April 7, 2018

Australian Quilt Convention 2018

Never say Never!

Not so long ago I said I would never
 'Be good enough' to enter a Show. 

But I got brave enough, 
took a big deep breath 
and did!

And of course I said I would Never win a ribbon.
Someone liked my Quilt and - I did!

And not so long ago I replied to a friend's question saying I would NEVER have a Quilt on display at the AQC.

(The Australian Quilt Convention - Held in Melbourne Australia, is the largest Quilt Show/convention in the Southern Hemisphere.)

And the Moral of this Post is . . .

Never say NEVER.

I will admit that I was 'blown away' when I received a letter from the Victorian Quilters requesting My Istanbul for display in the
 "Best of the Best" 
at this year's Australian Quilt Convention. 

(There was a bit of scrambling to be done - Retrieving it from my DS & DIL.  Having it Valued etc which was all a bit nerve wracking.)

And here it is, hanging in some awesome company.

And standing back, just another quilter in the crowd - watching and hearing snippets of conversations and wonderful compliments.... Made me feel Happy that other people liked it too!

Thank you!!!

March 16, 2018

The Long Weekend ...

I often wonder how many people know what the *LABOUR Day Weekend is all about. Nowadays for most, it is the opportunity to have a day off and in Melbourne, Celebrate MOOMBA - Australia's largest Free Community Festival.

For others (Like us) it is a time to get some serious work done in the Garden - before the beautiful Autumn Days turn to Winter.

So - it all started last Monday when the Neighbour over the back fence came in and advised us that she had changed her mind about removing the enormous (Planted by Bird) Prunus Tree, whose branches were arching menacingly over half of our back lawn.
And it was to be Pruned instead.

On Wednesday, I amused myself by watching the massive branches come crashing down onto the lawn and taking over our small backyard.

That was until the Tree bit the Arborist, and he let out some choice Australian-isms that sent me inside so he could swear at it in peace.

The problem with pruning one of these things is - they don't STAY pruned.

Each cut will result in it sending out "Sticky-Outie-Itty Bits" - a fact we already knew BEFORE the Arborist added it to his tirade.
(Which was directed at the tree.)

Saturday was spent up our Japanese Maples (also on the Fence-line) removing bits of Prunus that had been caught in the branches and also meters of the Neighbours long forgotten and neglected Grapevine, that had wound it's way over the fence and onto the roof of our Bungalow.

We also took the opportunity to remove one of our own small Trees. 
A Grevillia that really wasn't doing anything for the backyard other than get in the way of the more productive nectar rich and Bird friendly Grevillia "Molly".

Once the straggler was out of the way we needed to prune 'Molly' to take some weight of one side of the plant, and then try and encourage her to move back into an upright position and "Own the Space" she is growing in.

It is times like this that I am glad we have our own small garden shredder.

Branches and leaves over the whole weekend were munched up and turned into Mulch to go back into the garden.

This little fellow is a New Holland Honey-eater who is a regular visitor that comes in to feast on the Nectar from 'Molly'.
At least our pruning didn't frighten him away.

From the Backyard to the Front - there is still maintenance to be done.
The front side fence was giving every indication that is was being pushed over by the Diosma (which it wasn't), but in order to be able to fix the fence - the out of control plant had to go.

It is odd how we debate whether it is the right thing to do - but once done we rarely regret taking a plant out.

We now have a clear run at the fence repairs - that is once Maggie here, finished her inspection.

It was time to take a break and have a well earned Cuppa - 
While we were gone the Wildlife decided it was also a good time to check out what we were doing. 

Of all Three in this photo it was the Praying Mantis that was the most feisty!

The fence is fixed and just in time - The Twin 6 yr old Girls next door discovered while we were working on it, that it was "nice and wobbly and a great place to play".
(I am not sorry to spoil their fun.)

The rest of the under plantings from years past were pulled out and mulched giving our beautiful 40 yr old Crepe Myrtle room to breathe.

DH did a wonderful job - a weekend well spent!
(I was only well enough to take some photos and watch).

We now have ALMOST a blank canvas to work up a new Bird, Bee and Butterfly friendly garden.

