Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 Colour Challenge

Well the first colour for Jen's challenge is green and here is my block.  Sorry it is such a long post but I thought pictures might make it easier.

Quite a simple and easy block to make but must say one thing Jen didn't warn me was to make sure that when I choose fabrics check that they are actually the colour I think they are.  As you know from my post two days ago I have been rather rushed lately .... hey I only returned from visiting my boys overseas three days ago so there is an excuse for the rush. On the point of colour if you look closely at the small triangles surrounding the central square in a square you will see that it is a different fabric from the other florals. 

I foundation pieced my block as I was in such a rush and figured that they way my mind was racing that would be the only chance I had to make it right. Now if you want to change your pattern to a foundation pieced version go over to Jen's blog and download her pattern. 
1. Grab your sheet of graph paper and draw either a 6'' square or 12'' square depending on what size block you want to make.
2. As you can see from  the first diagram in step 4 this block is based on a nine patch so draw those lines on your graph paper.
3. Now working you way through each individual square draw in the lines as shown by Jen.
4. Now you need to split your block into three sections/rows as shown in the first diagram. 
Each section is pieced in turn and then the three sections are joined together as shown in the diagram.
5. Start each strip in the middle and piece outwards.
6. Remember that for foundation piecing you need 1/2'' seam allowance ... this might explain why I ran out of fabric as I had forgotten this when planning .. oops
The 1/2'' seam allowance is very important for the triangles in particular, 1/4'' doesn't give you enough room for error.
7. Also remember to drop your stitch length down. I usually use 2.4 but for foundation piecing I use 1.6. This is particularly important when it comes to ripping out the papers.
8. Oh talking about papers using a thinner paper makes it easier to remove the paper at the end.

Now for some step by step pics to show how I made it.
Remember the fabric goes on the unmarked side of the paper and you stitch on the marked lines. 
Always start and stop at least 1/4'' beyond the end of the line.
If you look closely at my diagrams you can see the numbers on the papers .... copy these if you need .. add the fabrics in the numbered order.

First up are the top and bottom sections

Pin fabrics 1 & 2 to unmarked
side of papers and stitch along 
marked line

Right side after sewing first line

Right side after pressing.    

Place bookmark on next line 
to be sewn

Fold paper back over the bookmark

Add 1/4'' seam allowance
 then trim excess fabric

Your triangle should be bigger
 than this ... I was short of fabric
plus very experienced at 
foundation piecing.

You can either follow the numbers written on the first diagram of follow my pictures ... both will give you the
same result

Again your triangle should be at least 1/2'' taller than this

you should have two strips like this.

Now for the middle section and joining it all together

Add triangles to opposite sides of the centre square

Press flat, trim then add fabric to remaining sides of the square

Press fabric then trim

Add strips to both sides

Trim both long sides only

Layout to check that 
everything is correct

Foundation numbering

Remove paper from centre strip

Sew strips together with paper side up

Remove the papers, press and then trim

Place your seams parallel to the marked lines on your ruler. If all is good they should be parallel .. if not then line it up as best you can. Even though I foundation pieced my block the design section turned out a smidgen smaller than the supposed to 6''  ... no one will be able to tell so I'm not stressed. I have still cut the block to 6 1/2''

last ... finally ... I do hope these photos have helped you

Look at the stitches on the seam beside.
I accidentally used my standard stitch length and so when pulling out the papers the stitching became distorted.

It is worth remembering to decrease your stitch length.
As you can see from this seam there is minimal distortion here and the only difference is the stitch length ..... worth the effort isn't it?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2019 Colour Challenge

Well it is on again. Jen Shaffer is again offering a new block every month in here 2019 Colour Challenge.

On the first day of every month she will post a new block. All instructions and the pattern will be found on Jen's own website.

Several designers will also be showing you different colour selections for the same block plus offering hints they found while making the block themselves. Jen offers the patterns in two sizes 6'' and 12'' finished ... plus ... now comes the big cheers .... a layout for the blocks if you stay throughout the year. I need to check if all of the blocks will be available for the entire year or if you need to make sure to pick them up on the month they are released. Hey why not simply put it in a reminder in your calendar to stop by Jen's or one of the other designers' blogs each month and pick it up. All of the blog posts will always be available and Jen will have permanent links for the entire year for you to easily check back to see what else people have found.

From what I have read last year Jen also had a page where people were able to upload their blocks as they finished so you can see what others are doing and make some friends along the way.

