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

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Plenty Going On

While we were away on our two concurrent caravan rallies, there certainly was plenty going on.  We arrived at Esk Valley Camp to find the ground wet and very boggy after a lot of rain.  New members Peter and Ruth got bogged down well and truly so a group of of good keen blokes pushed and pushed trying to get the motorhome out of the holes it was digging itself in.  That didn't work, so Robin was called in to tow the van out onto (hopefully) drier ground.


Robin to the rescue

Luckily the warm and cosy club room was available to our group, as the rain continued to come down all weekend.  We enjoyed a tasty meal of three varieties of home made soup and bread rolls on Friday night, then scones served with jam and cream the following day for morning tea, didn't we do well.


Desma with soup and scones provided for the hungry campers

This camp had quite a selection of home made jams, chutneys and sauces for sale, so I purchased two jars of apricot jam.  The proceeds help with the ongoing maintenance of the defibrillator, funding batteries and pads as required.  A great cause, and there’s no doubt about it, I love home made jam.  Desma’s family own an orchard, and she brought in a box of tasty apples to share with us all, so kind.

Before we moved to Hastings Race Course in the city, Robin’s help was needed again to tow several more motorhomes out of the mud.  No problem, he enjoys this sort of thing.  Once settled down at the race course I climbed up in the grand stand to get a good view of the vans all parked up.


Parked at Hasting Race Course

There were things to do in Hastings.  We visited my BIL Dennis at his Rest Home, my late sister Kathleen’s husband, then spent time at the laundromat.  Close by is the cutest little sweetshop in the country, Birdwood's, with an amazing selection of sweets in an array of glass jars.  We were after Blackballs for him and Acid Drops for her, which we like to keep in the car as a pick-me-up while we travel.


Boiled sweets from Birdwood's

The highlight of the rally was the “Big 0 & 5 Celebration Dinner”  to celebrate with those members who have a big birthday or wedding anniversary during the year.   Dressed in our glad rags, we made our way to the Ellwood Function Centre and enjoyed a lovely catered meal.  Baked ham, roast veggies, followed with tiramisu.  And a wonderful large carrot cake with cream cheese icing to follow.


Celebration cake cut by “bright as a button” 90 year old Bev

The birthday people were called up to collect their hand made cards – ages from 75, 80, 85, and 90 year old Bev.  Three couples celebrated their 60th wedding anniversaries, including Bev and her hubby Scotty.   Robin did well, after collecting a birthday card – 75 years old this year, he also had a special award, the Benton Recovery Award for his help in towing out those members stuck in the mud. 


Thanks to Robin for towing those stuck in the mud

The following morning we fare-welled these friends and travelled down to Dannevirke to join in our caravan club weekend.  There was a lot of mist about as we departed Hastings, I always find this type of weather rather spooky!  Later the mist cleared and we got a great view of the snow topped Ruahine Ranges, looking wonderful with the mist glistening in the winter sunshine.


Lovely rural scenery

It was great to meet up with our caravan club  friends at Dannevirke Motor Camp and plug into power – our previous 5 day rally in Hastings was non power, a bit chilly this time of year. 


Staying at Dannevirke

There was a bit of an adventure on Saturday morning, we drove into Norsewood and said hello (again) to the trolls.  These strange Scandinavian creatures are dotted all over the small town, and are considered good luck by the locals.


Sitting in the sunshine with Father, Mother, and Baby troll

Although we had visited Norsewood several times, we had never set foot into the small museum.  Stepping into the old house was like stepping back in time, rooms were furnished just the way they would have been years ago.  I was delighted to find several vintage sewing machine and lovely old linen.  I love looking at these sort of items.


Aren't they wonderful

Another wonderful item on display was a wedding dress, made in the Channel Islands.  Stitched with gold thread, and believe it or not, those little dark flower shapes are actually iridescent beetle wings stitched on to the fabric!  Strange but true.  A pair of lovely gold shoes and an Edwardian seed pearl neckless were also part of the wedding finery.


Embroidered wedding dress with beetle wings!

While we were away the only hand work I managed to do was graft the toes on a pair of socks.  Here I am with my feet up on the sofa, cozy socks and slippers keeping my feet warm, with Gemma keeping me company.  What a life!


Finishing off a pair of socks

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Something I Prepared Earlier

I finished knitting two pair of variegated burgundy socks a month or so ago, one pair for me and a birthday pair for my old school friend Merilyn.  These have now been gifted, and I was determined not to wear my pair until this had happened.  Merilyn is an excellent knitter, and an accomplished spinner as well – something I have never tried, although it does look quite a soothing task to do.   I’m so pleased she liked her gift, and I don't think she has knitted socks herself.


One pair for her and one pair for me

We are currently away for a week on a caravan rally in Hawkes Bay, so of course Gemma came too.  She has been very busy relaxing on the bed – isn’t that what camping is all about?


