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

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Where are we now?

We have moved on from the family small holding after four very pleasant and relaxed days.  Before we arrived, I was a little worried about the family dog and how he would react to a strange cat on his property.  Noodle would come and look at Gemma through the closed screen door.  Then one morning Robin had the screen door open, Gemma was on her lead, and the two met nose to nose!  I was amazed that nothing untoward happened.  It may well have been a different story if Gemma was outside the safety of the caravan door.


First meeting between Gemma and Noodle

After meandering up and down hills on a minor road, it was then straight up SH1 passing through Waiouru.  It was clear that the school holidays were in full force as the carpark in the Waiouru Army Museum was full to bursting.  Kids were everywhere, climbing over the tanks in front of the museum to their hearts content.  A little further along the Desert Road we got a reasonable photo of Mt Ruapehu.


Mt Ruapehu

And to the right of Ruapehu was Mt Ngauruhoe, which featured as Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings films.


Mt Ngauruhoe, Mt Doom

We were heading for Lake Maraetai, at Mangakino, a freedom camping spot for a change, we don't often stay at these.  The first area we checked out was full of campers and day trippers, no room for our long caravan here.  Before we moved on to another area I stopped to take a photo of this interesting set up.  How about is cute little tear drop caravan!


Parked at the lake side

We found another area not too far away with plenty of room for us to get set up.  But…….. on arrival when I was moving Gemma from the car to the caravan we were set upon by the  neighbour’s off lead little dog!  That's one of the reasons we don't do freedom camping, people don't care that their dogs run free into other peoples camp sites.  And the reply when I mentioned that we had a cat and could they please keep their dog under control?  “Oh”, she said, “Our dog is trained not to chase cats, and we can’t find the lead”.   No wonder I get upset!  Just as well we are only staying for one night.


Lake Maraetai

I've taken both my knitting and stitching bags away with me, but so far haven't much to show at all.  Before we left home I made sure I had completed the heels on my 4ply blue socks.  As a  very average knitter, I think whoever worked out how to design and shape heels must have been very clever indeed!  With that done, it’s all plain knitting till I reach the toe shaping.


Blue socks so far

We will be heading further north each day, we like to keep our drives short while towing if we can.  There is a family 60th birthday to attend on New Year's Eve, which should be fun.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Christmas, here we come.

The caravan was packed, and we were on our way to Kiwitea, to stay with my daughter and her family.  Santa Bear and the Christmas cushions were coming away with us on this trip, and we mustn’t forget the bag of Christmas gifts for the family.


Christmas in the caravan

Expecting the holiday traffic to  be very busy, we kept off SH1 and drove along some quieter rural roads. It’s always good to be safely off the roads in the busy holiday period, and we were soon parked up on the property.  My bacon and egg pie went down a treat for our evening meal, with baby new potatoes and a salad.

The next morning we drove down to Feilding for a family and friends brunch.  Friendly Feilding, as it is   known is a rural town in Manawatu, and the iconic clock tower is slap bang in the middle of town.


Feilding clock tower

Our group all enjoyed a nice brunch, I ordered waffles with fruit, so yummy.  There was plenty of happy chatter around the table as we all tucked in to our breakfasts.


Brunch time

We took a little tiki tour on the way back to Kiwitea, and stopped in at the local honey business, Down Under Honey.  What a cute little shop it was.  We were after some comb honey, and also purchased a jar of Kamahi honey too.


Down Under Honey

And we certainly weren’t expecting to see ostriches on this property, but there they were, right by the driveway.  If you didn’t know, a group of ostriches is called a herd.


Ostriches at the Honey Farm

Christmas morning dawned rather wet, and much cooler than the previous few days.  After the traditional family breakfast of croissants with ham and cheese, it was time to open the gifts.  Granddaughter Emma loves Christmas, and dressed as a Christmas Elf, took over the responsibly of handing out the gifts.  Lots of lovely gifts changed hands, with cries of “just what I wanted” from the happy recipients.


Emma dressed as a Christmas Elf

I had knitted the granddaughters a cozy pair of socks each, which will be put away till the colder weather.  Knitted with double knit together with 4 ply sock yarn, they knit up as triple knit and don’t take too long to make.  Pink socks for Megan and green socks for Emma.


Socks for the granddaughters for Christmas

And amongst my gifts from Nicky was a lovely skein of pretty pink sock yarn.  How nice, I’ll be using this to knit socks for me!


