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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Weekend Camping at Kai Iwi Beach

Our four days spent at Kai Iwi Beach Holiday Park was very pleasant.  We coped with the wind as best we could, the sun came out, then the rain, a bit of everything, but then Spring weather can be rather unpredictable in our part of the world.  I enjoyed time doing a little hand quilting on my New Zealand Botanical quilt, nice and cozy inside our van.  When I put it down for a while, Gemma decided it made a great cushion to cuddle beside.

She’s always busy snoozing

In fact, Gemma was rather like “the Princess and the Pea” while we were away.  We were supplied with a large  extra upholstered cushion which converts the front seating into a double bed, if required, and as we had not yet returned home, had to take it with us to the beach.    But being big and bulky, it was rather like “pass the parcel” as we moved it about night and morning – it wont be required as we don't have people come away with us, and will spent it’s life up in the loft.. Gemma loved it and thought it was just for her, to make her life more comfortable!  I mentioned that she was just like the Princess and the Pea (sleeping on multiple mattresses) to one of our male caravan club friends, and he had no idea what I was talking about!

Snoozing yet again

We provided Morning Tea to our caravan club members on Saturday morning, to celebrate my recent birthday.  Have to admit that I didn’t cook all these pikelets myself, but I did  top them with raspberry jam and whipped cream.

Morning Tea

One afternoon we took a visit to Windemere Berry Farm and Café, and our group took over multiple tables.  Most of us purchased some yummy strawberries to take back to the vans, then we decided what to have for afternoon tea.  Instead of the usual offerings of tea/coffee and cabinet food, the two of us decided on a delicious berry fruit ice-cream each.  And look at these little cuties we found outside – alpacas have the most gorgeous faces.

Two pretty alpacas

Of course we had to have a trip to the nearby beach. With Life Guards on duty looking over swimmers during the summer, it is also a great fishing area, and there is a huge  adventure playground and BBQ facilities close by.

Kai Iwi Beach

Several of us departed for home on Monday morning, Labour Day, while the others stayed an extra day.  Starting off driving in showers, by the time we got home the weather had cleared.  We got back to find some birthday cards waiting in the post for me, so that was lovely.

There is still quite a bit to do in our new van, so I’ll have to take the time to potter around.  Some drawers and cupboards will need rearranging, and I want to line the shelves with some of that non stick matting.  Then Robin will have to put some hooks up for me, we will get there bit by bit.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Birds, little fishies, and traveling on

We spotted some interesting bird life at our camp at Taupo.  Several Kingfishers sat and sunned themselves on the power lines.  Known as the Sacred Kingfisher for it was said to be a holy bird for Polynesians, who believed it to have control over the waves.

Sacred Kingfisher

Gemma was almost beside herself with excitement when she spotted a group of California Quail  through the caravan window.  Californian quail were introduced to Nelson in 1865. Who would have known that with the rapid population explosion, in 1890, thousands of Californian quail were canned or frozen and exported from Nelson to London.  Later, the release of stoats and weasels for rabbit control took its inevitable toll and numbers decreased dramatically, but quail are still the most common of the introduced upland game birds and are found in both islands.

California Quail

To celebrate my birthday we went out to the Cossie Club restaurant, they always do great meals there.  For starters, we shared a huge whitebait fritter, a real delicacy here in New Zealand.  For those of you who may never heard of whitebait before, whitebait are the juveniles of six species of small New Zealand native fish and are highly prized by fisherfolk, and sells for about $130 per kg.

Giant whitebait fritter to share

This was followed by Pork Belly for two, always a favourite of ours.  We toasted my birthday with bubbly, sat and relaxed with our tasty meal, and had a lovely evening out.

Main course, pork belly each

The next morning we packed up early and left on our trip southwards.  The weather was atrocious, wild blustery winds which made towing the van a challenge for Robin.  During part of our trip the temperature kept dropping lower and lower, getting down to 3 degrees and we drove past the almost invisible Mt Ruapehe, covered in swirling mist and rain.  When it was time for a lunch break, we decided to stop at a café and order something warm, rather than just have a cold lunch in the caravan.  Hearty soup for her, and a hot roast sandwich for him.  Look what I spotted in the café gardens as we left to get on our way.  This is what you do with old teapots!

New use for old teapots

Arriving at our destination, Kai Iwi Beach, in the mid afternoon.  The wind was blowing a gale here to, think we will wait a while to do a beach walk.  There’s nothing worse than sand blowing in your eyes.


The camp office where we had to book in is a pretty little old cottage, goodness knows how old it is.  Certainly looks vintage to me.

