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

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends

The big day arrived, and we spent it quietly at home together.  With phone calls and plenty of snap chats to keep us in the loop with the family.  Our breakfast was the usual Christmas treat for us, hot croissants filled with melty cheese and ham off the bone.  My daughter Nicky’s idea, and one which we copy for Christmas morning breakfast.  Of course, I had to don my Christmas apron while I was on kitchen duties, it’s the only day of the year it gets an outing!

Kitchen duties

As usual, it all seems to be about food on Christmas Day.  The weather was nice and warm so we sat outside and enjoyed our starter, baked brie with walnuts and drizzled with maple syrup on crackers.  So delicious, and super easy to make.

So tasty

Meanwhile, Robin had a leg of lamb cooking away outside on our Weber BBQ, and the smell was divine.  He sat and podded some fresh peas, and roast veggies were cooking inside.  We certainly didn't go hungry!

Delicious leg of lamb

It was a lovely meal, with cheesecake and raspberries to follow, (I had decided to forgo a Christmas pudding this year).  “Pop” went the top off the bottle of bubbly, and we raised our glasses to each other.  After all that food, it was time for a little R&R in the afternoon, and phone calls to other family members to wish them well. 

Then after a very light evening meal, I settled down to watch my hero Elvis on TV, a rerun of the 1968 Comeback Special 50th Anniversary, which relaunched his music career.  This show had many singers re-create the 1968 performance that propelled Presley back onto the world stage after years of absence. The '68 Comeback Special was the singer's first televised performance since 1961. Dressed in a black leather jumpsuit and accompanied by a full band, Presley dazzled a small, intimate crowd with his performance that immediately became a widely popular telecast.  With clips of Elvis throughout, and his songs sung by a multitude of singers, I was in 7th heaven.  Can you guess that I’m a real fan?  In fact, I can remember hearing him sing “Love me Tender” as a young girl, and I was smitten from that day on!

Frank Carroll/Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Elvis Presley during his '68 Comeback Special on NBC.

I do hope everyone enjoyed their own Christmas Day with those who are special in your life.  Merry Christmas to you all, and many thanks for being part of my own blogging family, I appreciate each and every one of you.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sunday Slow Stitching

It’s a beautiful summer’s day here in my part of paradise, just right for a spot of slow stitching outside.  The birds are busy chirping away, and the scent from the flowering clematis wafting over the fence is just gorgeous.  I did a little hand quilting this morning on my small Autumn wall hanging.

Hand quilting time

I’ve been a bit behind showing you the rather slow progress I’ve been making hand quilting my New Zealand Botanical blocks.  Here are two more I’ve recently completed.  The purple flowers are Poroporo and the other is golden Karaka berries. 

Two more big stitch quilted blocks

With only two more blocks to complete, plus the border, I’m hoping to get some more quilting time when we are away on our caravan trip in the New Year. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Caravan Cushions–done

All done, I’m pleased to say, six new cushions for the caravan.  I ordered some matching upholstery fabric used in the caravan, and only just had enough.  The patterned grey fabric on the fronts was from a piece left over from making cushions for our previous caravan.  The fabric was reasonably thick, so it was necessary to use the walking foot, and to make matters worse, prone to unravel as I was stitching the cushion pieces together.  So I zig zagged the seams, that should stop it unravelling any further.

New cushions for the caravan

I think Gemma was feeling a bit “Bah, Humbug” about Christmas last night – look what I found this morning.  She had taken a swipe at the Selvedge Christmas Tree wall hanging  overnight and left it swinging!  I can’t really tell her off since I didn't see it happen.

Naughty Gemma

Thursday, December 19, 2019

More Christmas Treasures

Perhaps you would like to see some small Christmas quilts I have hanging on the wall?  Because I have limited wall space here, I need to alternate them each year.  But one which always comes out each Christmas is this little darling made for me by my daughter, Nicky.  She is not a quilter, this is the one and only wall hanging she has made, so it is really precious.  Done in a class, I believe, many years ago, before she was married, but not dated, we didn’t think about that way back then.  Nicky is very talented and has tried wood work, metal work, stained glass, all manner of things over the years.  Sewing and smocking when her daughters were young, but I don't think she ever mastered knitting.

Crazy Patch Tree, made by my daughter

Another lovely little wall hanging is this Robin Redbreast and Christmas Trees, sent to me from England by my pen friend Rose in 2002.   We were lucky enough to catch up with Rose and Bill at their home in Hythe, Southampton when we holidayed in the UK some years ago.  Sadly, at 90, Rose is slowing down and no longer sews, but she still keeps busy knitting for charity.

Robins from Rose

And lastly I have my Selvedge Christmas Tree hanging up, made with Christmas selvedges, of course, and finished with green ric-rac.  This was my own design, and was made in 2010.

