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

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.

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.

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.

Applique and pieced quilt by Griet

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

It was a bit like “Oh, I’d forgotten about that”, when I looked through the crates containing my Christmas things.  We didn’t decorate at all last year as we were away in our caravan traveling through the South Island  from mid December till March.  It was like greeting old friends as I dug through the crates, unwrapping this and that.  I have been very lucky over the years and have received some lovely gifts from my pen friend Carol, from South Dakota.  I love my little Santa sitting at his sewing machine, and she also sent me four gorgeous Jim Shore snowmen figurines.  Other gifts over the years were the cute little Christmas mice, sent individually till I had the set.



All beautiful Christmas gifts

It’s time to ring the changes at this time of year, take the wall hangings down and replace them with festive ones.  These two are quite special – the Robin Redbreasts and trees was sent out to me from England by pen friend Rose, and my daughter Nicky stitched my the crazy patch Christmas tree.  This is the only patchwork item Nicky has made, I believe.  I made the Christmas quilt on the back of the sofa, using fabric collected over the years from pen friends.

Christmas on the walls and on the sofa

This is what our kitten Gemma thinks of wall hangings, Christmas or otherwise.  She often jumps up and takes a swipe, if we don’t see her do it, we can’t tell her off, she thinks.  This one is a Christmas Tree I made from selvedges.

Naughty Gemma did this

I wonder if any of you made a stuffed pinecone like I did quite some years ago? I remember stuffing those little balls made from Christmas fabric and gluing them into the pinecone.  Probably done more years ago than I care to remember,  the fabric is getting faded, but I think it’s rather nice and homely. It’s probably one of the earliest classes I took from the local quilt shop.


The next job to do will be to hang a few lights outside, we started yesterday but it didn’t go well as it was so windy out there.  Once that nasty wind drops we will try again, it’s meant to be our summer here after all.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Decorating the Caravan

We enjoyed our last caravan club rally of the year over the weekend, our Christmas Rally at the delightful rural property of fellow club members, Don and Sandra.  So of course, out came my caravan Christmas decorations.  (Nothing new here so long term readers will have seen it all before).  It doesn’t take too long to add a few things here and there around the caravan to make it look festive.  Here’s Gemma sitting in her favourite spot with Santa Bear and a Christmas cushion keeping her company.

Gemma doesn’t seem too impressed with Christmas in the caravan

I don’t usually do “quirky” but I’m rather fond of my pair of reindeer stockings which hang off the reading lamps either side of the bed.  I made the original stocking in a class, and thought it was cute I had to make another.

Cute little reindeer stockings

And I swapped the two New Zealand bird stitcheries which hang on the wall at the foot of the bed with these two Christmas stitcheries.

Christmas stitcheries

You can’t have Christmas without Santa and he appeared in various guises on several more stitched items.
Hanging just inside the door

Christmas cushions

Our caravans were parked up on our hosts front lawn, surrounded by flower gardens.  The scent of beautiful roses filled the air as we walked by.  These are just a few of the roses planted on this property.

Just one of the rose beds

The caravan rally was fun, and the “piece de la resistance” was the spit roast dinner on Saturday evening.  Yes, it tasted as great as it looked, and the smell of the meat slowly cooking was divine.

Delicious spit roast

We certainly enjoyed our Christmas Rally – the weather sunny and the venue was fairly close to home so that cut down on driving along with all the busy pre-Christmas traffic.  But out in the country it seems that you are in another world. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Sew Wot Apron Exchange

Our last Sew Wot meeting of the year incorporated a lovely lunch out at a local cafĂ©, and a gift exchange.  Each year Mary comes up with an idea for a hand made gift, two previous ones that I remember were mug rugs and a toilet bag.  This year it was to make a full length apron with a pocket, and include a favourite recipe in the pocket.  All the wrapped parcels were placed in a big bag, while we enjoyed our lunch together.

Wrapped parcels

We all chose a parcel and had fun unwrapping the paper to see our aprons - and what a lovely assortment of colours and fabrics there were.  One of the other diners from an adjacent table kindly took a photo for us.

Sew Wot ladies – Helen, Heather, me - Jenny, Mary, Carol and Moira

I had stitched a pink chintz apron with ruffles and a matching hot pad which went to Carol.  And Mary had made my apron, black fabric covered in colourful fruits, also with a matching hot pad.

Pink apron gifted and black apron received

We all received an extra gift from Mary, she had made us each a hot pad in the shape of a pear, all with different fabrics.  Mine is so pretty, covered in grapes, flowers and fruit.