Pretty sock yarn for Christmas

Of course, the next big thing was Christmas Lunch.  Robin and Robert got the BBQs cranked up for roast pork and chicken and bacon roll-ups, another family Christmas tradition.  Lovely smells of cooking wafted around from the BBQs.


Cooking Christmas Lunch on the BBQs

The weather cleared up late morning so we could eat outside on the deck.  Neighbours arrived, and we settled down to lunch.  With pork, chicken, various salads and the neighbour’s home made rye bread, we were very well fed indeed.  Glasses of bubbly were raised in a toast, and everyone was quiet as we enjoyed our delicious meal.  After a respite it was time for desserts.  Granddaughter Megan had made a layered berry meringue dessert, simple but so delicious, I’m certainly going to borrow this recipe for the future.  She also had made a chocolate cheesecake, and the neighbor had brought along a chocolate mousse.  We  were certainly well fed.

It was a lovely afternoon indeed, and I have to admit that we both sneaked away from the festivities for a quiet nana nap in the caravan.  Too much food and bubbles in the middle of the day out in the sunshine, I think.  Merry Christmas to all our friends and readers, thanks for reading and wishing you all a lovely day. 

Friday, December 22, 2023

It’s been a busy day

With only a few days till Christmas, and one day till we head away in out caravan, it’s been a busy old day here today.  I needed to do some baking to take up to my daughter’s home for Christmas, and had promised to make some of my delicious Chocolate Cherry Slice.  This is rich and decadent and is  a lovely treat for Christmas.  Made with a chocolate base and topped with a coconut and glace chocolate topping, it is certainly a winner.


Chocolate Cherry Slice

I also offered to make a bacon and egg pie to help with dinner tomorrow.  We will have it cold with a salad,I expect.  This has plenty of bacon slices and eight double yolk eggs so should be nice and tasty.  Bacon and egg pie is a family favourite here in New Zealand, usually served hot for dinner, and is excellent served cold for a tasty  picnic lunch.


Bacon and egg pie

I needed to use up a couple of oranges which were starting to look a little sad, so made an orange and raisin cake as well.  The cake won’t be needed over Christmas with all the other usual treats on offer, so is now in the freezer, to use later.

And checking out the veggies in the fridge I found half of a red and half a green cabbage, left over from making coleslaw last week.  With not much room for them in the caravan fridge,  they needed dealing with too.  The green cabbage was chopped, bagged, and frozen and I can use it for stir fry meals later.  As for the red cabbage, I knew I had a recipe tucked away somewhere to make use of it, which I had made one previous Christmas.  Using sliced red cabbage, onions, apples, spices and white wine vinegar, I cooked it all slowly in a pan, put it into two containers, and into the freezer it went.   I’m pleased that I was able to use these items and that nothing was thrown out and wasted.

After my cooking marathon, I started packing the caravan.  Prior to a trip, we move the caravan from the area around the back of our village, and park it in one of the car parks outside our home.  Which means we can plug it into power to get the fridge cold, and it is so much handier for the many trips too and fro with food and clothes.  I mustn’t forget to put the bag of presents in too.  My knitting bag and stitchery project is already safely packed in the van, along with several books to read.


Our caravan just a hop and step away, ready for packing

With these jobs out of the way, I needed an after lunch nana nap!  It’s been cloudy here today, but very warm, so warm, in fact, that I had to change into shorts!  The Santas will wave us goodbye tomorrow when we head away for our Christmas/New Year adventure.  I’m rather fond of the big Santa,and made him in a class many years ago.


Hello Santas

Sending everyone warm Christmas wishes, and hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Day.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

My Quilt Ladder, and Christmas Slow Stitching

Just in time for Christmas, I've received my new hand crafted quilt ladder.  Robin had found a plan to make one of these on the internet, and asked his Menz Shed builder friend for advice.  While he was in hospital getting his second knee replacement, and the subsequent eight weeks recovery time, Brian the builder took the job over for him.  He measured the timber, cut and assembled the ladder for Robin - how kind of him.  Once Robin could comfortably stand on his knee again, he took over the sanding and the wood staining.  And then brought it home to me.  As you can image, I was thrilled, I’ve wanted one of these for such a long time.


Christmas quilts on the quilt ladder

I haven't any slow stitching this week to show you, so I thought you might like to have a closer look at my Christmas Alphabet quilt which is displayed on the quilt ladder.


Alphabet Noel

Alphabet Noel was designed by Australian Michelle Ridgway, and I enlarged the designs.  I also changed a couple of the pictures on the alphabets to better suit me, and added four more of of Michelle’s designs in each corner.

