Sunday, November 23, 2014

I went to Costco and Lived to Tell the Tale

I spent the week counting down to Friday because Costco finally opened in Adelaide this week. Friday was my first chance to get there and I went with the lovely Taz from Tazzie Quilts and her gorgeous daughter, Amy.  Taz is the most awesome shopping buddy ever because she turns her judgement filter off , and doesn't ask pesky questions like " Do you really need that?" and "What are you going to do with 12 kilos of chocolate chips?" which is what would have happened if I'd gone with Mr. P. I hate it when my husband harshes my shopping buzz and insists on a dose of reality. I'll use 12 kilos of chocolate chips...eventually. 

I had heard horror stories about people going to Costco and never being seen again, and of others who went and only made it out after filling 11 trolleys with stuff and having to sell a kidney to pay for it all. (The organ removal section of the store is at the back near the bakery, proving they really DO have everything) So, I was smart and went with a list , vowing not to get sucked in by the cheapness and awesomeness of it all. And all I have to say after having been there is OH. MY.GOSH. I failed epically.


One of the first things to go in my trolley was the biggest jar of peanut butter I have ever seen. Naturally this wasn't for me because eating a teaspoon of this has the capacity to kill me. But I knew if I brought this home for Mr. P he'd just about crap his pants, because the way to keep your husband happy is to buy him a 44 gallon drum ( OK a slight exaggeration there) of peanut butter. I also procured him a sack of Reese's Peanut Butter cups, as extra insurance against future potential divorce. 


Here is Amy , who wanted to bring home some Peanut M&M's. I heard her muttering "I want ALL the M&M's" somewhat maniacally to herself , and Taz had to distract her by yelling "Look, 8 litre bottles of shampoo and conditioner!" and pointing in the opposite direction. 


Lots of things were cheap...so, so cheap. Outside of Costco a bakery would want you to pay at least 3 bucks each for these cupcakes, but at Costco the whole tray was just 9 freaking dollars. I didn't bring any of these home but I wanted to ..so so bad. I'm not really all that fond of cake but I do like frosting and these are cheap enough that you can buy them, lick off the frosting and give the cake to your husband telling him its Madeira cake. 


Taz couldn't resist pointing these out to me while laughing loudly. She comes across like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth but honestly ? She's kind of a bitch. 


For those of you that can't understand why a stack of gingerbread house kits would instill fear in a grown woman go and have a look here . And don't think for one moment Taz that I've forgotten you promised to be my gingerbread house pimp this year.  And thanks to other hilariously funny people, with a warped sense of humour, I already have a foam gingerbread house kit and a Christmas tree kit waiting in the wings for me this year . I'm looking at you, Cardygirl , and you Little Miss Sunshine. 


This was my trolley as I was standing at the checkout line.  I'm totally making S'mores with those jumbo marshmallows. They're the size of pillows. Bear in mind that these trolleys are twice the size of regular trolleys. And they are American trolleys so only the front two wheels move in every direction. The back wheels are fixed, which is a little disconcerting when you're used to doing a rapid 360 turn with Aussie trolleys. I may or may not have taken a couple of people out trying to use them like a normal trolley. But its all good. Costco has a trauma hospital on site too and I'm sure they did a bang up job of fixing the people I injured.  


This was part of the lineup for checkouts. That lady in the stripey pants wasn't really a serious shopper. She hardly has anything in her trolley at all. Jeez Love, put some effort into it. If  you're coming to Costco its kind of mandatory to buy one of everything. By this stage people were getting kind of feral and rude. Except for me- I was standing waiting my turn and dreaming of what I could make with 10,000 fluid oz of maple syrup and 12 pounds of American cheese. Preferably in the same recipe. Taz kept telling me we had a butt-load of cheese, which is where all the fat from the aforementioned cheese is going to end up ...


Look! Frozen cranberries-unheard of here !!!!Until now its been really disappointing when about this time of year Pinterest and other people's blogs are full of cranberry this and cranberry that and you cant get cranberries here. Now I can make cranberry everything.  And look! Maccas cheese . I was so excited it was almost sinful.  I love Maccas cheese and the only place you can get that here is on Maccas burgers. Its the most fluorescent  looking cheese I've ever seen. Mmmm...I love it's orangey processed goodness. 