From Mary

I received some extra parcels too, wasn’t I a lucky girl!  Because I hadn’t caught up with the Sew Wot ladies for a while with traveling around and was away for my birthday, there were extra gifts waiting for me.  Two lots of caravan/camping fabric, a couple of metres of pale blue neutral which will be great for background or backing, and a blue fabric shopping bag as all those plastic supermarket bags are being withdrawn.  And in the yellow packet was something quite new to me – a clear vinyl cover to slip over your sewing machine to keep the dust out.  That will be handy, my machine never gets put away and is always in the sewing cabinet ready to use at a moment's notice.

Birthday goodies, thanks so much girls

We will all get to try the recipes we received too.  I’ll share the one I put in Carol's pocket, as it is something I make at Christmas.  If you have a sweet tooth and like almond icing, you will love these.  I know I do!


1 packet Red Glace Cherries
Almond Icing (Marzipan)
Melted Chocolate

Drain the cherries. Cut off a knob of almond icing and roll around each cherry, covering it all.

Place in fridge to set and dry while melting chocolate.

Prepare chocolate melts. Dip each almond covered cherry in warm chocolate using a spiral dipping spoon if you have one, and place on tray lined with baking paper to set in fridge.

Perfect for Christmas for those with a sweet tooth.  Enjoy with coffee.

Monday, November 26, 2018

A Little More Slow Stitching

Saturday was the last Stitching Day of the year organized by my quilt club, Town and Country Quilters.  It is always  a nice relaxed day of stitching where we go along and do our own thing – and I like to attend if we are not off and away in our caravan for the weekend.  Call me lazy, but I can’t usually be bothered unhooking my sewing machine from the cabinet, and carting the heavy thing along with me.  So I generally take along some hand stitching to work on.

I took three projects along but only worked on two.  My first aim was to start my next New Zealand Botanical block, this one showcasing the Chatham Island Forget-me-not.


Then after lunch I started working on a new Christmas project.  Not for this year, I hasten to add, but it’s something I’ve had on my to-do list for a while.  By the time I’d packed up ready to come back home, I’d stitched some reindeer bodies.  Still need to do the finishing touches, but I’m quite pleased with what I achieved.


We are starting to get into the Christmas spirit, and yesterday I baked my Christmas Cake, after the fruit had been soaking for several days.  It’s a large mixture, and I didn’t have a mixing bowl big enough.  No problem, it was all mixed together in my large soup pot.  The cake smelt so nice while it was baking, and once out of the oven, I sprinkled it with brandy.  It’s now all wrapped up and safely tucked away, and I’ll add some icing a little closer to the big day.

Friday, November 23, 2018

I’m all Yo-yo’d Out

The dice rolled number 6 this week, which is my “Yo Yo – just do it”  project.  It’s been a while since I looked in this bag.  With a couple of spare afternoons this week, I decided to “just do it” and hopefully finish with these yo-yos once and for all. 

A bag full of yo-yos

I’ve spent several sunny afternoons sitting outside under our shady arch-gola.  Gemma has loved being outside with me – there are bugs to check out in the lawn, nice warm concrete to roll on, but she had better be careful of those bees buzzing around the lavender bush.  I keep her on her harness and lead while she is outside – she is so active she would be up and over the fence in no time at all. 

Checking out new surroundings

Inside my bag were all these different sized yo-yos I had stitched which were to become a snowman.


It took me a couple of afternoons to put the snowman together, much longer than I thought.  And here it is, together with the reindeer I finished earlier in the year.  The patterns used were Yuletide Yo-Yos from Indigo Junction.


And then there were these brown ones, which were to become a gingerbread man.  I found this pattern in a Christmas magazine.


Overall, it took me hours and hours to stitch the hands and feet on, and to thread all the yo-yos together, and I have to say that I didn’t enjoy it one little bit.  And worse than that, I didn’t like what I ended up with.  Sadly, I feel rather like a young Mum who cannot bond with her new baby, and wants nothing to do with it.  That’s how I feel about these three of the yo-yo people I have created – take them away!

Waiting to be adopted

It’s obvious that yo-yos are just not my thing, and I declare that I will never stitch another one!  I’m glad I persevered through to the bitter end, as these could have ended up in the bin months ago.  The best thing to do, I've decided, is to  donate them to one of the local Op Shops and hopefully someone else will love them more than I do.  If anyone would like the pattern, I’ll be happy to post it to you.  Just ask for the pattern in a comment, and give me a nice pat on the back to get me over my feeling of inadequacy!