So  what else have we been doing?  We received another Covid booster last week – no trouble at all afterwards, luckily.  And we had our final pre Christmas get together with friends.  We met our friends Calvin and Helen at Boulcott Golf Club Café in Lower Hutt.  The large car park was very full indeed, and we drove slowly around looking for an empty car park.  As well as people coming out for lunch, there were obviously plenty of golfers out enjoying their time on the golf course.


We pursued the menu and checked out the cabinet food.  There were several large tables full of other pre Christmas diners too, so the service was a little slow as the staff worked hard to serve the meals.  What to have – I chose Bubble and Squeak (don’t often see that on a menu) with a side of sliced salmon, and Robin had fish and chips.  With so many people dining, I decided not to ask the busy staff to take a photo, so we did it ourselves instead.  As always, there was plenty to chat about, our plans for Christmas, family, and our absent friend Trish, who sadly had just come home from a week in hospital.


Jenny and Robin, Helen and Calvin

This area is of historical significance from the early years of settlement.  The golf club is situated off Military Road and there is a large stone memorial on the corner of the road marking the site of Boulcott’s Farm Stockade.  This tells the story of the attack on the stockade during the Maori Wars.  On 16th May 1846 over 200 Maori warriors from Wanganui attacked the stockade and were fought off by a garrison of 50 men of the 58th Regiment.  The bodies of six Imperial soldiers who fell were buried nearby.


Memorial Stone

With just one week till Christmas I’m pleased the social commitments are over.  I can do with some spare days at home to get ready for our time away, do some baking, and pack the caravan.  The countdown to Christmas is always very busy, isn't it.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Another RSC Top completed

Another finish is always good, especially at this time of year when things are so busy with pre-Christmas things to do.  This one is one of the two Little Bricks projects (many thanks to Silvia for the pattern) I had been working on during the year.  I decided to make a zig zag version of the  bricks, just to see how it would turn out, and it was started in July 2022.  And yes, I’m very pleased with it.  I added a striped fabric as a border.  This will be a donation quilt.


Zig Zag stacked bricks

I have to say that I’m rather concerned by the amount of unfinished RSC projects I still have from the last year or so.  So I think  I’ll have to be much more restrained with the number of projects I start in  2024, to make time to get to grips with finishing these older projects. 

We have had a busy old time the last few weeks, going out and about with pre-Christmas happenings.  One trip last week took us past the Rainbow Bridge, situated off the Transmission Gully motorway.  I can just imagine all the beloved pets passing over this pretty little bridge on their way to heaven, waiting to be reunited with their owners later on.


The Rainbow Bridge

We took a trip to the local licorice factory, RJ’s, to stock up on Licorice Allsorts for the holidays.  On entering the shop we were rather alarmed to see a whole bunch of police inside, and wondered what the emergency was.  Seems the only emergency was that they had ran out of licorice, and often call into the shop to replenish their supplies.  The police personnel left with their arms full of goodies, and we looked around to see what we wanted to buy and take home.  There are lots of different varieties of licorice produced here, but we prefer the good old fashioned licorice allsorts, as pictured on the sign.


Licorice heaven

Monday, December 11, 2023

Christmas Rally and Fantasy Cave

The last caravan club rally of the year was held at the Woodville/Pahiatua Race Course, an 80km trip away driving up and over the Saddle Road.    There were nine vans on site for this rally.  The weather was mostly sunny, but come Sunday when it was time to drive back home, the wind was fierce enough to cause concerns.  Towing a caravan or driving a motorhome in windy weather is always a concern.


Parked at the Race Course

We had a fun day out on Saturday.  Later in the morning the members pooled cars and set of to Dannevirke, to go and visit the Fantasy Cave.  Our club had visited this many years ago, but the building being used was not up to earthquake standards and the Cave had been in recess for some years.  This Christmas it was a “pop up” show in another venue – that sounded like fun and most of us were keen to go and check it out.  Handing over our gold coin entry fee, we stepped into a Christmas wonderland full of trees, ornaments and sparkly lights.



Inside the Pop Up Fantasy Cave

Oh look, there’s Santa in the corner.  At only $5 for a photo with the big man in red, how could I resist!  Put your arm around his shoulder, I was told, and hold onto his hand.  Oh dear, do hope he doesn’t think I’m being too forward!


