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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cats are smarter than Cows

There’s no doubt about it - our cat Muffy certainly is smarter than the average cow!  And here’s the proof.  We are currently enjoying a caravan safari with a group of friends, and have been staying at Ohakune at the Waimarino Golf Club grounds.  With power, toilets and shower, and fresh water available, it is a great place to stay.  And with a view like this, what could be better?

DSCF4231 Mt Ruapehu looks down over Ohakune

The weather has been gloriously hot, and Muffy has been doing nothing but sleep all day.  Last night, in the cool of the evening, Robin hooked Muffy’s lead onto her little pink harness  and took her out for a walk down to the gate.  There they came across a cattle stop, used on rural properties throughout the country to keep stock at bay.  Our clever cat checked it out, then carefully placed one dainty paw  after another, and walked across.  A cow can’t do that!  And for those readers who may not know what a cattle stop is, it is made up of steel bars placed over pit, and looks like this.

DSCF4251 The cattle stop

Muffy is back, doing what she does best, having yet another snooze.  It’s a hard life being on a caravan holiday!


Monday, January 28, 2013

How could I forget?

Caravan safari or not, the laundry still needs doing.  We are currently camping at “Rawhide”, a lovely rural property at the tiny village of Kakahi, 8kms or so from  Taumarunui, and my laundry bag was full.  Luckily, we knew there was a Laundromat in town.  So I gathered up the cell phones, my camera, the supermarket shopping list, and my tin of $1 and $2 coins, and off we went.  About half way through the journey, I suddenly turned around and glanced over at the back seat.  Oh no – the laundry bag was not there!  With one thing and another, I’d forgotten to put it in the car!

You can imagine Robin’s response and he turned the car around and we headed back to camp.  With the bulging bag of laundry firmly in place on the back seat, we drove back to the Laundromat.  Now really – everyone gets forgetful occasionally, don’t they?  However, with my reputation for having a bit of a laundry fetish, it’s hard to live down.  But it certainly gave our fellow campers a laugh when they found out.
With the washing cycle completed, the groceries purchased, and no further mishaps, we drove back to camp.  Robin erected a clothes line, and I happily pegged it all out in the sunshine.  Happiness is clean laundry – I always say.

DSCF4191Drying in the sunny breeze

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Op Shop Givenchy

I’m not much of an Op Shop shopper, I have to say.  But we are travelling around with our caravan friends and they were most insistent.  “You must stop at the Op Shop in Patea”, we were told.  With several large caravans and tow cars parked up in the main street, there wasn’t much room left.  Checking out the various table clothes and doileys I spotted a length of very dark folded fabric with the famous name Givenchy printed all over it.  Wonder what that is, I thought to myself.  It turned out to be a printed apron panel.  I’m such a messy cook, I  always wear aprons, so that will certainly do me.  And at only $2 it was a bargain.  I’ll stitch it up when we get into our new home and the sewing machine finally gets taken out of storage.

DSCF4009 My Givenchy apron panel

Patea is well known for the Maori canoe feature in the centre of town.  This commemorates the story of Turi and his people who travelled out from Hawaiki and settled in this area.

DSCF3999 Turi and his people on their canoe

Do check out our caravan safari adventures on our other blog www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Friday, January 18, 2013

Scatterdays - R

It’s Scatterdays time again – featuring the letter “R”.  The categories are mammal, technology, transportation, and something red from my sewing room.

Mammal – Red Panda: Wellington Zoo was offering a special deal of $5 entry each Wednesday during August last year.  A pleasant way to spend the day, we thought, so we made a picnic lunch and drove into the city. Lucky for us that the popular red pandas are  active in the afternoon as we were quite keen to catch a glimpse of these pretty little animals.  The red panda was first discovered by Western explorers in 1821, and their Chinese name is “hunho”, meaning fire-fox, due to their colouring and similar size to a fox.  These little animals were real crowd pleasers as they climbed in the trees and walked a circuit around the pathways.

