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

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!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Getting Ready for Christmas

Christmas is coming up fast!  I’ve done all the food shopping, thank goodness, as I really don’t want to have to go out to the shops on Monday.  This morning I spent a little time in the kitchen making some Christmas goodies. 

I’ve never done this recipe before for festive ice-cream, but it certainly is easy enough to do.  Made from whipped cream, a can of condensed milk,  several chopped  Crunchie bars and a generous dollop or two of Kahlua, a coffee-flavored liqueur from Mexico. it was quick to make.  (The recipe called for whisky but I didn’t fancy that). The mixture is residing in the freezer till Christmas Day.  I’ll be sure to let you know what it tastes like – if successful I imagine it will be rather like that Kiwi classic, Hokey Pokey Ice-cream. 

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First chop the Chrunchie Bars

Then I made some Chocolate Truffles, another very easy recipe which I could make several days in advance, and they keep well in the fridge, as long as no one starts nibbling them.  These also have a couple of of slugs of Kahlua.  I’ll have to leave some of the Christmas food prep till Monday, so it is good to get a couple of things done early. 

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Chocolate Truffles

There’s just the smallest bit of hand stitching being done, in between the busy shopping and cooking.  This is where I’m up to on this small project.

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Working on my Time for Tea stitchery

Recently I read a quilting blog which showed their  Christmas wreath on the door.  My old wreath which I had made in a class many years ago finally broke and had to be replaced, so this is my new one.  Not actually on the door, but hanging above the window.  There’s a saying down this way that it is “Windy enough to blow the dog off the chain”.  We don’t have a dog, chained or otherwise, but the wind was strong enough to blow my wreath off the hook the other week!

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And I have a second, smaller wreath, which is quite special, as it was made for me by my daughter quite some years ago.  This one hangs outside too, beside the door.

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Two Christmas Wreaths

How are your Christmas Day plans coming?  I’m sure everything will fall into place on the day.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

All Lit Up

The annual Avenue of Trees is a community project where schools, businesses, clubs and groups decorate a Christmas Tree.  These are on display at the Salvation Army Hall and I went along to check them out.  The cost of entry was a donation for the Food Bank, and I was given a voting slip for People’s Choice.  The hall looked amazing, and I was keen to see the tree decorated by a member of my quilt group, Town and Country Quilters.  And there it was,  “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” looking gorgeous, and decorated in a heavenly host of angels.

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Entry from my quilt guild, Town and Country Quilters

The themes were quite varied and they were all a delight to see.  “Dutch” was festooned with little clogs and blue and white Delft style ornaments.  Levin Arts and Crafts chose the theme of New Zealand Summer Christmas  and was full of decorated jandals , shells and starfish, and the Lindt tree was a chocolate lover’s heaven.

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Trees decorated by Levin Dutch Coffee Morning, Levin Arts and Crafts, and Lindt NZ

Another tree with a difference was the “Christmas Cookie Tree” decorated by the Horowhenua District Council.  All the cookies were baked and decorated by staff in their own time, we were told, not during work hours.  As I left the hall I was presented with a cookie to take home, and when I asked nicely,  they kindly gave me another for hubby as well.

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Council Cookie Tree

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To enjoy at home

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The Salvation Army Band was playing Christmas Carols outside, always nice to stop a while and listen.

Each year our local community newspaper prints a list of homes decorated for Christmas.  One “not to miss” we were told, was down at the sleepy little village of Waikawa Beach. On arrival, the first thing we saw was this huge “tree” glowing in the dark.  We watched as the helicopter went on it’s way, Santa climbed a ladder, a skier on the slopes, elves loading Santa’s sleigh, and a little alien popped out of a spaceship.  There were things happening everywhere!

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Fancy lights at this home

All these fancy lights make our few strings hung outside around the patio look rather paltry indeed.  But never mind, we didn’t set out to impress anyone, just add a little twinkle to the evening.  One thing I do rather like is my snowy village scene which gets put out each year and twinkles and sparkles.  Why do I like it – especially as I live here in New Zealand where Christmas is celebrated in Summer?  Must be the English and Scots blood in my veins from generations ago.  Like most Kiwis, I would love to experience a White Christmas one year.

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My snowy village scene

Monday, December 17, 2018

It’s Hard to Settle

It’s hard to settle at this time of year, with so much going on during the pre-Christmas rush and all the end of year social activities which come at this time of year.  I’ve been busy writing letters to pop into the overseas Christmas Cards, so that’s a job well done.  The Christmas Cake is made and maturing nicely – what else do I need to do in the way of kitchen duties?  Decide on the Christmas Day dessert, I’m leaning towards making a Chocolate Cheesecake, and there will be a Christmas Pudding, too, of course.   It doesn’t matter how hot the day will be down in our part of the world, it just  wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas Pud.  And I still have my chocolate cherry balls to make.

There’s been no “rolling the dice” as I wasn’t sure that I will get much sewing done with so much  happening on the social calendar over these last few weeks.  But I’ve been trying to do my minimum “15 minutes a day”, some hand stitching under the shady archgola, and I had a little mending to do.  Plus I’ve been busy cutting fabrics to prepare for another “leader and ender” project when I get to sit at the sewing machine.

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Cutting and marking for HSTs

Alphabet Noel is now hanging over the sofa, just a little longer than I imagined, as it turned out, but I’m sure that doesn’t matter too much.

