Friday, February 27, 2009

Spike Day

Today as been declared a 'spike day', in other words a day of extreme fire danger. High temperatures and strong winds are expected across the state. Nearly 200 schools are closed because of the extreme fire risk. Childcare centres and kindergartens in bush fire prone areas are also closed. Most people in our street have evacuated. Its kind of strange; very quiet with a sense of waiting. My family have elected to stay and not evacuate as our home is well prepared and there are three adults and no young children here today. The weather here is also quite mild. The strong winds haven't eventuated and its only now getting hot outside.

Lets hope the predicted wind change this evening doesn't bring strong winds. So far the containment lines around the existing fires have held. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

Once we get through today the weekend weather is predicted to be mild.The next danger day is Tuesday when very strong winds are forecast. We will all be very happy when the rains finally come.

Stay safe everyone,

Update: The wind change was much later and not as strong as predicted so the four major fires still burning stayed behind containment lines. Today, Saturday, is much cooler and heavy clouds have hung overhead but we haven't had any rain. I've never seen it so dry around here. Its going to be a long summer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another Tote - This Time for Me

Finally, after sewing shopping totes for everyone else I finished one for me. Its a generous size but easy to carry and looks better than your standard green shopping bag. At least I think it looks better, my kids refuse to be seen in public with it. The joys of children.

Taking my own bag shopping saves on lots of plastic bags and its a lot more comfortable to carry than plastic bags which cut into your fingers. We are even starting to run out of plastic bags from the plastic shopping bag pile which every home seems to have.

Now to start my next sewing project - an apron. My daughter disapproves of this as well, apparently aprons are grandma things. To be more exact, aprons you make yourself are grandma things but shop bought is OK. It seems there are endless ways to embarrass your children.

Have a great day. The weather here today is much milder, we have even had some light rain. Its great to have a respite from the extreme fire danger days.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Back Again

Back again - its been awhile since I last posted anything. The bush fires are still burning and today is predicted to be another extreme danger day. We have two large fires near us. The closest is only about 10km away. The other fire is more of a threat at the moment. Strong winds are predicted to carry it closer to us. A number of towns are on alert and people were evacuating last night. Fingers crossed the winds won't be as strong as feared and no one will lose their home due to bush fires today.

So what have I been doing the past couple of weeks? Lots of raking and cleaning up of the property. We had already done quite a bit of work but there is nothing like the real threat of a fire to get you motivated. I've spent hours raking sticks and leaves from around the property. Each day more fall. The dry weather is taking its toll on the garden. Yesterday a branch fell without warning from a large gum tree near our driveway. The trees are getting stressed.

The veggie garden has been producing lots of tomatoes but I'm running out of water so I haven't planted any seedlings for ages. I'll use the water I have to keep the plants going I already have. Hopefully it will rain soon. Hopefully.

A bit of sewing has been happening but nothing has been finished. I have lots of started projects but nothing completed. I've resolved to get a few finished before I move on to the next project. Lets see if I can stick to it.

Tomorrow is my daughter's 17th birthday. I have no idea what to get her for her birthday. It seems to get harder as they get older. I guess I had better get my act together as time is running out, hopefully inspiration will hit me today.

I guess I had better get to work. Unfortunately the dishes won't do themselves. Pity.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fire Update

The fires continue to burn and they will for some time yet. The death toll is shockingly high and we have been warned it will continue to grow. Help is starting to get into the state from around Australia and the army has been mobilized. Fingers crossed the weather stays cool and the winds don't pick up.

We attended a fire meeting last night. There is a large fire reasonably close to us. The meeting was information for residents about what we can expect. So far we are OK but a wind change could make things a bit tricky around here.

We've cleaned up around the house but the recent dry and windy weather has brought down branches and there are leaves everywhere. The plan is to do some more raking today. It never ends.

Stay safe everyone,

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Hotest Day Ever

Well, we are still here. Saturday was the hottest day on record of any capital in Australia. It was a record we would have been happy not to hold. Along with the heat came the winds - hot dry deadly winds. By about 2pm it was clear the state was in trouble. Bush fires were burning across the state. We had fires within 30 minutes of us on three sides but luckily the wind blew the other way and we were never seriously under threat.