Ranch dressing! Chipotle Sauce!!! I did the happy dance. For those prices you can drink it like a cocktail if you feel like it. A 12 kilo box of brownie mix? I'm in - gimme some of that. It doesn't matter that I'm not a big fan of brownies. It was too cheap not to buy it. By the time I chucked Hershey's cocoa in my trolley for 7 bucks I was giddy with the amazingness of it all. And I defy you to tell me who doesn't need 3/4 of a kilo of Maldon salt flakes for $14.99? Aside from my arteries and blood pressure. 

A lot of the prices were seriously awesome, some weren't, and I bought stuff for the sheer novelty factor of Chicken Pad Thai, Buffalo Wings and Waffle Fries. 

The Verdict: I almost had a panic attack when they rung up my total. I swear I hyperventilated. Excessive consumerism at its finest. Thank goodness we have disposable income because I managed to use a reasonable amount of this weeks buying stuff with it. But I wont have to buy glad wrap , hand wash or or tea bags for the next year so there is a definite up side.  Was it worth it? As a once off or occasional thing - definitely. If I shopped there every couple of weeks I'd probably go broke. 




Saturday, November 15, 2014

Saying it Out Loud

Once upon a time, there was very young and naive Princess, who like most Princesses was pondering her grown up future while studying in her last year of high school. She wanted to be more than just a Princess.  This was the 1980's after all , and feminists everywhere had spent the 1970's fighting and burning  bras and enduring saggy breasts to ensure that every woman had the right to a career. Solidarity sisters! But what to do? Decisions. Decisions. 

While the Princess was pondering these major life decisions, her Sociology teacher was handing out the major class assignment for the final year of high school and Ms. Middaugh decided her students would be doing their final paper about alternative /minority lifestyles.  To increase the degree of difficulty, it was announced (among much groaning from the class population) that she was going to assign different topics to each student and she decreed there would be no swapping of topics because some teachers are actually reincarnated medieval torturers who haven't quite let go of their ability to think of unusual ways to torment the people over whom they have ultimate power.

The Princess drew the topic of disability.  

She duly researched, (this was in the days before the internet when research involved consulting other books and resources and actually getting your arse off a chair and making trips to the real library not a virtual one) and wrote and turned in her paper, with footnotes and a bibliography, and everything properly sourced, that as history recalls, she got an A for, and then moved on with her life.  

Fast forward to about 9 months later. The Princess is 18, and has moderately successfully finished high school. As is somewhat common Down Under she was taking a year off between high school and uni /starting an actual proper job, primarily to faff around delaying entry into the adult world. The fancy schmancy term for that now is to call it a "gap" year but everyone knows that's just a thinly veiled term for semi-legitimate slacking off. The Princess was slacking off having a "gap year", and selling cutlery at a department store to little old ladies who thought gold plated cutlery and spork sets were the very height of style. Still looking at her options , she had some irons in the fire career wise, but was still deciding exactly she wanted to do with her life. Hey - you can't rush these things and when you're 18 you seem to have forever.

In retrospect, the universe probably knows what it's about because what happened next set the Princess off on a path that she could never really have foreseen and that was going to influence her life for the next 30 years.

The scene: A Saturday morning in March 1985. The Princess is reading the daily newspaper. She's finished all the good bits and is getting ready to do whatever 18 year old girls did on Saturdays back then. That was so long ago she was probably planning to go and catch a dinosaur or discover fire.  Boyfriend Du Jour ends up driving a chisel through his hand so a trip to the local emergency department is in order. The Princess spend hours in emergency and Boyfriend Du Jour is eventually admitted overnight and the Princess has the dubious honour of staying by his bedside to cheer him up and show her love and support. To alleviate boredom, both from the insufferable ennui that is endemic in hospitals and from the actual boyfriend himself - what was she thinking there- the Princess is going through the paper again, this time from end to end, including the employment section. The Princess spies a job advert calling for applicants to undertake a registered nursing degree specialising in disability which sounded pretty darn interesting, given she already has a basic knowledge of disability thanks to Torturer Teacher.  So she wrote an application, sent it off and the rest my friends, is history. 

