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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Coffee Club Day

Continuing with our plans to make contact with the local community, I made my first visit to the Cancer Society monthly Coffee Club morning.  This group of ladies generally meets in the local club rooms, but unknown to me, there was an outing planned for today.  We shared cars and drove down to Otaki to the lovely old homestead, Strathean

DSCF4840 Strathean Retreat

Used for retreats, the building is set in 5 hectares of lawns and mature native  trees.  The ladies were very friendly and welcoming, and after a delicious morning tea, we were invited by our hostess to take a stroll through the large orchard and pick a bag of apples each to take home.  What a treat!  As we wandered around the orchard we found several different varieties of apples ready on the trees, including some large cooking apples.  “Look at this”, one of the ladies called, “Black Boy peaches”.  Some of these lovely dark red beauties were popped in the bags as well.

DSCF4834 The apple trees were laden

White doves fluttered by, adding to the serene mood of this lovely old property.  With such a large number of mature trees around, there is sure  to be plenty of native birds living close by.  It was a very pleasant morning, and I plan to attend regular Coffee Club meetings and get to know the other members.  The Cancer Society runs this monthly group to give friendly support to patients, cancer survivors and their families. 

DSCF4842 The dove cote

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hello, Sewing Machine

Hello, sewing machine, it’s been quite a while.  But I’ve managed to spend a little time sitting down in front of my machine over the last couple of days.  First I did a little mending – another pair of Robin’s shorts needed attention.  Then I had to fix the hem of one of my tops, you know what happens when the over locking seam comes adrift, the whole lot just unravels in an instant.  I’ve been meaning to get to these little jobs for ages, and once started, it didn’t take too long at all. 

DSCF4832 Hello, sewing machine

Next on the list was some real sewing.  I needed a new bag to put all those plastic supermarket bags which we seem to end up with.  I made it from a tea towel showing pictures of New Zealand flowers and flowering  native trees.  This is the finished product, and it now hangs nice and tidy from a hook in the pantry.

DSCF4790 Just stitched – my plastic bag holder

I’ve also tried out my new oven and done some baking.  My attempt at scones wasn’t too good, perhaps I’ll stick to muffins instead.  But I was really pleased with my weekend baking.  My daughter and her family came down for a visit and to see our new house, and stayed for lunch, of course.  I made a nice quiche for lunch, and tried a new recipe for afters.  This was another Jo Seagar recipe, a plum cake, made with fresh plums.

DSCF4813-001 Ready to mix the chopped plums into the mixture

I used Omega plums, my favourite type of plum, so red, rich, and best of all, easy to remove the stone.   It made quite a big cake, and was so nice, served with a dollop of whipped cream on the side.

DSCF4823My plum cake was a huge success - it’s almost all gone

The sewing room has been tidied up now and everything put away.  There will be no machining for the next couple of weeks, as we are having a road trip in the caravan again in a day or two.  Off to Wanganui for Easter, then travelling on to New Plymouth to catch up with Robin’s old school friend.  Do follow our adventures on our other blog www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com.  There are sure to be all sorts of interesting places to visit and report on.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Home Sweet Home

In the post today was a lovely “Welcome to your new home” card sent to us by quilting friend Helen and her hubby.  And it is expertly made and hand crafted by Helen herself.  What a lovely thought, thanks so much, Helen. 

DSCF4822 Hand made card from Helen

Our cat Muffy is still a little unsettled, and she doesn’t like to let us out of her sight.  She enjoyed the afternoon sunshine shining through the large window today and jumped up on to the back of the couch to settle down in the warmth.  She blends in quite well with the colours of my “Miracle Quilt”, doesn’t she? 

DSCF4816 Muffy at her home, sweet home

This quilt was made in a class and completed back in 1997.  Knowing me, the blocks were probably left lying around for several years till I got motivated to put it all together.  It is comprised of “quilt as you go” blocks in the “flip and sew” technique.  The blocks are then stitched wrong sides together, leaving the back nice and neat.  The front is finished off with stitching a tube of fabric to hide the raw edges.  This design is quite quick to do, as the blocks are already quilted.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I don’t have that magic touch

It’s quite true – I just don’t have that light, magic touch to produce a batch of perfect scones.  With MIL coming to lunch today to view the new house, I decided to try a batch of “lemonade scones”.  Our “world famous in New Zealand” cook Jo Seagar makes and sells them at her cafe in Oxford, so they must be fail proof, and “easy peasy” as she likes to say.  We visited the pretty little town of Oxford during our South Island Odyssey trip last year and enjoyed lunch in the cafe, this was another item ticked off my wish list.

