Wednesday 30 September 2009

Sharing Bear Hugs!

Well ... Jenny has emailed me to say that her mail is no longer being held to ransom (read Jenny's post to find out what I mean! Tee! Hee! Hee!) and she has received her Hug Swap goodies. So ... as promised, after my teasing sneaky peek of the BACK of her goodies, I thought I'd better show you the FRONT. Ready??

Ta da!! Since I always sign off with "BEAR HUGS", you should have GUESSED that my mug mat and mug hug wouldn't share just ORDINARY hugs! :0) I had a lot of fun designing these little goodies for Jenny and they've actually inspired plans for a new pattern, so watch this space! Now, when I was creating, I DID get a little enthusiastic with the size of the mug hug, so it's a bit larger than Jenny's design. Jenny says she has some big coffee mugs it will fit, so that's OK, but my other thought was that it was just the right size for a coffee plunger, so here's the photo of took of Jenny's gifties before I sent them off ...

See!! Just the right size for my coffee plunger and I got to show off my pretty cup that Deb gave me for my birthday and one of the fabulous faux cupcakes made by my blogging buddy Kerryanne English! :0)

Now, along with Jenny's mug mat and mug hug, I sent her a little poem I wrote, which I thought I'd share with you.

Bear Hugs For You!
Sometimes you may be having a really ‘icky’ day,
When no one seems to love you and things don’t go your way,
When stitching seems to pucker and you tangle all your thread
And you really start to wonder, if you should have stayed in bed!
When that’s the way your day goes and you really need a hug,
Boil the kettle, make a cup of tea in your favourite mug-hugged-mug!
And as you sit and rest a while, at your mug you’ll stare
And feel the comfort of the hugs passed on by these small bears!
We all need hugs to make it through, at least three every day,
And I am happy I could pass at least TWO Hugs your way!
So when your day is ‘icky’ and you feel a little blue,
Remember someone cared enough to send Bear Hugs to you!

So ... there you go! Does that make up for teasing you with the back view of these goodies and keeping you is suspense?? I hope so! And even if you weren't part of this fun swap hosted by Jenny and Vickie, I hope you take every opportunity you can to share in-person hugs and cyber-hugs, cos scientists tell us that we need a minimum of three hugs every day to survive, but 12 to thrive, so start spreading those hugs around and we'll see how well bloggers can thrive!! :0) You'll be amazed how great it makes YOU feel too when you brighten someone's day! I'm now off to start blog-hopping to collect OPAM finishes - will be back with a draw winner in a day or so. Til next time ...



Tuesday 29 September 2009

Hugs In The Mail!

After a busy morning at work yesterday (and one that was a little frustrating cos there seemed to be a revolving door of people through my office and I didn't get much achieved!!), I arrived home to find an envelope in my mail box ... all the way from far north Queensland!! Ooooooohhhh!! How EXCITING!! I knew JUST what was inside and knew it was sure to brighten my day - my swap gift from Hug Swap Hostess-with-the-mostest Jenny had arrived!!

I raced inside with the door slamming behind me (darn gale force winds!!) to open my waited-for mail. Oh look!! My favourite colours, green and red!!

And a furry friend to help me unwrap! Nara was only to happy to help - she likes a good hug, too! A BEAR HUG of course!! :0) And when Nara and I unwrapped the pretty green tissue paper, we found ...

Ooooooohhhhh!!! How SPOILT am I!! Jenny made me a gorgeous Mug Mat and Mug Hug set from a gorgeous rusty red/brown fabric and sporting some of her signature 'Oopsie-Daisies"! How SWEET are these goodies!! I don't know if you can see it very well in the photo, but the mug mat says "Daisy Hugs". Now, since it was a cold, icky, windy day and I REALLY felt like I needed a little pick-me-up, I decided to make myself a cup of 'special' coffee (no, it DIDN'T contain alcohol! Hmmm ... though it occurs to me this could have been a good idea! Tee! Hee! Hee!) and give my lovely new Daisy Hugs set a test run ...