Hello Santa

Then we spotted the toy train and Dot and I remembered having our photo taken sitting in this on our previous long ago visit.  It took a wee bit of body contortion to slip in to the tiny carriages and under the roof, but we made it. Other club members joined in the fun too.


All aboard

That was a laugh for sure.  After that excitement we all walked down the main road to find a café for lunch.  They kindly rearranged the tables for us so we could all sit together.  Then back to camp to prepare for the highlight of our caravan weekend, a shared Christmas Dinner.  The tables and room were nicely decorated by the committee, and Sue had printed place names for us all.  It was rather like taking part in a very posh dinner indeed.


We prepared our own main courses and the club provided strawberries and ice-cream for dessert.  Club member Flo had made two pavlovas for us too, which was very much appreciated.  With a glass of bubbly each, Robin and I were happy campers indeed.  My camera decided that it had enough of Christmas cheer by this stage, and went all fuzzy on me


Who are those fuzzy people?  Perhaps it’s the bubbles we drank.

Sunday morning was very windy and wet.  We enjoyed Christmas Mince Pies for morning tea, wished each other well,  then all headed off home.  It was a lovely weekend indeed.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Collecting Quilts and Christmas Get-togethers

We recently attended the last Probus meeting for the year, held in the local Cossie Club, followed by a wonderful catered meal.  There was a big group of about 80 members present, and the restaurant certainly did us proud with the menu.  Hot ham and chicken, plenty of veggies and salad, followed by sticky date pudding, custard and cream, with meringues and fruit salad too. 


Enjoying our Probus Christmas lunch

There was talk around the table of going back home and having an afternoon nap, as most of us would not be used to consuming such a hearty meal in the middle of the day.  We had an appointment first though before we made it home.  I had to go and collect my quilt which had just been commercially quilted.  This was actually the second one quilted in the last few weeks.  No, I’m not going to show them just yet.  Both bindings are prepared and ready, but I’ll leave that job for a while till the Christmas rush and New Year is well and truly over.  These quilts are both for me and one in particular has been a long time coming, so they can wait a while longer.  I’m just pleased I got then quilted so promptly at this time of the year.


Two bed quilts commercially quilted

Today was our last Sew Wot get-together of the year, and we met for lunch at the Library café. I was very impressed with a Christmas Tree made from a selection of library books, such a clever idea.


Christmas tree made from books

Everyone was there except Sandra who was unwell.  I was presented with a belated birthday gift, thanks so much Mary.  Inside was sock yarn, and a small clopping board to use in the caravan.


Birthday goodies from Mary

We all brought along a fat quarter to swap.  Mmm, wonder what pretty fabrics are hiding in here?


Wrapped fat quarters to swap

After our light lunches, we opened our parcel, and admired all the fabric.  I wanted a group photo taken of our table, but the serving staff were quite busy with the lunch rush.  No problem, Carol decided to ask another customer who was only too happy to help.


Mary, Helen, Jenny, Jude, Heather and Carol

It was a lovely finish to our Sew Wot year, we wished each other a Happy Christmas, and we will meet again at the end of January.


My Christmas fat quarter

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Slow Stitching Sunday

It’s a good day to spend inside today, it’s been raining all day.  Mother Nature is a bit tardy as the season has changed over to Summer, so where’s the sunshine?.  My slow Sunday stitching is coming along well, and I have now finished my first block of four of a cheeky Kiwi enjoying his Christmas Summer holidays.   Kiwi is camping in his Kombi van, cooking over the camp fire.  Yes, we celebrate Christmas in the Summer season here in New Zealand.


Kiwi cooking his dinner

I’m also stitching up a pair of birthday socks.  These were finished a couple of months ago, too late for the birthday girl unfortunately, so I’ll keep them for next year.  Knitted in home spun double knit with 4ply sock yarn, they will be nice and cozy.


Secret birthday socks

With Christmas fast approaching, it’s time to get some festive quilts out.  This one is “All the Love of Christmas”, a Bronwyn Hayes design, and is hanging above one of the sofas.


All the Love of Christmas

I also placed a Christmas quilt across the back of the other sofa.  This as yet unnamed quilt was a Secret Santa Sew Along I found on the internet several years ago, but I didn't take a note of the  name of the designer.


Another Christmas quilt

Robin has been up in the loft for me to retrieve several Christmas crates, so I’ll be putting some smaller Christmas quilts and ornaments out soon.  Although we are usually away in the caravan and seldom home over Christmas, I still like to get my special treasures out to make the room look nice and festive.  How is your Christmas decorating coming along?