Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Friday, December 30, 2016

A little stitching, and a Christmas Wonderland

We haven’t come too far on our Christmas break, just 30kms up the road to Foxton Beach School to join other like minded people looking for a relaxing time at the Drop In Rally.  People can stay as long or as short as they like – some stay the whole 10 days and others just a few nights.  I’ve been relaxing inside with a little stitching, trying to escape from the cool wind which sees to blow most days.

Just a little stitching

We felt another earthquake too, as we were sitting outside under the awning.  As  the vibrations travelled up the legs of our folding seats we looked at each other and said, “Did you feel that?”  Luckily it was just a small earthquake and I’m sure if we had been walking around we wouldn't have noticed it at all.

In the evening a few of us went for a walk to check out the Christmas lights on one of the local houses.  It was a wonderland indeed, lights all across the front, up the driveway, and visitors were invited to view even more at the back of the property.


Lots of flashing lights outside

Then the home owners kindly invited us inside to see their other decorations.  The bedrooms were decorated with Christmas duvets and ornaments where everywhere.  Even the “little room” had a Christmas theme.  The dining chairs had special covers too, and there were beautiful decorations in every room.  This family takes Christmas very seriously!  It was so nice to see it all, and we thanked the owners for their kindness in sharing their love of Christmas with us all.

P1030251. P1030252
Toilet and dining chairs with their Christmas finery

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It’s been quite a Year

Looking back over the year is always interesting for us quilters, especially when we see how productive (or not) we have been.  (I don’t stress too much about my productivity, I do what I can, time and circumstances permitting).  My year started off well with an early January finish with a pair of cute burgundy place mats for our caravan.  I found the pattern on Suzy’s Artsy Crafty SitCom, a fun blog I follow which is full of all sorts of things.  Craft, cooking, dogs, and living in a  RV.  I used Suzy’s pattern for her free Happy Camper potholder pattern and made it into a set of place mats.  And here they are set out on the caravan table.

Place mats for the caravan

Then in February I decided that I really should get serious about my many UFOs.  First I made a list of  six UFOs. Then each week with a roll of the dice, that was the one I worked on during that week.  And so it went - each week, another roll of the dice, another UFO, and another week to work on it.  Working on different projects each week, it took some time till I had an actual finish, and then they came thick and fast.  First off the assembly line was Little Letters, an ABC quilt I made for future babies in the family.  This project was designed by the Temecula  Quilt Company and offered as a free weekly Quilt-Along.

Little Letters

Then I finished two aprons that I had started and put away – the story of my life.  A messy cook can’t have too many aprons.

Two new aprons

Way back in 2000 I took part in an international block swap organized by Morgan of Down Under Quilts (DUQ) Internet quilt group.  The idea was to stitch a maple leaf block using fabrics which related to your home country.  The blocks arrived from Australia, New York, Ontario, Alberta, Indonesia, plus mine made with a New Zealand inspired batik.

International Maple Leaf quilt

Next item finished was my Mega Churn Dash duvet cover

Then a large squishy cushion for each of the grand-daughters

And my extra special finish for the year was the Great All Breeds Horse Show quilt made for grand-daughter Emma.  She lives and breaths horses and has several on the family small holding.  So she will love the addition of 18 different named horse breeds, with everything from an Appaloosa to a Welsh Pony.  These exquisite embroidered horse head blocks came from Kings Treasures.

Finished in time for Christmas

Last finish of the year, apron, place mats and oven cloth for the caravan

My year of knitting was a bit of a disaster – although I completed a lovely cozy cream cardigan, it turned out much too big!  So I’ve pulled it to bits and have started on a new pattern.  Never mind, I’ll get there eventually, and I rather enjoy knitting on long car and caravan journeys.  My “slow stitching” project of Christmas ABC blocks is coming along well, and I enjoy stitching them.  Once I finish stitching the blocks, this project will get added to my List of Six to get completed.

We Three Kings

It’s been a difficult year too, and we lost out beloved 20 year Birman cat Muffy in May.

Muffy enjoyed her caravan trips too

And sadly, my health took a knock when I was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in the year, and spent months with tests, hospital appointments, surgery and radiation.  That is all behind me now, and two weeks after radiation finished, we flew to Australia for a wonderful three and half week trip.  So I had to convalesce very quickly, no time to mope around when we had an Aussie Adventure to enjoy.

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock

I am so pleased that my “roll the dice” method is working very well for me in keeping me motivated.  And I have one quilt away getting commercially quilted, plus two tops up to the flimsy stage, and lots of other UFOs ready to slot onto my list whenever I get another finish.  Some weeks I have more time to sew than others, it all depends on other commitments, appointments, social activities, or time spent away in the caravan.  My little pink dice is having a well earned break over Christmas and New Year, as we are. 


