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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

And this week I’ve……

Another busy week in the pre-Christmas rush. The highlight of the week so far was to celebrate our special get-together with the Sew Wot ladies on Tuesday.  I’ve been out and braved the queues at the busy local post office, standing in a long line to get an overseas parcel to my quilting pen friend Carol weighed and posted – and purchased plenty of stamps while I was there.  If there’s something I really dislike it is queuing at the post office – no matter what time I go, there is always a queue!  But that job’s done now, thank goodness.  Then I sat down and wrote cards and letters to overseas friends – another job off the list.

Cooking up marmalade

Another job done was to make a batch of marmalade – not something which was on my “to do” list, but just sneaked on.  When my friend Shirley picked some grapefruit for me straight off her tree, I couldn’t say no.  Seems a lot of older people cannot eat grapefruit if they take a particular medication, so the fruit is not as popular as it once was.  The fruit was prepared, put through the food processor and left to soak overnight.  Then the next day I cooked it up, ladled the hot mixture into the prepared jars, and just look at all that golden goodness.  Robin can’t eat marmalade either, so it is all mine – this little lot will last me for ages.

Grapefruit marmalade

We’ve been out and purchased a ham for the holidays, just a small one, so it can fit in our caravan fridge.  And cut, chopped and frozen bags of rhubarb growing rampart in our garden so it doesn’t go to waste.  I’ve managed to factor in a trip to the hairdresser for a long overdue hair cut, and we are away for the weekend to attend our Christmas Caravan Club Rally.  No wonder I haven’t had time for any sewing this week!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sew Wots Christmas Lunch

It’s that time of year again when all the Christmas functions start coming thick and fast.  Instead of our usual Tuesday morning stitching day, we met for lunch  at the Emporium Café.  But before we got down to the serious business of eating, a few non Christmas gifts exchanged hands first.  Heather B presented Mary with the gift of a “Bessie Bag”, made to honour the memory of Mary’s Aunt Bessie who passed away recently.  Such a lovely kind thought and we all thought is was so pretty with the hand made doily on the flap.

Bessie Bag made for Mary

As I was unable to attend several Sew Wot mornings in a row due to holidays and appointments,  I received a couple of belated birthday gifts, and took them home to open.   From Mary I received a pair of hand knitted thick wool slippers, they will be handy in the caravan, plus two fat quarters. 


And Helen chose two vibrant fat quarters for me.  They go so nicely together and the floral one looks rather like an Impression painting to me.  Thank you both so much.

Birthday gifts

There was plenty of choices on the menu, from quiche, to pancakes, eggs benedict, and BLTs, all very tasty.  With a cool drink, coffee or tea, we were well satisfied.  I asked the owner if he would mind taking a photo of us all when he had a spare minute, and he kindly obliged.  Here we are, all dressed in our “glad rags”.

Back row: Carol, Heather B and Heather E
Seated:  Me (Jenny), Mary, Helen and Moira

Several months ago we were issued with a Christmas Challenge, to make a pair of “Mug Rugs”.  First I had to go online and find out what size a mug rug was.  Smaller than a place-mat, and bigger than a coaster – the criteria seemed to be that it should be big enough for both a mug and a small side plate for a biscuit or two.  Of course, I found pictures galore online with a huge variety of shapes and styles.  I made mine early as I was worried about running late as we had several trips planned.  We placed our wrapped parcels in the basket and each chose one after lunch.

Basketful of goodies

It was a lucky dip, and we took a parcel as the basket was passed around.  Oh – how exciting as we each unwrapped our parcels.  They were all gorgeous, made in such a variety of styles, designs and colours.  Some had a little extra gift enclosed too, such as a little packet of tea and coffee bags, and a hand made dish cloth, which was very generous.

Such an assortment of mug rugs

I am so thrilled with my set, hand stitched on wool by Moira, featuring two pretty little birds.  Plus a box of  Twinings Cranberry and Pomegranate tea bags.  Sounds very tasty and exotic, especially as the box reads “Close your eyes, imagine yourself on a beautiful island and savour this flavoursome pairing.”  How’s that for a piece of descriptive writing!

