The love of my life had a milestone birthday last week so we took the opportunity to head south to Melbourne so that he could spend quality time with his family lamenting the passing of time. (Two days prior to his milestone we chalked up 10 years of wedded bliss!) Melbourne is a brisk 7 hour (without a toddle, 9 hours with a toddler) jaunt down the Hume Highway and it’s a bit of a luxury to be able to just head down there for a few days. The highway is so nice these days and I always enjoy seeing the Australian countryside, plus it gives me some time to brainstorm and talk ideas with Hubby. (And we all know that a family that brainstorms together, stays together!)
We stopped at Gundagai for a quick snack and recharge at Bullocky Bills and I have to say I had the nicest and freshest pre-made egg and lettuce sandwich I think I have ever had. I also saw a nice little jar of pickled onions, or as they jar called them “Bum Hummers“. I briefly considered getting a jar for my Mum who is quite partial to the occasional pickled onion but I figured my Dad would probably appreciate me leaving them on the shelf.
An hour or so later we pulled into HMAS Otway at Holbrook and had another little snack and the boys played on the big submarine (and the little man had a go on the mini submarine). We then drove on through to Melbourne with a couple more stops just to keep things interesting. We made pretty good time to Melbourne and I have to say I always love seeing how Melbourne is decorated. One of my all time favourite tunnel entrances is in Melbourne – I love the combination of the native wattle and the hexagons.
We’ve done a bit of travel in the past couple of years and it’s become a bit of a feature of our trips that the food is always really overpriced and disappointing. This trip broke that streak for us. The first morning we lucked on to a little place called Rubber Duck Cafe. I’m a huge fan of a cafe breakfast and this place was the bomb. Hubby had baked eggs and they were so great that when we returned to Canberra he spent hours looking for a recipe online to try and recreate it!
I had corn fritters and they were so delicious, I’m such a sucker for a good corn fritter, I’d share a photo but I inhaled them before I could get the iPhone out. The Little Man had a kids scrambled eggs and toast and it was just perfect. The staff were so great with kids and they treated him like a valued customer which is so rare and takes all the pressure off when you’re dining out with kids. I will be telling everyone to go and check them out when they’re in Melbourne!
The next morning we had breakfast at Grumpy & The Dreaded One’s Little Cafe of Awesome and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t eat there because of the name. The food was good (I ordered corn fritters just to be different (it’s the ones pictured above). The staff were really lovely and didn’t make a big deal of the fact that the Little Man just wanted to push his face up against their lovely clean window the whole time we were there.
While we were in Fitzroy I decided to go for a little wander and check out Meet Me at Mike’s. The store’s not there any more but the sign and good vibes still linger and I like to do the little pilgrimage when we’re in Melbourne as it reminds me about all that is good in the world of blogging and to remain focused on the important things in life.
While in Melbourne I decided it was time to try and cross something off my quilting bucket list and see if I could get into one of Jen Kingwell’s classes at Amitie Textiles. For those of you not familiar with Jen Kingwell just know this; she’s awesome. Jen’s a quilt pattern designer, book writer, fabric store owner, jet setter, fabric designer and loving Mum. (I know that last one first hand because her daughter Lucy is the manager at Amitie Textiles and the whole time we were there you could just tell that Jen and Lucy are best friends! As an aside I would totally want to be Lucy’s friend in real life, she’s just so lovely and friendly and makes you feel welcome and like you’re part of the gang. Total girl crush.)
Back in September 2013 I started making my version of Jen Kingwell’s Midnight at the Oasis and at the time I hadn’t been quilting very long and the pattern totally took me out of my comfort zone and kicked my butt (not because the pattern isn’t well written but because my skill set was (and still is) so lacking). I was sharing my work on Instagram (huge shock I know!) and I was lamenting my lack of skills and Jen Kingwell actually took the time to comment on my photos and share her wisdom on how to make an accurate seam.
I was blown away that someone of her calibre and workload would take the time to trouble shoot my project with me. She immediately won my heart. I felt like she valued my money and time and just didn’t want to sell a pattern for the numbers, she wanted me to have fun making her pattern and that’s huge!
I convinced (well I say convinced because that’s nicer than saying she invited herself along) Melissa (of Ms Midge) to come with me on my quilting adventure and she kindly obliged (and drove me around). [You can read all about Melissa’s version of events here.]
We had the most amazing day. Seriously, awesome. We met Katrina Fisk at a trendy little place called Omar before our class (another great meal – we all ordered Pulled Pork with Apple Slaw and Crackling Rolls). It’s always so great to catch up with people offline and Katrina is an absolute peach.