Happy New Year to you all, and many thanks to all  my wonderful supportive readers.  Your comments really made a difference when I was feeling rather miserable during the year with health issues and when we said goodbye to Muffy.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Dressed in my Christmas Apron

For an apron lover like me, it stands to reason that I would have a special Christmas one tucked away, doesn’t it.  I made one for myself and another for my daughter several years ago, and mine gets trotted out at this time of year.  I had just a few last minute things to do for our Christmas lunch.


Our traditional Christmas breakfast is always hot croissants with ham and cheese.  The small hard frozen croissants magically increase in size as they thaw.   When cooked, we filled them with ham sliced off the bone, added cheese, and popped the back into the oven.

Our Christmas breakfast

We had a delicious pork loin cooked to perfection on our Weber BBQ.  Tender meat, crisp crackling, what could be nicer.  And it smelt divine!

Pork loin cooked on the BBQ

Friends Dot and Derek joined us for lunch, and we had a wonderful meal indeed, with Dot bringing along contributions for the meal.  That tasty pork, a little crackle, roast veggies, Yorkshire Puddings, cauli and broccoli au gratin, fresh peas and beans was a wonderful meal indeed.  Followed by a glass or two of bubbly.  We were so full but managed to eat some Christmas Pudding and custard after a little while.

We made phone calls to family and friends, the grand-daughters sent copious snap chat photos on the cell phone, and later in the day Robin’s brother and family joined us for a while too.  It was a wonderful day, and so nice and relaxing with no travel involved.

Grand-daughter Emma sent a snap chat of her new quilt

Best wishes to everyone, and here's hoping for a safe, happy and healthy New Year.  Some of us have had a bumpy ride with health issues in 2016, so we want to put all that behind us and start out afresh.  We will be away in the caravan shortly, and hopefully I'll get a little stitching done, read a book or two, do a little travelling and catch up with friends.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas is Coming

Christmas is Coming – and each year I like to put up the poem written by grand-daughter Megan when she was just 11 years old.  I thought the words were so lovely that we got it printed and framed, one each for myself, my daughter Nicky (Megan’s Mum) and Poppa (the other grand-dad).

Written by grand-daughter Megan

I’ve been busy tracing the last blocks for my Christmas ABC slow stitching project.  There’s sure to be time over the Christmas break when we will be away relaxing in the caravan and I can do a little stitching.

More blocks ready to stitch

And what about this guy, Rudolph the Reindeer?  He really should be finished by now  but I don’t quite know how to put him together.  Maybe I should read the instructions?

Rudolph is still in pieces

Our last “end-of-year” function is on Friday.  It’s really for Robin, but I’m tagging along.  He is a member of the Cancer Volunteer Drivers who provide a wonderful service driving patients to and from hospital for treatments.  I used this service myself for the weeks when I was having my radiation, and it takes all the stress out of the long daunting drive when the patient is feeling so unwell.  The coordinator told me I’m welcome to come to the lunch as well as long as I provide a plate of food to share.  No problem – I’ve whipped up something  yummy this morning and  it’s residing in the fridge all ready to take along.  Then I  flicked the duster around, cleaned the bathroom, and vacuumed the floors.  That should be enough work for today, I think.

Not many more sleeps till Christmas – and did you know, that people (like us) who live down in New Zealand  get to welcome each new day half a day ahead of those who live in the Northern Hemisphere?  So Santa and his sleigh will be passing by here about 12 hours ahead of those who live in the wintry North.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Gift Swapping Day

It was time to swap the Christmas gifts – we won’t be seeing the family on Christmas Day.  So they were loaded into the car  boot and off we went.


It doesn’t really matter how old the grand-daughters get, they are still excited about Christmas.  And there is nothing wrong with that, is there?  We took the parcels inside and arranged them around the tree.  She commented that that big brown parcel with her name on it looks like a cushion – she will get a surprise when she opens it on Christmas Day to discover her horse quilt inside!

Emma is waiting for Christmas to arrive

Both girls are good cooks and Emma had a batch of decadent Chocolate Brownies in the oven – what a lovely chocolatey smell was wafting around! And a batch of chocolate peppermint fudge in the fridge too.  After lunch we had to go and say hello to Fire Dancer, Emma’s pride and joy.  She was just like a proud parent as she told us all the good points about her foal. 

Robin feeding Fire Dancer a carrot

We spent a lovely day with them, and came home with pressies and a bag of that delicious fudge.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas Trees and a trip to Hospital

I love the annual “Avenue of Trees” held at the Salvation Army Hall – It’s so lovely to see the many trees on show decorated by schools, local clubs and businesses.  I took a non quilting friend with me for her first experience in seeing this lovely event.   We took our entry fee of a food item for the Food bank, such a good idea, entered a free raffle to win a Christmas tree, collected our voting forms and stepped into wonderland.

I rather liked “Tooth Fairies”, the tree decorated by Queen Street Dental Centre, and the little fairies on the tree entered by Creative Minds was delightful.

Two which caught my fancy

Somewhere in the melee was a tree from my quilt club, Town and Country Quilters.  And there it was, “Hand Made with Love” hung with lovely hand made decorations.