From Moira

We were then issued with our next challenge – to make something with a very large rubbery button before February when we start meeting again.  Goodness me – what on earth shall I do with this?

Our next challenge

I have really enjoyed another year of friendship and get-togethers with the Sew Wot ladies.  And someone mentioned at lunch, the group has now been running for eleven years.  Long may it continue.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Saturday Stitching Day

I was really looking forward to attending the stitching day organised by my quilt club – especially as I hadn’t managed to attend since July.  Too much tripping around, I guess.  These stitching days are easy and fun, with  everyone taking their own projects to work on.  Sit and sew at it’s best, with plenty of companionship and chatter added into the mix.  I decided to take my light box and prepare my next stitchery project, a series of New Zealand native trees designed in a roundel shape – now all ready to work on during our next big  caravan trip away.


Variety was certainly the name of the game, and it was so interesting seeing what the other ladies were doing.  Some were doing handwork, and I loved Annette’s red work Santas.  She was also working on her beautiful Patchwork of the Crosses blocks, all hand done too.

Annette’s lovely work

I can’t imagine myself ever stitching the La Passacaglia Quilt, but certainly admire those who do.  Ute brought her quilt top along, almost completed now, except for a few filler blocks needed along the edges.  The La Passacaglia design is beautiful, a riot of colour with all those little pieces hand stitched together.

La Passacaglia stitched by Ute

Two completely different hand projects were the intricate hydrangea petals which Lynne was assembling.  She enjoyed this making this project to much that this is her second one.

Lynne’s Hydrangea blocks

And Dianne was pinning folded petals onto balls to make a series of Christmas baubles.  I remember doing that many moons ago.

Dianne’s Christmas balls

The machine stitchers were busy too.  Margaret is taking a class on heritage style blocks, all aimed at getting the most out of the sewing machine and using those fancy stitches we all seem to ignore.  Her crazy patch block in soft greens with a touch of navy is lovely indeed.  And Kath’s Peekaboo Owl block is one of a series to eventually become a cushions for her grandchildren.  Madalyn’s Daily Dot blocks are coming along.  With 365 to stitch, this is a long term project.

Crazy patch block and Peekaboo owl

Daily Dot blocks

And for something completely different, Cheryl had a production line gong on sun hats.  She is a real expert on these and has made over 300 hats now.  Here she is modelling a very fetching navy blue hat.

Sun hat made and modelled by Cheryl

While we were all beavering away inside the hall, there was plenty going on outside too.  Just across the road is RJ’s Licorice factory, one of the many local producers taking part in Horowhenua Taste Trail where customers can get free tastings and purchase local food.  I saw people leaving RJs with big bags and even cartons of licorice!  Also on offer was fresh veggies, asparagus, pesto, free range poultry and pork products, wine and even eels – all local farms and factories. 


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Pieced Backing and Parsley Butter

I can see that there won’t be much stitching done this side of Christmas.  But I did give the dice a rattle and roll today to see what number came up.  It’s number 4, my Soul Searching quilt, and decided to make a start on the pieced backing.  It may not get finished this week, as there is one appointment and/or outing after another this week, including the weekend.  But that’s the way it is, in the pre-Christmas rush.


I started by using the three remaining pastel coloured blocks I had made in pink, pale blue, and lavender.  Pin, pin, pin, and away I went.  This piece will need extra cream fabric added to each side, then I’ll have another think about how to proceed from here.


Beginning of the pieced backing

Parsley butter was next on the agenda.  With my parsley plant starting to seed, I picked as much as I could, chopped it up, and mixed it through softened butter.  Then rolled it into a log (more or less, I’m not a fussy cook) to set, then cut it into portions.  These are now wrapped up individually, placed in a plastic container and put in the freezer.  I can use the parsley butter on vegetables, or when I make a cheese sauce.