I won't/can't show you my block yet but trust me it will look good.

I'm running a bit late but will organise myself today .... hey this needs to be up and ready to fly midnight New Year's Eve so I can't leave it much later.

check back on the first of January to see my first block ...... check back on the first of June to see my second block ..... no the blocks aren't that difficult but this year Jen wants to showcase a wide variety of designers and so we could only choose two months ..... oh June is especially good for checking out this blog as I will have another surprise to share with you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Camel Markets - Tel Aviv

As you all celebrate Xmas I thought you might like to see the choices a someone would have in the local Carmel markets 🤪

How’s this for a selection of pastries? I have no idea if they are sweet or savoury nor which is which. The two I tried were VERY sweet.

These look like the accompaniments that we have had while eating out. Quite delicious but no idea what they are

These look delicious .... yummy.
For a healthy alternative there is always fruit. I have seen many of these in our supermarkets but never in such quantities nor as cheap. For us they are an exotic fruit whereas here they are as commonplace as apples or bananas and significantly cheaper. 

Wouldn’t these dried fruits make a superb celebration cake. They were generally 40-50 shekels a kilo. That's about $20 a kilo which is dirt cheap compared to Aus.
Anyone for olives? A myriad of colours and tastes I assume. The open air markets never cease to amaze me. These I can understand as they are so salty I’m positive nothing could survive in them but am surprised at some of the other foods

Turkish delight and halva, ground sesame seed base, are more traditional sweets. There are stalls galore selling these.
On the savoury side their range of cheeses leaves every country we’ve visited, apart from France, for dead. A quite overpowering aroma if you’re not used to it.

These markets are open everyday apart from Shabbat, that is sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, and similar were found in all of the places we visited.  Supermarkets are small like the corner stores we would have been used to as children but stocked like those magic fabric stores we hear of where everything can be found and there is not enough room to even turn around in. I wonder how long it would take to grow comfortable shopping here?

Just another window into a different world. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Landscape - Masada National Park

As I said in my previous post the landscape here is absolutely amazing. 

Leaving Tel Aviv the land is undulating with no mountains or valleys to speak of but after a couple of hours of gradual rises there appeared sudden valleys everywhere. We must have been driving along a slight ridge. Regardless, I was amazed at what suddenly appeared.

Notice the total lack of any life ... As far as you can see there is nothing growing. Mind you those blue signs do warm ppl not to feed the ibexes as the foods will kill them. I suppose the lack of ibexes is testament to the truth of that statement.

I copied this photo from the web as my photos simply didn’t show the depth of the landscape. The photo must have been taken at the peak of the wet season as, no kidding, there was absolutely no vegetation as far as the eye could see on our visit.

People go trekking here and there are signs everywhere saying take water and sun protection and don't go alone. Like as if any one of those would be something you might forget when planning to trek through this. This is the 'cold' and wet season ... yehhh right!

After leaving Israel we went to Jordan which was so much more fertile..... similarly to my memories of the Nullarbor ..... occasional sprigs of salt bush and dried grass.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


Jordan is one of the poorest if not the actual poorest of the middle eastern countries yet it is also one of the most hospitable. 

Remember how everyone was going on a couple of years ago about how generous various European countries were taking in the refugees from that huge surge escaping troubles from Syria etc. Germany  took in a bit over 800,000 refugees which is less than 1% of their population. In Jordan on the other hand more than 1/3 of their entire population are refugees. It also has no oil or other resources. 

We spent our next 3 nights in Jordan. To increase revenue you didn’t have to pay for an incoming visa if you spend at least 3 nights in Jordan so we planned accordingly. 

Our first night was spent in Aqaba. This port is the only seaport in Jordan as most of the country is landlocked. As you can see from the photo above Aqaba is very small.
What do you think of the mountains int he background ... by background I'm talking less than a kilometre away ... as I said very small place.

Tel Aviv to Aqaba

Paul and I are now travelling after having spent a couple of quiet days in Tel Aviv. 

Day before yesterday  we traveled from Tel Aviv to Aqaba in Jordan. We were really pleased we weren't having to negotiate crossing the border ourselves as both sets of border control were very finicky.... and I didn't even have my camera in sight!

First up Richard drove up to the stop sign in Eliat, Israel. He was told to reverse about a car length back to the line on the road. There he had to open the boot of the car. With their car you simply press a button near the boot, you don't open from inside the vehicle. I went to open it. The customs agent was, 'You need to get back in the car. The driver must open the boot.' 