From a snot nosed kid who knew nothing ,(but in all honesty probably thought back then she had ALL the answers) the Princess passed her nursing exams and has developed her career and stayed with the same organisation for the last 30 years doing all sorts of different disability related work. She finally landed in paediatrics 13 years ago and felt like she had found her niche. What's not to love about working with kids and some of the best therapy clinicians in the country? And the organisation and most of the people in it have seen her through so many life changes and been so supportive both personally and professionally that the thought of leaving it had never really entered her head (except when she had a really bad day and entertained all those lovely thoughts we all sometimes have about winning lotto and staying home and sewing all day) 

But lately, the Princess has been getting itchy feet.....so she got that checked out at the doctor and he ruled out tinea which left her with the realisation that maybe , just possibly , she wanted to do something different. That maybe, as scary as it was, it was time to extend herself , trust her skills and use that professional knowledge and take a giant leap of faith. 

Do you recall this stack of papers the Princess showed a month or so ago when she talked about having to wade through them (on a weekend no less ) for a work related presentation? 


What she didn't say is that the presentation was actually a job interview. An interview, that in hindsight, seems to have gone rather well since they have offered her a job. 

She is currently hoping that the time she spent in a Turkish prison for littering doesn't turn up on her pre-employment checks....





Sunday, November 09, 2014

Progress of the Quilty Kind

This weekend has been all about R & R, after a pretty big week. I pottered and slept and sewed and haven't cooked a single meal. Mr. P has taken charge of the washing so we don't have to go to work naked this week, and it's been pretty much a case of every (wo)man for him/herself with everything else. 

I've been valiantly trying to make some sort of discernible progress on my unfinished projects the last couple of weeks. With 53 days until the end of the year I'm going to have to pull several rabbits out of hats to finish the three quilts that I set myself as goals for this quarter. That's a finish every 17 days...which makes me want to involuntarily pee in my own pants every time I think about that kind of pressure. So you know what? I'm not going to think about it. I'm going to just plod along and hope that yields results. 

I finished my Sampler blocks for October/November in Amanda's Sampler Along so Im feeling pretty chuffed about that. Yes- I made rather obvious errors putting them together and didn't notice until after I had IG'ed them. I don't care - they're staying that way. This is an exercise in technique and colour for me. It doesn't have to be perfect. 


I made a fair bit of progress since I last showed off my Miss Elizabeth project which included sewing lots of hexies together and basting some for the next few of rows. Maybe this won't take me years to finish after all? 


I started my Charming Stars Quilt and got 6 out of the 16 blocks that I need finished. I had a last minute change of heart about the fabric for this quilt. I was originally going to use my Bliss Stash but went with Curio instead and now I'm wondering if those colours will really work for this layout. No matter - if I don't love it I think I know someone who will, so it won't go to waste and I can always make the Bliss one up another time for myself. Speaking of which, I have already started my tentative quilt list for 2015. It's looking quite full already. 


Marrakesh is all basted and now I have to make some sort of decision about the quilting...and translate that into action. It would be nice to do something other than meandering. 


This week is all about putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Hope your week treats you well. 



Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Beginnings and Endings

Beginnings and Endings are a part of life. Sometimes those things are joyous. Sometimes they come tinged with sadness. Mr. P and I have run the gamut of both those emotions in the last 24 hours. 

After a week of exceedingly variable weather, Mother Nature decided to knock it out of the park on Sunday and turned on the most spectacular day. The weather was especially important because our whole family were gathering for a Very Special Event.Nephew of Pyjamas and The One Who Always Looks Beautiful got married in front of family and friends on Sunday afternoon after 9 years together, and the day was absolutely perfect. 

I had a quick word to the groom just prior to the nuptials and asked how he was doing. With supreme conviction he told me he wasn't one bit nervous. I guess there's no need to be nervous when you're doing something you've been dreaming of for a long time. 

The Groom on the left and his brother and best man on the right  

Aaron and Chloe getting married ! 
That hand in the pocket is very typical of my nephew. Casual and relaxed. Always cool. 


Who doesn't love cake? 


The bride was gorgeous, graceful and oh so happy!


Nobody fluffed their speeches and Other Nephew of Pyjamas did a bang up job of his best man duties. My sister looked stunning as the mother of the groom and my brother in law was seen in a suit for the first time ever , which rendered many of us incapable of speech for several minutes. Then the rude people (My Dad and my Husband) pretty much rolled around on the floor laughing.  


