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

Monday, January 14, 2019

Blue flowers, and a blue native bird

I’m pleased that another of my stitchery blocks has been completed, I’ve been stitching away on my Chatham Island Forget-me-knot block.  Designed by Jenny Hunter, this is block seven of nine New Zealand botanical blocks, and is my “slow stitching” project.

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The threatened Chatham Island forget-me-not grows naturally on the Chatham Islands - on coastal cliffs, rock outcrops and sandy and rocky beaches.  Grazing, trampling and rooting by domestic and feral animals and weed encroachment, especially by marram grass, are major threats to this species in it’s natural habitat.  This large showy plant is also available to home gardeners, and is widely grown in nurseries and gardens throughout New Zealand and overseas.

Chatham Island forget-me-not

Photo from Te Ara NZ

I unrolled my block roll to put the newly finished block away with the others and have a count up.  Gemma must approve of my stitched blocks, as she has settled down on top of them for a snooze!  So I can't disturb her, can I?

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The snooze of approval

We have another native bird to join our ever growing collection.  This beautiful metal and glass piece of yard art was a Christmas gift from grand-daughter Megan, and is now lives happily outside under the eaves. 

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The kokako make up two species of endangered wattlebirds which are endemic to New Zealand, the North Island kokako and the presumably extinct South Island kokako. They are both slate-grey with wattles and have black masks.  We have only ever seen these beautiful birds in bird sanctuaries.

Image result for photos of kokako

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Jumping on the RSC Bandwagon

Each year I had read about the annual Rainbow Scrap Challenge organized by Angela of SoScrappy.BlogSpot.  And finally, this year, I have decided to jump on the band wagon and join in.  Angela writes, “Each month I will announce a color.  Your job is to use your scraps to make something.  A block, a few blocks, a small project, an entire quilt.   Hopefully, by the end of the year, you will have enough blocks for a quilt, or a finished project or two”.   This month the colour chosen was red. 

What to stitch – that was the question.  People seem to make all sorts of things, and the link-up is always fun to read.  I decided to make some bow tie blocks, four each month, that shouldn’t be too hard.  So here are my very first RSC 2019 blocks, nice and simple and didn’t take me too long at all.

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Red Bow Tie blocks

Then I had another thought, perhaps a second project might be fun too.  So then I made two Asterisk blocks, using selvedges.  I’m not too sure whether I like these or not enough to continue each month – what do you think?

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Asterisk selvedge blocks

I know I have heaps of UFOs, but who doesn’t need another project or two to keep us happy and motivated?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

I seem to have a theme going

Christmas is over – it’s all packed away till next year.  Robin’s been up the ladder again taking down the strings of outdoor lights, with me steadying the ladder, just in case.  As we get older we are not so nimble, are we.  I’ve taken care of indoors, the various decorations are now safety packed away in their crates, (farewell till next year, my precious Jim Shore ornaments) and the Christmas quilts have come down too.

I’ve put three quilts up in the sitting room, and I seem to have a theme going - they all feature New Zealand native birds.  These aren’t new, so you may well have seen them before.  Hanging over the sofa is “My New Zealand Bird Quilt”, although it also features a tuatara, an ancient species from the dinosaur age.  (Do click on the link and read all about these interesting native animals).  This was hand appliqued and hand quilted and was completed in 2003. 

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My New Zealand Bird quilt

Hanging by our computer desk is a a bird from the same pattern, a Kea (NZ alpine parrot)  made for my son for his 37th birthday.  As a youngster Michael was very interested in native birds.  Unfortunately when he moved house some years later he didn’t want his wall-hanging any more, so I made sure it came home to me. 

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Kea – Nestor Notabilis

There are even more native birds on the wall by the entranceway.  “New Zealand Native Birds” was machine appliqued and quilted, and completed in 2017.

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New Zealand Native Birds

It was while we were on a trip to USA some years ago that we were impressed by how patriotic everyone seemed.  We were staying with my pen friend in Juneau, Alaska, and she had several amazing local photos displayed on her walls.  As we traveled around we noticed there were flags flying everywhere, and we commented that we didn’t seem to do that back home.  Robin  purchased a flag pole several years ago and flies the New Zealand flag, and it seems that more people are doing this these days.  We certainly should be proud of our respective countries, I feel.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Reflecting Back and Looking Forward

We are now back home from our Christmas/New Year holiday and it’s that time of year when quilters and crafters like to take stock of what we have achieved during the year.  Whether it’s been a little or a lot, each finish is special and something to celebrate.  I’ll never be in the league of some of the “super quilters” out there in blog-land, but I’m still happy with what I have done.

