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

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will be great for background or backing, and a blue fabric shopping bag as all those plastic supermarket bags are being withdrawn.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.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Our Aussie Adventures

The binding is now stitched down and I’ve added the label, so it’s finally finished, a quilt recording our Aussie Adventures.  Made with fabrics showing Australian flora and fauna,  these blocks, together with my Pigma pen,  came with me on our rail trips over three years.   We boarded the Ghan rail trip from Adelaide to Darwin in 2016, and returned in 2017 to ride the rails on two vintage rail car trips out from Cairns.  Then earlier this year, 2018, we returned to Australia to do the other great Aussie train ride, the Indian Pacific, which runs from Perth to Sydney.  Sadly, after several hours on board this train and enjoying lunch in the dining room, our first meal of the trip, it was announced that due to a derailment further up the line, the track had been torn up and our trip could not go ahead. As well as our rail trips we explored far and wide, into the outback, towns and cities, rivers and beaches and the mighty Uluru (Ayers Rock).  There was so much to see in this mighty continent, but with the time available, we only scratched the surface.


The pattern I used was “Dainty Confections” from the book Triangle-Free Quilts, by Judy Hopkins, adding extra sashing strips between the blocks.  And the cute machine embroidered koala stitched by my Aussie pen friend Janet became the label.


There was still quite a bit of Aussie fabric left over, so I pieced it together to make the backing.

The back of the quilt

So here it is, hanging above the sofa, my Aussie Adventure quilt.  Just like a fabric diary, it records all the exciting things we did on our trips.  The plan is to rebook on the Indian Pacific trip next year, so here’s hoping it goes off without a hitch.


Memory quilt

Friday, November 9, 2018

The last few days

What’s been happening the last few days?  All sorts, really.  Starting off with taking the hems up on two pairs of jeans for Robin.  This was a rather long drawn out job, I must confess.  The jeans were purchased some time ago, and I washed them.  A few weeks later he tried them on and I pinned up the legs to the correct length, then they sat and waited some more.  Finally I got around to stitching the hems, quite a quick job really once I got on to it.  All done – although I draw the line at taking up “proper” trousers, they get altered professionally!

There are a couple of local farms specializing in growing asparagus and we popped in to get some.  The packing house was in full swing, and lots of the asparagus gets exported.  But there is plenty left for the local market and consumers and we love it, so tender and fresh.  There is nothing better than cooked asparagus served with melting butter and plenty of pepper, or smothered in a rich cheese sauce.

At the asparagus farm

Our local group of “Pink Ladies” (Breast Cancer Support Group) was invited with other ladies groups to an Afternoon Tea.  It was a very nice afternoon out, there was sing-along music and a wonderful spread.  And very exciting, my number was called out for one of the raffle prizes.  I could choose what to take, and liked the look of the small gift baskets filled with goodies.  In fact. our table was extremely lucky, and took home 5 prizes!

Raffle Prize

Last weekend at the caravan club rally one of our members came along with boxes of spare grapefruit and lemons from their trees, and I gladly took some home.  Yesterday I made some Lemon Honey in the microwave.  The recipe only makes a small quantity, and it has to be kept refrigerated.  It’s so nice and tasty, and I’ve plenty of lemons remaining to make some more later on.  Or maybe  Lemon Meringue Pie, wouldn't that be nice?

Two jars of Lemon Honey

And there was excitement today when I received a parcel in the mail.  This was a birthday parcel from my quilting pen-friend Carol who lives in South Dakota.  As well as a gift and a pretty card, she always sends snippets from the local newspaper, and how-to patterns she collects from her quilt guild.

Quilting pin, glasses case and pussy cat fabric

So that’s been my week so far.  There’s always plenty to keep me busy, I find.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Big and Little

Just finished stitching the binding down on a quilt for my friend’s grand-daughter  who loves pigs.  As it happened, I had a collection of piggy prints collected over the years (and just sitting in my sewing room) so I was happy to use them up, knowing the pigs would be going to a good home.  Using a simple block, I paired piggy prints with others from my stash and this is the result – a happy combination of pink, blue and various shades of purple.
Big piggy quilt

This large King Single and much too big for me to quilt at home, so was commercially quilted by Paula of Rabbits Patch Quilting in an all over swirly design.

Happy little piggy faces

I had a couple of extra piggy blocks left over plus small strips of this and that which I had used in the big quilt.  I’m so pleased that I managed to get nine blocks made, just right for a cute little baby quilt.  After using up my piggy prints I made one with pretty butterflies and the lucky last block used up a small piece of a candy print I had.  Sashed with a pale lilac print, and I used a purple print for the border - it all seems to go together nicely. 

.Little piggy quilt

This little quilt was backed with cozy pink flannel, quilted by me with wavy lines, and I used up lots of small pieces to make a scrappy binding.  Not sure if I’ll keep this one in case I need a baby girl quilt, or maybe donate it to a good cause.  Either way, I'm enjoying those happy piggy faces for a while.