Morning after shot of the married couple. (or at least their hands !) I went rogue and totally stole this picture from Chloe's instagram feed .....without even asking. Yeah- damn right I'm a rebel.


Much love and happiness to you both.

As the happy couple were enjoying their first day of married life, Mr. P and I said goodbye to an old and treasured friend. The Six Million Dollar Cat aka Mordecai took his final journey to the place where all good and faithful cats go for their eternal rest. I like to imagine for Mordecai, that place always has full bowls of food and someone to permanently scratch his head between the ears. 



Rest well little orange friend. I will miss you. 



Sunday, November 02, 2014

Halloween

I have a tale for you today about our Halloween. 98% of Aussies don't celebrate it, although there is a huge push in this country by retailers for people to do the Halloween thing probably because it helps their fiscal bottom line.  It's slowly creeping in though and I suspect that in about 20 years half the country will be dressing up as ghouls and goblins and banging on doors demanding candy. To date, I've only ever had one set of trick or treaters at my doorstep and that was a group of scarily dressed zombie teens four years ago and they got two packs of Tim Tams because that was all I had that met the strict high sugar criteria for Halloween handovers. 

But yesterday at  the last minute  we decided we just had to do the Halloween thing.  Yes - that's right- we did it a day late. In a rush. And without any prior planning. Which is another reason no sewing has been done this weekend. Halloween sucked up my Saturday despite the witching night being well and truly over. 

I was talking to Super E on facetime at lunchtime on Saturday, when I casually asked if he had been trick or treating the night before. He told me with supreme conviction that if it wasn't raining he planned to do it last night. I had to break the news to him that Halloween was over and that people probably wouldn't be expecting trick or treaters. I was met with a little crestfallen face and a desperate question seeking reassurance that there was still some Halloween candy out there that he might cadge from the general population. 

I'm nothing if not flexible and quick thinking on my feet. I told Super E that I was pretty sure it was still Halloween at my place because I have American friends and it was still Halloween in their part of the world ( by my calculations it was still Halloween in Hawaii- just) and that I was sure if he came over he would still be able to find some Halloween magic. 

Sewing plans for the afternoon went out of the window. Halloween was on! Mr. P and I flung ourselves out of the door and raced around to about 4 different stores swooping up what we could of leftover Halloween decorations (none of which was on sale mind you WTF? - its the day after Halloween this shit should be on sale !!!) and then belting home to do the quickest previously unplanned decorating you have ever seen. Behold the spooky results ...


Spooky table set for dinner . Note to the far left the zombie on Super E's plate. 






Bowl of skulls and a poisonous albino scorpion.  


Candy bowl at the front door ready for the sole trick or treater


Front door skull , warning tons of fun would be found inside. 


Even my quilts were not immune from the obviously nuclear affected spiders that left these webs. 

Sadly Super E didn't turn up - so we had to make do with mini Spiderman instead.


Who was suitably impressed by the decorating and the overwhelming amount of candy he managed to shove into his special Halloween bag . Although initially he was kind of grossed out by the body parts candy , he later informed me that eating eyeballs, ears and noses was delicious. The candy corn was also a hit .


Mini Superman's contribution to dinner. 


Which went perfectly with the eyeball, cockroach and skull cupcakes I whipped up , that had fake blood concealed inside.  


End result : One happy little boy who got to celebrate Halloween Aussie style. Two grandparents who were utterly grateful that after all that Halloween candy Mini Superman was going home for the night. I strongly suspect based on the amount of sugar consumed his poor father was still trying to get him to sleep at 3am....



Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival -October 2014

AmysCreativeSide.com

I hesitated to enter this as my second quilt in the Bloggers Quilt Festival. I didn't enter it last time around because it felt a little bit like cheating because I didn't do the whole thing myself. Then I suddenly realised that lots of people don't quilt their own quilts , they send them out to be done professionally and that my Mrs. DeWitt Quilt is just a variation on that theme. Mrs. DeWitt did all this beautiful and time consuming hand piecing and the universe sent it to me to be finished. So if it wasn't for both myself and Fontella doing our bits this quilt would never have come to be a finished thing and I like the idea of having made a collaborative quilt with her , even if it was decades after she finished the top. 