DSCF2632 Red Panda at Wellington Zoo

Technology – Router:  We need one of these little units for the lap top.  I was not too sure exactly what they do but according to my clever DH it directs the internet traffic between the computer and the network.
 DSCF3901 Router

Transport – Romany Rambler:  To be completely honest, we transport our caravan ”Romany Rambler” behind our 4WD.  (But it still comes under T for transport, don’t you think?).  We have a New Zealand built “Leisureline” caravan and have been fortunate to have travelled over much of New Zealand.  And we are currently living in the caravan while our new home is being built.  We named our caravan Romany Rambler because I can boast a Romany Gypsy way back in my family. My Great, great, great Grandfather Robert Beresford was a gypsy. I can just imagine this dark handsome stranger sweeping my G,G,G, Grandmother off her feet.

DSCF1512  Romany Rambler behind the pub at Canvastown

Something Red – Red Work Santa:   I stitched my Red Work Santa in 2002 (didn’t realise he was so old), and he hangs in the caravan over Christmas.  I quite enjoy doing this type of naive embroidery, using Perle thread and a thick needle, seems to suit my not so dainty hands much better.

DSCF2395 Red Work Santa

Must go and check what the other participants have come up with.  You can find them here on the sidebar of the organiser's Cinzia’s blog.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It’s busy at the Laundrette

I’d done a load of washing and hung it out in the afternoon.  But I soon had to gather it in, still wet, as the rain came down.  With heavy rain overnight, and even more the next morning, there didn’t seem much chance of getting it dry outside.  We needed to make a trip to the laundrette.  And what a busy place it was.  I found an empty drier and in went the clothes.  Round and round they tumbled – it all seemed rather hypnotic to me. 

DSCF3909Round and round it goes

Everyone was very friendly as we all attended to “woman’s work”.  One lady was using several driers at once to get her washing dry.  She had five grand-daughters at home, she said, and always had lots of laundry to do.  This is a Key Laundrette, where you purchase a small plastic key, load it with money, then insert it into the machines.  Another lady offered me her key, still with several dollars left on it, as she was leaving town and had no further use for it.  That was certainly very kind, I thought.

DSCF3912 My laundry keys

As I waited for Robin to return with the car, a whole group of ladies entered, all laden down with big bags of clothes.  There was much hugging and greetings going on between them all, so it looked like they all planned to meet and attend to their laundry at the same time.  It certainly was a busy place.

Today, wouldn’t you know,  it is fine and sunny, with a gentle breeze, just right for hanging the washing outside on the clothesline.   So I gathered up yet another load,  put it through the washing machine, and pegged it on the clothesline  to dry.  In my book, happiness is clean laundry!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I always cry at the movies

Can’t help it – the number of times I have sat through a film dabbing away the tears are too many to mention. (It’s strange but I never notice anyone else quite as emotionally involved as I tend to be.)  And this movie was no exception.  We went to see “Quartet”, a wonderful film about growing old, facing one’s fears, forgiveness, and having fun.
Lifelong friends Wilf (Billy Connolly) and Reggie (Tom Courtney), together with former colleague Cissy (Pauline Collins), are residents of Beecham House, a home for retired opera singers. Every year on Giuseppe Verdi's birthday, the residents unite to give a concert to raise funds for their home. But when Jean Horton (Maggie Smith), a former grande dame of the opera fallen on hard times, also Reggie's ex-wife, moves into the home to everyone's surprise, the plans for this year's concert start to unravel. As old grudges threaten to undermine past glories and theatrical temperaments play havoc with the rehearsal schedule, it becomes apparent that having four of the finest singers in English operatic history under one roof offers no guarantee that the show will go on.

Quartet Poster

As Bette Davis is attributed to have said, “Old age is not for sissies!”.  Billy Connolly plays the part of a man who has suffered a mild stroke, and cannot help making inappropriate comments, and Pauline Collin’s character is in the first stages of Alzheimer's.  Maggie Smith’s Jean is in pain as she awaits a hip replacement courtesy of the NHS, while the last remaining member of the quartet has never forgiven his former wife for her indiscretions. 

Sometimes sad and painful to watch, sometimes funny, but beautifully done and accompanied with lovely soaring music throughout, it is a must-see for those of us past “a certain age”.  Highly recommended.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Going to Bed with Jack

“Are you taking that book to bed again?” Robin asked recently.  It wasn’t actually the same book, but I must admit I’ve got a “bit of a thing” for author Lee Child’s character Jack Reacher.  So whenever I find one I haven’t read, Jack comes to bed with me at night!  I’ve read quite a few, and managed to track down the very first book, “Killing Floor”.  I really wanted to know how Jack started out, and what makes him tick.