Took about half an hour to get through the four offices needed for processing our documents and then pass out of Israel and then almost an hour to go through Jordan's side. Between the two crossings you have two huge wire fences, like you see around prisons in movies, with barbed wire at the top and a  river of sand about 20m wide. I asked the Jordanian guards about the fence and they said it runs along the entire Israeli border but is wider in some places.

The crossings are just a series of small rooms in a couple of long weatherboard buildings, think of the old colonial buildings you would have seen in movies of Africa. Paul and I are yet to acclimatise as we were wandering around in our lightweight trousers and summer tops while everyone else, including Richard & Hilde were wearing jumpers. Temperature was about 14 to 16 ... their winter and everyone wears jumpers in winter 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

We were very lucky that there was no one in front of us in the queue and that Richard & Hilde had a diplomatic car otherwise we would also have needed to change the car plates over and their documents would have taken longer to process. Seems as though the Israelis are so disliked in Jordan that cars with Israeli plates are quite likely to be vandalised. Their plates are diplomatic and don't state which country they are from.

One funny thing at the crossing was that quite a number of tourists fly in to Eliat, catch a cab to the border crossing, walk through the two checkpoints and then catch a cab on the Jordanian side. There were about ten or more cabs waiting for walkers when we passed through. There were probably 30ppl being processed by the time we left and they were all walkers. Someone said they fly into Eliat as the cheap airlines do an £80 return ticket from the UK. Eliat looked like a dump so I can understand why they went to Jordan.

The scenery is amazing. I will send some photos when we find decent internet .... Possibly tomorrow night but if not, then after we return to Tel Aviv. 

Travelling to Eliat we traveled through their equivalent of the Grand Canyon but in desert form. As I said to Paul it looks like an atomic bomb was detonated wiping out all vegetation. Next you had a number of years of winds blowing away the loose soil. Leaving barren rock as far as the eye can see. Many of the formations remind me of the majestic fjords of Norway, just without the vegetation or water. Very dramatic and awe inspiring. 

Unlike our previous trips here we have seen very few towns since leaving Tel Aviv. Two max over five hours of driving and one of those is the border crossing. We've seen a fair number of beduoin groups. That would be a very hard life. 

Richard said they are quite ingenious ... need to be to survive. We have seen NO water sources whilst travelling. All the river beds look like they haven't seen water in centuries ... Oh apart from when it floods will explain that later. Anyway the beduoin would dig a number of huge holes before the wet season ... that's when it floods ... They put large stones/rocks into the holes. The first rains fill the holes with dirty water. The rocks are removed and I assume the dirty water is also. When the next rains come the holes are again filled but this time the water is clean. These holes provide the beduoin with water until the next wet season. I assume they can't travel far as they need to return to the holes. Unfortunately as the government wanted to clear them out at one stage the military was dumping old cars into these wells .... they must have been huge. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Sea of Galilee

If anyone is thinking of visiting Israel it is worth it. 

We’re lucky as we’re here for three weeks and so delayed our trip to Jerusalem until just before we plan to leave. Hilde, daughter-in-law who is Norwegian diplomat, said things will be ok there as long as we go along quietly and stay in the main areas. We’ve booked two nights down there, although Hilde thinks we only needed one, so if situation suddenly turns we can hop it. 

Tel Aviv is amazing you have several high rise buildings mixed in with a fair number of middle rise, approx 8-10 stories, mixed with low rise , about four stories. This falls away quickly to only low rise within four blocks of the beach. The high rise look good to. Not just Lego blocks stacked top of each other. 

The battles are definitely not for any commercially viable land as all of Israel is a desert. The only green is on the irrigated farmlands.

Yesterday  we went to the Sea Of Galilee and visited Capernaum where Jesus lived. We also visited the Church  of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes  ..... yes that is its name. At the front of this chapel you can see where Jesus is believed to have divided the fish. 

The mountain where he did his sermon on the mount is just behind the church. 

Anyway the loaves and fish happened twice, firstly to mainly Jews and later they were mainly gentiles (non Jews).  The church is built over the rock where the fish and loaves were placed. You could see the rock! It was in an area of some impressive excavations. 

Two days before that  we went to Haifa where the temple for the Baha’i faith is. The tour through there was impressive .... and we even had no difficulty walking the 700steps .... yes we did walk down. It is also well worth checking out.