Gemma is so busy relaxing

It was nice to catch up with our niece Lisa for lunch, Lisa is my late sister’s daughter.  We dined out at Rosie O’Grady’s Irish Pub, and the food was delicious, and reasonably priced too.  The only downside was that they didn't serve coffee!


Having lunch with Lisa

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Blue Scotty Dogs and String Blocks

More blue sewing has been happening this week, as I've been working on my Rainbow scrap Challenge projects.  Two blue scotty dogs were tackled first, luckily I had some blue plaid fabric tucked away.  I traced, cut and fused them one day, left them on the sewing machine till the next day when I stitched around them and added the black strips.  There, all done.


Two blue scotty dogs


They wanted to meet some of the other dogs and have a play, they said. 

Then I stitched two blue string blocks, a 12in and a 9in block.  I like to sew string blocks onto a base of fabric, and I’m using up the last of an old thin sheet, which works well.  As I sew each strip onto the base, press and repeat, the blocks soon take shape, looking rather messy.  I’m always amazed at how much better they look once I’ve trimmed off all those overhanging ends. 


Two dark blue string blocks

The weather remains very rough and wild here.  We had multiple bouts of thunder and lightening during the night which upset Gemma no end.  I woke to hear her scratching at the wardrobe doors, desperate to get inside and hide, so of course I had to get up out of bed and open the door for her.  That’s where she spent the night while the thunder was rumbling and crashing overhead.  Today is no better, with plenty of surface flooding in our home town, I’m pleased I was staying home, nice and cozy inside.  The wintry sun is almost setting, all that wind has stripped most of the leaves from the tree in our front yard. Let’s hope we have a quieter night tonight, and that the thunder has moved away. 


Friday, June 10, 2022

The Weather Outside is Frightful

Isn't there a song which says that?  It’s certainly true in my part of the world, wind, rain, thunder and lightning, snow down to low altitudes and even some hail is promised!  It’s a good day to stay inside, I think.  We started off the day with a nice warming bowl of porridge, served with brown sugar and cream, the only way to eat it, we think.  I may well have Scottish blood in my veins but I enjoy my porridge a lot more titivated up than the real Scots porridge eaters do.  With a full tummy and a pair of nice warm home knitted socks on my feet, I was raring to go this morning.  My Dr Seuss socks, Robin calls this pair.


Cozy toes

My plan today was to do a little secret sewing, adding top and bottom bands to three hand embroidered tea towels I’m making for family gifts.  Thinking of course, that I will whip through this job in no time at all.  But as we all know, little jobs always take longer than we think.  As I was pinning and stitching I was reflecting on my love of watching the sewing series The Great British Sewing Bee.  No way would I pass the judges scrutiny, I’m too slow and not accurate enough!


My task for today

Gemma.has passed her day snoozing on various chairs and didn't venture her nose into the sewing room to keep me company.  I have recently changed the throws on the Lazyboy recliner chairs to the much thicker winter ones, which I call polar bear skins.  These are rather nice, she thinks, and almost blends into the background as she is curled up, snoozing yet again.  Interesting to note that she never sleeps on the lighter covers.  But one thing we can be sure of, she will be up later in the day, demanding her evening meal!  Such is the life of a cat.


Sleeping the day away

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Sew Wot Tuesday

Another Sew Wot Tuesday, this time at new member Jude’s lovely home.  Just a smaller number this time with two of our members unable to attend.  Helen had recently celebrated her birthday, and she was the lucky recipient of several lovely parcels, a shopping bag with a picture of a vintage machine, a lovely hand knitted scarf, and bath salts with flannel.  Very nice indeed.


Happy Birthday Helen

Carol started of the Show and Tell with her Big Red Dog, although she did say that he was not one of her favourites.  She really is a marvel with these knitted toys and seems to get them done in no time at all.


Carol and Big Red Dog

Sandra had been very busy and showed us four little quilts she had stitched for Plunket babies.  The Plunket Society had requested the local quilt club make some donations, if possible.  Quilters usually like making baby quilts, don't they, using up petty fabrics, and they don't take too long to stitch.  Sandra was also finishing the edges on a double handed oven mit, which she was making for a friend.


Made by Sandra

The final Show and Tell was Jude’s.  She had completed her crocheted scarf she was working on last time.  And I loved the pretty basket weave knitted baby blanket too, this was to be donated.


Jude’s lovely work

Although I have been spending some time lately at the sewing machine, working on multiple projects, nothing is finished so there was no Show and Tell from me.  Perhaps next time.  We spent the morning swapping stories about our teenage years, that was a fun subject.  And I had to relate my regret about having to miss seeing the Beatles when they came out to New Zealand in June 1964.  I was seven months pregnant with my son Michael at the time, so there was no way I could have travelled to Wellington with all the screaming crowds to see them. 

