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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dutch Delights

We visited Foxton yesterday to sample some Dutch delights, and join in the 10th Birthday celebrations of De Molen, the 17th century working replica Dutch windmill in the main street.  The ground floor of the windmill serves as a visitors centre and sells authentic Dutch goodies.  The volunteers on duty inside the shop were all dressed in costume, and was the accordionist who was seated in the doorway playing merrily away while we filed past. 

DSCF5232 Two pretty young Dutch girls

For just the price of a gold coin donation we could climb the steep stairs to the upper floors.  We sat for a while and watched the video which told how the windmill was built and how it all works.  Photos of the windmill build covered the walls, as well as some interesting textiles.  I walked over to admire a lovely framed cross stitch panel showing windmills through Holland.  Someone has put an an awful amount of work into this panel.

DSCF5230 Cross stitch windmill sampler

Also hanging up was another pretty panel, a  commercial piece showing a young girl in a field of tulips, with a windmill in the background.  What could be more Dutch than that?  It seemed to me that the local Dutch community had donated (or perhaps loaned) these items to the windmill trust.

DSCF5231 Pretty panel hanging up inside the windmill

We had a good look around the windmill interior and another volunteer dressed in costume explained the workings as we watched all the wheels and cogs moving together, driven by the power of the wind.  Through the window we could see the large blades as they kept swishing round and round.  Down the steep staircases we climbed, going backwards as suggested, to have a look around the gift shop.  After seeing how it all worked, we couldn’t leave without purchasing a bag of stone ground wholemeal flour, and a selection of Dutch biscuits from the ground floor shop. I’ll use some of that flour when I next make a batch of bread.

DSCF5254 Dutch goodies from the shop

Organ music was calling us as we made our way outside, and we saw the prettiest pink painted organ.  Built in 1880 in Paris, the organ was sent to Amsterdam in 1903 where it played on the streets up until WW11.  All street organs were banned from operating by the German occupying forces in 1942, and this organ was hidden away to keep it safe. After the war it came out to play tunes again, before being sold and shipped to USA.  The organ arrived in New Zealand in 2001 in a very bad state and has been completely transformed back to working order and a new life.

DSCF5235Beautifully decorated organ on display

We sat outside eating our tasty lunch of of Dutch sausages served with mustard and sauerkraut, and Ollie-bollen, similar to a doughnut -  a deep fried pastry filled with raisins and dusted with icing sugar, while the organ music swirled all around us.  We had such a lovely morning out sampling all sorts of Dutch delights!

DSCF5214 De Molen windmill, Foxton

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Scatterdays - “L”

I’ve missed a couple of Scatterday topics as we have been out and about tiki touring in our caravan.  But I’ve got back on track again, I’m pleased to say.  This time the topics are Sky, Purple, City, and a Lap quilt, all to be related to the letter L.  After a bit of thinking, head scratching and thinking some more, this is my interpretation.

Sky – Lunar Landing:  Those of us over a certain age will never forget the events of July 1969 when man first landed on the moon.  The Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted off for the moon, perhaps wondering if they would make it home at all.  Armstrong and Aldrin climbed into the lunar module Eagle to begin the descent, leaving Collins behind to orbit in the command module Columbia.  There was a problem with finding a safe landing spot, and the lunar module landed with only 30 seconds of fuel remaining.   Armstrong radios "Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed."  With more than half a billion people watching on television, he is ready to plant the first human foot on another world.  Climbing down the ladder he said those famous words: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."  Aldrin then joined him, describing what he saw as "magnificent desolation."  They explored the surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs.  They leave behind an American flag, an Apollo 1 mission patch honouring fallen crew, and a plaque on one of Eagle's legs. It read, "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind."    It was a real thrill to have lived through and experienced (with the wonder of TV) such a momentous moment in history.