It was a tense day though. We stayed inside. listened to the radio, checked the CFA and DSE updates and walked around the house to check for signs of fire. At one stage it became very smoky but it cleared and we were OK.

Our thoughts go out to all those who were not so lucky. The death toll stands at 108 this morning and it is expected to rise. Towns have been wiped out. Marysville was a beautiful little town which we had visited often. Its not that far from here. For all intents and purposes it no longer exists.

Its not over yet, fires are still burning and towns are still being threatened. We will remain vigilant.

I can't imagine what it would be like to lose everything overnight. Many have.

Lets hope the cooler weather enables the fires to be brought under control and there is no further loss of life or property.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

101 best tourism experiences in Victoria

The RACV recently polled its readers for the top 101 best tourism experiences in Victoria. Its an interesting list. I thought I would share some with you. The complete list can be found at I'm not sure I would agree with everything on the list, there are a few odd ones, but it is interesting to see how many we have been to and see some ideas for other places to visit.

  1. Drive the Great Ocean Road

  2. We drove the Great Ocean Road from end to end in December 2007 and camped along the way. Definately worth doing, the scenery is spectacular with the ocean on one side and the forests of the Otways on the other. The road itself was built by returned soldiers after WWI. It took 14 years to build and is a memorial to the soldiers killed in WWI.

  3. Audax Alpine Classic - Bright

  4. I don't know about the bike race but Bright is beautiful.

  5. Ford Discovery Centre - Geelong
  6. Wilsons Promontory
  7. We've camped at Wilsons Prom many times. Its a national park and largely unspoilt. Many places are only accessible by foot. Its a campers paradise. The beaches are clean white sand and wildlife is plentiful. Wombats roam the campsites at night and you can lie awake at night and hear them munching on the grass outside your tent.

  8. Walhalla

  9. One of my husband's favourite places to visit. Walhalla is a tiny town deep in a valley. It was once a thriving mining town but now has around 20 permanent residents. You can visit the gold mine, ride the steam train, walk the Alpine track (all the way to Canberra if you have a week or two to spare) and see the historical sites.

  10. The Blues Train
  11. Skandia Geelong Week
  12. Grampians National Park

  13. We camped at the Grampians in April 2008. The scenery is spectacular and there are many bushwalking tracks leading to lookouts, waterfalls, rock art and some stunning scenery.

  14. View Mt Sturgeon from the Ryal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld
  15. Great Victorian Bike Ride
  16. Chocolate Mill - Mt Franklin

  17. The chocolate is yummy though not cheap. The building is made from straw bale.
  18. Point Nepean - Mornington Peninsula National Park
  19. Penguin Parade - Phillip Island

  20. Take a warm blanket and someone to snuggle up with and watch the penguins come in up the beach to their burrows. There is plenty to do at Phillip Island so go early, visit some of the attractions on the island and finish off the day with the penquin parade.

  21. Puffing Billy
  22. The tracks winds its way through farmland and bush (and in places people's backyards). Its a scenic trip with the magic of a steam train. The famous trestle bridge is just out of Belgrave. Most people stop at Lakeside and enjoy a picnic lunch in the beautiful park. If you continue on to Gembrook you pass through farmland to the little village of Gembrook. The kids love sitting in the windows with their feet out the window. Wear glasses or you will get soot in your eyes.

  23. Sovereign Hill
  24. Another family favourite. Sovereign Hill is a recreation of an 1850s mining town. You can pan for gold, visit the shops, go down the gold mine, see the battery stamp and boilers, see the gold pour and various other demonstrations through out the day. You can easily spend a day here. The curry pies at the bakery are delicious.

  25. Photography Made Easy
  26. Port of Echuca
  27. Linden Gardens Rainforest Retreat
  28. Rupertswood Mansion, birthplace of the Ashes
  29. Phillip Island Helicopter Flights

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Tote for a Teenager

I've finally finished the shopping tote for my daughter. We bought the fabric weeks ago but its taken awhile to actually sew it. The teenager chose her own fabric and designed the bag herself and enlisted me to do the sewing. Its simple but practical with nice comfortable handles. She is happy with it and will even be seen in public with it. That's her highest approval rating - OK to be seen in public.