DSCF9017 Jo Seagar’s Cafe in Oxford, South Island

I’m sure Jo has her scones down to a fine art, not like me.  I carefully followed the recipe – in went the flour, a can of lemonade, and a cup of cream. Mixed it all around, then put the gluggy mess on a floured board.  The scone dough seemed awfully wet to me, so I plonked some more flour over the top and patted it down.  I decided to get all lady-like and used a glass to shape pretty little round scones.  That was a mistake, the dough was so moist I had trouble transferring my little round cut out pieces over to the baking tray, the glass wouldn’t cut cleanly and my hands were absolutely covered in wet sticky dough.  What a mess!  I gave up  and just patted the remaining scone dough together with a little extra flour, and cut them into shape with a knife.  They came out of the oven looking like this, but the larger ones needed a bit longer in the oven. 

DSCF4812 I tried really hard

We had the dainty round ones with our lunch, served with jam and whipped cream, and didn’t taste too bad.  The rest were popped in a bag and put away in the freezer for later.  I’m not the world’s best scone maker, that’s for sure, I’ve never had that feather light touch.  Never mind, after a lunch of creamy scrambled eggs and bacon, followed by one of my scones, MIL went home well satisfied with her lunch.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What a difference

With our new bedroom furniture finally delivered we got to open even more boxes and finally put our clothes away.  It’s been quite some time since we placed our order,  and we hadn’t realised quite how big it was.  But luckily it all fitted in with a squeeze.  Having the headboard on  certainly makes a big difference to the look of the bed.  (We will be getting glass cut to protect the bedside cabinets and dressers, but in the meantime they are covered in tea towels.  Certainly NO early morning cups of teas to be placed on the lovely rimu timber just yet till we have the glass tops in place!)

DSCF4809 We now have a headboard

There was room for my quilt rack under the window.  My daughter attended night classes at her local high school quite some years ago and made it for me as a surprise gift.  I love it, and the timber is just beautiful.  I spent a little time setting it up in the bedroom with a couple of bed quilts, folding them “just so”.  Where I am going to store all the other quilts, I haven’t quite decided yet.

DSCF4806 My quilt rack in the bedroom

That’s several more boxes and crates emptied today.   The shoes are nice and tidy all lined up on our new shoe racks, and my (small) range of handbags are lined up on top of the wardrobe shelf.  Some things needed pressing after being liberated from the crates and hung in the wardrobe, and I rather enjoyed that job.  All in all we are feeling quite pleased with our progress. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Did you know…..

Did you know that cutting lino blunts your rotary cutter blade?  That’s why I gave Robin my old cutting board and cutter when he was trimming some left over pieces of lino to line the bottom of my pot drawer.  Having the lining in place really deadens the sound of those pots clunking when putting them away, and also stops them sliding around as you are rummaging through, looking for just the right one.

And did you know that I have found our old chest freezer in the garage is just the right height to use as a cutting table?  Previously I put the cutting board on the kitchen bench in our old house.  But the internal garage, which doubles as a laundry, is just through the doorway from my sewing room, so it is very handy.  I had forgotten that Robin had used my small rotary cutter on the lino, and wondered why it wasn’t cutting nicely.   But on using my larger cutter, it sliced through the fabric like butter.  What a difference. 
DSCF4787 The chest freezer is just the right height for me

I’ve been looking through some small projects which I had packed away, and want to get things organised so that I can spend a hour or two at the sewing machine.  Won’t that make a nice change from unpacking boxes?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We now have curtains

We have been feeling rather exposed, living in our new house with only net curtains in the lounge and dining room.  Not so bad in the day time of course, but once we turn the lights on in the evening it is a different matter.  So we are really pleased that our new curtains have finally arrived.  They came protected in large loose bags to keep them clean – rather like delivering quilts to a quilt show, don’t you think?

DSCF4771 New curtains protected in bags

With some drilling and screwing the curtain tracks were put in place.  Then the remaining nets were hung, followed by the drapes.   Raewyn from Ashton Interiors of Levin,  deftly placed a multitude of hooks into the curtain tape, then had to climb a ladder to hook these onto the sliders of the track.   No, her arms don’t get sore and tired from all this reaching over her head, she assured me.    Raewyn gave the drapes and Roman blind a tweak here and there until she was satisfied they were hanging nicely.