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Alphabet Noel

I’m sharing several more of my hand made Christmas items I made in various classes over the years.  First is a Santa, just hanging about – I think he was a kit.  I quite enjoyed making the stitchery on my fabric Christmas Tree.  The class called for the tree to be strip pieced, but I thought my green fabric printed with gold branches worked well instead.  And lastly, a pedestal Santa.  He stands on a weighted base instead of having legs.

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Hand made from Christmas past

We can’t complain about the weather, it is still wonderfully warm, so we hope the good weather lasts for Christmas Day.  So warm that Gemma seems to snooze the day away.  She is fast asleep and just about to fall off the chair!

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Sleepy time for Gemma

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Meeting up with Family

Daughter Nicky had arranged a pre-Christmas get-together at the Strong Room CafĂ© in Feilding, and we were looking looking forward to catching up with them.  Nicky has been dealing with a health challenge lately, and we wanted to see how she was getting on.   There were groans when I got my camera up, but as I told them, that’s what  nana’s do, take photos when we are together.  Or, in this case, ask the obliging waitress to do it for me.  Grand-daughter Emma was away in Wellington, so there were only five of us for lunch.

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GD Megan, SIL Robert, Robin, daughter Nicky, and me

The casual lunch menu was very nice, with corned beef sandwich, a couple of  Big Breakfasts and a Beef Burger being ordered.  I decided on the salmon dish, with arrived with smoked salmon and  salad, and salmon pate – it was delicious.

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My light salmon lunch

On the drive up we had called into the Tender Tips Asparagus Farm to buy some for us and some for Nicky, as I know she loves it – this was gratefully received.  We had also taken the Christmas parcels up, swapped them over and came home with these.  Of course, we won’t open them till Christmas Day.

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Christmas gifts

It was lovely to catch up with the family, and we are pleased that Nicky seems to be progressing well with her treatment.  The roads weren’t too busy with pre-Christmas traffic, which was a blessing.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Town and Country Quilters December Club Night

It was the final club night of the year, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering where the year had gone.  There was a lot happening, and we were invited to come along early, if we could, so that we could view and vote on the table runner Challenge for Viewers Choice.  This was a challenge with a difference, participants had to use the colours on the paint swatch card provided, and could add one other colour.   There was no size requirements for the challenge, so the table runners came in various shapes and sizes.

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Lots of variety here

The challenge had been previously judged and the winners and runner up of the Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Professional groups were announced.   Club member Avon won both Viewers Choice and Judges Award with her glittering beaded lady in a ball gown in shades of grey.

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Viewers Choice and Judges Award

Anna Williams was our guest speaker, and she spoke about taking her first small group of quilters to the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham, and by all accounts they had a marvelous time.  We saw slides from the show, and other places of interest they visited on tour, such as the American Museum, at the Roman Baths at Bath.

Show and Tell is always a highlight of the meetings, and I took along two of my recent finishes, Soul Searching and   Alphabet Noel.  Some other lovely quilts had been brought along too.

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Applique and pieced quilt by Griet

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Tiny Pineapple Log Cabin by Avon

Supper was certainly rather special, with strawberries and ice-cream being eaten with gusto, not by me though, I’m not a fan of ice-cream.  But there were asparagus rolls and Christmas cake on offer, which went nicely with my cuppa.  The raffles were drawn, 10 prizes this time, because it was our Christmas meeting.  Wonder of wonders, one of my numbers were called out, my first win in a couple of years I reckon.  I didn’t open my parcel till I had returned home, and discovered a Gutermann gift pack of pins and threads, plus a half yard of Christmas fabric.

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My raffle prize

Each Christmas our members are asked to bring along a donation for the Food Bank, for those less fortunate.  Every little bit helps, especially at this time of year. 

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Donations for the Food Bank

The meeting concluded with wishes for a safe and happy Christmas to all – it was a lovely night indeed.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Another Quilt on the Clothesline

We can’t complain about the weather, summer had well and truly arrived after several days of horrible cold wind.  I’m enjoying sitting outside on the patio, under our shady Archgola, and Gemma likes to keep me company.  She has a fine time stalking little bugs and moths hiding in the lawn, or just lying around on the warm concrete path.  Then there are the birds chirping away in the high trees, tormenting her as they are not within reaching distance.

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Gemma is in stealth mode

It’s such a beautiful warm day today with a slight breeze that I decided to wash the quilt I use in the caravan over winter.  Romany Stars was completed in 2004 and I had it commercially quilted.

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Freshly laundered Romany Stars

The heavier winter quilt has now been replaced with Hearts in Bloom.  I have to say that I’m rather pleased with this quilt.  I worked away on the heart stitchery blocks as we traveled far and wide in the caravan over a couple of years.  I put together the stitchery blocks combined with nine patches, and added applique and checkerboard borders till it was sufficient size to fit the bed.  Hearts in Bloom was completed in 2017 and commercially quilted by Linda, the Razzle Dazzle Quilter of Taupo.

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Hearts in Bloom on the caravan bed

It seems to be getting hotter as the day goes on, (sorry to boast to those of you in wintery climes), so much so that I’ve changed out of my summer skirt and put some shorts on.  Rest assured, there is no way I would go out in public wearing shorts, but tucked away safely behind our high fence, I’m happy to spend time under the shady Archgola (sun shade) and make the most of the lovely weather.  With a cool drink, some stitching or maybe my book, I’m a happy little quilter indeed.