It is washable, takes around an hour to make and is much more environmentally friendly than plastic bags. The sewing is simple, its all just straight lines.

The Teenager Tote
These instructions are for the tote I made my niece. Its red, her favourite colour. The lining is made from some cute frog print fabric I had.

What you will need
  • Cotton fabric with a bit of body (not too thin and light) for the main part of the bag (approx 40cm x 80cm)
  • Cotton fabric for the lining (can be thinner than the main fabric) (approx 40cm x 80cm)
  • Cotton drill or similar for the handles (approx 70cm x 30cm)
  • Cotton thread in matching colour
Cutting the fabric
The pieces cut out. The main body colour is red.

Fold the fabric for the body of the tote (right sides together) and cut a rectangle 38cm x 37cm with the base of the rectangle (37cm) sitting on the fold.

Repeat for the lining.

Cut two strips for the band at the top from the drill. 37cm x 7cm

Cut two handles for the bag. 70cm x 12cm
Adjust this length is you want longer or shorter handles.

Sewing it all together

Pin the sides together (keeping fabric right sides together) and sew down both sides of the rectangle of the main fabric.

Repeat for the lining but leave a 10cm gap in the side stitching.

Fold the band in half lengthwise and iron flat. Fold the handles in half lengthwise and iron flat. Unfold the handles and fold each side in to the middle along the fold line and iron flat. Fold the handles in half and iron flat. Fold the ends of the handles to the inside to make a neat edge, iron flat.

The handles with both sides folded into the middle.
This is then folded in half to form the handle.

Top stitch each side of the handles (sew close to the edge). Sew across the ends of the handles to keep them neat.

The top stitching on the handle.

Join the band pieces right sides together on the short edges of the rectangle so you have a circular band.

Right sides together stitch one side of the band to the top of the main fabric making sure the side seams meet.

The top band stitched to the top of the bag.

I know it doesn't look it but you are nearly finished.

Right sides together stitch the lining to the other side of the band, making sure the side seams meet.

The lining with the band stitched to the top. The red fabric is on the inside at the moment.

It looks odd but you've now created the bag. Turn the bag inside out through the hole you left in the lining. You should now have a nice finished bag with the lining in the inside. Sew up the gap in the lining either by machine or by hand.

Iron the bag flat and top stitch around the top of the band. Attach the handles to the band on the inside. Attach them firmly and make sure they are even and not twisted.

The finished tote.
Congratulations you are finished!
I hope all that makes sense - please let me know if it doesn't. Its really simple to make - if I can do it, anyone can.

Sit down, have a cup of tea and dream of more things you could create.

Monday, February 2, 2009

We Made It

We made it through the heat! It gets hot here, you do expect a few days over 40C each summer but we have never had temperatures like last week before. 45C is way too hot. The train lines buckled, the electricity grid overloaded and many homes were without power and bush fires burnt across the state. Thankfully there weren't any fires near us. We do have family in Mirboo North where the fires where but they are safe.

It was 37C on Saturday - a cool change. Its ridiculous when you think of 37C (100F) as a cool change. Sunday was even better, 34C. We opened up the house and cooled things down. We got quite excited to feel the cool breeze blow through the house. This morning it is only 22C inside and it feels like heaven.

For those in Adelaide still suffering from the heat, I fully sympathize. The cool change when it finally does come is wonderful.

Today is a special day in our household as our first born turns 19 today. I can't believe time has flown so quickly. I got up a bit earlier than usual and made him pancakes for breakfast before he went to work and made sure there were leftovers for snacks later. He loves his pancakes. Tonight he has requested homemade icecream for deserts.

Happy birthday son, have a great day. You're only 19 once and its an exciting time with so many possibilities.

Today is also back to school day for our daughter. For the first time ever it is just her going to school, her brother finished last year. Its a big year for her this year, year 12.

Enjoy the rest of your day, what ever it may bring,


Update: It rained! The thunder and lightening came and down poured the rain! It was exciting, the gutters overflowed and the water tanks received a very welcome top up.