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

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Purple for RSC

Purple is the chosen colour this month for all of those who like to stitch along with Angela in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I machine appliqued three little purple birds – just about all I could manage sitting at the sewing machine as my back was feeling  little sore by the time I had completed them.  It was much easier on my back to finish the birdies off, sitting in my Lazy Boy chair while I hand stitched their little stick thin legs on.  So here they are, with their little red friends.  I’d stitched the red ones last month but hadn't blogged about them.

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Purple and red birds

Gemma has decided to try my loan walker out for size, and jumped up on the seat.  Yes, it fits her quite well, she decided.  Mind you, she is not to keen when it trundles towards her while she is stretched out on the carpet.

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It’s just about my size, she thinks

We went down to the Health Centre today for our first Covid jab, joining a steady stream of over 65s.  No trouble at all, it was done very efficiently, and we hardly felt a thing.  Like all vaccinations, we had to sit and wait a while to make sure there were no side effects.  Our second dose will be in three weeks time.

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Sunday, June 6, 2021

Give Thanks

I don't have any slow stitching to show at the moment so thought I’d share my Give Thanks cushion which I stitched a coupe of years ago.The words sum up what I've been feeling lately after my spinal surgery.

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In Every Thing Give Thanks

I’m thankful that my spinal condition was diagnosed by MRI, the only way to find it, I was told.  If it hadn't been found I would have ended up in a wheelchair.

I’m thankful that here in New Zealand hospital care is free, and I’m thankful for all the wonderful medical care I received.

I’m thankful for all the phone calls, cards, messages, flowers, chocolates, visits,  and home baking I received, must admit I was rather overwhelmed by all the support coming my way.

I’m thankful to Robin and my family for being there with their love and support.

And I’m thankful to all the messages from you, blog readers from near and far, mostly strangers, although I have had the pleasure of meeting some of you over the years.  Bless you all.

Recovery will take a while, I’m told, but I’m sure I’ll get stronger and more mobile soon. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Visitors and the Changi Quilt

Three friends came to visit the other day for afternoon tea, which gave me the chance to wear my recently completed blue jumper.  I was really spoilt as they had brought along a pretty pot plant and some home baking too.

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There was a pretty little card with the pot plant.  “We chose that one because we know you like blue”, I was informed, “and it’s about quilting too”.  And so it was, it showed one of the hand embroidered blocks from the famous Changi quilts.  I’ve seen this quilt in London, I told them.  The Changi quilts were created by women interned by the Japanese in Changi Prison. The quilts were the idea of Mrs Ethel Mulvany. Supposedly made for the wounded in Changi hospitals, the quilts were actually meant to relieve boredom, to boost morale, and to pass information to other camps.

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During our trip to England in 2008 we had the thrill of viewing this quilt held in the Red Cross Building in London.  Researching  before we left home, I discovered that a private viewing was available by appointment.  How wonderful it was to see this lovely work f art, done in such trying times, with the woman using whatever threads and fabrics they could find.  Each of the blocks were different, signed and often with a message too.

We had a lovely afternoon with our friends, plenty of chatter going on, and the sweet little gift card certainly brought back wonderful memories.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Pink Ribbon Topknot, and Moaning MInnies

Tales from Ward 7

During my stay in Ward 7 I had a visit from a young male physio who was just completing his training.  It was Pink Shirt Day, not that I really knew that.  Anti-Bullying Day is a day when people wear a pink shirt to symbolise a stand against bullying.  But the physio staff have their own uniforms and instead of a pink shirt this young man was sporting a topknot tied up with a pink ribbon.  He was at pains to tell me all about it, and said his female colleagues had made him do it!  Good on him, I thought, taking a stand on such an important issue.

Who can remember those skin tight white surgical stockings used to prevent blood clots in the legs after an operation?  Seems they are now a things of the past.  While I was bedridden my lower  legs were wrapped in a pair of these, made from a material similar to batting used in quilting, threaded with tubes, and plugged into the power.  These gently massaged the legs, with each pulse accompanied by a low moaning sound – hence I called them Moaning Minnies.  To be fair, I thought the movement up and down each leg quite comforting and the accompanying noise was not too obtrusive at all.  My pair of Moaning Minnies kept me company for many days.