The Beatles arrive in Wellington, 1964

The Beatles at Wellington Airport with their giant green tikis

After all that reminiscing, it was time for morning tea.  Jude wheeled her lovely vintage tea trolley out, and that brought comments from us all.  We all remembered these in our past, mother’s, grannies, elderly aunts all had and used them.  It was a lovely morning, many thanks to Jude for hosting us.


Morning Tea

During the previous weekend, there had been a right royal show going on.  New Zealand is a Commonwealth country, and Queen Elizabeth is our head, so there was plenty of interest in all the festivities going on in London.  We watched the Trooping of the Colour from start to finish on UK BBC TV, and some of the Thanks Giving Service.  The highlight would have to be the Platinum Party at the Palace.  Even Gemma took an interest, watching intently as Prince Charles made is speech.

Gemma TV

What’s going on?

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Bring on the Blues

No, I’m not feeling sad with the blues, I’m happy that I have made a start on my Rainbow Scrap Challenge using blues, the colour selected for the month. First I delved into my bag of donated butterfly fabrics, and yes, there were two pieces with blue backgrounds.  It didn't take me too long to stitch up two puss i the corner blocks.  I’m also cutting a 6in square from the fabrics used each month, these will be used to make a raggy butterfly quilt later on.  The little four patch blocks I’m also making each month took some fiddling around to finish.  In true patchwork make-it-do fashion I had to piece some small bits together from one of my white background fabrics, and that yielded 3 squares.  For the fourth I just substituted another fabric, I’m sure when this little quilt is constructed the joins and the different fabric used will hardly be noticed.


Butterfly blocks in blue

I've been on a roll this afternoon and whipped up some Happy Blocks.    Included are wolves,boats and a rather flashy blue car.  A couple of the squares are repeated, and not all my blues are dark, but that’s OK, no quilt police live in my home for me to worry about.  These are nice simple blocks and it’s fun to look through my strips to pick out something suitable to go with the 5in squares.


Boys Happy Blocks

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Out and About

We've enjoyed a few little outings lately, meeting up with friends for lunch.  In fact, last week was very social indeed, with two lunches in a row.  The first was down at Paraparaumu Beach – where I did a drop-off with a bag of donations for Foster Hope, a charity which helps children in foster care.  The children often arrive at their foster homes with very little indeed,  so Foster Hope gives each child a back pack with toiletries, pajamas, underwear, and whatever else they made need.  My donation last week was a selection of 18 draw string bags for toiletries (or pens/pencils if they prefer) and two children’s quilts.  All these items have been made over several months.


Donation for Foster Hope

Then it was time to meet up with our friends, at a new to us café on the beach front.  It certainly looked rather grand as we approached.  As usual, we had a great catch up with everyone.


Lunch time

This café specializes in  fish, and Robin enjoyed battered Chatham Islands Blue Cod – delicious he said.  I chose Seafood Chowder, and told myself, as I was having soup, I really deserved a pieced of cake too!  How’s that for a weak excuse!  But the tiramisu in the cabinet was saying “choose me”  so I just had to, didn't I?  The very first time I had eaten this dessert was on our 2008 USA coach tour from New York to Niagara Falls and back, and we stopped off for an evening meal at Washington DC, where tiramisu was on the menu.  So I just had to try it, and it was as delicious as I had imagined.  Another memory from that dinner was when one of the waiters told us that the helicopter flying overhead was the presidential one, carrying President Obama.  How about that!


My delicious lunch

After we said our goodbyes to our friends, we drove down to the beach, to see what we could see.  This group of red billed gulls weren't at all concerned when we drove our car onto the sand and stayed in their little chatty group. 


Red billed gulls on the beach

Kapiti Island is not too far offshore and groups can take day trips over to this island.  In former times it was a whaling station, and visitors can see the large whale pots which used to render down blubber.    These days it is one of New Zealand's oldest and most important predator free nature reserves, and is full of beautiful native bird life.  Access to the island is limited, and visitors must go with the certified trip providers only.


Kapiti Island

Our next lunch was with two friends, Shirley and Robyn, the three of us take turns hosting lunches every few months.  Shirley had recently had a health scare so to save her any pressure we drove down to take her out to one of her favourite local cafes.  We were pleased to see that Shirley was getting her mobility back, and we had a lovely lunch indeed, but I forgot to take photos.  After lunch we were invited back to Shirley’s home for coffee and cake, and Shirley showed us one of the donation quilts she is planning to make.   It seems a lovely pattern using strips of shaded colours, I may have to borrow the idea for myself..


Winter has arrived in New Zealand at the beginning of the month while I wasn't looking, no wonder the weather has turned so wet and cold.  Just as well I've got my sewing and knitting to keep me occupied at home.  I don't know about you, but I always have plenty of projects to work on.  Happy stitching.