All of this started because once upon a time I decided it would be a good idea to rescue a vintage or antique quilt top that needed some love to bring it back to it's former glory. After many months of searching I found an unfinished vintage Martha Washington Flower Garden quilt top that I fell in love with and had it shipped 10,000 miles across the world, holding my breath almost the whole time lest it not be as lovely as the picture I bought it from had showed. 


This quilt was started in the 1930's or 1940's by a lady named Fontella Holmes DeWitt in Iowa. Mrs. DeWitt was born in 1905 in Winterset, Iowa and passed away on Christmas Day 1985. I'm assuming that this quilt lurked around in an attic somewhere for the next 30 odd years while someone thought about finishing it. It was in pristine condition so it had been stored very carefully for all those years. Her hand work on this quilt is absolutely exquisite and she was obviously very skilled at paper piecing. I wondered why she didn't finish this and the only thing I could come up with was that she got totally fed up with hand sewing hexagons. By my reckoning there are about 8000 of them in this quilt. 

The plan was to finish the white borders on the edges ( never mind that at that point I had no idea how to paper piece hexies) and then turn this into a useable work of art. This was a huge quilt at almost 80 by 90 inches and I had visions of me hand sewing minute little one inch hexagons like some pioneer woman and actually being serene and happy about it. 

It lobbed at Maison Pyjamas via the grace of USPS and Australia Post. It was gorgeous. It was perfectly square. The hand sewing of all those teeny tiny hexies was perfect. Angels sang and trumpets heralded it's arrival. 

And then I hung it in a cupboard and there it stayed for 4 or 5 years while I contemplated trying to find cream fabric to match, and the agony of hand sewing 400-500 teeny tiny hexies to finish it off. Occasionally I'd take it out and stroke it lovingly and reassure that poor unfinished top that one day it would be a finished functioning quilt and that we'd be together forever. 

Sometimes inspiration hits you like a bolt of lightning. While I was off work on vacation earlier this year, I pulled that quilt top out for it's annual foray into actual light and out of nowhere I decided the time was right to finish it. The sticking point was whether I was going to hand piece more hexagons or come up with another plan. I consulted with QuiltyGal at lunch that very day and decided to go for it. 

I laid it out and basted it with about 500 pins. I used a wool batting with a higher loft than I usually use and I really enjoyed working with it. It was almost as if the hand of Mrs. DeWitt was helping me along wanting me to finish her wonderful unfinished work of art. And as I worked and got to see all the fabrics in detail I weaved wonderful stories in my head about where they had all come from and what they had been used for before. That fabric there had come from a Summer Dress, and that one from a weekday working skirt. I could see her Sunday best outfit and fabrics from her babies  clothes all dancing through my head and as if I could see the life that Mrs. DeWitt had lived through her fabrics. 


I started quilting using a serpentine stitch because I didn't want to detract from any of Fontella's beautiful work.  Sometimes simple is best. It took 5 spools of bobbin thread to get through this baby, because I quilted it very very closely together with a serpentine stitch. I have to say there were points where this was not fun to get it all through my machine. And the whole time I was terrified that I was going to do something  to mess it up! 


Then oh horror of horrors I squared the quilt up and cut all those pretty unfinished points off to bring this quilt down to 70 x 80 inches square. If I hadn't sacrificed those points it would have sat in the cupboard for another 30 years unfinished. Sometimes you have to make the tough calls.  


I picked a plain fabric that was as close as I could get to the original cream hexagons for the binding, in keeping with the original colour scheme of the quilt. 


And finally I put the last stitch in and she was finished, approximately 70 years after she was started. I'd venture a guess that this was one of the worlds oldest WIP's. And I was seriously thrilled. 

More gratuitous fabric shots. Aren't they pretty?



Quilt front




And the back ...I love how this looks!


I'm so happy with this finish. I'm prouder of this than anything else I've ever made. I like to think that somewhere Mrs. De Witt knows that her beautiful work is finally being used the way she hoped it would be all those years ago. Yes- I use this quilt a lot. And it was a no brainer to name this quilt in her honour. 

I'm entering this quilt in the scrappy category because it has several hundred different fabrics in it and I don't think it gets much scrappier than that. Thanks for dropping by and having a look at my post. And if you know the Holmes - DeWitt family please tell them their Mom's quilt is in good hands, a lot further away from Iowa than they ever imagined.