Sunday 31 December 2017

Happy New Year

We have just returned from the New Year's Eve Party held in town.  We've never attended before, despite it having been running for several years now, so weren't sure what to expect.  We enjoyed a picnic with some good friends, sitting in the park, soaking up the atmosphere, listening to good music and people watching.

It is hosted by the local council and is a really family friendly event, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display. The weather was perfect and a full moon in the background added to the charm.

My favourite one was right at the end.  I'm not sure if that was the intention that it look just like a moth hovering over a dandelion, but I love it.

Have a very happy and safe New Year.

Ta Da - A Teensy Finish

Following my elation at finishing my big quilt I decided to complete another project this year.

Ta da!

This teensy pincushion was started back in June when I visited Chookyblue.  We each made a tiny log cabin pincushion that only measures 2 1/4 inches square.  At the time we didn't fill them and Chooky asked if I had walnut shells, to which I replied "Yes".

Of course, when I got home do you think I could find them?  No, not on your Nelly, so it just sat there waiting.

A couple of months ago I was looking for something else and I found the walnut shells.  Somewhere that I would never have suspected. (Does that say something about the state of my sewing room?)  However, I didn't do anything at the time other than put the walnut shells next to the pincushion.  I suppose that was a start.

Anyway, today was the day.  It took a whole five minutes or so.  Huge job, but a job well done.

Another project to tick off the list before the start of the new year.

Saturday 30 December 2017

Ta Da - A BIG Finish

Way back in August 2014 I attended a retreat at Nundle and made a quilt top in a day and a half.  It was BIG! 96 inches square!

Straight away I made a pieced backing and arranged for my friend to long arm quilt it.  After that I bundled it up and put it in the cupboard.  It's not that I don't like it.  It is just that the thought of binding something that BIG was a tad daunting.  

It became a UFO.....a mill stone around my neck as I kept telling myself "I can't do........ until I finish the BIG quilt"........

Finally, when I visited Chookyblue in June this year, I bit the bullet, trimmed the sides, made the binding and machined it to the quilt........and then bundled it up into the cupboard again......

In October I dragged it out again and started hand stitching down the binding.  However, I soon ran out of puff and bundled it up again. It's not that I don't like hand sewing binding - I do - it's rather relaxing.  It's just that it is BIG and unwieldy.  I think I already mentioned that.

It had now become a WISP (work in slow progress).

I was determined that it was going to be finished this year, so I thought sitting in front of the Boxing Day Test cricket would be the perfect opportunity to finally finish it off.  Well, I did a little bit here and there.  However, today was day five, the last day of the Test, so I thought it was time to up the ante and get it finished.

Tad Da!  See - It's BIG.  I had to climb onto the fourth rung of the ladder to take the photo. (That's brave for me.)

The back, being arranged by my quilt helper.  Unfortunately, you can't really tell the colours too well.  There are three pieces of fabric together with the left over blocks from the front.

Finally, how it looks on our bed.  Like I said, it is BIG!  I'm used to having quilts of about 72 inches square on our bed as a topper.  You can't see it, but it has heaps of overhang on all sides.  Anyway, it doesn't look too bad.  It may just stay there for a while.

That is one finish that I am very pleased to tick off the list and a nice thing to have behind me for the start of the new year.

Not Quite a Tomato for Christmas

It has always been the aim of vege growers around here to have a tomato ready by Christmas.  Unless you have a greenhouse, plant very early in pots and bring in overnight for a couple of months, or are just brave and plant outside early and fluke a lack of late frosts it doesn't very often happen.

Well, we planted early and had a lack of late frosts.  This morning we picked our first couple of tomatoes.  They are a mini Roma variety.

We planted Improved Apollo (a normal sized tomato) at the same time and they are way off being ready, although there are some green tomatoes starting to get some size about them.

However, we will take the opportunity to brag while ever we can.

Friday 29 December 2017

A Lovely Christmas Gift

My good friend Loulee, or Manxgirl, who I met years ago on the Isle of Man sent us a gorgeous Christmas gift.

I was to open one present as soon as it arrived, but I was being super strong, so didn't open the envelope until Christmas, so didn't realise.  Anyway, there is a really cute cross stitched ornament, which will look lovely on our twig Christmas tree.  There are quite a few ornaments from Lou on there.