Parsley butter

As for our busy week, we had a day out with friends yesterday enjoyed a nice lunch together.  The Clareville Bakery had won an award for “The Best Regional Rural Café of the Year 2017”.  There is always plenty to talk about when we meet up with this group, and as expected, the food was great.

Lunch with friends on Tuesday

With a visit to the doctor on Monday, plus a visit to the surgeon on Wednesday, there was a bit of medical stuff going on this week.  I’m pleased to say that after an x-ray on my sore knee I was told there was no arthritis detected, so obviously it’s something minor and I’m hoping it will fix itself.  And the surgeon is pleased with how things are progressing after my breast cancer lumpectomy last year.  But, he said, remain vigilant, keep taking the pills, and I’ll need annual mammograms for the next few years.  No trouble, I can do that.

So what else?  Out to dinner with friends tonight, a luncheon tomorrow, a sewing day with the quilt club on Saturday, yippee, and out to visit the family on Sunday.  Whew – that's a busy week.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Stitching in the Country

With our caravan hitched up behind us, we traveled away for a weekend in the country.  And I was pleased to find a little stitching time too.  I was sheltered from the hot Wairarapa sunshine, nice and shaded under our awning.  I didn’t do a great deal of stitching, but every little bit helps, doesn’t it?


We had a lovely weekend away with our caravan club friends, camped by a pretty little duck pond.  The pond residents got up to all sorts of ducky antics to keep us amused, quacking loudly when annoyed by their neighbours, then swimming serenely in the pond.

The resident ducks

There were horse events going on at the adjacent grounds – before they compete, they walk the horses around the course to get warmed up and orientate themselves.  We had the use of a meeting room overlooking these grounds, so had a good view from one floor up.

Checking the course

On Saturday we went out to a cafe for afternoon tea, and the owner also had a gorgeous Christmas Shop, chock full of all sorts of beautiful items.  I love Christmas, and although I was tempted by several lovely things, walked away empty handed.  Sometimes there is just too much choice, and I can’t decide!

A corner of the Christmas shop

As the weekend progressed, the weather changed and by the time we packed up and started the journey home, up and over the hills, it looked like this.

Misty rain on our journey home.

It was a lovely weekend away, and after our two hour journey, we arrived home to sunshine again.  The caravan was unpacked, a load of washing put on, and we can finally relax with our feet up, before we have to ponder the big question – what's for dinner tonight?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Little more Hand Stitching

A little bit of time here and there all adds up, and I’ve been working away on my second native bird stitchery while on our caravan holiday.  This one is a tui, a nectar feeder who loves to sip on the yellow kowhai blossoms in Spring.  Although not finished yet, the stitchery is coming along nicely.

Working on my tui stitchery

We arrived home safely from our two weeks away  - and I’ll share a few more holiday snaps with you.  We came home along a different route for a change, and driving down a steep hill, we caught our first glimpse of  Lake Taupo.  Although it looks lovely and peaceful now, Lake Taupo was actually formed by a huge volcanic eruption – read all about it here.

Lake Taupo

I love mountains, and managed to snap a picture of Mount Ngauruhoe as we drove along the Desert Road.  The beautiful cone shape tells of it’s volcanic beginnings.

Mount Ngauruhoe

Our last night away in the caravan was spent on a farm – and I got to see some pretty little (motherless)  pet lambs.  So cute – but very demanding, and they came in bleating loudly to see if their next meal was ready.  One of the little lambs decided to check out one of the farm dog’s kennels, and looked so sweet with it’s little head poking out.

Pet lambs on the farm

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Donna’s Quilt Studio and visit to Rose Garden

It’s always fun to find a “new to me” quilt shop while on our travels.  Unknown to me, Donna’s Quilt Studio is just around the corner from our favorite Jukebox Diner where we had a Big Breakfast after dropping our caravan off for the day to get serviced.  We had the day to fill in, so once I found out there was a quilt shop so close, I wasted no time at all getting there. 