Camp office

There has been a stream of the early bird caravan club members calling in to check out our new van.  And look, I have a lovely new tea towel too to hang in the new van, courtesy of Janice who writes as http://jannimary.blogspot.com/.

Thank you Janice

We arrived a day early, and now the other club members are rolling in to the camp, so the weekend rally will soon be underway.  Wonder what the rally captains have arranged for us to do this weekend?  We will just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Tripping Around

Here we are – tripping around the country again.  We left home last Friday in the pouring rain, traveling along the Desert Road and through the army town of Waiouru to get a great view of my favourite mountain, Mt Ruapehu.  No time to stop here though, we were making for Taupo.

Mt Ruapehu

We like to have  the radio on while we are traveling, tuned to Magic which plays “all the songs you know and love”.  And look, they're playing my extra special favourite song, Ten Guitars.  I love it so much I’ve told the family I want it played at my funeral!  This song was such a hit out here when it was first released it became known as The New Zealand National Anthem.

They are playing my song!

After a night at Taupo the next morning we drove on to Rotorua, about 100kms, and quite a pretty trip traveling through rolling farmland and forests.  Everything looked so green and fresh.  There is always a lot happening at Rotorua with plenty of volcanic attractions to visit, boiling mud pools, steaming holes in the ground, and geysers.  Or you could take a ride on  the Skyline Gondolas – you can just make them out snaking snaking up and down the hill.  It’s been some time since we’ve had a trip on them, might have to plan another ride sometime soon.

Skyline Gondolas in Rotorua

Staying for two days in Rotorua and we were very busy indeed.  The caravan got a really good clean, instead of just a spit and polish.  Everything got a wipe down, the insides of drawers were washed, as were the base of various cupboards.  With all this activity happening, Gemma wondered what on earth was going on.

Have you done in here yet?

And the reason for all this activity?  The following day we drove on to Tauranga, and the Sat Nav took us to RV Service Centre.  Look was was waiting for us, our brand new caravan,   ordered at the recent Motorhome Show when  we went to in Hamilton about a month ago.  We attended the show with no intention of updating our caravan, but…….this one was calling our name.  With the paperwork tidied up, we then began the task of transferring our belongings from one van to the other.  Our legs really knew they had a workout, up and down the steps as we trudged from the old van to the new van, dodging showers as we did trip after trip.  Finally things were put into cupboards and drawer – we can make the final decision on moving things around later on.  The last thing to do was take armfuls of bedding over  – with the bed made up it looked like home.

Change over day

Finally we were done and we left the RV Centre with good wishes ringing in our ears, a bottle of bubbly popped in our fridge, and a free night organized for us at Papamoa Motor Camp.  Spending the first night in the new van close by gave us the chance to make sure things were working well. This is a lovely camp, with great facilities, and right on the beach.  It’s sure to be full to the brim with campers over the Christmas holidays.

Papamoa Beach

Then it was back to Taupo again for a couple of days, to get our breath back, and find out the differences in our new van.  A new van deserves a new Log Book, as we like to record the distances we travel each trip.  In the five years we had our previous van, we traveled almost 30,000kms.  That’s a lot of trips away around our beautiful country.

Gemma wasn’t at all disturbed by the new van.  The bedding was the same, so she soon decided to settle down and have a snooze.  A sniff around here and there and she soon found her feeding bowls, and her dirt box.  Nothing to it, she spent some time looking at birds out the windows, had her tea, cuddled up with us for a while, everything was fine in her world.

Gemma is settled and happy in the new van

Today, Wednesday, is my birthday, and I spent part of the morning in the local launderette.  Not a big deal, as people know, I have a thing about clean washing.  So I happily sat there with my library book while Robin went to do a few jobs.

Birthday morning in the launderette

It’s been a nice day, the laundry is all washed and dried, and I’ve had several phone calls and messages.  No cooking tonight, as we will be going out for to a local restaurant for a meal, which is always nice.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Town and Country Quilters Show

Last week my quilt guild held their bi-annual quilt show.  There’s always such a lot of work going on  behind the scenes to organize such an event.  With two guest exhibitors, and plenty of quilts from club members, there was plenty to feast our eyes on.  Then there were the merchants, all ready to entice us with all sorts of goodies.  I did make a few small purchases, I must admit, things which just had to come home with me.  Here are just a few of the quilts on display which caught my attention.