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Moaning Minny

It is wonderful to be back home now to continue with my recovering.  Friends have been so kind, with cards, phone calls and visits.  And we really appreciated Val and Bill who dropped off a Cottage Pie when they came for a quick visit, making for an easy  meal  that night.

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Thank you Val

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Home again

To make things easier for hospital visiting Robin moved or caravan closer to Wellington to reduce the travel time.  The day arrived for my spinal operation and I was whisked away.  The six hour operation went well, the surgeon told us, and I am now sporting a 10 inch scar down my backbone..  Must say that the neurosurgical team were so professional and certainly inspired confidence. I was hooked up to all sorts of equipment,  and the nursing care was excellent.  Although it was difficult to lay prone on my tummy for some time each day.

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As expected the next few days were a bit rough, and then came a treat, my first time out of bed and sitting on the chair.  Who is that old lady clad in the rather fetching  hospital gown?

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First time out of bed

After seven days in Wellington Hospital there was another adventure ahead – an ambulance ride up to Palmerston North Hospital.  I was taken down to the Transit Lounge – think of a small, rather busy railway station.  Wheelchairs and beds were wheeled in and out, and those who could walk were seated around, waiting to be collected by family and friends.  Patients who were moving on to another hospital facility, as I was, waited patiently for the ambulances to arrive.  It was a two hour drive in the ambulance, bounce, bounce, and I could keep up with the journey peeping through the glass paneled rear door.

On day three at Palmerston North Hospital  the physios, OT staff and doctors were happy for me to return home, with a walker to help out while I got my mobility back.    I’m told it will be a slow recovery as I had pressure on my spinal cord for the previous two years, so things have to get back to normal again. Gemma decided that since I had left her for a while, she would greet me on her terms!  On the first night back I tottered outside to get a glimpse at the blood moon, what a sight that was. 

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To welcome me home

Robin has been wonderful while all this is going on, although he is suffering himself as he waits to be called up for his knee replacement operation.  Together we will puddle along,  and home is certainly  the best place to recover.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Sew Wot Tuesday and Surgery Date

Our two weekly Sew Wot get-together was a little different this time.  Helen was our hostess and she had arranged for us to meet at Fox’s Cottage, our gorgeous local quit shop.  She was concerned that two of us (back and knee problems) would have trouble climbing up the flight of internal stairs at her home, so arranged our morning at Fox’s Cottage instead.  Isn’t that wonderfully thoughtful of her.

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Our local quilt shop

Sandra was minding her cute little grand-son Harry for the morning and he was so good, smiling at everyone, and taking an interest in everything with those big eyes of his.

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Helen looking at at Harry with his Nana Sandra

And yes, there was a little Show and Tell, including these two “Patchwork of the Crosses” displayed in the shop.  Helen’s is on the left, and Mary’s on the right, don't they both look wonderful.  Helen enjoyed this hand piecing project so much she has started another Crosses to use up her bits, but we all know that doesn’t really work, does it.  We all know that fabric pieces tend to multiply in the night!

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Patchwork of the Crosses by Helen and Mary

Another one using up her scraps was Heather, who had made this very striking Eye Spy style quilt top.  Each print is framed in black to make it pop, and I love the way the borders were pieced in a variety of brights.  This will be tucked away, waiting for a future great-grand baby.

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Heather’s Eye Spy quilt top

I had taken along my two knitting projects, which I had blogged about recently.  I’m so pleased I have now used up all of the two different blue wools.

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My recent knitting finishes

We had a lovely morning, sharing the tables with two ladies from the weekly knitting group.  So we shared our Morning Tea prepared by Helen with them, and the shop staff, plus two visiting reps as well.  There was some knitting going on, a little hand piecing, and “pass the baby” too.  Thanks Helen for organising a lovely morning.

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Our yummy morning tea

I’ve now been given the date for my back surgery, so I’m looking forward to that with a little trepidation.  I’ll be admitted next Sunday afternoon, with my op scheduled as second on the list for Monday morning.  All going well, as long as there are no emergencies, as the Wellington neurosurgery unit takes patients and emergencies including stroke victims over quite a large area.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Knitting and Happy Mother’s Day

I’ve had a few knitting finishes over the last wee while.  I don’t know about you, but sewing up the garments often gets put on the back burner.  My mission was to use up the remaining blue wool left over from knitting myself a pretty blue jumper. The weather is cooling down so no doubt I’ll be wearing it soon.  There was enough yarn left to make a toddlers cardigan, and a scarf – the scarf will go in the donation box and I’ll keep the cardigan for a while in my baby box, just in case there is a need for family knitting.

