5. I still remember the horrid nurse who wouldn't let me go home until I drank a glass of milk (I loathed milk when I was little). I was shocked to find out just the other day that my mum had forgotten this about me.
9. would you bungee jump? Well, I did (twice, even) when I was in my early twenties - probably wouldn't do it these days tho.
10. what is your favorite cereal? Granola vanilla & almond
11. do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Nope - lazy cow.
12. do you think you are strong? Weak as ****.
13. what is your favorite ice cream flavor? Pistachio
14. shoe size? 8 1/2 - just like nearly everybody else.
5. red or pink? both
16. what is the least favorite thing about yourself? Can't get my shit together.
17. who do you miss the most? My Nan - still wish she didn't leave so soon.
18. do you want everyone to send this back to you? Only if they want to.
19. what color pants, shirt and shoes are you wearing? Blue jeans, purple T-shirt, purple crocs
20. last thing you ate? Fish & chips for tea
21. what are you listening to right now? Spicks & Specks on the ABC.
22. if you were a crayon, what color would you be? Lime green.
23. favorite smell? Coffee, fresh bread, new leather.
24. who was the last person you talked to on the phone? My friend Cheryl who rang to invite me to the movies tomorrow night.
25. the first thing you notice about people you are attracted to? Their eyes, and then their teeth.
26. do you like the person you stole this from? Yep, Kirsty has a cool blog.
27. favorite drink? White wine or Margaritas
28. favorite sport? Tai chi
29. eye color? Hazel
30. hat size? who knows
31. do you wear contacts? No, though I do need to get my eyes checked.
32. favorite food? Vietnamese cuisine
33. scary movies or happy endings? Happy endings
35. summer or winter? Winter, though it never really gets cold here.
36. hugs or kisses? hugs from my friends, kisses from my sweetie.
37. favorite dessert? Lemon meringue pie
38. who is most likely to respond? No idea.
39. least likely to respond? Not a clue.
40. what books are you reading? Blogs only of late.
41. what's on your mouse pad? Haven't got one.
42. what did you watch last night on tv? CSI
43. favorite sounds? Rain on the roof at night.
44. the rolling stones or beatles? Beatles
45. the furthest you've been from home? Houston, Texas.
46. what's your special talent? Putting on weight without even trying.
47. where were you born? The city I live in.
48. who sent this to you? Picked it up from Kirsty on my blog round this evening.

Sorry for my bad mood - hope to improve soon.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Beach Party Snaps

This is my Dad (on the left) and his good mate Norm. Today we celebrated both of their 60th birthdays at a joint beachside party. They have been friends since they were 17 years old, and there's a whole lot of water under the bridge of their enduring friendship.

I took the opportunity to snap some photos of the very picturesque surroundings - what a pretty spot! This sunset shot looks south down the coastline.
I thought this headland was particularly interesting, especially after my brother-in-law (who is a mine deputy) pointed out the coal seam running all the way to the edge of the land. The city of Wollongong has been defined by it's coal mining/steel city heritage.

This is a shot of the Austinmer surf life saving clubhouse, which was the venue for the afternoon's festivities. I am very lucky to live so close to this gorgeous part of the world, don't you think? Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Quilt Show Report

I've had a busy few days at the Illawarra Quilt Show (my local guild) and in preparation for the show - of course I left my own quilt til the absolute last possible minute to complete it. The binding was finished on Wednesday, no time to block the quilt and I was not happy with the way it was going to hang, but there was nothing to be done about it at that late stage. It mustn't have been as bad as I thought, as the quilt was awarded the blue ribbon for professional machine quilting (wooohoooo!!!!).

This is my client Val Muir's quilt, which won 2nd prize in it's category as well as 2nd prize for professional machine quilting!! It is a lovely applique quilt, done on a damask background. I used the damask pattern as the basis for my quilting design, and it did turn out particularly nicely.

My Limelight wholecloth quilt was awarded 2nd prize in it's category as well as 3rd prize for the professional machine quilting. I was asked many, many times today how it was done. The secret is shadow trapunto - the top layer of quilting uses batiste on white polyester batting, which is trimmed away for the trapunto effect. A layer of neon green cotton is added between the trapunto and the final batting, which gives the soft green colour.

This is my Mum's William Morris quilt which she made for my Dad for his 60th birthday (and I quilted). I was thrilled that it won 3rd prize in its category - Mum never gives herself enough credit for the lovely work she does, and she deserves those kudos. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Studio Tour - Part 2

Okay, sorry for the interruption - let's continue around the room in a clockwise direction. Next you'll see my cutting bench, which sits atop two stacks of wire baskets (which are full of various equipment and some of my unquilted tops, awaiting time or inspiration to be finished). I plan to put up another corkboard on the wall behind the bench - I love to pin stuff up! Also visible is more of the wonderful new shelves - you can see that I had no trouble filling them up.

This corner is where you'll find my trust sewing machine - you can see the quilt that I've been working on, awaiting my attention. This quilt has a deadline which is rapidly approaching, so I've been working in the evenings for as many hours as my eyes are able, to try and get the applique work done.

Next to my sewing corner is my old desk which holds most of my art supplies and general junk. The fact that you are able to see any of the table top is unusual - I tend to pile up crap on any available flat surface until lives are threatened by the risk of an avalanche of debris.

I don't usually have long-stemmed red roses on my desk. I wandered out into my garden in search of inspiration for an upcoming exhibition, and these buds were so perfect I had to bring them in.

That brings us back to the stairs. Hope you enjoyed the tour!! Posted by Picasa

Studio Tour

I've been looking at some pics of other people's studios on various blogs, and always find it fascinating to see the different working environments. As I've just spent a couple of days having a major cleanout of my workroom, I thought I should take advantage of the momentary cleanliness to show you all where I work. The first pic is the view as you walk down the stairs into the studio (we live on a steep block that slopes down away from the road, and my studio is on the bottom level below the rest of the house). Directly in front is my design wall, along with the hanging rail on which I display client's quilts when they come to collect them (with a quilt in position).
Moving clockwise around the room, you can see my wall of shelves which houses a ton of junk, along with my stash in tubs, TV and music equipment and a small portion of my book collection. It looks pretty disorganised, but this is actually a vast improvement on how it looked a few days ago.

Continuing around to the right, you'll see (you can hardly miss) my Gamill Class Plus Longarm Quilting machine. As you can see it takes up quite a bit of space. I store batting on the rail underneath as well as a some tubs containing client quilts awaiting their turn. You can also get a glimpse of the leafy view outside my windows, and the blank wall between them where my new air-conditioning unit will be installed some time in the next couple of weeks.

This pic shows the actual machine head sitting at the end of it's table. Above that, you can see some of the new shelves which Rob put up for me on Monday, giving me much more space to store my stuff (I love having him at home on holidays - so much gets done!!).

Looks like blogger hasn't uploaded all the pics, so I'll have to do this in two seperate posts - to be continued.... Posted by Picasa