DSCF4777 Raewyn making final adjustments

We had originally chosen a pale mint green carpet, then were informed that it was no longer available, and had been replaced by a darker green.  So my ideas on the curtains were all up in the air.  After a lot of procrastination and trying all sorts of colours against my carpet sample I finally decided on green for the curtains. The lounge and dining room curtains have a self pattern of leaves, and the bedroom and my sewing room curtains are paler with a type of “ruching” meandering lengthwise.

DSCF4588 Curtain samples

Our new house in looking like a home now we finally have curtains.  I’m really pleased with the job that Raewyn did, and can certainly recommend her shop.  Now we don’t have to worry anymore about nosy neighbours peeking inside at night.  Our lounge faces the street and we always felt that the whole village could see us watching TV through the large windows.  But they were probably all tucked up safe and sound in their own villas and not in the least interested in what we were getting up to. And the bedrooms in our new house face the back yard, with 6 foot high timber fences all around.  There are no neighbours yet each side in the two next door properties, and the back of our yard is bounded by a stand of tall trees alongside a busy road.  So we really were safe from prying eyes when we got ready for bed each night.  It it really does feel so much nicer now that we can pull the drapes and shut the whole world out in the evenings!

DSCF4784Sewing room

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fondling Fabric

I’ve  had a date with the iron over the last couple of mornings, sorting out my stash.  When we packed up and put things in storage several months ago, the fabric previously folded and stored in baskets was hurriedly tipped into plastic shopping bags for the trip to our hired lock-up unit.  The stash has now been liberated and I’ve spent quite some time standing over the ironing board.

DSCF4768Sorting through the pinks

I’ve been looking at it all, pressing, and refolding – in other words having a happy time fondling fabric.  Some of it I’d quite forgotten ever buying, let alone owning.  Other bits were old favourites, and brought back happy memories.  And some again I’d quite got over and could happily pass on to a new home. 

DSCF4785 A basket of blue, and one of pink

As well as what is now neatly put away in the baskets, I have several  of those fat quarter zip up bags containing Christmas fabric, New Zealand prints, and a whole lot of neutrals.  They are rather all squashed in, so could probably do with a decent sort through too. I don’t have a large stash, by any means, compared to some of those huge collections I’ve read about.  But I have got umpteen UFOs in various bags to finish, and a fair amount of fabric tucked away with them, so they will keep me busy.  In fact, I can’t wait to get to my sewing machine again!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Scatterdays - D

It’s Scatterdays time again, brought to you by the letter “D”.

The categories this time are:  something humorous, feet, furniture, and a quilty display.  This is what I came up with.

Something humorous – dozing pig.  My little pink pig (she’s a girl) spends all her time dozing up high on top of the wall unit.  That’s all she does, day in, day out, and every night as well, with her little legs hanging over the edge.  She was sent to me from Hawaii by my pen friend many years ago.

DSCF4728 Dozing piggy

Feet – dancing feet.  My Mother learnt tap dancing as a girl, she often told me, and really enjoyed her time in the lime-light.  Sadly, there are no photos of her performing on stage, but no doubt she looked rather like this.

Dancing feet in tap shoes

Furniture – drawers, or lack of!   When we decided to sell our house and move towns some months ago, we were adamant that it really was time for some new bedroom furniture.  After all, the old stuff had seen better days, and a new house deserved a new bed, we thought.  We  moved in last week, and our new mattress and base duly arrived, not without  mishap, but that’s another story.  Unfortunately, due to the factory manager having a bad accident, there has been a bit of a delay in the delivery of the bedroom furniture.  But it should all be delivered next week, we’ve been assured.  So in the meantime, we have no drawers at all and our clothes are in a selection of cartons and plastic crates. 

DSCF4740Still waiting for our drawers!

Quilty display – display of Christmas quilts.  Here are lots of little Christmas quilts in a row, all slightly different .  These are  done using  strips of Christmas fabric edged with gold braid, and finished with a gold star button on top of the tree.  I stitched them several years ago, keeping one for myself and the others were all gifts.  They were nice and quick to make.

DSCF2647 Display of Christmas quilts

So that’s my interpretation of the letter “D”.  If you would like to see what the other participants have come up with, see the Scatterdayer’s list on the side-bar on Cinzia’s blog.   