Selvedge Christmas Tree

And look what arrived in the post from Glennis, in UK.  I have seen cards saying they are sent from wherever, but never one like this, sending Christmas Wishes to New Zealand.  I think Santa and his reindeer are walking from one of our lovely summery beaches across white sand!


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

What I’ve been doing

It’s always busy this time of year, with social outings coming thick and fast, together with several weekends away in the caravan.  Sewing has taken a bit of a “back seat” lately, I’m sorry to say.  But I’m really pleased that I managed to complete both items I was making for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, that’s a bonus in the busy pre-Christmas rush.  Sadly, I’ve not had time to “roll the dice” and work on the items on my list for a wee while.

But I do have a project on the go at the moment.  I’m trying to get some new cushions   made for our new caravan, and ordered a metre of the matching upholstery fabric to make them.  It’s rather thick fabric so I’m using my walking foot to stitch these.

Stitching cushion covers, production line style

Gemma came to join me in the sewing room.  Just look at that concentration as she is carefully watching the birds outside.  I’m sure they taunt her, knowing she is safely locked away behind the screen door.  Gemma would like nothing better than being free to chase those pesky birds and give them what for!

A frustrated hunter

My aim is to get the cushions finished in the next day or two so they will be ready for when we head away in the caravan after Christmas.  So I’m off to do some more sewing, after I’ve tackled the ironing.  Not really a chore, strange as it may seem, I quite enjoy ironing!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Christmas Rally, Police Car Ride and Family Visit

Our last caravan club rally of the year, our Christmas Rally, was held at Shannon School, not too far away, about an 18km trip from home. Gemma came too, of course, and it was great to meet up with our caravan club buddies again.  We all gathered in the hall on Friday evening to watch the 1998 film, The Proposition, a story of a wealthy Boston couple who cannot conceive, and a handsome young priest.  Shades of the Thorn birds, it seems, so no prizes for guessing how the story ends.

There was quite a bit of interest on Saturday morning when club member Owen friends arrived with their lovingly restored cars.  There was even more excitement when we were offered a ride.  Kath and I decided we would really love to have a ride in the Police car, and settled down in the back seat.  And yes, it was my very first time in a police car!

Riding in the police car

The family came calling on Saturday afternoon, so it was lovely to be able to have a catch up before Christmas.   With their busy schedules, sometimes it is difficult to find a free day to meet, so this worked out well.  My daughter Nicky was looking well after  her health scare last year.  We had afternoon tea together, caught up on everyone’s news, and did a present swap. 

Meagan, Robert, Nicky and Emma

The caravan club members all pooled cars and drove to a local restaurant, Murrayfield, for dinner on Saturday evening.  With three choices for each course, there was something to appeal to everyone.  I chose salt and pepper squid, battered fish, and peach sponge pudding, all very nice.

Out for Dinner

While we were happily chatting away and enjoying our meal, a police chase was underway in the area, we found out later.  A helicopter and armed police were called in to help as two cars were pursued during a police chase.  The pursuit started about 4.30pm at Foxton Beach and ended in Shannon, where two people were taken into custody about 7pm.  A helicopter was used to find the offenders and police were armed as a precaution, the spokeswoman said.

Even more food for Sunday’s morning tea, with Christmas Mince Pies, and Val provided some yummy rum balls.  We seemed to have been eating all weekend!

Morning tea on Sunday

Gemma helped me change the bed, prancing all over the sheets.  Surely I’m doing this just for her amusement, she thinks.  Then there was even more to keep her interested, as I wrestled the duvet into the clean cover and put that in place too.  That’s better, all nice and clean for our next trip away.

Gemma helping to make the bed

With such a busy weekend, I didn’t have a great deal of spare time to do any stitching.  All I managed was a little knitting, but every bit helps, doesn’t it.  I like to knit the two sleeves together.

Time for knitting

Christmas is coming at an alarming rush, but I haven’t got too much to do now.  We are having a quiet Christmas lunch at home, then off in the caravan again.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Last Quilt Club Night of the Year

There was a great attendance at our December Club Night, with some faces which I hadn’t seen for a while putting in an appearance.  Our guest speaker for the evening was Diane Southey, owner of Village Books and Crafts in Palmerston North.  Her talk was all about “Modern Quilts”, the new quilting movement sweeping the world.  Modern quilting is defined as the use of bold colours, high contrast, improv piecing, and lots of negative space to show off our creative quilting.  Diane then showed us slides from Quilt Com of some of the prize winning quilts.  And to show us that perhaps we are already making our own versions of modern quilts and not realising it, Diane had several of her own quilts to share with us. Her talk finished with “Do what you love, and enjoy your quilting”.  Great sentiments indeed.


