Family Comes First

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I was looking back at the date of my last post which was a little over a week ago. Since then my focus has been firmly on my family. Even though GMan and I are the only ones living here, we are fortunate to have plenty of contact with family. Sometimes it seems to come all at once as has been the case in the past week.

Last Monday I went to Brisbane. I took my mother to a specialist medical appointment then we treated ourselves to lunch at Fuzzy Duck Cafe. I would recommend it. This was en route to visit my aunt who is in an aged care facility. Visiting has not been possible during COVID19 restrictions so it was good to be able to see her.

I stayed in Brisbane overnight and after another appointment the next day I picked GMan up from a dental appointment and we headed home.

It has been school holidays for the last 2 weeks and our daughter and granddaughters arrived on Wednesday evening. The girls stayed until Saturday afternoon while their mother went to work for the remainder of the week and picked them up again on Saturday.

During their stay we prepared meals, sorted through my fabric stash, went to the gym, shopped for shoes, went to the beach and park and checked out the garden.

Miss O making french dressing and learning the principle of adjusting the seasoning to taste.

Cutting broccoli for the soup.

A successful shopping trip to buy new sandals for Izzy.

More cooking – pizza bases ready for toppings.

The beginning of a dress for Miss O from a piece selected from the stash.

Some of the regular housework goes by the wayside when there are visitors and this time was no exception.

The refrigerator looked somewhat chaotic. There were several leftovers that I could incorporate into meals the following day.

I had invited my sister and brother-in-law for lunch on Sunday but had no specific menu planned for the meal. We did a small amount of grocery shopping late on Saturday afternoon.

Our lunch was predominately a selection of small plates and salads which worked perfectly as we sat outside in the very pleasant spring weather.

Photographing the spread was overlooked until I brought the salads out.

Homemade hummus, guacamole and sourdough bread, rice crackers, vegie sticks and brie for starters then kale salad, rice salad, cucumber and onion salad ad tomato wedges to serve with mini meatballs, vegie kofta balls and spiced cauliflower bites. Fresh fruit salad made the perfect finish to the meal.

While it sometimes works out that a particular period of time is mostly taken up by a single facet such as family events, I am trying to create more balance in the spread of activities in my week. More about that tomorrow.

Not Busy

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As I mentioned in a post last year, I have tried to remove ‘busy’ from both my vocabulary and mindset as much as possible.

I have spent the last 3 days occupied in one of my favourite activities – sewing. It has not been just any sewing but specifically dressmaking clothes for myself.

The first project was a dress which was modelled on an oft-used shirt pattern.

I bought the fabric which is a cotton drill from a local thrift shop for $5. I have yet to source suitable buttons and finish the hem.

Another dress. A simple, lightweight shift which will be perfect for hot summer days at home or the beach. The fabric for this one was leftover from a previous project. Of course, both of the dresses have pockets.

A navy linen shirt made using the same pattern as the first dress. This is an extremely versatile pattern which I have used numerous times. The contrasting binding on the neckline and armholes is not visible when the garment is being worn but I think it adds a somewhat whimsical touch. Making my own bias binding allows me to indulge ideas like this. Once again, buttons and hemming are required to complete the shirt.

I have another linen shirt cut out which is black.

This has barely put a dent in my stash of fabric and I am looking forward to making more items to add to my wardrobe.

It is almost 2 years since I last bought any brand-new clothes apart from underwear. In that time I have bought less than 10 pieces from thrift shops and recycle boutiques and made a few items. Some of the clothes that I wore to work are still suitable for some occasions, however, I find that I am gradually changing the mix of clothes in my wardrobe to reflect my retirement lifestyle.

A New Neckline

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I bought this top a few years ago and have only worn it a handful of times.  In fact, I did not even wear it last winter.  When I rearranged my wardrobe recently I decided to make sure that every piece earned its place.

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I put the top on briefly the other day and realised why I don’t choose to wear it.  I do not like the feel of high, fitted necklines and this was simply not comfortable.

I had nothing to lose so I set about modifying the neckline.  I cut just below the ribbed band.  The pins mark the quarter points of the new neckline.

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New ribbing pinned in place.

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The finished article with a new, more comfortable neckline.  It will look better once the seam is pressed.  I am looking forward to getting plenty of wear out of the top in the coming months.

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Approximately 15minutes of my time was all that was needed to turn this into a garment that I will be happy to wear.

More Than Washing

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What does doing the washing mean to you?  Grabbing an armful of used clothes and tossing them into the washing machine and then transferring them to the dryer?  Or do you have a careful sorting and separating process?

I sort my washing into light and dark fabrics, check the pockets for errant coins, tissues or slips of paper and then turn the articles so that they are the right side out.  They are then washed and hung on the clothesline under the verandah.  When the clothes are dry I sort them into the items that need to be ironed and those that can be folded and put away immediately.

All of this process allows plenty of opportunity to examine items for any damage or wear and tear which requires repair.  The old adage, ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is very true.

This week I found a small hole and run in the front of one of GMan’s merino thermal tops.

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My darning skills are somewhat limited but I do have a rudimentary understanding of what is required.  Since this is an undergarment, a perfect result is not essential.   I found some similar coloured tapestry wool and split it to extract a single strand to use.

The end result is functional if not particularly pretty.

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Regardless of the type of garment, it is worth checking clothes regularly to ensure that they are maintained which will prolong the life of the garment.  Things to look for include loose buttons, hems coming down, breakage of side seams near pockets or armholes.

Making and Growing

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It rained almost all day yesterday and today has been a succession of intermittent showers.

I had managed to plant some more seedlings before the rain started.

New snow pea seedlings.