Hand Made with Love, by Town and Country Quilters

We walked around a second time, made our vote for Viewers Choice, and stopped to admire the band members playing outside the door – a lovely way to get into the Christmas Spirit.

Salvation Army Band

About that trip to hospital – it wasn’t me this time.  Robin had been feeling off colour for several days, so I rang the doctor’s surgery to hopefully get an urgent appointment.  But when I mentioned “chest pain” they insisted I ring 111 for an ambulance – so I did.  The ambulance arrived very promptly, checked him out and then whisked him away, leaving me to follow in the car.  Sad and upset, and wondering what news would await me.

The Emergency Department staff were wonderful, and soon had him hooked up to monitors, took blood, doctors and nurses came and went, and later in the day he was sent upstairs to the Assessment Ward.  After a very noisy and interrupted overnight stay, he was then sent for a treadmill Stress Test. The good news is that he didn’t suffer a heart attack, and there was no sign of angina, so the chest pain was unexplained.  We are so grateful for the medical care received, and realise, that had his heart been damaged as first thought, we could well be facing quite a different Christmas altogether.

As Robin says – he has passed his Warrant of Fitness, and has a document to prove it!
  This came calling and whisked him away

Friday, December 16, 2016

Last Quilt Club Night of the Year

December has rolled around, in no time of all it seems, and we had our final quilt club meeting of the year.  The committee outdid themselves, with a special festive supper, the tables set so nicely in the supper room with fancy cloths and Christmas decorations.  Dishes of strawberries and ice-cream were offered to those who could do them justice (not me, sadly, I was full from attended two other Christmas break-ups during the day).

Most of the Show and Tell had a festive theme too, and both Yvonne’s wall-hanging and Kathryn’s table runner sported some Christmas stitchery designs.

Christmas wall-hanging and table runner

Kathy’s glamorous Christmas stocking

Diane showed us the lovely quilt she had made for her son and daughter-in-law.

And my horse quilt was displayed before it get wrapped up and given away at Christmas

Anna Williams was our guest speaker and what a warm bubby person she is, and she brought along some lovely samples of her intricate Celtic bias quilts.  They are absolutely amazing.

Bias Celtic quilt by Anna Williams

She also excels at thread painting, and had several lovely examples of this technique as well.  She was helped during the evening by her delightful hubby who worked the slides and offered amusing quips and comments.

Thread painting by Anna Williams

The raffles were drawn, and extra prizes given to those ladies who had secret items tucked away in their handbags.  Such as a needle and thread (Ute) or a tape measure (me).  We dipped into the basket containing the Christmas Fat Quarter exchange, and all went home with a lovely surprise - a bunch of happy little quilters.  It was a lovely finish to a great year of quilting and friendship.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Weekend in the Country

We have come back from a weekend away in the caravan, and had a lovely time in the country.  With  sheep on one side and cattle on the other, there were country sounds going on all around us.  It was our Christmas rally, and what a feast we had, with our hosts supplying a rolled loin of hogget cooked to perfection on the rotisserie.  Everyone else contributed to the meal, with veggies, salads, and desserts galore.


As usual, I packed my stitching bag in the caravan, but with so much going on, I only did a tiny bit.  Never mind, every little bit helps.

Our hosts for the weekend have the most beautiful garden, but our tiny one is doing well too.  “Precious Pet”. the rose given to us when our beloved Birman cat Muffy passed away, is flowering like crazy.


And we are pleased to find that our passion-fruit vine is producing another crop of these luscious fruit, although it will be some time till they are ready to eat.


We have tomatoe plants growing, butter beans, peas and silver beet in our small raised garden.  Our rhubarb always grows well and cook up a pot regularly – we like to eat it cold with cereal for breakfast.

Hope everyone is coping with the pre-Christmas rush.  We are having a relaxed Christmas Lunch at home then taking off in our caravan for a couple of weeks.  That’s the advantage of celebrating Christmas “down under” in New Zealand during the summer season.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Just look at those Shoes

I’m certainly not a patch of Dorothy of Wizard of Oz fame in her sparkly red shoes.  Mine are much more serious, they are a pair of bowling shoes!  Not to keep, just on loan for an hour or so while I got all "sporty".  Don't laugh - I'm the least sporty person I know!


I’m part of a nice little group of “ladies who lunch” from our village, and we do enjoy our monthly outings.  Then it was suggested that with Christmas coming up fast, we could invite our spouses too one evening, and we all went bowling, followed by a meal at the café.  Our group was put into two teams, and the games began.  Needless to say, my technique left a lot to be desired, and I wasn’t the one in our team who scored the most points.  But never mind, its not about winning, as far as I’m concerned, just about having fun.

There I go, bowling the ball

After we all had ten goes, the winners were announced, sadly no ladies, but two of the husbands. Congratulations to Bruce and Graham.

The winners of the two teams

The bowling shoes came off, and we all retired to the café for our evening meal.  The food was great, and very reasonably priced.


It was a fun night, in good company, and we are sure to return sometime in the future.