Yep, they seem to work just fine!! Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much, Jenny! I LOVE my Daisy Hugs coffee set and am sure I'll feel special every time I use them! Hmmmmm ... so ... do I blame Jenny if my caffeine intake suddenly climbs dramatically and I start bouncing off walls?!?! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Now, I also sent Jenny's Hug Swap giftie off on time and it has probably arrived, BUT ... she won't be able to check her mail til WEDNESDAY! Oh dear! How to keep a swapper in suspense! :0) Jenny hinted that perhaps I should give her a sneaky peek to tide her over, so I've decided to do that. Ready??

Ta da! This is the BACK of Jenny's Mug Hug and Mug Mat! Tee! Hee! Hee! It IS a PEEK and I WAS SNEAKY!! :0) I promise to share a photo of the front as soon as Jenny lets me know she's taking her goodies for a test run in her cosy corner. Don't you just love the fabric I've used on the back? It really is YUMMY fabric! Get it ... chocolate ... yummy ... hmmmmm .... perhaps an early night and sleep catch up is in order tonight! :0) This fabric was a sweet (get it? Sweet ... ah, never mind!!!) fat quarter that I picked up on one of my frequent visits to my Home-Away-From-Home. Marion probably still has some if you want to buy one of the few chocolate indulgences that WON'T go straight to your hips! :0)

A big THANK YOU to Jenny and her fellow-Hug-Swap-Hostess Vickie for organising this fun and encouraging swap. Let's face it, we ALL need as many hugs as we can get! I hope that as hugs fly all around blogland and into our mailboxes that you're all having a wonderful week so far. OPAM Challenge Gals - make sure your lists are up to date and/or you've emailed me your monthly finishes, cos tomorrow's the end of the month and I'll be starting to whizz around to see what you've all been up to. Back with the end of month draw winner in a couple of days. Til then,



Saturday 26 September 2009

Pattern Typo Alert!!

Just a quick little note (really!!) to anyone who has bought a copy of my "Fairy Bears & Butterflies Quilt" pattern. Marion was making up some kits for it which will now be available through Quilters Angel, and she discovered a typo for the amount of rick-rack needed in the requirements list on the back cover. It SHOULD have listed the amount of rick-rack as 4.5m, so if you've bought the pattern, please be aware of that change. It doesn't affect things too much, except you will need to buy more rick-rack if you've already got your list of makings together - it gets cut into shorter lengths to attach it to the quilt, so won't be wasted ... if that makes sense!! Mind you ... there's always room for more rick-rack in a stash! Tee! Hee! Hee! I can't wait to start seeing some of your versions of this fun quilt made up, so please email me photos or post a photo on your blog and let me know when you do!

And now ... I'm off to make a cup of tea to wash the dust out of my throat - we're currently shrouded in yet another dust storm here in the Garden City and it is NOT fun! It may not be quite as thick as Wednesday's but it's still pretty icky - glad I postponed the clean up! Mind you, I keep thinking that we'll wake up in the morning to find that, like the sands of the Sahara, the dust storm will have buried us and we'll one day be discovered by archaeologists! Hmmm ... perhaps I really HAVE been watching too many mummy movies! Tee! Hee! Hee! Til next time ...



Friday 25 September 2009

Come Into The Garden With Me!

Now, I've told you all it's Toowoomba's Carnival of Flowers this week and shared some of my parade photos with you, so today, I thought I'd share some GARDEN photos with you - seems only right, since that IS what the Carnival of Flowers is supposed to be all about!! I was actually feeling a bit down in the dumps yesterday, so a trip with a friend to see some of this year's prize-winning gardens was just what the doctor ordered. Ummm ... I have to confess to getting a LITTLE carried away with the camera, so once again you may like to grab a cuppa before you sit down to look at this post - and if you get hay fever, you'd better grab some tissues and anti-histamine, too! Tee! Hee! Hee! Oh ... and remember, these photos were taken the day AFTER our freaky super dust storm - not only did most of the gardens hold up fairly well, take a look at the blue, blue skies we enjoyed after all the dust blew out to sea! In fact, the way the wind was blowing, my blogging buddy in the Land Of The Long White Cloud, Shiree, was probably 'enjoying' it yesterday! :0)

Right ... first port of call was a 4 acre garden on the southern outskirts of Toowoomba. This is the sight that greeted us as we pulled up ...

Since OUR garden would have fitted into the pond, it was a treat for me to see such a large garden. Here's a closer look at that fabulous water feature ...