Donna’s Quilt Studio

Donna Ward was the Best in Show winner at symposium with her quilt 'Fly' and owns Donna's Quilt Studio in Hamilton with her daughter Ashleigh.

I asked permission and Donna was quite happy for me to take some photos of her shop, containing all sorts of lovely things.  There was plenty to look at and admire, and I especially loved the great range of batiks on display.



There was a happy group of ladies who had come for a Sit and Sew day in the roomy classroom, so I popped my head in there to take a photo.


After I had looked at this and that, checked out fabrics and patterns, I made a few small purchases and went on my way, a happy quilter indeed.  Many thanks to Donna and her daughter for being so welcoming to an “out-of-towner” and granting permission for a few photos.

Next on the to-do list was to have look through the Hamilton Rose Garden.  We entered past the very colourful children’s play area – it was very hot and Robin took a breather on top of a very large caterpillar indeed.

Robin seated on a very large green caterpillar

The rose gardens were very extensive and we noticed a bevy of gardeners busy raking up any petals which had fallen overnight.


Dr Sam McGredy was New Zealand's most successful rose breeder.  The McGredy family of Ireland were internationally renown rose breeders for a century before Sam McGredy IV moved his business to New Zealand.  A special bed of roses is planted with some of the most influential roses of his career.

Dr Sam McGredy’s roses

We then took a wander along one of the many paths and ended up down by the river – so pretty, and nice and cool out of the hot sun.

Down by the river

The large extensive Hamilton Gardens are very pretty indeed and I’m sure we haven’t seen it all yet.  Perhaps we will have another visit next time we are up this way.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Kereru, Poppies, and Holiday News

It’s a busy life while on holiday in the caravan, driving here and there, staying at interesting places.  I found a little time to sit and stitch for a while.  Some stitching over several days and I’m happy to say that I have completed my kereru – one of two native birds I’m doing to hang in the caravan.  The kereru is a large native pigeon, with feathers in shades of green, and a snowy white breast, and gorge themselves on fruiting trees.    Please excuse the unpressed condition of the stitchery – I don’t have an iron in the caravan.

Kereru – native wood pigeon

Crochet in a Airfield Museum?  Why not.  I came across this lovely crocheted giant poppy displayed at the New Zealand Warbirds Museum in Ardmore, Auckland.  (Once more, apologies for the photo, as overhead lights were reflected on the glass).  400 crocheted poppies were made by a group of local ladies to commemorate the 2015 Centenary of the Gallipoli Landings in 1915.  This battle was a disaster for our troops and among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders, about a sixth of all those who had landed on the peninsula.  The red poppy has become a symbol of war remembrance the world over, and in New Zealand it is most commonly seen around Anzac Day, 25 April.

Poppies to remember the fallen

And now for a little news from our holiday.  As already mentioned, we visited the New Zealand Warbirds Museum, dedicated to the restoration of service aircraft.  All kinds of interesting planes were on display.

On view at the NZ Warbirds Museum

We spent the weekend at a caravan rally enjoying good company, a delicious Pot Luck meal, and we all gathered around the raging bon-fire on Saturday evening to celebrate Guy Fawkes night.  It was our wedding anniversary too, this year it is number 34!

Fine dining indeed at the pot luck meal

And while we were there we visited the historic local pub.  At 153 years old, The Riverhead is thought to be New Zealand’s oldest riverside tavern and holds New Zealand’s second oldest liquor license.  Nestled on the shores of the upper Waitemata, The Riverhead is steeped in local history and played a part in the development of early New Zealand, with thousands using the wharf and hotel as the gateway to lands in the north prior to the completion of roads and railway.  

The Riverhead, historic pub

We walked through to  “The Landing” bar and restaurant and settled down to enjoy a drink looking out over the muddy Waitemata.  Later a walk through the doors took us down onto a large deck surrounded by 100 year oak trees.  It was such a lovely peaceful setting.

Looking down from the deck

We are heading home this week but there is sure to be another adventure or too, and interesting sights to see.  And hopefully a little more stitching will be achieved too.