The main gift just blew us away! Lou knows we love the racing at the Isle of Man and this is just gorgeous.  The entire picture is cross stitched.  So much work, and beautifully executed.  The Manx fabric top and bottom finishes it off nicely.

Mick straight away announced that it will be hanging in the office.

Thanks so much Lou.  It really is appreciated.

I can't share Lou's gift yet, as I'm not sure if it has arrived in the post as yet.

Thursday 28 December 2017

Last Minute Christmas Stitching

This year I didn't get stressed by the lead up to Christmas, but that isn't saying that there wasn't a little last minute stitching.

Last year I made Mum a Christmas place mat and at the time said that I should make some for us.

So, just a couple of days before Christmas I pulled out some fabrics from the stash and made a couple of quick place mats and coasters. They'll do the job.

The other project was for Mum.

She has been lamenting that she needed a set of cutlery for eating a piece of fruit or something, so I pulled out some fabric from the stash and made her a little pouch to keep some in.  The lining is a tana lawn floral in similar colours.  Something so simple, but greatly appreciated.  Win.

I'm currently working....slowly.... at sewing the binding on my drunkard's path quilt.  This has been taking forever.  It is just so big, at 96 inches square.  Two sides to go.  I'm doing it in dribs and drabs in front of the cricket.  Hopefully I will finish it this year.

SSCS Received and Sent

Now that Christmas is over it is time to reveal what lovely gifts I received from Gail in Missouri USA in Chookyblue's Secret Santa Christmas Swap.   You can see the lovely ornament Gail made here.

Mick likes to take a photo of me opening the present. You can tell I was happy.

Wow! What a lovely collection.  The main gift is a Christmas table runner, which is perfect, as I use lots of table runners at Christmas time.  

The other bits and bobs are great - a tape measure, note pad and pins from the famous Missouri Star Quilt Company, as well as a sewing machine bookmark and charm, which will go on one of my pairs of scissors.  I was intrigued by the fabric which depicts "Kokopelli", a Native American deity I had never heard of.  Thanks Gail for the fabric and the information you provided on the design.

So I was thrilled with what I received.  Thank you Gail. 

Now, to what I sent to Martine in France.

I had fun with the L'il Twister Ruler to make  a wreath table centre or mini quilt, whichever you like.  I also made some coordinating hexy coasters.  Add a Hatched and Patched pattern, (as I had an inkling that Martine liked her style), a little notebook and pen and a scented sachet.  I think she liked it.  Happy dance.

And, of course, thanks to Chooky, with Denise's assistance, for pulling it all together once again. It really is a special part of Christmas.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Mum's Christmas Decorations

Way back in 2010 I share pictures of some of the handmade decorations on Mum's Christmas Tree.

Well, now that she is in residential aged care there isn't a lot of room to put up a tree, so a little lateral thinking was needed.  I searched high and low in town for a suitable tree to decorate and found nothing like I was hoping for. (Of course I have found a couple that would have been suitable in the week before Christmas - so be it.)

However, I did see a tree in Anni Downs' shop that might just work, but it was just a shop display.  I went home and described it to Mick and suggested he could make something similar.  He, of course tweaked it and we now have a "bespoke" Christmas tree to suit Mum's decorations.

So simple.  Just timber and a craftwood star from Bunnings, painted with chalk paint.  There are hooks attached that we just happened to have in the cupboard.  We were a little concerned that it wasn't terribly stable, so after this photo was taken, Mick attached a quarter inch thick steel plate to the bottom and painted it white as well.  After that it wasn't going anywhere.

We weren't quite sure how it would fit in Mum's room, but I secretly hoped it would fit on her desk and I was delighted when it did.  It is easy to see all her decorations, takes up no room and is not in the way.

Mum was thrilled to have so many of her hand made and special decorations on show and has had a wonderful time showing them off to everyone she can. The majority were made by Mum over the years.

For someone who doesn't do patchwork there are quite a few fiddly paper pieced and cathedral window decorations.

She also has a few other Christmas creations from over the years and I think she was happy to have them out on show.  Mum has always made small fiddly things, things that I don't generally have the patience for.

I forgot to take a photo of this year's creation.  She has crocheted a granny Christmas tree, added red beads to it and turned it into a brooch.  It looks great.

There has been no shortage of Christmas entertainment for the residents where she now lives, with concerts and entertainment of some sort or another several times a week right through December.  It makes our lead up to Christmas seem quite boring.  I'm just so pleased that we could add some Christmas cheer to her room as well.