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Using up the last of the blue wool

Another recent finish was a pretty pair of socks for myself using a ball of the gorgeous Zauberball wool in shades of pink and lilac.  This yarn is fine 4 ply so they took me quite a while to knit, and I’m really pleased with the result.  I always maintained that because I’m so slow knitting socks,  I would only ever knit them for myself.  But grand daughter Megan saw a photo of them on Snap Chat and asked if I would knit her a pair for her birthday, or maybe Christmas.  So what could I do, I just had to say yes!

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My new socks

Today is Mother’s Day here in New Zealand, as it is in other countries, although I believe that it is celebrated in a different month in UK.  So Happy Mother’s Day to all.  My flowers from last week’s early Mother’s Day get-together are lasting quite well – I’ve trimmed the stems back and removed any flowers which were looking sad.  It’s amazing how much water cut flowers consume.

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My flowers are lasting well

Hope you have all had a lovely day, and been remembered.  My adult son (who lives in the South Island) doesn’t really show any interest is these sorts of celebrations, so I usually phone him to remind him what day it is.  Then he feels obliged to wish me Happy Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

A few Red Blocks

I’ve done a little RSC stitching and the colour this month is red.  So three red boats got made to add to my collection, they should really be sailing into the red sunset, don't you think?

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Three red boats

Then I whipped up  several easy-peasy flag blocks – these are quick and simple to do.  Must have a count up and see how I’m doing with these, there’s quite a good selection of these now.  I’m trying to keep off my feet with my current back problem, and standing at the cutting board is quite an effort for me at the moment.

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Red flag blocks

I won’t be making any batik cobblestone blocks this month.  Why, you may be wondering?  Because there is no red fabric tucked away in the big bag, rather just a selection of mainly pink, blue, purple, teal and cream batik  fabrics.  Let’s see what colour will be chosen for the following month.

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No red fabrics hiding in my bag of batiks

Monday, May 3, 2021

Early Mother’s Day Gathering

Last Saturday we drove up to Feilding to meet up for an early Mother’s Day Brunch.  The weather was glorious, a beautiful Autumn day.

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My daughter Nicky had arranged for us to meet in her favourite café.  This is a lovely café and I appreciate the nice friendly greeting when we walk in the door.  There were six of us, myself and Robin, Nicky and Robert, and younger grand-daughter Megan with her boyfriend Michael, who we hadn’t met before.  Unfortunately our older grand-daughter Emma was working and couldn't get away.

We arrived there a little early so had plenty of time to contemplate the menu before the others arrived.  Nicky and Megan are great fans of Eggs Benedict, so that is what they ordered, Robin chose a burger and I had chorizo, bacon,egg and spinach with fried potatoes, a new dish for me and very tasty indeed.

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Ready to order

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Michael and Megan

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Nicky, Robert, Jenny and Robin

The meals were lovely, and then Robert, Megan and Michael left to attend a hunt meeting.  “You are lucky we are here”, Robert informed me, so it was good of them to cut their horse event short for an hour or so to meet up with the oldies.  Michael doesn’t ride, but any prospective boyfriend has to show some interest in horses or he doesn’t get a look in!

We then had a pleasant time chatting away with Nicky, she hasn’t been well lately but her health is slowly improving, thank goodness.  Nicky had presented me with a lovely bouquet of flowers (including a couple of artichoke heads) picked from her own garden.  I’d never been given artichokes before, I told her, and had never eaten one either.   Once we returned home they were ready for a good long drink, after being in the car for a couple of hours.

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Flowers for Mother’s Day

I’d sent along a present too, for her to take home.  Remember the grey knitted mouse I’d made for Gemma’s birthday?  I made one for Nicky’s kitten, PK, which stands for Psycho Killer.  This kitten came from a feral litter and although she has settled down well, I think she will always have a wild streak.  I embroidered eyes and a nose on this mouse, and sprayed in liberally with cat nip.  Nicky sent through a video clip on the phone showing PK having a fine old time beating up her new toy.

