Archive for August, 2012

Sydney, Australia – Simply the Best!!!!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

After leaving the Quilting in the Highlands, Sherry and I headed to Sydney for a week of fun!

Sherry, my best friend, accompanied me on this trip. Just to give you a bit of background, Sherry and I attended our very first quilting class together some 30 years ago. I was so pleased that she agreed to come and now we were off to play together for an entire week in one of the most amazing cities in the world.

Tamsin drove us to Sydney and then out to visit Bondi Beach. It was a very breezy day at the beach. The size of the waves were mind boggling. They were so powerful, there were no surfers! This is a man walking along the shore so you can see the proportion of the waves coming in! We had a wonderful fish and chips lunch in a beach cafe.

Next we checked into our hotel which was located about two blocks from the Opera House and Circular Quay by the harbor. The Harbor bridge is amazing and one of the sightseeing options was to walk to the top of the bridge.

We thought about it and after seeing people doing it, we easily decided not to enjoy this opportunity!

We did hop a Ferry to Manly Beach. It was about a 30 minute ride and fun to see Sydney from the Ferry. Lots of fun shops and again another lovely beach.

We relaxed at a beach side cafe for lunch and watched the surfers ride the waves.

Next we were off to tour the Opera House. You simply can not stand there and look at this building without getting the goose bumps. We took a tour of the Opera House and learned about its history. That was really fascinating. We then had coffee and a brownie looking over the harbor. Are you catching this resting and eating trend?

The Queen Elizabeth Building was next on our agenda. It is a spectacular building with these amazing clocks that chimed on the hour and half hour.

The decor and stained glass windows were breath taking.

The shops were varied and of course there were Pastry shops. The Australians do pastry very well.

Sherry and I were doing our best to become part of the culture, so of course we had to take a morning tea break with a yummy Tea.

Hyde Park was next. The beautiful fountains, trees and people enjoying the park and the beautiful day were a bonus. Do you see the rainbow in this photo over the fountain? That symbolizes how are week in Sydney was going. The weather was sunny and gorgeous every day.

At the end of Hyde Park stands the majestic Anzac Memorial. It is the principal memorial to Australians who have served their country in the armed forces during wartime.

Sherry and I were both very moved by the tributes in this building. It was done with reverence to so many who lost their lives. The ceiling of the dome has 120,000 gold stars honoring the men and woman from New South Wales who enlisted during World War One. Because this building was under construction during the depression, stars were sold for 20 cents each to help complete the building. It is not known why the density increases at the top of the dome.

Another highlight to our trip was a trip out to the Blue Mountains. They appear to have a blue haze because of the mist that rises off the Gum trees. The vistas were amazing and waterfalls and a walk through the valley floor completed our experience.

Sherry is looking out over Echo Point with the Three Sisters in the background.

Next we were off to the Wildlife Park where we had the opportunity to meet all the interesting Australian wildlife up close and personal.

Although we had been by it, Sherry and I had not yet had the chance to walk through the Botanical Gardens. It is right along the harbor and the flowers, plants and trees are amazing. We stopped for some delicious pumpkin soup at the cafe.

On our last day, we took the Ferry over to Darling Harbor. There was lots to see there such as this lovely water feature.

This spiral water step was mesmerizing. We enjoyed walking around and see the sights and no worries…we stopped for an afternoon tea.

I have shown you pictures of lots of the sightseeing we did in the Sydney area, however the one thing that I have not shared with you yet is what I loved most about my visit to Australia…..the people. Without question, every person we met was warm, friendly and enjoyed chatting. We were typically asked where we were from and how long would be visiting from just about everyone we met. People on the street would offer assistance if we looked confused. Tamsin went above and beyond to share with us her country and made us feel so welcome. We came home feeling blessed to have experienced this trip and even more blessed to have met so many wonderful people and new friends. Sherry and I send many thank yous to Tamsin, Sue, my students and each and every Australian we met along our journey who made us feel so welcome.

All the best,


Quilting in the Highlands of Australia

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

It all started with an email from Tamsin Harvey, co-owner of Berrima Patchwork in Berrima, Australia asking if I would agree to be one of their teachers at  a conference they were hosting this August. Here is the irony…..about 19 years ago, I traveled to teach in Australia for about 3 weeks and one of the places I taught at was Berrima Patchwork. The shop was under different ownership at the time and Tamsin didn’t know that I had taught there.

Quilting in the Highlands was held at a lovely center in Mittagong, which is about an hour and a half south of Sydney. I traveled the farthest from NH to Dallas to Brisbane to Sydney and then Mittagong. I left home about noon on Tuesday and arrived around noon on Thursday. We lost 24 hours crossing the international dateline, but it was a long trip and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The other faculty members were Leesa Chandler (fabric designer and shop owner from Victoria, Australia), Michelle Hill (author and fabric designer from Adelaide, South Australia), Sue Dennis (designer from Queensland) and Melinda Bula (author and designer from California). We all arrived a day early to get our sea legs under us and bonded instantly.

On Friday we played in Berrima where we had the opportunity to visit the shops and also take a tour of the old Courthouse and learn a bit about the history of this charming town.

The first day of classes I taught the Diamond Delight class featuring the Australia block from the Mariner’s Compass Stars book. The students were fabulous and took to paper piecing quickly!

As the blocks were being completed, the color combinations were so varied and fabulous I had the students place their completed blocks on the floor so we could all oooh and ahh…

Once the center blocks were completed, the class continued to make the remaining blocks for the quilt. Some even finished their tops!!! Here is a picture of lots of happy students and a very happy teacher.

I so enjoyed spending two days with the students and was sad to see most move on to their next class. A handful stayed on for the second class.

The second class that I taught was the Bright Stars quilt from the Simply Sensational 9-Patch Stars book. The top above was Pam’s version of the quilt.

Everyone started to get excited when they could see their blocks come together! It was great fun to see the variety of fabric combinations.

Here is another gorgeous block made by Sue.


Christine was pretty much on her way to a completed top by the second day. She sent along a photo of her completed top. Don’t you just love that border????

Each night there was a fun dinner event and lots of door prizes given away! Someone even won a Bernina Sewing Machine!!! The last evening, we were out to eat a delicious Italian meal and more prizes were given. It was clear that this first year of Quilting in the Highlands was a huge success.

Tamsin and her mom, Sue, were such wonderful hostesses and all of their efforts were so appreciated by everyone! Where else could you find kangaroos in the wild, morning tea breaks, fabulous fun quilters, world class instructors, a super venue, door prizes, great meals and fun, fun and more fun?  I do believe that the quilters who came this year will be back for more fun next year and I expect they will bring their friends. I feel so fortunate to have been one of the teachers at the first Quilting in the Highlands and expect this venue will become one of Australia’s premier events.

If you want to read more about next year’s plans, here is a link to Berrima Patchwork web site.

Thank you Sue and Tamsin for a wonderful event and your friendships,