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Eggplant seedlings.

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The climbing beans are thriving and enjoying the trellis.

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Lettuce and bok choy growing quickly.

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GMan created a new bed for the cauliflower seedlings.  It is located where the compost heap was so the soil is particularly good.  As an aside, GMan is working on building new compost bays so there will be more about that before too long.

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Meanwhile I have not been completely lazy.  I made covers for the armrests of the sofa.  On one of them I added a pocket to hold the remote controls.  The fabric I used is the leftovers from the upholstered seats of the dining suite chairs.

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I try to mix the days up with outcome-based activities interspersed with day-to-day housework and periods of complete relaxation.

 

 

Finding Balance

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It is a little over 6 months since I finished work and I am now beginning to look at how I manage my time at home.

While I was working it was the time available which dictated what I achieved at home.  However, now that has all changed as my time is my own.

The first 6 months were taken up with the final preparations for our overseas trip followed by 9 weeks overseas then it was less than 2 months until Christmas and a road trip and family Christmas.

My activities can be roughly divided into the following categories (in alphabetical order, not priority):

Cooking – meal preparation – sometimes in bulk
Exercise – aquarobics, gym and walking
Gardening – growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs
Household maintenance/renovations – usually in conjunction with GMan
Online/Computer – blog, Facebook, emails
Relaxing – reading, music, television
Routine housework – making bed, washing, ironing, sweeping, vacuuming
Sewing – clothes, mending, patchwork and Boomerang bags
Socialising – book club, film society, theatre, friends, family, Air BnB guests
Shopping – groceries and miscellaneous
Travel – local, interstate and overseas

By their very nature, housework and cooking tend to occur everyday.  Formal exercise is twice a week but I am trying to include either some walking or gardening every other day.

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I try to find time for some gardening, relaxing and computer work each day.

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Sewing and socialising usually happen several days a week.

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Shopping is as little as possible but groceries are mostly once a week.

Some activities cross over such as aquarobics and socialising.  I also try to combine activities and errands to limit the number of trips I make into our local town (8km away).

From time to time a particular activity may demand a substantial block of time to the exclusion of almost everything else but I generally try to keep a mix of activities each day or so.

 

 

 

Patterns and Pants

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Dressmaking can be a challenge when trying to get a perfect fit.  One of the best methods I know is to disassemble a garment which you love and fits well and then use the pieces to make a customised pattern.  I did this several years ago with a sleeveless, collared shirt and have made numerous shirts from the pattern.  Here are a couple of examples.

This time it was the turn of my white cropped pants which I have had for about 9 years.  They are starting to get a bit thin in places.

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I generally use non iron-on interfacing for tracing the pattern. It is reasonably sturdy and stands up to repeated uses. However, on Sunday I discovered that I did not have any left so I had to think laterally.  I had a scramble through my stash and found several large pieces which had been part of a donation to Boomerang Bags but were not suitable.  The fabric is medium-weight, cream synthetic with no stretch so I decided to use it for the pattern pieces which worked perfectly.  It was easy to add markings and instructions, too.

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This is the fabric that I had earmarked for my first attempt with the pattern.  About 3 metres of a medium-weight cotton drill that I had bought last year for $4 at the local Salvos thrift shop.

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I am very pleased with the result.

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The only variation I made from the original was not to add belt loops.  I never wear a belt with these pants and the absence of the loops makes for a smoother silhouette.

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I call them my ladybird pants and you certainly won’t lose me in a crowd when wearing these.

I have a black, fitted t-shirt which I will be able to wear with them and I plan to make a black linen shirt using the pattern I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Now that I am happy with the construction and fit of these pants, I am working on a pair of lightweight dark navy linen ones.  They will be full-length rather than cropped.

I have several sewing projects underway or planned and I will show you more in future blog posts.

A Gift of Love

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A few weeks ago I became aware that one of my former colleagues is expecting her first child.  As I had done for another colleague, I offered to make a quilt for her forthcoming addition to the family.

I dived into my stash for a selection of suitable fabrics and bought 2 small pieces to supplement what I had on hand.

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The first block completed.

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All of the patchwork done.  Now to make it into a quilt.

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The mum-to-be was delighted with the end result.

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It is special to be able to use my sewing skills to make unique gifts from materials which would otherwise be likely to end up in landfill.

Sewing Something Different

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While my sewing is generally bags or clothes, occasionally it can be something completely different.

Last week was one such moment.  I decided to make a cover for my newly-acquired overlocker.  I also made a matching one for the sewing machine.

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Covers completed and on the machines.

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These were all made from salvaged secondhand scraps from my stash.  The one for the overlocker was the quilted side of a decorative pillowcase.  This meant that it had enough body to stand alone.  The sewing machine has a hard plastic case so I simply made a fitted slipcover for the case so that it would match the overlocker one.

As well as looking pretty they do the very practical task of keeping the ever-present dust off the machines.

Busy?

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Well, it is over 3 weeks since my last blog post so you are probably thinking that my excuse will be that I have been busy.

While I did not trumpet any New Year’s resolutions for 2019, I made a decision that I would not tell myself or anyone else about how busy I was.  I have recently become aware of some of the negative connotations of the word ‘busy’, and therefore, I have made a conscious decision to remove it from my vocabulary and thoughts as much as possible.

So, what of the past 3 weeks?  I have simply been otherwise occupied and not writing.

Cooking, sewing and generally keeping home and hearth together.

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Full-time paid work.

Involvement in community activities.

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Socialising, welcoming visitors and travelling to visit friends.

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As I said, not busy, simply living and loving life.

I am looking forward to sharing some more happenings soon.