Well - I have to give DH something to do, as he is threatening to retire at the end of this year!

* * * * *

*Labour Day is an annual public holiday that celebrates the eight-hour working day, a victory for workers in the mid-late 19th century. The argument for the eight-hour day was based on the need for each person to have eight hours labour, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest.
 On 21 April 1856, in Melbourne, the stonemason’s workers staged a well-organised protest.
They downed tools and walked to Parliament House with other members of the building trade. Their fight was for an eight-hour day, effectively a 48-hour week to replace the 60-hour week. The government agreed to an eight-hour day for workers employed on public works, with no loss of pay.
The win was a world first!

March 14, 2018

The Last Two weeks . . .

I have been VERY unwell.
Vanilla Cup Cakes and Honey Joys
But, When You are Sick -
To tempt you to Eat, You are entitled to indulge in Whatever you fancy.

And when I am Sick -
I Crave Cake!

The problem in OUR household is -
I had to make them myself!

It was only a Packet Mix, but when I had finished - I was too tired to eat them!!!!
Oh well, If I am Lucky, and I can Hide some - They will Keep.

March 1, 2018

Welcome to Autumn - And Now for some Marmalade

No - I Don't have a bumper crop of Oranges to use up.

No, this was a request from DS#2.  And as any Mother (no matter how old you are) knows, it is VERY difficult to refuse a request from Big Brown Eyes especially when it comes with "I know we can buy some, But YOURS is SO much better ...."

OK - One HALF batch of Orange Marmalade coming up.
My Old Recipe says to cut the Oranges very thin and cover with water - Leave Overnight.
Also - take any seeds and barely cover them with water and also soak overnight.

The next morning and - for me, preferably before anyone wakes up! - it is just Into the Jam Pot with the Oranges and Water.

Bring to the Boil and Simmer (covered) until the Rind is Soft.
Depending on your fruit - about 45 minutes should do it.

Measure the Fruit Mixture
and allow ONE cup of Sugar
to each Cup of Fruit Mixture.

Put it all back into your Pan with the drained water from the Seeds
(Throw the seeds out).

Stir to dissolve the Sugar until it comes to the Boil and then Boil - Uncovered this time - for about 20 minutes or until the Marmalade Jells when tested.

Pour into Hot sterilised Jam Jars.

Take care when doing this as it IS molten Sugar Syrup and will burn you badly if you spill it on your hands.

(It is also a good idea to make sure there are no pets you happen to be pet-sitting around at the time...
Spike knows not to get under my feet in the Kitchen but the DDIL's Cat? - Not so sure...)

Seal the Jars when Cold...

Three Oranges gave us 3 Jars PLUS one decorative Jam Pot - for today's breakfast table.

Very Tasty and More than enough to satisfy a craving.

February 27, 2018

Honey Harvest and Bonus Bees Wax

Since my last Post I have been to the local Brewing Supplies shop and bought a length of 25 mm Food-grade tubing to extend the Flow tubes into the Bucket.

A small roll of Blu-tack around the tube at the lid and it became Spill, Water and Anything-else proof.
So, with that happily flowing by itself, we went inside to tackle...

...The Messy Bit!!

We now have the task of removing the Honey from the Traditional Frames.
Without any specialist Honey Extraction equipment, It is sticky and messy and...

Those frames I put into the Hive back in March - looks like they did not have Foundation Wax on them. 
That means TWO frames have 100% Bee-made edible Honey in the Comb.

All we have to do is cut the comb out of the frame and box it up!

The rest of it - Urgh.
Pretty unusable as far as the Honey is concerned.  It is very strong Brood Honey and most of the frames will go back to feed the Girls over Winter.

And those that are very old?
I am told They produce the Best Candle Wax, so will be melted down, filtered and added to the growing collection of Bees Wax.

I am still trying to work out the best way to do this.
But on a day like today when it is good an Hot.
Outside on the Deck under Glass = Solar Oven!

Is it worth it?

Of Course it is! - Without Bees we won't survive. 
We give them a Safe place to live and in return
They Pollinate our Crops and provide us with the most beautiful healthy liquid that is HONEY.

