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

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Food, glorious food, and just a few stitched leaves

We continued to slowly travel southwards, towing our caravan behind us, with a few stops on the way.  They all seemed to be food related too!  First stop was at Eltham, which sports an interesting mural, showing the history of this small town. 

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We like to call in at Fonterra’s Cheese Factory Shop, well worth a stop as you never know what you will find on special.  I was after some Parmesan cheese, some for me and some for my daughter, and also came away with a big bag of Blue Vein offcuts.  You can tell we are cheese lovers.

Further down we stopped at Mania – Bread Capital, as they promote themselves, to visit Yarrows Factory Shop.  This must be the right place.  A few goodies got carried to the van, nice fresh bread, and dare I admit it, a couple of cream filled chocolate éclairs for lunch.  According to the sign outside the door, we’re not in much danger of being kidnapped, so that is good to know!

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Our last food related stop was to have lunch at  Viv’s Kitchen at Sanson, home of the famous Cream Horn.  “Dorri the Morrie” was parked outside, inviting customers into the café.

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And this is what we enjoyed, giant cream horns.  Not the sort of thing which you can eat with any degree of finesse and delicacy, but so nice nevertheless.

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From here we drove on to Shannon, where we will be spending the long three day weekend with our caravan club buddies.  Once we were parked up on site, it didn’t take too long for Gemma to get settled – stretched out on her back along the window ledge at the back of the settee.  Doesn't look very comfortable to me, and not at all ladylike, but she seems quite happy.

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My stitching has been coming along rather slowly.  I’m up to filling in a few leaves on my pohutukawa block.  But as I tell myself, every little bit helps.

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

New Zealand Bird of the Year

This in an annual competition ran by the Forest and Bird Society.  The votes have all been counted and the New Zealand Bird of the Year for 2018 is……….the kereru, or wood pigeon.   A large bird which crashes through the forest canopy in search of berries to eat.  The fate of many forests is linked to that of the kereru, as it's the only native bird big enough to swallow and disperse the large fruit of karaka, miro, tawa and taraire.

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As some of you know, we are currently on holiday in our caravan.  And I just happen to have a couple of hand made items featuring the kereru.  Such as a set (of two) placemats with a New Zealand inspired print of the birds feeding on puriri berries

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Then there is the little stitchery I did which is hanging on the wall – hand quilted too, I’m happy to report. This was finished earlier in the year.

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So there we have it, my salute to the New Zealand Bird of the Year.  I seem to have a bit of a thing for our native birds, as I know there are a couple more  bird wall-hangings at home.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Now in New Plymouth

We are in New Plymouth for several days, just take a look at this glorious mountain which is looking down over us.   Early mornings are often the best time to catch a glimpse of Mt Egmont without too many clouds obscuring the view.  Also known as Mount Taranaki, it  is New Zealand's most perfectly formed volcano. The mountain is around 120,000 years old and last erupted in 1775 and volcanologists agree that the mountain is 'dormant' rather than extinct.

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Mt Egmont

If our little Gemma was interested in such things, she could look out the caravan window to admire the view of the mountain herself.  But she is more interested with snoozing, eating, and chasing her little balls around inside.

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Emma sleeping in the window

In fact, we got up close and personal to the snow on the mountain as we drove up to North Egmont Visitors Centre.  The higher we drove, snow started appearing on the edges of the road, getting thicker the closer we got to our destination.   The car park was full – being a Sunday it seemed everyone was out and about.  Children were having fun playing in the snow, throwing the occasional snowball, and slipping and sliding about.  We walked carefully up the snow covered walkway to the Look Out, which gave us a rather hazy view over New Plymouth.  As I’m getting older, I find I’m a lot more concerned about falling when I’m walking in strange places – a sign of the times, I suppose.

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Snow is quite a novelty to us where we live, and it’s more years ago than we can remember when we were last slipping and sliding about in snow.  Lovely to see up close, and great to see so many people out and about enjoying themselves.  The Visitors Centre also housed a café, so we carefully negotiated the snow covered steps and deck.  A hot drink was in order, which we enjoyed looking out at the view through the large picture windows.

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Holiday or not, the laundry must get done.  Luckily there was a laundromat quite close to where we are camping, (I needed to use two machines) and being a nice sunny day, I could hang it all out on the clothesline at the camp.