DSCF3292 The first Jack Reacher novel

In this book Lee Child presents Jack Reacher for the first time, as the tough ex-military cop of no fixed abode: a righter of wrongs, a stoic, ice-cool drifter and former military investigator, the perfect action hero. (The “Thinking Woman’s Hero”, I read somewhere.  Can’t really claim to be a thinking woman, but I certainly love reading). This  is the debut novel by Lee Child, first published in 1997, and won the Anthony Award and Barry Award for best first novel.

As much as I love the the books, and the character, I just don’t think I will be able to sit through the recently released movie, which has Tom Cruise cast as Jack Reacher.  Come on now, Jack is described as a rough, tough 6ft 5in, well built hero.  How could Tom Cruise, a short, small built man,  be cast in the movie as my hero?  Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher – no way.  I’m NOT going to see the film, I’d only come away laughing.  So I’ll settle for getting yet another book from the library, and taking Jack to bed again!

And if anyone is interested, I’ve consumed 48 books in 2012, and nine of them were Lee Child/Jack Reacher novels.  Other authors which I’ve read over the year are James Patterson – 4, Sean Black – 2, Lisa Gardner – 2.  I also quite like to read historical royal novels and particularly enjoyed The Lady of the Rivers and The King Maker’s Daughter, both by award winning Philippa Gregory, and The Golden Prince, by Rebecca Dean,   And yes, I do read quilt inspired books too, and read The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs and both Sonoma Rose and The Union Quilters, by Jennifer Chiaverini. Added to the list were the weighty Dublin, by Edward Rutherfurd, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D H Lawrence (a surprise gift from my daughter) and the New Zealand West Coast novel Heart of Gold, by Jenny Pattrick.  I can’t wait to join the local Levin Library when we move into our new home, but can’t do this straight away.  As I understand, I will have to take proof of residence.

So what has been your favourite read over the last year?  And I wonder if anyone else shares my passion for Jack?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Plums for Pudding

“Help yourself to plums”, I was told, “and some grapefruit too”.  I didn’t need telling twice.  We are currently parked up on our friends Geoff and Eileen’s property and they have quite a selection of fruit trees growing along the boundary fence. (I’m the only one here who can eat grapefruit, as the other three take medication and are not to eat grapefruit at all).  The plum trees are laden, and the fruit is such a pretty colour.

DSCF3860  Ripe for picking

I gently cooked up a nice big dish of plums, and whipped up a bowl of Vanilla Crème Dessert (that’s just a posh name for Instant Pudding).  There is plenty to go around so we will share our dessert tonight with our hosts.  After all, they supplied the plums!

DSCF3863 Plums for pudding

I took another trip out to the orchard and gathered up even more plums - a big bucket full.  (There was a nasty big white-tail spider lurking in the bucket, and Robin had to deal with it for me).  The plums have been washed, packed in sealable plastic bags and popped in the freezer.  They can be cooked up later on, perhaps plum crumble will be on the menu on a  cold winter’s night.  There are still plenty on the tree, so I’ll gather another bucket full for Eileen later on – it would be a shame to let them go to waste.

DSCF3868 A bucket full of plums

Muffy came out into the orchard with me, on her lead.  She is getting quite timid as she grows older, and is not showing much inclination to move outside the caravan door these days.  But it is a nice sunny day, and I felt she would benefit from some fresh air and a change of scenery.  When my bucket was full, she was quite happy to trot along side me, and scamper back into the caravan for some more R & R.
DSCF3867 Muffy under the fruit trees

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My new Sewing Room

After being on a caravan holiday in Carterton for the last couple of weeks, we towed our caravan back to our temporary lodgings in Otaki, stopping off in Levin to check out our new home.  Things are really moving forward quickly, with the walls and roof trusses now erected.  There was no sign of the builders on our property while we were there, and we found them busily working on another villa.  Stepping onto the concrete floor, we wandered through each room, trying to see how it would look when completed.  Here I am contemplating the spare bedroom, which will eventually become my new sewing room.  No doubt an office as well, as we will need somewhere to put the filing cabinet, printers and all those sorts of things.