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I knitted PK a mouse like this too

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Weekend in the Country

Last weekend was spent with our caravan club friends camped at a local dairy farm.

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Each day the cows walked along the cattle race to the milking shed,one after the other.  There were plenty of newly weaned heifer calves which came rushing over to the fence, just in case we had some extra food or attention to give them.  And what about this big fellow resting under the shelter – he is sure the Dad of these calves.

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Baby heifers and a very large bull

As we were staying on a dairy farm, Rally Captain Dennis had organised a milking competition for us.  Just as well that a real cow was not used as some of the contestants certainly had rough hands indeed.  Poor old “Daisy” had four legs, a tail, and an udder made from a rubber glove – I’m sure she would be mooing in desperation from the treatment she received from the less than gentle townies.  The winners were Murray and Val, who obtained the largest quantity of “milk” actually water, in the allotted time.

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Murray and Val, holding their winners cup, with Daisy

Sunday was Anzac Day – 25th April marks the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim was to capture the Dardanelles and open a sea route to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea.  The Anzacs were courageous and although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. With the coming of the Second World War, Anzac Day also served to commemorate the lives of Australians and New Zealanders who died in that war.  The meaning of Anzac Day today includes the remembrance of all from both countries killed in military operations.  Our group attended a 5.00pm Service at Otaki Cemetery.

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Anzac Day Service at Otaki Cemetery

The afternoon service was well attended , and many people wore their own or family medals, plus red poppies.  We watched as members of the Air Force Corps marched  to the flag pole, the flag was lowered, ceremonially folded then presented back to the Otaki RSA representative.  The haunting sounds of a single bagpipe, and a lone bugler playing The Last Post, together with the recitation of The Creed made it a very moving remembrance service indeed.

Our day ended with a meal out together at Curry Town in Otaki.  Have to admit that we are not great Indian cuisine lovers so this was an experience for us.  We checked through the menu and professed to our dining companions that we didn’t really know the difference between a Rogan Josh, Korma or Tikka.  Eventually we made up our minds and placed our orders.  The food was nice, and the surroundings were very pleasant, and it goes without saying that the company was wonderful.

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Dinner at Curry Town

It was a great rally, and Anzac Biscuits were shared for Morning Tea.  Some went on the bush walk through a lovely stand of native trees, protected and fenced off from the stock.  Sadly, the pair of us decided against taking part, with Robin’s bad knees and my bad back it all seemed a bit too hard for us both.  Never mind, we had enjoyed this walk last time we stayed here.

The only stitching I have done lately is to repair the lining in my hand bag.  After searching high and low for my keys, I finally discovered that they had slipped through a small hole in the lining.  So I had to carefully retrieve them, then set to and repair the hole.  Has this ever happened to you?

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Gemma, Phillip and Me

It’s hard to believe that our little Gemma turned three over the weekend.  No, we didn’t bake a cake, but she had her favourite “Jimbos” meat for dinner that night.

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Birman cats are very playful, and she has been spending time with her “knitting”  a length of leftover yarn from a project.  She carries it around in her mouth, lays on her back and attacks with her feet, having a fine old time.

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Gemma with her knitting yarn

I’ve just finished making her a belated birthday gift, aa little grey mouse.  This is obviously related to “The Three Blind Mice” as it has neither eyes or a nose.  But her new mousie has two cute little ears and a nice plaited tail, so I hope she likes it.  Gemma is tucked up fast asleep at the moment, so when she awakes I’m going to spray her new toy with catnip spray and sees what she thinks of it.  She often dunks her toys in her water bowl when she has finished playing with thhem, for whatever reason!

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Gemma’s new toy

Gemma’s birthday coincided with Prince Phillip’s funeral service, so we spent some time in front of the TV watching that.  (Robin had our NZ flag at half mast as a sign of respect).  For those from overseas, New Zealand is a Commonwealth country and Queen Elizabeth is our Head of State, and we are governed by our own parliament.