Centre Point, by Faye Davis

Summer Sweets in Springtime, by Paula Shailer

Frogs by Dianne Walker and Baa Baa Bedtime  by Sheryl Meech

Infinity, by Fay Davis

Positivity, by Paula Shailer.  Making a Plus Quilt is on my Bucket List

Our guild members are a very talented bunch, and there were plenty more which I loved.  We wandered up and down the rows, checked out the many merchants, stopped and chatted to friends and had a great time.  Then the cafe beckoned for a most welcome sit down, and enjoyed a delicious sandwich and scone for lunch.  Congratulations to all involved for all the hard work in organizing and running the show.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Glass Half Empty

Although I try hard, I’ve always been a “glass half empty” sort of girl, and tend to think a lot of “what if”.  Which doesn’t do my peace of mind any good at all.  About a month ago I had to go and have one of these, an MRI.  This was because after my recent colonoscopy I had a polyp removed, sent to the lab, and it came back positive.  The MRI was to check that there was nothing else nasty hiding inside.


The night before my appointment to get the results I was trying to get to sleep, and told myself, “it will either be good news or bad news”.  See what I mean – where were the positive thoughts?  But as a (previous) cancer survivor, sometimes it’s hard to remain positive about health glitches.  Anyway, I’m delighted to report that the results were clear and that nothing else was found.  The specialist confirmed that the nasty little polyp was contained, slow growing and of course, had been removed.  Whew, thank goodness for that!   Now I can start breathing again.

Do hope I haven’t offended anyone with this rather personal story.  Guess what I’m saying is to urge you all not to put off those tests and procedures when they are scheduled.  Mammograms, colonoscopies and the like are so important to our overall health and early detection really can save lives.  I’m very grateful to the wonderful hospital care available in my country, New Zealand.

On a lighter note, we called in to see grand-daughter Emma at work the other day, to drop off a birthday gift for her upcoming big birthday.  I can’t believe she will be turning 30 in a few days – where have all those years gone, I wonder?  Emma is a barista and made us coffees, and came to sit down with us on her break.  She really doesn't care to have her photo taken, but I claimed  “Nana Privilege” and took a quick snap.

Grand-daughter Emma making our coffees

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Sew Wot Tuesday

Sew Wot Tuesday today, and my turn to be the hostess and we had a lovely relaxed morning.  Carol and Moira were working on their stitcheries and three of us were knitting, myself, Mary and Helen.   Helen brought along a baby set she had just finished for a friend expecting a new baby.

Helen’s baby knitting

The only other Show and Tell today was my growing village of little house blocks.  I had found a bundle of 2in green strips, obviously cut for a project which never happened, and wondered about using a strip under each house as grass.  Yes, that was a good idea, I was told, and would separate the blocks, so I will go ahead with this thought.

My House blocks and green grass strips

Moira had brought along a gift for my upcoming birthday, and initially I decided not to open it till the actual day.  But then, why not open it early so everyone can share in my pre-birthday excitement.  Such a lovely gift, two pretty blue pussy cat coffee mugs, thanks so much Moira.

Thank you Moira

The conversation moved on to our Christmas outing – coming up fast.  We decided where we would like to go for lunch, so I phoned the café and made a booking.  Each year for Christmas Mary puts forward a suggestion for a hand made gift, and we pull a name out to make it for that person.  This year it is to make a pin cushion out of recycled materials.  Helen has already finished hers but several of us had no idea what to do and were yet to start.  After lunch, I decided to stop dithering, checked out a couple of ideas and finally decided on the design.  I had a big bag of recycled fabric to choose from, thanks to Jean (who writes All Points of the Compass blog) she had popped in a while ago after having a clear out in her sewing room.  So now the pattern pieces are cut out ready to stitch together.  It feels good to have finally made a decision and now I can start putting it together.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Slow Stitching Sunday Afternoon

It’s been a lovely warm Spring day today, just right for a couple of hours slow stitching outside under the Archgola.  I’m big stitch quilting my New Zealand Botanical quilt, but haven't touched it for ages, so it was good to get a little more done today.

A little slow stitching

Gemma came out and kept me company and after sniffing around to make sure that things were are they should be, she jumped up on the seat and settled down next to my bag.

Gemma enjoying the nice Spring weather

Although I didn’t complete the block I was working on today, I don’t think I’ve blogged about these two quilted blocks yet.  The Puriri Wreath in pink, and Alpine Buttercups in yellow.

These two blocks were completed a while ago

There is nothing nicer than being outside in the fresh air, under cover, stitching and a cuppa to hand, with Gemma relaxing by my side.  It was a very pleasant Sunday indeed.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Almost there, and Quilt Club Night

I’m almost at the finish line with my current UFO, the Christmas Mystery Quilt.  All the blocks have now been quilted, and the borders have too.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I don't really enjoy machine quilting, but I’ve persevered.  How I would love to be able to do fancy feathers, swirls, and bubbles, but sadly all that creative stuff is beyond me.