So, on that note, Mick and I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Our Christmas Lights

Last year I shared here how our new home is in the centre of a popular Christmas Lights neighbourhood, with the house just up the road being one of the main decorated houses and how we made our own little contribution.

Well, this year we have put up just a couple more lights.  Still only a modest display compared to many of our neighbours.

Firstly, I need to show you our front garden in the day time.  It is rather different to this time last year when it was just newly planted.  "Mervyn" and "Murial" still look quite at home there.  Plenty of feed for them, and fortunately, they haven't destroyed the flowers.  The rose has just finished its first flush of flowers and is now starting to bud up again.  It looked a picture in bloom.

I was amazed, when I looked at last year's photos at how much it has filled out. 

We have just made a couple of additions this year.  I bought a little string of lights for inside, thinking they were white, but they ended up being multicoloured, perfect for twisting around our wreath on the front door.  It looked rather sad, being all dark at night.

We decided that a star on the gable above the garage would be nice, but we couldn't find a nice one in the shops, so Mick got creative and we now have a "bespoke" star.  He made a star out of flat steel and we then attached a length of rope lights to it.  We are rather pleased with how it turned out.  We had a string of white lights that weren't doing much, so we got a flower pot and put in the frame we use to grow our snow peas, which have just finished their season.  Wrap the lights around the frame, which coincidentally were just the right length, and you have a nice little tree.  Perfect.

That's enough lights for this year.  Who knows, there may be more added next year, or we may leave it as it is.

Monday 18 December 2017

It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

We've been having fun decorating the house for Christmas to suit the little changes we have made throughout the year.  

Here are our decorations from last year.

One spot we've tweaked  was in the sitting room.  The cabinets weren't here last year.

I started out with the vine ball sitting on the big old fat book, the small Christmas trees and the large vase.

It was OK, but last week, while in town, I came across some illuminated twigs and a couple of sprays of greenery.  They fitted perfectly in the vase, but the other side looked too low.  Let's add some more books, with gold detailing on the spine. Of course, there must be a stocking, this one made by my friend Loulee.  That looks better. 

Then, on the weekend, Mick and I were in town and one of the shops had a half price sale on all their Christmas decorations.  Enter a new Christmas wreath.  That will do nicely.  Hopefully, next year the desk will be replaced by a mantle piece and we can play some more.  We'll see how we go.

You've seen the twig tree, but here it is again.

The main tree is in the lounge room.  This room is pretty much the same as last year.  The tree can be seen from the street at night, as it has heaps of colourful lights.  There are so many memories contained in the decorations on show here.

We've had our Christmas mugs for quite a few years now.  Mick isn't so fond of them as they are a tad too tall to fit under the coffee machine, but for one month a year we muddle, because they are pretty.  This year I decided to add a few Christmassy tins for the coffee and chocolate.

Finally, our little kitchen shelf. Other than the Santas, this is all new.  This year is the first time I've seen the bottle brush trees in the shops here, after seeing loads on American sites.  I brought out my little Tonka truck that I've had since I was a preschooler, to carry the small one, then I found a couple of sweet white trees.  Thanks to Pinterest, I found a cute printable and popped it in a frame I already had.  (It conveniently hides an obsolete telephone outlet.)  I like the fresh, light look of this shelf.  

It seems a shame that it will all be put away again in only a short while, but it is fun for the short time all the decorations are on show.

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Secret Santa Christmas Swap 2017

I haven't mentioned it as yet, (rather remiss there), but I have once again taken part in Chookyblue's Secret Santa Christmas Swap.

Now that parcels have been sent and received I can reveal just a little.

This is what I sent all the way to France to Martine.

The ornament has been opened, so can now be revealed.

The mailman has now arrived at our house and I received a parcel all the way from America from Gail.  I love that she sent a map showing where she lives and included a booklet on Missouri, her local state.

Once I browsed about Missouri I opened the small parcel to reveal a beautifully made ornament.

It is even reversible.  How good is that!

It is now hanging pride of place on our twig tree, which showcases our growing collection of handcrafted and special ornaments, and sits on a runner which was a SSCS gift a few years ago.

Thanks Gail for the lovely gift and thanks of course to Chooky and her elf Denice for getting us organised once again. This swap is such a special part of Christmas.