I love the mini-windmill that was whirling away in the front there and although you can't see it well in this photo, the little green blob in the water at the top of the falls is a mermaid with a water plant for hair - very cool!

Now, as you know, I'm not at all a pink girl, but this tree was just so vibrant against the background of green leaves and blue sky that I had to take a happy snap.

The clever gardeners here have created mini landscape scenes all through their garden, so that when we stood back from this water feature a bit, we realised our view now incorporated this cool stone lantern.

This bird looked like he was wading in a puddle of colour - aren't the tulips neat!! They were probably at their best a few days earlier, but still pretty speckie!

In keeping with the oriental theme, these pergolas were placed close together - great spot for an afternoon tea with a few friends, I'd say!

When my friend said "Look at the ducks," I assumed she meant garden ornaments, like the big crane with the tulips or some chickens we'd seen in another garden. Nope! She meant REAL ducks - apparently this little web-footed family pops in regularly to help keep the bug population down - saves on ornaments, hey! :0) The only downside is that the little 'messages' they leave behind are ALSO very REAL! Tee! Hee! Hee!

OK ... we've moved on to another garden here - and the ride was so smooth, you missed it! :0) These roses were in a greenhouse to bring them on a bit early, but it also had the effect of intensifying the heavenly scent! Aaaaaaahhhh!! I love the smell of roses in the morning! OK ... so it was afternoon and the movie quote doesn't usually include roses ... but they DID smell pretty good! :0) I also experimented a bit to see if I could get some close up shots ...

Roses are red ...

... and blushing pink ...

... and white and gold and tiger-stripe-red. Don't know if you can see the stripes on that red rose, but they were rather special in real life.

Some of my favourites here - blue salvia up the back, pretty cornflowers (much more purple than I've seen before) and some little white daisies right at the bottom. I love that deep purple colour against the lush green!

I have no idea what these flowers are called, but BOY do I LOVE their vibrant colours! And I'm a sucker for water features large and small - must have something to do with me being a Pisces ... or maybe cos I've lived so much of my life in dry, arid areas!!

OK, we're now entering the Grand Champion Garden for 2009 ... and the last few years, actually! You'll see why as I show you a bit more - though I can't show you ALL of the special features of this garden or we'll be here all day!!

One of the things that makes this garden spectacular is the multitude of mosaic features that are scattered and hidden around the garden - like this pot. So ... THAT'S what you do with pretty china that's not able to be used, but too pretty to throw away!

This HUGE mosaic is on the wall of the landing that leads to one of the most gorgeous outdoor rooms I've ever seen ...

Isn't it FABULOUS!! This is what OUR outdoor area wants to be when it grows up! At the moment it looks more like ... well ... a carport ... because that's what it is ... at the moment! One day when we win Lotto ...! :0) I particularly love the chandelier. My friend pointed out that it would probably drip wax onto the tablecloth (which was a pretty patchwork cloth, too!) but I told her she was being far too practical and raining on my outdoor fantasy room! Tee! Hee! Hee!

This is just one section of a length of garden edge that was about 10 metres long - and there was one of these pretty hearts every metre or so. WOW! This would have had to be mosaic-ed (if that's a word!!) in place - can you imagine how much patience must have been needed to stick with this?!! Hmmm ... I have just had a thought, though ... do you think maybe the lady of the house has a bit of a temper and throws china around when she's venting ... and so she had to find SOMETHING to do with all the broken bits?!! Tee! Hee! Hee! Just a thought!!

The path around the pool is made up of mosaic-ed stepping stones and no two are the same! I loved this fairy one - see ... fairies at the bottom of the garden are a MUST! Here's another paver ...

This one features lovely irises. Even when there's nothing flowering, there would be lots of gorgeous colour in this garden!

I loved this lush green corner - reminds me of the tropics, but it's right here in VERY cold Toowoomba.

There were a number of these rustic looking warriors in this section of the garden - they almost look like they've been discovered in a long-lost-emperor's tomb. I am NOT going out there at night, just in case they come to life and go on a rampage!! Or is that just me having watched far too many "Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns" movies?!?! Tee! Hee! Hee!

And another example of mosaic art in this fabulous garden - it sure is easy to see why it won Grand Champ again!