Jenny Contemplating Her New Sewing Room

I’ll have to wait till all the walls are up and check on the position of the power points before I decide exactly where I will be placing my sewing cabinet, and the best wall for the shelving.  And as we have sold off the beds and furniture from our former house, I rather like the idea of purchasing a bed settee (sofa).  Then we will have a bed for the  occasional visitor and I will be able to curl up on the sofa with a quilty magazine.  Just hope we can fit all these things in – plus my fabrics, books and a whole heap of UFOs!

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I’ve decided to join in the “Scatterday” blog posts organised by Cinzia – my first time so I do hope I’ve read the instructions correctly.  What we have to do is find and upload photos in four categories all starting with “W”, expensive, exciting, music, and, for something quilting, a WIP.  So here goes – this is my selection.

Expensive – White Christmas:  Living down here in the Southern Hemisphere and celebrating Christmas in the summer,  it would be lovely to experience a white Christmas one year.  But that would entail a very expensive trip to Europe, no doubt.

White ChristmasWhite Christmas

Exciting – Workmen:  It is certainly exciting seeing the builders working away on our new home!

DSCF3697 Hosing down the concrete floor

Music – While my Guitar Gently Weeps:  A beautiful sad song written by George Harrison, on a CD full of interesting music.  I’m a real sentimentalist and just love sad songs.

DSCF3840 While my Guitar Gently Weeps CD

WIP Work in Progress:  Well, where shall I start?  How about this one? I did the hand stitched floral blocks from Alex Anderson patterns while travelling around in our caravan.  Next step was making the nine patch filler blocks.  And here it has stopped.  I need to design some sort of border to finish it off.

DSCF6697 One of my many WIPs

So that is my first Scatterday contribution.  Must go and check out the others who are taking part.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Reflections of 2012

It is always interesting to look back over the stitching year and see what has been achieved, isn’t it?  Sadly, not too many finishes in my case.  No large quilts, in fact not a single quilt at all.  Perhaps the fact that we spent three months travelling the length and breadth of the South Island early in the year had something to do with it. But I’m not really making excuses, and I’m still rather pleased with those few items I did finish.

I took a whole bunch of rail fence blocks down to the South Island as we travelled around, and diligently recorded on them all the places we stayed, and the attractions we saw.  When we returned home I stitched all the blocks together to make my Travelling Rail Fence Tablecloth to use in the caravan.  This is certainly full of many happy memories. 

DSCF1950 Rail Fence Tablecloth

I met up with several very special ladies as we travelled around the South Island, strangers all till we met up.  Marie of Ashburton kindly invited Robin and me around to her home for a home cooked meal.  And I had been exchanging emails with Miche’le from By Hoki Quilts for a wee while. We visited her lovely shop at Hokitika and she plied us with home made scones and coffee while we chatted the morning away.  And lastly, Gloria from the Manapouri Motor Camp invited me inside her home while we were camped there to view her very extensive collection of quilts.  Thanks so much ladies, for making a fellow quilter so welcome. 

My other finishes were cushions.  I made a New Zealand themed cushion for our travelling companions Geoff and Pauline in remembrance of our shared South Island Odyssey.

DSCF1949 New Zealand cushion for Geoff and Pauline

The herb cushion stitchery travelled around the South Island with me and I stitched away whenever I got the chance.  On completion, it was a birthday gift for my daughter Nicky, who is very interested in herbs and their uses.

DSCF2012Herb Garden Cushion for my daughter

The final cushion utilised the unused labels and buttons from a Memory Quilt I had made Kathryn earlier.  There is no  way I can do “random” so everything had to be set out neatly in rows.

DSCF2304-001 Memory Cushion for Kathryn

I attended several quilt shows over the year, Capital Quilters Exhibition in Lower Hutt in May, Feilding Quilt Show in June, PInestream Quilters Exhibition in Upper Hutt in September, and Wellington Quilters Exhibition in October.  So many wonderful quilts to drool over and admire.

The last few months of the year ended in a bit of a rush when we decided to put our house on the market.  As you can imagine, everything went into overdrive with tidying up, clearing out and packing things in crates and boxes.  Including all my sewing stuff!  (I never realised I had quite so many UFOs).  After 29 years we moved out of our home, and are spending the next couple of months living in the caravan.  I decided against taking my sewing machine with  me, instead I have some hand stitching, knitting and books to keep me busy.  Our new home is under construction, and should be completed by early March.  That’s quite exciting, I never dreamed we would ever have a brand new home!