Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sewing gifts

Setting Blocks
Stitching the binding
My mother-in-law has just turned eighty years old, a big achievement especially since she had a nasty fall a couple of weeks ago.  She has always been very active and hates becoming older, and so in her usual style she climbed onto the table to change a light bulb, now I have to tell you they have raked ceilings and why she thought she would be able to reach to change the bulb I can only guess.  Of course you now realise what happened, yes, she fell from the table onto the slate floor. Her injuries were severe enough that she could not get herself up   For over two hours she called out for someone to help her, finally my father-in-law who is totally deaf without his hearing aides came to her rescue. His first words "what the heck are you doing on the floor"   She has broken her scapular, badly cut her legs and given herself a decent bump on the head, X-rays show no damage to her head but she has been complaining of some short term memory loss and not being able to taste food.  This has slowed her down and she is feeling very down.
Back to the birthday,  what to give a lady who has everything, and I do mean everything.  Every room in her house has cupboards that are packed full of stuff that she cannot part with.   I decided I would give her the small table runner I had recently bought as a kit, I just had to make this up, "Candy dish" by Laundry basket quilts.  It is a small table runner she can use on her coffee table, thankfully she loves receiving hand made gifts.
On another note, I recently opened an old copy of Australian Patchwork and Quilting and on turning the pages I was shocked to find that an old neighbour and world renowned quilter Julie Wallace had passed away from a brain tumour last July.  I have cried over this knowledge because I would have attended her funeral, because this disease has also taken my son, because they were both too young and were both very talented people with still so much to give to this world and their families.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015


While sitting beside my sons hospital bed every day, I needed something to do to keep my hands busy.  I asked the "son who does everything" who was with me, and who was a fantastic support for me, if he would drive me to the local quilt shop.  I don't drive in Sydney it is far too busy for me.   While browsing around the shop I came across Hexagons, these would be portable and I would be able to hand stitch them. Finding a glue stick, papers, needles, cotton, templates and of course some papers, all I needed now was fabric.  I wanted some pre cuts and was lucky to find "Snowbird" by Moda fabrics in a Jelly Roll, the 1" Hexagons fit nicely within the 21/2 widths.
I had sewn a Hexagon quilt many years ago using the old method of tacking the fabric to the papers joining them and then having to pull all that tacking out.  It was time consuming and was only a small lap size when I decided I had done enough.   I am pleased to find how much easier it is with the glue stick,  which is water soluble.  Stitching these for over three weeks I now have quite a collection of Hexagons and was not sure what to do with them until last night when I was trying to go to sleep, of course that's when all good ideas come to me, when I cannot sleep.   I have just ordered some more of the fabric from Fat Quarter Shop and just have to wait for it to arrive. This gives me something to look forward to, I'm still having many sleepless nights and weepy days and often feel like the world is sitting on my shoulders. I miss him so much and want to complete this quilt, it will be my memory quilt of my son and the last days I spent with him.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Home made Pickled onions

My dad rang me last week with the news he had found white pickling onions at his local fruit and vegetable shop.   Pickled onions were something I always made over the summer months along with tomato  pickles and chutneys, they have always been a favourite with my family, especially with fish and chips. With the fish shops charging 80 cents each it was worthwhile making my own.   That was until there appeared to be a shortage of small white onions, I had looked everywhere over the past few years to no avail.  I gave in one year and bought the small brown onions, which the supermarket labelled as pickling onions, what a fail, they turned almost black in the pickling vinegar and I threw them out.  That was the last time I made them, and I was so annoyed every year when I noticed those small brown onions at the supermarket labelled pickling onions.  With onions in hand I suddenly thought, "I don't know where my large jars are" I looked through all the cupboards, even went out to the garage and looked through boxes, bugger.  Then while sitting having dinner I looked at the cupboards over the fridge, could they be in there. How the heck I put them that high up who only knows. I'm only 5' and even with the step ladder I could not reach. Eventually my daughter got them down along with the help of the wooden spoon.
This blog
is thanks to a blogging friend Diane who asked me for my recipe, so here it is Diane I hope you enjoy them.

Pickled Onions
1/1/2 tsps whole allspice
1 1/2 tsps whole cloves
 2.3 cm (1 in.) cinnamon stick                                                                                                        
750 g. (1 1/2lb) cooking salt
6 whole peppercorns                     
5 cups white vinegar, use a good quality vinegar here
4 tsps salt, extra
2 tsps ground ginger
Place unpeeled onions and 750 g salt in large bowl, add enough cold water to cover the onions, stand for 2 days stirring occasionally.  I place a plate in the bowl to keep the onions submerged. Drain liquid and then peel onions.
Cover onions with boiling water, stand 3 minutes, drain.  Repeat this boiling water and draining process two more times.
Pack the onions hot sterilised jars.
Combine all remaining ingredients in a saucepan, bring slowly to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Cool slightly, strain and pour over the onions and seal.  Now the hardest part of this process is you have to wait at least four weeks before tasting.  Enjoy