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Lace cushion for niece’s 50th birthday and table cloth recording our South Island holiday

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For the caravan, hand stitched native birds, and two sets placemats

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Baby quilts

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Winter wall-hanging and mats/blankets for the new kitten

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Two piggy quilts

Then I had some big finishes, Soul Searching and Our Australian Adventures, both commercially quilted.

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And last but certainly not least, I completed Alphabet Noel in time for Christmas.  These stitcheries were done over the previous two years, machine pieced and machine quilted with wonky stars.  I have to say that this was a most enjoyable stitchery project.

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Alphabet Noel

I’m not as clever as it might appear - some of these projects had been already started and hanging around as UFOs for a while, so just needed finishing off, and others  were brand new.

What now?  As some of you know, I have been listing six projects at a time and throwing the dice to see which one I will work on each week.  I will continue doing that, but first I want to clear two long standing projects from my list, Animal ABC and Horse Quilt No 2, both which didn’t seem to have their numbers come up very much during the previous year.  I’ll be pleased to see the back of both of these two, so watch this space.

Then I will write a new list and continue from there.  It seems that there are still plenty of UFOs lurking about in bags and crates waiting to see the light of day, plus a few new projects I want to make.  I’m still working on my current stitchery project, the New Zealand Botanical designs, and once these blocks get completed the project will get swapped over to my List of Six to get made into a quilt.  And I really should make more of an effort to get on with my knitting.  As I often tell Robin, I’ll never run out of things to do.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Home Again

After (almost) two weeks away in the caravan, we are home again.  We stayed at Foxton, not too far from home for several days, then traveled up to Hawkes Bay, and finally home today.  The temperatures in Hawkes Bay were HOT, hovering at 27-29C and some days in the 30s, much warmer than we are used to here at home.  Thank goodness for sun awnings on the caravans to give us some much needed shade.  I only did a little hand work while I was away, finished the stitching on Time for Tea.  This is going to be a mug rug for my USA pen friend.

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Did a little more work on my New Zealand Botanical blocks, stitching blue flowers on the Chatham Island Forget-me-not.

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Just a little holiday stitching

So what have we been up to while we were away in between trying to keep cool? This huge ice-cream helped, the real fruit ice-creams were $5 each and certainly took a bit of licking to get to the end, trying to get them finished before we ended up in a melted mess.

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We enjoyed the ice-creams at Birdwoods in Havelock North after walking around the free sculpture garden.   Birdwoods imports sculptures from Zimbabwe and has other interesting items available for sale in the gallery.  There were metal and stone sculptures, and others, like the sheep, were made from beads.

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At Birdwoods Gallery

A trip to the Saturday morning market with our traveling companions was another nice outing.  After a few purchases we walked through the very pretty and historic  Clive Square.  The gardens were formed in 1884, after the area had previously been  used as a sports ground and village green.  After the devastating 1931 earthquake, the square was used as a temporary shopping centre known as Tin Town.  A friendly local took some photos for us.

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We also dined out a couple of times, including a meal out with my sister and her family in Hastings.

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Sister Kathleen, niece Lisa and BIL Dennis

Our fast growing kitten Gemma had all sorts of exciting experiences while she was away.  She climbed her first tree without any help from us, she was after insects and just knew what to do to climb up the tree trunk to find them.

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And the easiest way to keep cool inside the caravan was to stretch right out on the floor, she decided.  That pose isn’t very lady-like, Gemma!  She is quite happy in the caravan, and loves to get outside too, we always make sure she has her harness and lead on when she ventures outside.

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Gemma enjoyed her holiday too

We've unpacked the caravan, and the first load of washing is in the machine.  Mind you, we will be doing it all again shortly, our next trip away is in two weeks time.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas Day Onwards

Our Christmas Day at home started with the usual breakfast, croissants filled with ham and cheese and  warmed in the oven.  Yum, nice and tasty to start the day.  Do you think I look the part in my Christmas pinny?