On a happier note, I’ve started on my Christmas Cake.  Maybe a little late for the purists who seem to  make them months in advance of Christmas.  I’m using a recipe by well known Kiwi cook Alison Holst, known as Saint Holst in our household.  The fruit and a tin of crushed pineapple are  soaking together for a day or two, before mixing all the other goodies together.  Have to admit that I came rather late to baking my own Christmas Cake, making my first one only a couple of years ago.  And there’s no doubt about it, home made tastes so much nicer than a bought one!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Another Stitchery Block completed

I’ve just completed my pohutukawa stitchery block, number six of the nine New Zealand botanical blocks I’m making.  These designs by Jenny Hunter were published in New Zealand Quilter magazine as applique blocks, and I enlarged them a little, and traced them to work as stitcheries.


With it’s glossy green leaves and crimson spiky stamens topped with yellow, these coastal trees really make a statement when they are in flower over Christmas.  Known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree, they are an iconic part of a Kiwi summer.


The pohutukawa grows up to 25 metres (82 ft) high, with a spreading, dome-like form. It usually grows as a multi-trunked spreading tree.  The tree flowers from November to January with a peak in mid to late December (the Southern Hemisphere summer), with brilliant crimson flowers covering the tree, hence the nickname New Zealand Christmas tree.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Mid Week Trip, Taumarunui and Back

We’ve been away on a trip for a few days, and what an exciting time we had.  Our Probus Club had arranged an all exclusive  trip to Taumarunui and back with Forgotten World Adventures, and we certainly weren’t going to be left behind.  We were collected from our home town, traveled far and wide, all meals, accommodation, activities  and travel included, then were safely returned home.

All ready for an exciting trip

Although I'm not too keen traveling along the Desert Road, I do love to see the mountains.  We had a great view of the classic cone shaped Mt  Ngauruhoe, which has  been active for at least 2500 years.

Mt Ngauruhoe

Our lunch stop was at the Lakeland Restaurant, on the edge of Lake Taupo.  A lovely place and a marvelous view over the lake, and the meals were fabulous.  I enjoyed my fish with prawns, and Robin had a tasty steak.

Our lunch was so nice

Well fed and watered, it was back in the bus again for our final part of the trip for the day, arriving at the Forgotten World Motel in Taumarunui, our accommodation for the next two nights.  Our room was nice and cozy, I always enjoy a few nights in a motel or hotel as a change from caravan trips.

P1230736 P1230733
Our motel at Taumarunui

It was an early start the next morning, when we all met for breakfast in the dining room at 6.30am.  Into the bus we went, to get taken to the start of our day’s adventure, where we were allocated our self drive rail carts.  We were to travel 82kms along a rail line, through 20 tunnels, stopping at long abandoned towns which once were alive and thriving. 


Off we go

The weather was perfect, hot and sunny, and with a guide front and back, we traveled through our first tunnel, the longest on the trip at 1.525km.  Half way through we came to a halt, and the guide told about the history of the tunnel.  Then we were asked to switch the carts off and we sat in pitch blackness, marveling that all these tunnels were dug by hand so long ago.


Some of the tunnels were quite short, so we could see right through them, while others were longer and curved. 


We went over a multitude of small bridges and under road bridges

Stopping for morning tea and lunch at the remains of thriving townships from earlier years.  There was an unexpected stop was further down the line where there had been a recent rockfall.  Our guides made sure that the rail lines were clear before we continued on.


Our final stop was the historic pub at Whangamomona where we had time for refreshments before being taken by bus back to Taumarunui along the Forgotten World Highway.


This was the most difficult and expensive rail line in New Zealand’s history.  The full length of 142km travels over 98 bridges, and through 24 tunnels, using 9000 tons of rail and 260,000 sleepers.  It was started in March 1901 and finally completed in November 1932.

The following day was just as exciting when, following another hearty breakfast,  we went on a jet boat trip on the Wanganui River.


What a wonderful experience this was – we had already had a jet boat ride previously, but for some of the other passengers it was their first time.  Our guide was so knowledgeable about the local history and we had a great ride, including several “Hamilton Turns” where the boat is turned sharply around before coming to a stop.  The scenery was spectacular and the abundant birdlife showed that the river was in good health.



The group enjoyed morning tea at the local Lavender Farm, and we started the long trip home.  What a great three days we had on our Forgotten World Adventure.