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Goodbye Darren

On the night of the twenty third of January my oldest son Darren passed away, almost two years to the day since he was first diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme grade four brain tumor.  We understood from that first diagnoses there would be no cure for this cancer, the only treatment available would be to give Darren time with his young family.  Darren endured four surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, infections, many medications and steroids which would bloat him and make him almost unrecognizable from the handsome man he was.   During all of this treatment he remained positive, up until the last few months when it took his speech and some of his memory, language was so vital to Darren during his career as a Science Journalist, and he found this very frustrating.   We knew then there were no more options and the tumor was winning.
I have been amazed over the past few weeks to meet, and to hear from many people how well respected and loved my wonderful son was.   I have heard many stories from people he connected with, everyone spoke of a man who was caring, intelligent, compassionate, funny, energetic and a good guy. 
I am also very proud of my daughter-in-law, she has shown nothing but love and compassion while caring for Darren even during times that have been frustrating, exhausting and trying,  I have so much respect for this young woman who, while caring for my son has also been raising two little boys and working full time from home.
My daughter-in-law has up loaded the memorial video her sister compiled for Darren's funeral onto YouTube "Farewell Darren Osborne". This will give you an insight into the man my son was, a man who was loved my many people.       I will miss him till the day I die.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Elephant in the room

You may have noticed me missing from my blog, I have been finding it very difficult to write, sure I have opened the page on numerous occasions but only end up closing the computer down and walking away.    My eldest son who has brain cancer has just had another surgery, this, the third time in eighteen months, only three months since the second surgery.    This last surgery has been more invasive, requiring him to be awake and alert for a time during the surgery, with a neurologist present to ascertain any damage to any of his senses.   This journey started eighteen months ago with all of us very optimistic for his future, but with the tumor returning shortly after Christmas and then again three months later our optimism is now waning.  We are now aware that unless he is accepted into a trial program there is little hope.  Chemotherapy is not holding this tumor, a Glioblastoma Multifore aggressive grade four tumor at bay, surgery has been the only answer so far.    I miss my wonderful chats with my amazing son, sure we talk about the children, my daughter-in-law and what is happening with them, and we talk about his treatment,   but there is always the elephant in the room.  What future he has we do not know, and neither does his surgeon or oncologist, one thing we do know is he will not grow to be an old man.   I have found myself becoming more despondent as time goes by, I am trying so hard to keep up appearances for my family and friends but I am finding this more difficult as time goes on.   I debated for a long time about writing this, I don't want sympathy I just want to let you know why I am not continuing with my blog, for awhile at least.   Keep your family close and give them a hug.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Small gifts

Sunday was market day, rugged up in my coat and with my umbrella I set off early to obtain a good parking spot.  After nine it is really busy and difficult to find a car space.   I was on a mission to find something small, something I could post interstate to my mother-in-law for Mothers Day.  Of course. the first stop is always the coffee van, especially important on days like this to have a hand warmer.  While roaming around I came across some gorgeous little hand made pots, these look very Middle Eastern and so beautiful.  I was won over and bought one.  Then it was off to meet my friends for a warming breakfast and to catch up on the latest.   While sitting there I showed my friend and she loved it, it was then I decided to buy another one for myself.   Would you believe when I went back I couldn't find them,  they had packed up during the rain and left, I missed out. Oh, well maybe next time.  
On my last blog I gave you a link to a blog, where I found the instructions for some cute fabric tissue holders, perfect for a handbag and for little thank you gifts.   I also found them on Pinterest so I've pinned them for future reference.   I sewed nine of these in an hour by chain piecing them.  I gave two of them to friends as thank you's, I put one in the parcel for my mother-in-law and I'm not sure who will receive the others.  Sorry about the photos I have taken recently, I'm having a few problems with my camera after my grandson played with it.

Friday, 2 May 2014

A stuffed pumpkin

Since I've recovered from my cold I have had no energy, I am just tired all the time.  No sewing, no preserving, and no house work done this past week.  The pumpkins are still on the outside table, they are under cover so I'm sure they are ok for a bit longer, but while thinking about what to eat on Thursday night I decided to bring a small one inside to cook.  Amazing what you can come up with when you just don't want to go out and shop.   I cut off the top,  scooped the seeds and some of the flesh from the inside and made up a stuffing of the leftover cooked brown rice, chopped some vegetables, garlic, parsley, nutmeg, cubed tasty cheese and to bulk it up a bit more some fresh bread crumbs.  Basically what I had left in the fridge.     It took about an hour and a half  to cook in the oven, although I could have left it a bit longer,  but I was hungry, not too bad, in fact tasty.  I had a large wedge for my dinner that night, cut a small wedge to have with some chicken, and then gave my daughter some to take home.  With the remainder I peeled the skin and blitzed it with a cup of chicken stock for lunch today.
Add caption
 Like I said I have done no sewing, but I have just read and have decided to sew one to add to the gift pack for my mother-in-law for next Mothers Day.  This gift will be posted interstate, so this will be perfect to add to what I have.