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Keeping the laundry up to date

We went for a short walk around the beautiful Pukekura Park today.  The park covers 52ha (128 acres) right in the heart of the city and is one of New Zealand's premier botanical gardens.  Standing right be the lake was a monument erected to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee (1897) of Queen Victoria.   I’d never noticed this monument before, on earlier visits.

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Monument to Queen Victoria

The lake is so beautiful and serene, surrounded by native trees and lush ferns, and with plenty of exotic flowering trees and shrubs too.  Swans were swimming lazily by, and people were walking around the lake, a delightful place indeed

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The waterfall was constructed in 1968 with the help of a generous donation to the City of New Plymouth from NZI.  And close by on the path is a huge “Ficus Macrophylla” Morton Bay Fig which we stopped to admire.

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Waterfall and imposing Morton Bay Fig

Our time at New Plymouth is almost over, and we are moving on tomorrow.  Just done a little stitching on my New Zealand Botanical block, and then got my knitting out but only managed a few rows here and there, while Gemma is tucked up sound asleep.  Once Gemma sees those knitting needles moving about invitingly she jumps up beside me and is all set to play with the needles, chew the wool, so it’s time to give up and pack it away again.

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Not much knitting got done.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Painted Cows and a small purchase

Just what I hoped for – an early morning view of Mt Ruapehu without any cloud cover, as we drove along the Desert Road.  Such a fabulous sight, and one I never tire of.

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Mt Ruapehu

We were traveling on to Hamilton to get the annual service done on our caravan.  We were out for the day, taking the car, and Gemma, returning back later in the afternoon for the van when the service is completed.  Getting ready rather reminded me of those long ago days when young Mums had to pack a nappy bag full for a day out with baby.  With Gemma in the car for a full day (without the luxury of our home away from home towed behind us), we had to pack food, water, a blanket, and a litter tray (just in case).  Gemma has settled down well with this traveling business, snoozes the whole trip and doesn’t get too upset.  It’s even better, she thinks, if she can sleep on my lap.  Her harness and lead are attached to the back seat car belt so she is quite secure but has just enough lead to move from the back seat to the front, and to keep her from being flung against the front window.

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Making herself comfy

Although the weather was wet and miserable we had already decided to take a drive out to Morrinsville, a prosperous farming town with dairy farms,  large sale yards, farm machinery outlets, agricultural services and engineering firms. 

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Dairy herd in Morrinsville

So it is no surprise that Morrinsville has a collection of more than 40 life-size cow sculptures throughout the town.  Here are some from the CBD.

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The sculptures have been sponsored by businesses and individuals, and really make a statement through the town. The local travel agency decided that their cow statue wouldn’t be one of the herd, and went with a different design.  This cow is all set to go on holiday with her hat, handbag and suitcase.

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What every well dressed cow on holiday wears

Morrinsville also boasts a fabric shop, Wright’s Fabrics, which specializes in batiks for patch workers.  So I couldn’t possibly pass that by, could I?  The owner Milton has a tee shirt pinned to the wall emblazoned with the message “I’m Milton, your husband won’t like me, I sell fabric”.  How true, in fact Milton is very well known as he  travels around the country going to quilt and craft exhibitions with his wonderful range of very reasonably priced batiks.  He way currently away at another show, so the batik range was a little down.  But I still managed to make a small purchase.

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These three came away with me

We collected the caravan in the late afternoon, and got on our way once more, passing wonderful scenery on the way.    Such as this interesting rock formations, and beautiful rolling countryside.  I know I’m biased, but New Zealand is a beautiful country.

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You have to admire the guts and determination of the men who chipped away to dig tunnels through  solid rock, and on our trip today we drove through two of these.  The first was at Awakino, a single lane but both high and wide enough to accommodate our caravan, thank goodness.  No doubt trucks can squeeze through these tunnels too, driving very carefully.

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The second tunnel was at the top of Mt Messenger, double laned this time, but we were pleased we didn’t meet a big truck coming the other way.

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Next  stop is New Plymouth, where we plan to stay for several days.  It will be more restful,  to not have to pack up and drive each day.  Maybe I’ll get a bit of stitching done.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Another Road Trip

We are heading off on another road trip for about 10 days, so no “rolling the dice” for  week or so.  The caravan needed packing and one of the first things to go in was my stitching bag, a little knitting, and my library books.  Then the rest of the packing got done, clothes and food.  It’s difficult getting in and out the door with a crate full of items when Gemma is underfoot.  She may look placid, but she is not really, and always ready to escape to the great outdoors through an open door.  But there is one way to keep her confined while I made the numerous trips out to the caravan – lock her in her cage.  She spent the entire time trying to get out, but she wasn’t moving until I said so!