Katrina, Midge and I then walked across the street to Amitie where we proceeded to spend the next 4 hours! Yep, you read right; four hours! The time just flew by and why wouldn’t it when you’re surrounded by so many amazing and lovely people. Louise (@lululollylegs) was working the shop which was just fabulous as I’ve been a long time stalker of hers so it was nice to finally meet and fondle her quilts.
While Midge and I were frolicking in the heaven that is Amitie Textiles we got the most amazing surprise; John Q Adams (aka Quilt Dad) dropped into the store. I’d love to say he was there to say hello to Midge and I but he was totally there to say hello to Jen, we just crashed their party. (There’s an image of us all together in the photos above. From L-R; Marie (@quiltswithpersonality), Louise, Andi (@patchandi), Midge, Jen, John, Me (in front) and Kate. Lucy took the photo. Just as an aside can you tell all the Melbourne people, they’re all wearing black!)
I have to confess that I spent the whole time fighting the urge to give John a giant bear hug; he was just so amazingly lovely and patient with these strange women who kept asking him all these questions and talking about Roxette (totally Midge, I was too busy fondling some of the much coveted Cotton + Steel octopus’s at that point of the conversation!).
I got double lucky because my #aussiemoderninstabee hive buddy Marie (@quiltswithpersonality) came in to Amitie Textiles to meet me for the first time. We were supposed to go out for afternoon tea but none of us could leave the shop and so we stayed, talked, laughed, hugged and fondled fabric. I cannot begin to adequately describe Marie; she’s like sunshine on legs. Seriously, it was like I’d known her forever and I just wanted her to talk with me for hours. I am definitely making it a priority to see her again when we’re in Melbourne, she’s good people.
I spent an obscene amount at Amitie Textiles but I left with a copy of Lucy Kingwell’s pattern ‘Smitten’, a set of templates, some Flutter (which smells divine), much needed (yep, it totally is) fabric and my copy of Jen’s new book ‘Quilt Lovely’ signed by the lady herself. Seriously one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.
The next day the boys and I headed out to Ballarat so that I could cross some more things off my Quilty Adventure list. Alison (of Cotton Factory) has been such a great source of laughs and fabric on Instagram that I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go and check out her store in person. She was so lovely and we had the whole store to ourselves which was such a luxury. I could have happily spent hours in there just fondling, chatting and hoarding but we had to get back home and the boys needed lunch. I did manage to pick up a copy of D is for Deer, a pattern by Jodie (of RicRac) and I’m positively going to make myself a deer before my birthday! If it goes well I plan on making a few more of Jodie’s patterns before I’m done.
Before we left Ballarat we stopped at The Crafty Squirrel (where I just looked in the window), Lark (where I tried not to buy everything), Rewind (where I saw some creepy gnomes) and Jackson & Co (where I got a very lovely chicken burger!). I’d never been to Ballarat before but it’s a funky little place that seems to have a very cool vibe happening. I’m totally adding it to my list of places to go again.
The night before we left Melbourne Town I abandoned the boys once again and headed out to dinner (at the best Vietnamese place I’ve ever eaten and who’s name escapes me right now, but it was in Box Hill) with Midge, Abby (of Things for Boys) and Ros (of Sew Delicious). It was awesome to finally meet Ros and Abby. We’ve been talking online for the past few weeks about all things sewing and blogging and to finally be able to hang out in person was just awesome (despite the crazed look I have on my face – by the way that look is totally because it took us at least 6 goes to finally get a photo taken by a complete stranger at the next table over, it was rather amusing and embarrassing). It’s so great to meet people who just get where you’re coming from, share similar goals and don’t think you’re nuts when you talk at length about search engine optimisation.
We headed home the next day on a rather long and uneventful (well if you don’t count that stop in the middle of nowhere while I landed tickets to ProBlogger in August). I always struggle on the way home, I just want to be home straight away – I would have been crap if I was born in the century of tall ships travel! I’m so glad we went and were able to celebrate Hubby’s milestone with his family and that we as our little family were able to have so many nifty little adventures. It was just the recharge I needed before heading back to work after nearly 3 years of maternity leave next week. I’m hoping to be back in Melbourne Town in April for the Australasian Quilt Convention, but we’ll see how it goes I’m not sure the boys or the bank balance could take all that quilty fun. In the meantime I’m off to start working on my version of Smitten. Who’s with me?