Quilts by Diane Southey

Understandably perhaps, there wasn’t a great deal of Show and Tell.  No doubt all the Christmas goodies made have been wrapped up, ready to gift.  I loved this version of a Christmas Tree, stitched by Sheryl, it certainly looks very “modern” to me. 

Cheryl’s Christmas Tree

And another Sheryl had made the Plus quilt for her daughter, goodness me, it’s huge.  Perhaps they are not pluses, but crosses, maybe?   Made to fit a Californian King bed, we were told.

Cheryl’s quilt for her daughter

And of course, there was a Christmas theme to the evening.  Members brought along many  donations for the Food Bank and the basket was overflowing.  I’m sure there were many more goodies deposited here as the happy quilters entered the hall.

For the Food Bank

There was entertainment galore.  Pass the Parcels did the rounds with two lucky members having their hands on the parcels with the final wrapping to come.  Then we had a game of Bingo, and the raffles were drawn.  The girls from Foxes Cottage gave us all a Button Challenge and little brown paper bags were handed out to us all.  That looks interesting.

Button Challenge

Supper was rather festive and extra special too.  Bowls of strawberries and cream were eagerly consumed, hot savouries were passed around, followed by my favourite, Christmas Cake.  So delicious.  As the meeting drew to a close we were reminded to collect a parcel from the Fat Quarter swap on our way out.  Mine was beautifully wrapped, and contained an interesting yellow fabric, one I hadn’t seen before.

Such pretty packaging

Such a busy night, with all sorts of things arranged for our final meeting of the year.  Many thanks to all the Committee and helpers for making it so special.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Christmas Cushion, and a visit to the Breeder

We took a short trip away in the caravan this weekend, and I’m pleased to say that my new Christmas cushion  has been completed with time to spare.  The front was stitched quite some time ago, I seem to recall, then it was tucked away and forgotten.  When I found it again, I did a little hand quilting on the front, and finished up the cushion just this week.  This is a Bronwyn Hayes, Red Brolly design.

Made for the caravan

Gemma stretched out on the narrow window ledge

My Christmas cushions

I also stitched up terylene curtains for the bathroom window, for day time privacy, although we have a blind for evenings.  Our previous van had a venetian blind in the bathroom which was very useful.

New curtain needed for the bathroom window

Spotted through the caravan window, a rabbit.  Although they look cute, they are classed as pests and were introduced animals here in New Zealand, without any natural predators.  Gemma was snoozing so didn’t notice him out the window at all.


We had a fairly “close to home” trip away this weekend, and took the opportunity to call in and see Yvonne, our cats breeder, and show her how Gemma was developing.  She was given the seal of approval and said she was a lovely Birman indeed, and true to type.  Then we were taken out to the cattery to see the newest arrivals.  This cute little baby seal point boy is a half brother to our Gemma, and will have a great life when he grows up, as Yvonne will be keeping him to use for stud.

New baby Birman

We had a nice weekend away.   I kept myself busy doing hand quilting and knitting, completed writing some Christmas Cards, while Robin had a couple of meetings to attend in Palmerston North.  And the bonus was that we took Gemma around to meet up with Yvonne, her breeder, her first visit back since we took her home as a young kitten.

Two of Yvonne’s breeding females

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Christmas is Coming

It’s official – Christmas is coming, and in our part of the world, Summer has now arrived.  Together with the Silly Season too, and all the various Christmas break ups from the groups we are involved with.  Tomorrow we have two – a birthday/Christmas lunch out with one group of friends, then an evening dinner date with friends from our village.


So it was time to get the festive quilts out and get into Christmas spirit.  These ones have recently been put up in the sitting room.  And as I took some photos, I realised that all three have stitchery on them!  Long time readers will no doubt have seen them before.

On the wall – All the Love of Christmas, Bronwyn Hayes design

On the back of the sofa – Alphabet Noel, Michelle Ridgway design

On the coffee table – Jingle Table-runner, Red Brolly design

As we are going away in the caravan on Boxing Day, we have decided not to put any Christmas lights up outside this year.  So it will just be Christmassy inside our little home this year.  How is your Christmas decorating going?

Monday, December 2, 2019

Donation time again

It’s time to pass on the little draw string bags I’ve made and take them to the drop off collection point for Foster Hope, a charity helping children placed into foster care.  These little lined bags are fun to make, using up some novelty scraps, and I try to make some for both boys and girls.  The children use these bags for toiletries, or as pencil bags.  Gemma thought it was “all about her” and did a little photo bombing!

Earth working machinery and fish

African savannah, horses and tree frogs

I also included my recently completed Bow Tie cot quilt in the parcel.  This was always going to be a donation quilt, and I stitched the blocks each month while taking part in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  More suitable for a little girl, as the blocks contain flowers aplenty.

Bow Tie cot quilt

I do hope that the items bring a smile to a child’s face.  Being taken into foster care must be a daunting prospect for young children.