One small step for man

 Purple – Lilac dress:  I wore this pretty pale lilac dress for my second marriage way back in 1983.  I didn’t want white and fluffy and had been looking for something reasonably pale and pretty.  Robin wore a lilac tie to tone in with my dress.  We are doing pretty well, as we celebrate our 30th Anniversary later this year.  My goodness, didn’t we both have dark hair back then!
 Wedding photo0001 Our wedding

City – London:  What city could have more history and lovely old buildings, bridges and churches than London?  We have been lucky to have visited this great place twice.  It seems to be the sort of city that one could live there a life time and never explore it all.  I just loved it, the crowds, the historic buildings, the mounted soldiers riding down the Mall, the busy River Thames and even the Underground – just a bit scary, I must admit, till I had got used to it.  We saw and experienced so much, but in reality it was only a fraction of what was on offer.  As Samuel Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”.  Yes indeed, I would love to go back again.

London City

Lap Quilt:  I called this quilt “Hearts for Helen” and it was made for her to snuggle under while recuperating from a major health problem.  This shaggy quilt with snipped seams on top was made with appliqu├ęd red hearts set amongst black and white squares, and has soft and snugly red fleece on the back. 

DSCF6091 Lap Quilt, Hearts for Helen

Perhaps you would like to check what the other bloggers are doing with the letter “L”.  You can find their links on the side bar of Cinzia’s blog.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Feijoa Jam Time

I’ve been given a big bag of feijoas so I decided to make some jam.  Now, where did we put the preserving pan?  That’s right, it had been put away upstairs in the attic.  Robin was despatched to retrieve the pan, and I got busy preparing the fruit.  But first I had to find a feijoa jam recipe.  Luckily Mr Google knows everything and I soon found what I was looking for, and printed a copy off.

DSCF5182 Feijoas and lemons

Just as well I had been given lemons too, as I needed some to add to the jam.  I peeled and sliced all the feijoas, grated lemon rind and juice of a couple of lemons and put the lot in the preserving pan, using the potatoe masher to break the fruit up as it cooked.  The sugar was added next, stirred till dissolved, and the whole lot was boiled for the prescribed time, then bottled in sterilised jars.

DSCF5207 Feijoa jam

Doesn’t it look nice, those jars of golden feijoa jam?  Robin doesn’t like feijoas one little bit, so he won’t be eating any of my jam on his breakfast toast in the mornings.  Never mind – more for me!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coffee Club Morning

Today was Coffee Club day – the meeting of the local branch of the Cancer Society which offers support and companionship to those affected by cancer, whether patients, carers, friends or relatives.  I went through my cancer treatment about six years ago, and still like to keep in touch with the Cancer Society, which does such a marvellous job.  This monthly gathering is a group of friendly ladies, some have just started treatment, others are part way through, and then again there is another group (myself included) who hopefully have put this terrible illness right behind ourselves.  But as any cancer survivor knows, now and again we get that awful little niggly thought in the back of our minds, and we have to stamp it down quite firmly!

Hanging in the meeting room are two lovely quilts, so I was very keen to have a good look at them.  Daffodils are the symbol of the Cancer Society, and this lovely stained glass daffodil wall hanging was donated to the Levin Branch in 2009.  It was made by Yvonne Symonds in a class taught by Hazel Collinson.  The pattern was designed by the very talented Adrienne Walker.

DSCF5183 Made by Yvonne Symonds

The other quilt was a Japanese design on a black background.  Interestingly, the quilting differs throughout the quilt, and this difference is not obvious until one gets quite close to the quilt.  Donated items for the ongoing Garage Sale are piled on the table in front of the quilt so sadly I couldn’t get close enough to check for a label.  Members from the local quilt club come to the meeting rooms regularly to change the quilt hanging on this wall, I was told.  What a great idea – that would certainly add interest to all who regularly use the rooms.

DSCF5188 Japanese style quilt

Sadly, I still haven’t had a chance to sit down at my sewing machine for any length of time lately.  I’m starting to really suffer from withdrawal symptoms, and all I’ve done lately is a little mending.  Never mind, perhaps I can sit and sew one day next week.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

This and That

A wet Sunday, and thoughts turn to food.  Good hearty food, just because it’s wet.  So I was busy in the kitchen earlier today getting things ready for tonight’s meal.  Meatloaf is on the menu – haven’t made one of those for a while.  This will be served with roast vegetables and yummy gravy, not forgetting the greens.  And for dessert I have prepared a rhubarb and apple crumble.  I like to plan ahead so when cooking time comes around, everything is ready to pop into the oven.