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Breakfast time

The pork roast was soon sizzling away in the Weber BBQ and was smelling delicious.  The inserted thermometer tells us via the cell phone when the meat is cooked.  I’m not sure how that works, it’s all a bit new fangled to me but Robin seems to understand the technology.

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Roast Pork

We had a lovely Christmas Day. Friends Dot and Derek joined us for lunch, and with their food contributions as well, we had enough to feed an army.  Robin’s brother and his wife called around on the afternoon, and we all had plenty to chat about.  The time just flew by, so much so that I forgot to take any more photos.

We are now away in our caravan, staying at the NZMCA Park Plimmerton, a handy place to stay if you want to visit Wellington.  The railway station is just a short walk away from the camp, so we planned a day in the Big Smoke, traveling in style on the trains.  Using our Gold Cards, train travel is free.  But wouldn’t you know it, the trains were off the rails for the next week or so for track maintenance, and the services were replaced by buses.  When  we arrived in Wellington City I was keen for a quick visit (my first) to the large David Jones Department Store (formerly Kirkcaldie and Stains).   I really wanted to see their Christmas Shop, but nothing took my fancy so we were just in and out in no time at all.   A cruise ship was in town, and there were people everywhere. 

Perhaps a trip to Wellington Airport for lunch would be fun, we decided, so we boarded the bright orange Airport Flyer and went on our way.  Robin used to drive these buses to and from the airport some years ago, and quite enjoyed the interaction with travelers.

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Airport Flyer Bus

There were all sorts of things to see at the airport.  Lots of Christmas Trees decorated by various businesses on display.

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Christmas Trees galore

Then there were some  entries from the recent “World of Wearable Art Awards Show”, a big glitzy show which runs in Wellington during September and October.

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Entries of Wearable Art

And flying high over the eating area were a pair of  giant eagles, one of them had Gandolf riding on top.  Made by Weta Workshop, one of them was shaken loose during an earthquake and had to be re-installed using a new hanging structure that is able to handle considerably higher loads.

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Giant Eagles built by Weta Workshops

We sat in front of the large picture windows, watching the planes arrive and depart.  Perhaps we will have another trip away soon, we hope.  Lunch was Pie and a Pint for him, and Salmon Pasta for her, all very nice and tasty.  It was a great day out, and stress free as we travelled by public transport.

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It’s always busy at the airport

Monday, December 24, 2018

Up to Here in Chocolate

First job in the kitchen today (Christmas Eve) was to make the filling for the chocolate cheesecake – the base had already been made and was nice and chilled in the fridge.  But why, I now ask myself, didn’t I read through the list of ingredients properly?  Yes, I had a tub of cream cheese, but I needed two!  Everything came to a standstill while my Christmas Pixie went down to the shops for me.  Once that second tub was in my hot little hands I got busy.  The filling was soon made, the melted chocolate mixed through, the whole lot spread on top of the base, and back in the fridge it went.  I’ll sprinkle some chocolate Flake Bars over the top just before serving.

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Chocolate Cheesecake

And while I’m dealing with melted chocolate I completed my cherry balls.  These are yummy, glace cherries wrapped in almond paste, then dipped in chocolate.  Very moreish indeed.

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My favourite, chocolate cherry balls

There was still some melted chocolate in the bowl, so in went some strawberries, followed by some dried apricots, to use it all up. 

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More chocolate goodies

I can’t really be trusted with melted chocolate, as I got it everywhere, all over my fingers, on the bench too.  Using melted chocolate is a bit like my disastrous episode with a  hot glue gun, which I now steer well clear of - glue everywhere, and burnt fingers. 

Here’s a little bit of Christmas to finish with, two Santas (both purchased) guarding a jar full of Christmas baubles.  Our kitten Gemma had to be persuaded NOT to jump up to get the berry twigs at the top.

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We are delighted to see the large pohutukawa tree over our back fence is starting to flower.  Not quite in full flower yet, but the crimson flowers are a sign that summer is here and Christmas is just around the corner.  Goodness me,  it’s tomorrow!

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The Pohutukawa, known as New Zealand Christmas Tree.

Wishing all readers and bloggers a very Happy Christmas.  It’s been so nice to have made contact with so many of you through your comments, and I have been lucky enough to have a few face to face meetings too.  Safe travels to any of you on the road over the holidays, and Happy Stitching too!