This lovely, tranquil waterfall was from the last garden we saw for the day and was the winner of one of the water feature sections. Told you I'm reather partial to water features!!

So there you go ... some sneaky peeks into some of the prize winning gardens of the 2009 Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. Not bad considering we're in the middle of a drought, on some of Australia's strictest water restrictions AND had a freaky super dust storm go through the day before the photos were taken!! Almost makes me want to get out in the garden ... but with an inherited hole-digging dog (THAT'S how I twisted my ankle again!!) it's a bit of an exercise in frustration and futility. SIGH!! Maybe one day we'll have abundant water and a dog pen!!

I hope you enjoyed your garden tour and didn't need TOO many tissues to deal with your allergies and hay fevers with all those flowers! :0) Well, I'm tired all over again from walking all around those gardens, so am off to make a cup of tea and have a little read. Til next time ...



Wednesday 23 September 2009

Dust Storm!!

Toowoomba awoke to a distinctly hazy day this morning, as the leading edge of a huge dust storm began to roll in. When I first arrived at work, this was the view from the door of my office in two directions ...

This is looking out to the west and usually, we have a lovely clear view of the Bunya Mountains, but not today!

This is looking south to the end of our Village and usually is a view of rolling hills and cow pastures. Now ... these next photos were taken about an hour later when the dust storm was at its worst ...

This is the same view in the first photo - definitely not seeing mountains today!!

And this is the same view in the second photo. The dust was so thick that you could smell it in the air and the sunlight turned to an eerie orange, 'end-of-the-world' kind of glow.

About an hour after I took these photos, it was back to the intensity of the first two, but stayed that way right through the day, until this afternoon, the setting sun looked like this ...

And this ...

Very freaky!!

Apparently, the super dust storm was caused by a few things - we've had the driest winter on record, the hottest August on record and gale force winds started in South Australia and just kept blowing all that dust eastwards!! The weather man is telling us it will be clearer but still hazy for the next couple of days and asthmatics like me aren't going to be moving very far without Ventolin in our pockets. And I don't even want to THINK about how much of that dust has come into the house under windows and doors - I think there's enough dirt in the hallway to plant a vege patch! OK, maybe not, but it sure isn't fun to walk barefoot at the moment. SIGH! I guess that means the weekend will be spent spring cleaning - RATS!

The only upside of today's weird weather was that it kept me inside and I spent the afternoon in the sewing room putting some finishing touches on my Hug Swap items. I drew the lovely swap-mamma Jenny as my partner, so I can't show you any sneaky peeks or I'll spoil Jenny's surprise, but I promise to show you the mug mat and mug hug once they've arrived in Jenny's mailbox. Two things crossed off my "To Do" list, which is nice ... and two things ADDED to my OPAM finishes list! YAY!! Don't forget to update your sidebar lists, all you OPAM Challenge gals! Or if you're able to send me an email of you finish tally, that would be great too - it's my turn to do the end of month round up and prize draw, so I guess I'll have square eyes this time next week! :0)

And now ... I'm off to have a cup of tea to wash the dust out of my throat, I think! So, unless the dust storm is actually just a cover for aliens to invade, I'll catch up with you all again soon! Til next time,



Monday 21 September 2009

I Love A Good Parade!!

It's currently the Carnival of Flowers week here in the Garden City of Toowoomba - gardens all around the city have been weeded, watered, under planted, trimmed, clipped and decorated to within an inch of their lives and the city is shining! Unlike the sun at the moment ... which is behind the leaking clouds! :0)

Our Carnival week kicks off every year with a Grand Parade and as I do love a good parade, we wandered down for a little look-see. We're really fortunate to live about three blocks from the tail end of the parade route, so don't have the headache of finding a parking spot - which is good, cos both of our streets were chock-a-block with nose-to-tail vehicles on Saturday at parade time!! Now although I won't bore you with photos of EVERY float from the parade, I will share quite a few with you, so grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy the highlights of Toowoomba's Carnival of Flowers Grand Parade for 2009, which celebrated 60 years this year - it's Diamond Jubilee!!

The Parade was led off by our Town Crier, complete with kilt, tri-corner hat and very loud bell ... which he took great delight in ringing!!