Thursday, March 14, 2013

It’s a bit Scary

Last night I bravely fronted up for my first meeting of the local quilt club, Town and Country Quilters.  I find this sort of thing a bit scary, not knowing anyone.  I paid my visitor’s fee of $3, bought a couple of raffle tickets, and was handed over to a friendly lady so I would not be seated on my own.  So that was very nice. 

Catherine from the Cloth Shop in Palmerston North was the speaker for the evening.  This bubbly lady kept us entertained as she regaled us with stories and showed us all sorts of shop samples and “block of the month” designs.  The Cloth Shop has their own range of lovely patterns for sale, and also sells patterns from some very talented New Zealand designers.  One I particularly liked was a delightful pussy cat design, and there is also one for dog lovers as well.  If I could just find one featuring horses, my grand-daughters would be over the moon!

DSCF4747  Goodies for sale
 DSCF4746 Block of the Month quilts

DSCF4748 And more lovely quilts

After the meeting supper was served, and everyone was nice and friendly.  I will definitely be returning to Town and Country Quilters, and hope to fit right in, once I get to know a few people.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The little things…..

It’s the little things that make a difference, wouldn’t you say?  Such as hanging up a few hooks in our new home so we can put things on the wall, like a calendar and the kitchen clock.  No quilts hung up yet, but that will come, sooner or later.  I was giving the bed valence a press today, and realised that this was the first time I had used my new iron and ironing board, since it had been packed way in storage for the last few months.  Only another little thing, in the scheme of things, but quite a thrill, never-the-less.  I’m one of those who quite enjoy ironing, and I hadn’t done any at all while we lived in the caravan over the last few months.  Muffy jumped up onto the chest freezer to keep me company while I happily ironed away!

DSCF4735 Muffy is helping

Now we have moved to Levin, we are in the heart of the market garden area.  Produce grows so well here, and we buy our fresh vegetables from a market garden close by.  I love pumpkins, and was thrilled to bits to buy three smallish ones for the princely sum of $2 the lot.  I’m planning to cook the flesh and freeze it, ready to make delicious pumpkin soup in winter.  Little pumpkins, and a little price, another little thing that brings joy.

DSCF4738 One little, two little, three little pumpkins

And I am pleased that our elderly cat Muffy is now settling down in the new house.  It is good to see her relaxed and curled up, fast asleep, without a care in the world.  For the first few days she was not at ease at all in her new surroundings.

DSCF4741 Muffy is happy and relaxed at last

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Making slow progress

It was back to the new house today after a day off from dealing with all those boxes.  We had a shopping trip to Palmerston North, armed with a long list of storage solutions.  A couple of bedside lamps were  on the list too, but although we visited two lighting shops, we couldn’t find anything that took our fancy.  Never mind, we will just keep looking, we are sure to find just we we want, sooner or later.
My sewing room is still in quite a shambles.  Just look at this – boxes of books and magazines waiting to get put on the shelving, as soon as it is assembled.  And there are crates and crates of fabric, UFOs and quilts in the garage, waiting to be put away.  I’ll get there – sooner or later!
DSCF4696 Books and magazines waiting to be put on the shelves
I spent some time on my hands and knees with a cloth and a bottle of furniture polish in front of the wooden wall unit.  It was hot work on such a sunny afternoon, but it certainly looks much better now, so I’m pleased with my efforts.  Now I’ll be able to open even more boxes and put things away in the wall unit.

DSCF4694 A little spit and polish

After all this hot work, we called next door to return the dish, and thank the neighbour who had baked us fresh date scones the other day.  She kindly invited us inside her new home, to show us around.  After several months, they still hadn’t got through opening all their boxes yet either, she told me.  Our plan is to finally move in to our new home on Saturday afternoon.  After spending the last three months living in the caravan, that will certainly be a big change.  But we are really looking forward to it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Colour me Blue

The unpacking continues at our new home – my goodness, what a lot of boxes we have.  Some of them have been moved from the lock-up unit into the garage, and I am opening them one by one.  I came across one packed full of winter clothes.  Since they had all been stuffed in tight and packed away for several months, I reasoned that they could do with a good airing outside in the sunny breeze.  There is no surprise that my jackets of various weights are all in different shades of my favourite colour – blue.  And there is a little lilac in there as well.  No black, and definitely no autumn shades, it’s blue all the way, for me.
DSCF4681 I’m definitely a blue girl

As much as I love blue, we won’t be having blue curtains in the new house.  I feel it is too much of a cold colour for furnishings.  Our new curtains have been ordered, but you will have to wait and see what I have chosen.  Most of the curtains are another week or so away, but Raewyn called around yesterday and installed the nets in the dining room and sitting room.  That certainly made a difference.  (It’s not a good photo, looking into the light, but you can get the general idea).

