15 May 2017

My book of the month: May

Real people are multi-layered, aren't they? I enjoy books that have characters so well formed that they appear real; they have so many layers of complexity that the reader can understand the characters' behaviour. The real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey is one of these stories.


It's not just about Liddy, though. As she forges her way through life at ferocious speed, with a ruthless reputation as a top divorce lawyer, we also see the impact she has on the other members of her family.

I thought this might be a predictable story about how a 'perfect' life falls to pieces and, in some ways, it may be read that way. But The real Liddy James is much more than that. It's about recognising our true selves and finding our place in relationships with others. 

Read more about The real Liddy James on Goodreads 

08 May 2017

On being a homebody

I've always needed solitude. There's nothing more soothing to me than simply being comfortable, maybe with a book or a hand sewing project to engage me. Even when I was growing up, I could spend hours alone on our front verandah, drawing clouds with creamy pastels, or in my bedroom, dreaming or reading.



Nothing's changed now that I'm older. I don't crave travel to foreign countries or being with large groups of people. That's not me. I am a homebody and that satisfies me.

I think that as you get older, you get to accept that your inner self is what makes you happy. It's what you are, deep inside, that defines the type of life you enjoy.

Making a comfortable home and pottering around it and my garden - these are the parts of my life that nurture me. Now, as I share that with another like-minded person, it is even more satisfying. And there can't be anything better than that.

17 April 2017

Three things I like this week

To choose only three things can sometimes be difficult. There are always so many small joyful moments in every day; we just need to recognise them!


1. New plants

I can't help but admire the gorgeous colours of the waterlily flowers in the top photo. I snapped this photo at The Collector's Plant Fair, a wonderful show where over 70 specialist nurseries gathered to sell their plants. I purchased only a few specimens but could definitely have brought many more! 

2. Seeing my writing online

Did you miss my Quilters Companion article about Sue Reid's quilt studio? You can now read it online for free!  I love seeing how other quilters arrange their creative spaces and how they make their work.


3. Hand stitching

I had an opportunity over the Easter long weekend to make progress with the applique on my BOM. Oh, how I am enjoying hand stitching these colourful blooms! Here's the pile of circles prepared for applique. Slowly sewing is so meditative. 


Do you have things that make you happy this week? Snippets of joy are all around us; we just have to look out for them.
 

10 April 2017

In the studio with Deirdre Bond-Abel

In the current issue of Quilters Companion, I have the privilege of sharing Deidre Bond-Abel's story of how her long-held dreams are coming to life.


Just look at the view through that window! Deirdre's business, Hat Creek Quilts, is based in Tasmania where she works while surrounded by inspirational countryside. 

Once again, I was fortunate to have a peep into the creative life of another talented Australian quilter. It was such a treat!

03 April 2017

My book of the month: April

I like stories set in Ireland. Having never been there, it seems like a fantasy land to me, with gorgeous landscapes and lovable characters. The library at the edge of the world by Felicity Hayes-McCoy does not disappoint in these respects.


At its core, this is a novel about community and family commitments. Each of these feeds into the other, of course, and make our small parts of the world better places. Lovely reading.

Visit Goodreads to read more about this book.

27 March 2017

The meditative effect of reverse sewing

Every day for the past few weeks, I've been unpicking the machine quilting on a friend's quilt. It was stitched so poorly by a commercial quilter that my friend knew she couldn't tolerate it. I offered to unpick it for her and so, armed with my trusty seam ripper and magnifying glasses, I started.


It is a huge quilt and it took many hours to separate the layers. It was fiddly work and yet strangely calming. I've found that I enjoyed the process while simultaneously feeling sad that it needed to be done. This quilt will be reborn later with my friend's beautiful hand quilting that will make it shine.

What have I cherished while unpicking the stitching on this quilt?


  • Quiet time with my partner. He's read a book or watched a television show with the volume turned down low. We've been in each other's company while doing separate activities.
  • Listening to podcasts to learn new things. The hours flew past while my mind was occupied with what I was hearing and my hands were busy with the seam ripper.
  • Thinking about ideas for novels. It's always fascinating how my mind roams as it considers what to write and how to plot the stories.
  • Simply listening to the noises around me. My neighbourhood has its own combination of silences and noises. It's comforting to know, just by the sounds, that I am home.
  • Making myself get up to move for ten minutes each hour. Thanks to the notifications on my Fitbit, I know when to walk each hour. Without these, I'm sure I would have stayed on my couch.
  • Catching up on the latest TV series of Vera, which I had recorded. Love these stories.
  • Knowing that my friend will be happy when she receives her beautiful quilt top back without all the ugly stitching.
  • Just being. This was the best of all; simply being, with the pile of black threads growing along side me as I rhythmically removed thread.
It's been meditative but I have to say I'm oh so glad it's over now!  

20 March 2017

Life observation: 1

I watched the woman from my window. She was carefully picking small flowers from a shrub in the park and I wondered; why? What was she planning to do with the large bag of blooms? I crossed the road to ask her.

I'm giving them to Buddha, she said. Do you know Buddha?

I nodded, of course.

I like to offer flowers regularly but the flowers you can buy in Australia are so large. Small ones are better; there are many small flowers in Burma, my native country. But here, they are too big so I pick these tiny ones for Buddha.

I thought you might be going to cook with them, I said.

She laughed. I've been asked that before; one man thought I would cook them into a soup. 

We laughed together and then I walked home, pondering her patience and the simple ritual she included in her life.



Curious, I wanted to find out why she might make this offering. I found ten reasons here. Rituals can be powerful, can't they?