I’ve done a little sewing too, just a bit by hand.  A parcel arrived in my mail box last week from Carol in South Dakota, and inside was a pretty new thread catcher to use while sewing.  This needed a little weighted bag popped inside to keep it in place on the table (or wherever it is used) and Carol had thoughtfully included a bag to be filled.  Visions of rice falling everywhere all over the floor while I tried to fill the tiny bag persuaded me that this should be a two person job and that I needed a little help. Robin held the top of the bag  tightly closed as I quickly stitched the seam together with a needle and thread.  There – job done with hardly any mess at all!

DSCF5174 Filling the small bag with rice

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Old friends in Print

Isn't it great when your favourite quilt mag arrives in the post?   My quarterly copy of New Zealand Quilter magazine arrived safe and sound, just as well I had remembered to advise my change of address.  And inside were articles about two members from my former quilt club, Pinestream Quilters.

Award winning quilter Heather Harding told of her quest to show quilters that they didn’t have to spend a fortune on new fabrics to indulge their quilting habit.  Heather has been collecting men’s shirts from Op Shops for quite some time and has made a series of quilts from them.  I remember her bringing the finished quilts to show the ladies at our regular Stitching Mondays and Quilt Club nights.  Shirt Tale Series No 13, a wonderful quilt of log cabin blocks, lots of tiny pieced triangles and stars won  the award for “Best Traditional Piecing” at last years Pinestream Quilters quilt show, as well as my vote for Viewers Choice.  Heather intends to donate these quilts to charity.

DSCF2805Shirt Tale No 13

I had a lovely surprise at the very last Stitching Monday I attended before moving out of the area after our previous house was sold.  Heather had made me a needle holder as a “going away gift”.  What a lovely thing to do for me.   “I’ll treasure it”, I told her, Heather is such a lovely warm hearted lady, always willing to help with friendly advice.

DSCF3397  A hug from Heather

The very talented June Nixey was also featured in the magazine, and she is well known for her love of scrap quilts.  She is particularly adept at using charm squares, and has taught classes on using these squares to best advantage.  Another abiding interest is teaching patchwork on Saturday mornings to her girls from “Shut In Stitchers” at Arahata Prison.  They have to work with what ever donated fabric is available and sometimes wait for ages if they want a particular colour.  June proudly brought some of the finished quilts along for Show and Tell occasionally on club nights.  She always remained quite elusive and liked to hide behind the quilts as they were being shown, so I never managed to snap a photo of her at all.  But here are three made by the Shut In Quilters, brought along to show the club some time ago, a strippy quilt, one made with a panel, and blue and peach pinwheels.  June also writes a quilt  blog, Junez Scrapz – do check it out.

DSCF4571Quilts made by the Shut In Quilters

How do you like to read your quilt mags?  When I receive mine, I like to quickly flick through to see what articles there are, then settle down with a cup of coffee and read it from cover to cover, even the ads.  I am a “foundation subscriber” of this magazine, and have every single one carefully stored away. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I’ve got Mail!!

We put a “hold” on our mail while we were away for the last couple of weeks, and it was all delivered in bulk yesterday.  Nestled amongst all the boring stuff like bills, bank statements and the like was a parcel from my pen friend Carol from South Dakota.  It’s always a thrill to get some real mail, isn’t it?  The parcel was a delayed Christmas gift, as Carol waited until she had our new address before sending it on.

DSCF5152 Gifts from Carol

Inside the parcel was one of those handy thread catcher bags, a pretty Christmas inspired quilt block and a sparkly lanyard in  red white and blue, the colours of USA.  These lanyards are the latest thing in USA, I’m told, and the ladies hang their small scissors on them when they go to classes.  Thanks so much, Carol.  We have been pen-friends for quite some years now and still love to write and receive letters.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Home again

Here we are home again after our extended Easter trip.  We spent the long Easter weekend at Kai Iwi Beach, moved on to New Plymouth, across to Taupo, Rangatira, then finished off our holiday at Duddings Lake.  Plenty of sight seeing along the way, and all good fun.  I only managed to do a little stitching while we were travelling around – I’m working on a Red Brolly design Christmas stitchery.  Took my knitting away too, and didn’t get the needles clicking at all.