DSCF4684 Raewyn hanging nets

I’m having a day off from the chores of unpacking today, I’m meeting up with a group of friends for a surprise 75th Birthday Afternoon Tea.  That should make a nice change.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Moving in slowly

D Day arrived yesterday, we collected the key to the door of our new home after a bit of a delay, and started moving in slowly.  As we didn’t have a large furniture truck with all our worldly goods on board breathing down our necks, we were under no pressure to move in all in one day.  Our plan is to do things more slowly, moving the furniture, boxes and crates over several days, giving us time to unpack things as we go.  

DSCF4666 Proud owners outside our new home

“Ding Dong” went the doorbell, and there were our next door neighbours today with some freshly baked date scones for us.  What a lovely surprise, and so very kind - I really didn't think people did that sort of thing these days.  I had packed some bacon and avocado sandwiches for lunch, and the scones were a welcome addition to our picnic meal inside our mostly empty house.  Found the kettle for a hot drink, but where was the electric cord? 

DSCF4668 Hot scones for lunch

While Robin was travelling to and fro collecting boxes and crates I stayed behind to unpack them, and put things away in cupboards and drawers.  Oh good, here is the crate containing the bedding.  But before I made up the bed, I hung the duvet and pillows outside in the sunshine for several hours to give them a good airing – they had been locked up in the plastic crate for the last few months.

DSCF4671 Bedding airing in the sunshine

Friends provided some extra muscle and helped Robin with moving the fridge and washing machine, and the bulky furniture.   I spent a lot of time arranging the panty and kitchen cupboards today, and I’m sure to change positions of things tomorrow.  There are still boxes galore in the lock-up to collect and unpack, but we can just take our time. We plan to sleep in the caravan for a wee while yet, while we are getting organised, especially as our new curtains are not made yet!

Scatterdays - I

This time Scatterdays is brought to you by the letter “I”.  The categories are Money, Tools, Metal, and for something quilt related, Inchies.  Is the letter I an easy one?  This is what I came up with.

Money - Income.  As a retired couple, our income these days comes courtesy of the New Zealand government, thanks very much.  Our handy Gold Card saves us a little of that income  by allowing us to travel free on local buses and trains during non peak hours on workdays, and all hours each weekend.  Makes a day out that much more affordable!
 DSCF4621 Handy Gold Card saves us some cash

Tools – Iron and Ironing Board.  These are very important tools indeed for quilters, indeed for any type of sewing at all.  And I am one of those who rather enjoy doing the household ironing!  Our house was sold several months ago and everything is put in storage while we waited for our new house to be built.  We got our new keys yesterday, and are slowly moving in, but will stay overnight in the caravan while we wait for our new furniture and curtains to arrive.  I’ve bought myself a new iron and ironing board to celebrate our move, and no doubt we will find it sooner or later as we start to remove all that “stuff” from the lock-up unit.

DSCF2893  My new iron and ironing board

Metal – Ingot.  There is a bit of a story attached to my gold ingot.  Our house and the next door neighbours house  were burgled some years ago by forcing open a small window and then a child was dropped through to open up the door.  The thieves went through the house, and stole several pieces of my jewellery, including my gold ingot.  When our insurance claim was settled, we went back to the manufacturing jeweller who had previously made some of the stolen pieces.  Helen, the jeweller, told us that she could make the replacement ingot by melting and casting the gold, rather than buy in an inferior ready made one from a chain of jewellers.  So she did – and this is the result.

DSCF4593 Gold Ingot

Inchies.  I have to admit defeat with Inchies, as I have never sewn any.  So the next best thing is my offering of this wall hanging, made with  pieces measuring  2inches by 1 inch.  This was made in a class many years ago, when I was quite new to P & Q.   I can’t even tell you what it is called, or the date it was made, as it is packed away in a crate or two with all the other quilts in our lock-up, which is packed to the gunnels with all the other household effects!  I will come across it soon, I’m sure.  But it is hand quilted, and used to hang above a door in the hallway of our previous house.

DSCF2497 No, not made with inchies

So that is my selection this time around.  Do check out what the other participants have chosen, all listed on Cinzia’s blog here.