And for an update on my back problem – I met up with the Neurosurgeon last week.  He told me that the more simple vascular treatment which was first discussed was not now an option, but instead I would need surgery – within the next four weeks.  I am so pleased that this will soon be taking place, as I have been told if this problem is left untreated I would end up in a wheelchair.  So it’s quite serious, no wonder I’m having trouble standing and walking.  At the moment I’m trying to take things easy and rest my back as much as I can, but you can't stay off your feet all day long, can you.  Luckily sitting doesn’t cause me any problems, so I can knit, stitch, read, and even spend a little time at the sewing machine, as long as I don't overdo things.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

More Blue Sewing

I’ve had a little time this week to do some more blue sewing on my RSC projects – blue is the chosen colour for the month.  Delving into my bag of batik fabrics, I found some pale blue to make several more Cobblestone blocks – these are very simple to cut and stitch.  And will be added to the green and pink ones previously stitched.

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Blue Cobblestone blocks

More simple blocks were next in line.  I made some blue four patches and some little “flip and sew” flag blogs to add to my collection, very easy stitching indeed.  I’m thinking about stitching four of the four patches together to make a sixteen patch – or maybe not, I’ll have to think about it.

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Four patches and Flag blocks

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Sew Wot Tuesday

It was my turn to host the Sew Wot ladies this week, and there was a merry band of six of us.  Mary had brought along some freshly picked apples from her trees, so bags of apples were passed around to us all, many thanks Mary.  And I had some quilting goodies to give away and had them laid out on the table, thanks to the stash from my next door neighbour who has recently moved into a rest home.  I’m still slowly going through several bags of “stuff” which Dorothy’s daughter passed over to me when she was cleaning out her Mum’s sewing room.  Helen settled down to stitch, and everyone else was busy knitting.

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Heather, Helen and Sandra

Gemma was really misbehaving when the visitors arrived, running around like a cat possessed, jumping up here and there, poking her nose into everyone’s bags, and chewing some dangling knitting wool.  It was rather like a naughty child when visitors arrive, showing off and getting in everyones way.  She attacked the dangly toy hanging from her tunnel, and pulled it right off, and eventually curled up in the box on her tower.  Usually she is very quiet and snoozes most of the day away.

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Worn out at last

Of course we had show and tell, it’s always exciting to see what the ladies have been working on.  Helen had finished the little jerkin she showed us last time, it now has pockets and buttons.  She has made several of these over the years for her grandsons, she told us, and they are knitted in machine washable wool, so that is a bonus for busy Mums.  Its a great design for little boys, and will keep them warm as another layer over cozy winter clothing.

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Knitted jerkin for Helen’s young grandson

Carol showed us her just finished quilt top.  She had seen a photo of this on the internet and sat down and worked out how to make it – that’s clever, I thought.  And then Heather showed her “Circle of Friends” finished with a pretty paisley border.

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Made by Carol and Heather

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And for something a little different, Sandra had some pretty cards she had made.

As for me, I had made two more draw string bags for donation, made from some of Dorothy's fabric, and both with a New Zealand theme.  The purply one features fantails, one of our pretty native birds, and the green one was made from a scrap of colourful sheep fabric.  We have lots of sheep on farms here, just not looking quite like these cheeky ones.

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And I got to show my recently finished Checkerboard quilt.  And just to confirm how kind quilters are, the yellow spotty backing (and a whole heap of other fabric) was given to Heather some time ago to share with the Sew Wot ladies.  I thought it was perfect for the back of this quilt.  The bags and quilt will be going to Foster Hope charity, for children in foster care.

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Checkerboard quilt

Morning Tea is always an important part of our get-togethers, after all, we are not called the “Eat A Lots” by Helen’s hubby for nothing.  Oh dear, I must admit that I had an oops in my baking, I’d made some chocolate Afghan biscuits (with cornflakes) but obviously the mixture was too soft and they ran everywhere.  Of dear, but I came up with Plan B and whipped up an unbaked slice to take the place of the Afghan biscuits.  Together with a fruit cake, and sandwiches, there was plenty of goodies to go around.  Sadly with my current back problem it is very hard for me to stand at the kitchen bench (and walking) so a lot of the food prep was done with me sitting down at the table, carrying ingredients over.  Guess my mind wasn’t quite in a baking frame of mind.  Many thanks to Sandra and the other ladies for helping with the hot drinks and clearing up afterwards.

It was so nice to see everyone here and catch up with all the news.