DSCF5139 Starting on a Christmas stitchery

We had a nice surprise when camping at Duddings Lake - the washing machine was free!  Usually at camps the charge is $3-$4, not that I object to paying to do the washing while we are in camp at all.  So I couldn't help myself, I just had to do a load of washing each day!

Now that daylight saving has finished, there is a definite nip in the air.  For our next caravan trip away in a few weeks time I guess I’ll have to pack some winter woollies, swap my summer three quarter pants for long trousers and change the sandals for sneakers and socks.  The caravan bed has been stripped of summer sheets now we have returned home, remade with winter sheets, and I’ve put my cosy winter quilt on the bed.  That should keep us warm and toasty.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Woman’s Work was hard back then

Modern womankind has things really easy these days.  Throw the clothes in the washing machine, add the soap powder, press an few buttons, and walk away.  And just imagine beating the carpets by hand, cooking on a wood stove, and making your own butter and cheese.  All this while working on the farm, bringing up a large family,  and milking the house cow as well!  What brought on all this conjecture – you may ask?  It was a trip to Taranaki Aviation, Transport and Technology Museum.

There was a huge selection of blokey stuff to look through, but I was particularly interested to see what was on show from the hard working women’s lives of the past.  Guess a wash tub and glass scrubbing board must have been a step up from bashing the washing on rocks in the river.

DSCF5056 What a way to wash the nappies!

DSCF5057This would seem like a dream come true.

There was quite a large selection of Singer sewing machines, carpet sweepers and later early model vacuum cleaners.  I started sewing on the family Singer treadle machine, and remembered how grown up I felt when I progressed to an electric sewing machine.  Like many girls of my time, I whipped up many a full skirted dress to wear over my stiff petticoats to the local Saturday night dance in the Lower Hutt Town Hall.  Then I rock’n’rolled the night away!

DSCF5058 .Sewing machines and spinning wheels

DSCF5062Carpet sweepers

Who can remember those Lamson tubes (Lamson Rapid Wire Carrier System) which whisked money and dockets on wires across department stores?  We were invited to “let the inner child out to play” and have a go.  It took me several goes to pull down hard enough to make it work.  But once I’d got the hang of it, there was no stopping us.  I was at one end, and Robin at the other, and the tube just kept whizzing along the wire!

P4077957 Having fun with the Lamson tube

Our time at New Plymouth is coming to an end, and we are moving on to Taupo tomorrow.  Then we will make our way slowly home, stopping here and there as we fancy.  You can catch up with our travel adventures on our travel blog at www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Hang the Washing in the Milking Shed

That’s what we were invited to do – hang any washing we had on the lines strung across he milking shed.  Not a working milking shed, I hasten to add.  The farm paddocks are now leased out and the shed is redundant, so the cows do not come visiting twice a day any more to be milked.    It was a typical wet Taranaki day yesterday when we visited the local laundry so I was pleased to be able to hang the washing up under cover.

DSCF4946 Washing in the Milking Shed

We are currently away in the caravan, and after spending the long Easter weekend at Kai Iwi Beach, Wanganui, have now moved on to New Plymouth.  The owners of the former milking shed are motor-homers themselves and run a POP – opening up their property for other members of the NZMCA to camp on their grounds for a night or two.   It was certainly a “wow” moment when we arrived and got a glimpse of  their magnificent home.   John and Marilyn’s impressive French decorated home won  the supreme award for House of Year in 2012.  The six of us camping in this POP were invited to join them for Happy Hour on the patio, and then Marilyn kindly gave the ladies of tour of her home.

DSCF4942 We are staying at this wonderful property

Robin and his family moved to New Plymouth when he was 8 years old, so this visit will be a trip down memory lane for him.  We plan to do some exploring, and catch up with his old school buddy.