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Trying hard to get that door open

Once everything was packed and we’d had an early lunch, we were on our way.  Gemma wears a little pink harness in the car, with a lead attached, hooked onto the back seat belt for safety.  There is enough spare lead to allow her to move from the back seat to the front,and she spent most of the journey curled up on my lap.

Driving up SH1 we were making such good time that we drove on to Waiouru Army Museum where we were spending our first night.  

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Our site for the night

 The high altitude here (2600 ft) and close proximity to Mt Ruapehu keeps Waiouru’s climate cold throughout the year.  Just as well we have fluffy winter sheets on the bed, a nice cozy quilt, and a gas heater to keep us warm.  Campers are permitted to stay overnight  at the back of the museum for a donation, and we have the added bonus of regular security checks during the night.  After a busy day on the road, Robin and Gemma are both worn out and needed an afternoon nap!  (Don’t tell him I’ve taken his photo.)

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It’s been a long day

And this is the view we have – Mt Ruapehu hiding under some cloud cover.  Hopefully I’ll get a clearer photo tomorrow.

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Mt Ruapehu

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Slow Sunday Stitching

My “Alphabet Noel” quilt is done!  I persevered with the machine quilting during the week, one block at a time, then machined the binding on.  I always have trouble getting that last diagonal joining seam measured and done.  This time, I had the binding all twisted and had to undo the last seam, goodness knows how that happened.  Does anyone know about a fool proof video to show me how to get it right, first time, each time?  I pinned the binding down  in place on Saturday night while Robin was watching sport on TV, then today, spent several hours hand stitching it in place, and adding the label.  There we go – job done.

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Hand stitching the binding down

I enjoyed every minute of stitching these Christmas Alphabet blocks, and was in no rush to finish this project.  Designed by Michelle Ridgeway of Rag Tag Stitchin, these blocks came away with us as we travelled the country in our caravan, came to Sew  Wot mornings and quilt club stitching days, and probably took me two years to complete.  No matter, it was my slow stitching project and I knew it would take some time.

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I changed a few of the blocks, and added four more of Michelle’s designs to give me thirty blocks, so I could have a 5X6 setting.  Can you make out the wonky star quilting on the back?

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Alphabet Noel

Let me show you some of my favourite blocks.

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R is for Reindeer, W is for (Christmas) Wreath

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Y is for Yule Log

I do so enjoy doing this type of stitchery, it is lovely and relaxing.  Many thanks to Michelle of Rag Tag Stitchin for her wonderful designs.

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Alphabet Noel

Saturday, October 6, 2018

A Finish!

With just the binding to finish stitching down, this should have been completed ages ago.  But it got put aside, as often happens, and just pulled out again this week.  So here at last is my Soul Searching quilt, “Colours of my Life”, hanging on the clothesline outside.

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I had seen versions of this quilt pop up all over the internet a couple of years ago, and thought what a great pattern it was.  So after resisting for a while, I sent away to order my own copy of the book.

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Author and designer Kathy Doughty suggests using fabrics in your stash for this quilt, and to use all variations of each colour from light to dark.  I didn’t like that idea, as the lights faded into the background.  Instead I used similar strong tones of each colour.  With the pieces of each colour grouping cut out and pinned, I used this as a “leader and ender” project while sewing other things.
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Simple sewing it might well be, but I’m so pleased with the graphic design and how it all turned out.  The colours I chose were dark gray, dark cerise pink, black, red, dark green, dark blue, deep purple, burgundy and teal.  Paula of Rabbits Patch Quilting stitched an all over swirly design for me, and the quilt is bound with black scrappy binding.

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Gemma helping me lay the quilt on the bed

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I love it!

This quilt finished at 84 inches square, so can be turned any way on the bed.  I had stitched three blocks in pastel colours of lilac, pink and pale blue, much too pale and not the look I was after, so these have been incorporated into the backing.

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Goodness knows how long this quilt has been in the making, but that doesn’t really matter, does it.  It’s finished now, and I’m thrilled with it, and it’s staying here with me!