Next came some mounted Police Officers - don't know how they'd go in a high-speed chase, but there's something appealing about them. Probably a left over "girl-and-her-horse" thing from primary school days.

Hmmm ... I'm not really very sure what these were supposed to be, but they were pretty and colourful, so I took a photo. Wouldn't want to be these guys if it got a bit too warm and the balloons started popping!!!

And what's a parade without pom-pom girls! Hmmm ... well ... actually ... it's still a parade ... but you get what I mean - I hope! :0)

OK all you closet Australian Idol fans ... here's one of this year's special guests for the Carnival - past AI contestant-turned-soapy-star Dean Guyer! Yes, there were teenagers screaming ... and one Mum who's daughter looked mortified! Tee! Hee! Hee! In case you can't tell ... Dean's the one NOT facing the camera - of course! (Slow digital camera speed makes a moving parade a bit of a challenge to photograph!!)

A few parade entrants took the '60's' theme on board, including Heritage Building Society who had their very own Austin Powers impersonator - "Oh bee-HAAAVE!!".

They also had their own go-go dancers. "YEAH BABY!!" Get a load of that piggy-bank! Couldn't I buy some fabric with the contents of THAT! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Another 60's themed float had a rolling Woodstock type concert happening - without the drugs and rain and probably a few other unsavory facets of the original! :0) Yep, we had a 'G' rated parade!

Aaaaaarrrrrrrr! Me hearties!! When they named this guy Looooooooong John Silver they were right! Talking about his legs, of course!! What did you THINK I meant?!?! 'G' rated, remember! :0) I might add that his wooden leg is almost as tall as me, so that tells you how far off the ground this guy was!! And he was leading the ...

... The "Black Diamond" fastest ship on the Toowoomba seas!

It always makes my Scottish blood soar to hear bagpipes - can't help but tap my toes, but DID refrain from doing the highland fling - my twisted ankle wouldn't have been up to it! That's MY story and I'm sticking to it!! These pipers were closely followed by ...

... a castle?!?! There you go - just when you think you've seen it all! :0) And just to make my all-things-Scottish-loving pal Linda happy ...

Another pipe band! If you want to make Linda swoon, you just have to 'speak Scottish' to her ... "bagpipes ... kilt ... loch ... Sean Connery...! Tee! Hee! Hee!

There were some lovely vintage and classic cars, but this was my fave, as the participants were in period dress to match ... well ... except for the sunnies, perhaps!

This butterfly looked fabulous, but I'm not sure I'd want her to land on my garden! :0)

There was a large contingent of Red Hatters on hand to celebrate - this is just a small part of the group, as they were spread out somewhat, chatting to folks as they went along. When I 'grow up' I think I want to be a Red Hatter, too! :0)

The cast of an upcoming production of "Cats" were on hand to play - and scare small children, as it turned out! Tee! Hee! Hee! Guess she was a dog person!

This is the ATS Belly Dance Troupe I used to perform with, "Drum Dance Belly Dance". They do have a web site, but I'm not sure what the exact address is. I'd still love to be dancing, but they changed class times so there aren't any that fit my schedule now - but I still occasionally scare the neighbours by turning up the Middle Eastern music and shimmying around the lounge room! :0) There's a mental picture for you! Tee! Hee! Hee!

"Use the force, Luke!" ... "I have a bad feeling about this!!" Stormtroopers took to the streets of Toowoomba - probably regretting leaving their home planet which is MUCH cooler and more suited to their cumbersome armour! :0)

Just in case the Stormtroopers overheat, here's the vintage firefighting equipment - bet the fire-ees are REALLY pleased this mode of transport has changed!

And bringing up the rear of the parade to pick up stragglers (or arrest those having a little too much fun?!?!) was the highway patrol car travelling at a MUCH more sedate pace than usual. Of course, we DID kind of wish it would hit the accelerator to see what happened to the flowers! Tee! Hee! Hee!

So, there you go, a bit of a glimpse at the 2009 Carnival of Flowers Grand Parade. Hope you enjoyed the peek. I'm hoping to go to some of the prize-winning gardens for a little look-see in the next day or so, so will be back with garden pics if I manage it. Til then ... May the force be with you!!! The FURRY force, that is! :0)



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