Straight line quilting on each block

The borders were quilted using the variegated thread with gently waving lines.  Next step was to stitch the blinding on – something I had prepared earlier, as the TV cooks say.  But where was it?  I looked here, I looked there, and it was nowhere to be seen.  Then I checked another hidey hole, but no, not there either.  How frustrating.  With one last place to look, the missing binding was finally found, thank goodness.  I even found a little label I had made for this quilt.  It won’t take too long to machine stitch on, then I can sit and enjoy hand stitching the final stage.

The missing binding, found at last

I attended the evening meeting of my quilt guild during the week.  Due to travels and other commitments I had missed several monthly meetings, and in the interim, the wooden forms have been replaced with lovely comfy upholstered chairs.   Erilyn McMillan from Palmerston North was the guest speaker, and what a delightful lady she was.  Well known for her War series of quilts, she described each one in detail, relating background stories from her extensive research.

The story behind the red and white quilt was particularly sobering.  On a visit to Gallipoli she was told “the blood of 10 thousand men flowed here”.  On her return home she felt she just had to to make a quilt to commemorate those Anzac soldiers who had perished there.


The brown and gold quilt honours the many animals who served and lost their lives in the Desert Campaign. 


Last Post was the first war quilt Erilyn made, and started her on the journey of her War quilt series, and has made 15 or so.   She said that there was one more idea percolating in her mind which will be started shortly.


The meeting concluded with supper and drawing the raffles – and lucky me, at long last my number was called, so I got to take a lovely squishy parcel home.

Pretty tea towel and two FQs

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Carrying on Slowly

You know what it’s like when you want to get a project all done and dusted – just do it.  But I’m trying to pace myself and take frequent breaks when sitting at the sewing machine so I don’t upset my pulled muscle.  It is getting much better, only twinges a little now.   So my machine quilting is coming along slowly.  Gemma thought that she would help me out in a supervisory role and jumped up onto the cabinet so she could check on my progress.  Sorry Gemma, that won’t work at all – down you come.  I eventually finished the long straight line quilting, marked a few shorter lines, then stopped for lunch.

Gemma is helping, so she thinks

After lunch I walked back to the sewing room, ready to do a little more.  But look at this – call me a softie, but I didn’t have the heart to disturb her.  I’m really pleased that Gemma takes an interest in my quilting projects!  While she’s sleeping I’ll go and write a quick blog post, I thought.

Fast asleep

It is Spring here in our part of Paradise and the weather is warming up nicely.  So I’ve changed our cozy winter pink and grey cat quilt with the warm wool batting for the season, this is my “Soul Searching – Colours of my Life” quilt.  However, I’m not ready yet to change our fluffy winter sheets for cotton ones just yet, I’ll wait till the weather warms up even more first.

Soul Searching quilt

Last week I reported that my digital camera had died, based on the fact that the screen had gone black.  It seems I pushed a button by mistake which changes the camera over to using the viewfinder. After all, I can’t be expected to know what all the buttons do, I work on a “need to know” basis.   Luckily Robin worked it out for me and I can happily snap away again.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Carrying it Over

This week I’ve decided to carry over my “roll of the dice” project, number 5, machine quilting my Christmas Mystery Quilt.  Somehow or other last week I pulled a muscle/strained my  side so couldn’t spend much time at the sewing machine.  Felt so sore I even resorted to a “nana nap” or two in the afternoons, and I always think I’m not nearly old enough to do this!  But the pain has eased a lot now when I move, although it hasn’t gone completely I’m sure I’ll be right very soon. 

Slowly machine quilting

I’m using Christmas coloured variegated thread to stitch across the diagonal lines, then I’ll see where I go from there.  As long as I’m sensible and get up from the sewing machine to move around every now and again, I should be able to “carry on quilting” this week.

It’s Spring down here in our part of the world, New Zealand, and our Kowhai tree is in bloom.  This one was transported as a baby from our previous home in Upper Hutt.  It was self sown under the parent tree so we potted it up and brought it with us when we moved to our new home.  Five years or so on, it is doing marvelously.  It’s always a thrill to see a tui, one of our beautiful native birds, perched in the tree and sipping nectar. 


Kowhai tree in bloom

Last week I went to see the film “Downton Abbey” with a couple of friends.  All the old familiar faces on the big screen, and great excitement when royalty came calling.  If you enjoyed the series, you will certainly enjoy this film.