Considering I am secular and I am enjoying all of this from the historical aspects I can see why more religious ppl find the religious aspects of Israel significant.

All has been good here but the fun should really start tomorrow as that is when Paul and I head off to Akko ...without Richard or Hilde. Luckily I have my trusty phone which I have practiced using over the past week so all should be fine. I have learnt how to read Tel Aviv in Hebrew which will help us for the return trip and as Richard doesn’t trust us to find the correct train there he is taking us to the station 

Tonight Paul and I  went out and bought takeaway by ourselves! Mind you we repeated the order in Hebrew to each other repeatedly as we walked there, shabish with the lot, I can’t remember it now 🙄 but there were THREE words. 

Old City of Akko

The weather is now pleasant, shorts and t-shirts. Nights slightly cooler so still need our jackets. Lucky we’re able to walk, manage backpacks and live in same  clothes for three days as it makes our trips away from homebase manageable .... warm enough for washed underwear to  dry overnight.

If the nights were warm we could get away with two lightweight backpacks but unfortunately as they are still cool we need both packs and they feel like they’re  full of bricks. This though is more easily managed than a suitcase over the cobbled streets.

To round off about the old city of Akko ... there is a new part of the city but it’s boring ... think highrise Lakemba. The old city though is something else. Traffic is unbelievable. Many streets are one way but in some surprising places it’s two way!

Honestly this is a two way street. We came across a three car juggling event near an  intersection  and it was amazing to watch ... as expected one car had to do a u-turn ... well a many point turn. Must be common as there was no yelling or tempers. One fellow hopped out of his car to help the u-turner. Left his car running and just stepped over to help. We’ve seen a number of unattended cars with their motors running blocking streets. Only once did someone sit on their horn to make the owner return. When he did return he simply stepped into his car and drove off .... no yelling from other guy or anything.
I’m taking this photo standing in front of our BnB along our street.

I fully understand why the bad guys use motorbikes in James Bond. First up to get through the markets and then to be able to u-turn.
Aren’t the open air markets amazing?

That's the third day that huge fish in the back has been hanging there ... in the 'fresh' air. Mind you there's a lot less of him than yesterday.

How’s this for a selection of herbs and spices.

There’s a shop behind these items below. It’s four steps wide and not much deeper. Everyday they bring all of the items out to the front and at night pack it back inside.

And here is Paul about 9am ... just as they are starting to open up their shops/stalls. Look how clean the street is. At night after packing up the stalls the streets are all swept and washed. 
There were street sweepers working all day throughout the whole city which explains why it looked so clean. 

I finally remembered to take a photo of our breakfast today. First up you are given an entree whenever you go to a restaurant ... olives, gherkins, chillies and tomato. You don’t order it, they simply bring it out for you and it’s complementary. 
Then there is pita bread with the main meal, which as you can see was hummus with pomegranate, Paul had his with shakshuka ... poached eggs in a tomato based sauce. Although we have been given forks I think that was because we were westerners as the Arabic ppl simply broke off pieces of bread and scooped up their food with that. 
The food is very filling and we ate nothing more either day, nor did we feel hungry.

Funny once we had rested and had our bearings it felt quite safe and we happily wandered around after dark plus the place looked totally different at night. Mind you nightfall happens early .... 5ish. This was probably taken about 8ish as we were in bed by 9 every night ... totally beat.

Jam  filled donuts are the traditional Hanukkah food and we found a top bakery yesterday   

I have been thoroughly enjoying this trip. As I said to Paul, I knew and believed that Jesus was born, lived and was crucified but saw many of the stories of his life in the same vein as one sees the story of Little Red Riding Hood. A story created for a purpose rather than a retelling of an actual historical event. I didn’t know, nor care, which were true nor which were made up .... once you think one is made up you put them all in the same bucket.

Paul says that is a real indictment on my education ..... especially as I spent a few years in a religious school ..... such is life.

We were planning to go to Bethlehem tomorrow but Hilde’s not so sure about it.  She is saying no but Richard wants to go. She asked how he’d feel having his car pelted with rocks. I’m not keen on that. Will see tomorrow.

Also planning to go to Jerusalem on Sunday and stay for two nights. Really looking forward to it, so fingers crossed.

Quiet day today .... repaired the fringe on Hilde's carpet and secured two sides ... sewing skills have so many benefits.