We Harvested 9 Kg of Honey from 4 Flow Frames and 3.8 Kg of Honeycomb from 2 Full Frames.

And The Girls have more than enough in Store to last them over a Melbourne Winter.

February 20, 2018

Checking on The Girls

It was Warm and Calm and just the right kind of day to inspect the Hive.

I have not been professionally trained in Bee Keeping, so was only able to give it a quick 'once over' while DD was in France.

I cleaned up a bit of mess and swapped in a couple of empty frames.

And mid December, The Flow Hive went on top of the boxes - 
To "Keep the Girls occupied" until DD got home.

A FULL inspection was needed and just as well - What a Mess!

One of the frames I put in earlier in the year had collapsed under the weight of the Honey and The Girls had started to build off that - sticking everything to the floor and sides of the Super.

The Flow frames had been filled, capped with tiny 'scales' of wax and were ready to harvest.

The idea of the Flow Hive is to not disturb the Bees - so removing them is (under normal circumstances) unnecessary.
So - back into their Super they go!

DD was rather excited about her First "Harvest" from the Flow Hive!

No suiting up is necessary using this method.
The Bees are fully occupied with business as usual out the front of the hive, so not concerned about what we were doing round the back!

Well, maybe the odd Bee or Wasp will come and see what is going on, but they are quickly 'shooed' away.

We will look into a better method of bottling the flow for the rest of the frames to avoid this happening in the future.

A simple extension of the pipe that goes directly into a lidded canister will be sufficient.

There is something Magical about being able to have Honey drip from a Hive straight onto your finger.

It is warm, coming out of the Hive at between 30-35℃
And it Tastes... Strongly of Red Gum


February 19, 2018

Wedding Cake - The Final Chapter

The Weekend is over and the mess has (almost) been cleaned up and I can now sit and write the Final Chapter in the Wedding Cake Posts.

For the Cupcakes, finding the right Cases was the hardest part.
They had to be the 'right' size, be of good quality paper (so any oils in the batter didn't leach through) And of Course they needed to Look Wonderful on the display table.
And they had to be BROWN!

I spent Thursday Morning making cardboard dividers to go in my Cake boxes so they didn't shift in Transit.

And got up REALLY early on Saturday morning to Pipe all the Icing Swirls and add Decorations.

Friday was spent making and assembling the main Cake -
This is the one that the Bride and Groom will Cut together at their Reception.
Stacking it and Making sure it was LEVEL.
0॰ - I am Happy with That!

Now came the 'Tricky' part -

How much Icing DO you put on a Naked Cake?
I have seen some cakes with almost none and some with Lots - So how much is too much?

No Idea!
So I just slathered it on and then scraped it off again - and Hoped for the Best.

Once that was done it was time to box up and Stow the Cakes ready for transport.

Don't forget Your Kit this time! - Essential for Setup and any Repairs that may be needed.
- I also took some extra flowers.

Here's a Tip - when Transporting Cakes, let other Motorists know just WHY you are taking your time over Railway lines and Roundabouts.

My not so little sign was invaluable during the 77 km (1 Hour) trip to the Reception Venue.

Once there, we were able to unload in the shade of the Wide Veranda.

It is times like this I am very delighted to still have my trusty Station Wagon - and a very useful DH as well!

Unfortunately, when you are busy setting up - you tend to forget to take Progress photos.

And in this case the Back light from the Bright Summer Day coming through Glass Doors made it almost impossible. 
It was so bright that at times, we couldn't even see what we were doing.

But the Venue - St. Anne's Winery at Myrniong (Between Bacchus Marsh and Ballarat) was a Beautiful setting for a Country Wedding.

It took an Hour and a Half, from arrival to driving back out the long gravel driveway and leaving weeks of work behind.

Not knowing if the Bride and Groom will like what I have made for them.
Hoping against Hope that the Cakes will be lovely and Moist by the time they are served.

For Me
It is Over.
My Work is Done.

For them
The Journey has Just Begun.

David & Eva
17th February 2018

Postscript:  I am hoping to be able to post more photos later, once I get some that were taken at the Wedding.