Tuesday 31 December 2019

Looking Back at 2019 and Forward to 2020

I can't really believe that we are twenty years into the 21st century!  Where did that go?

It's that time of year when we reflect on the outgoing year and look forward to the next.


I just read my first post for 2019.  It was interesting reading.

2019 was, on the whole, like 2018,  a calm year compared to some of the previous ones.  

On the family front, we had some ups and downs.  

Sadly, we lost Mick's Dad, but we celebrated my Mum's 90th birthday.  Mick's Mum has recently moved into the same aged care facility as my Mum and the family are currently getting everything sorted out for her.  

On the travel front, we had our great month long trip through outback Queensland in May.  Other than that, we have had lots of day trips and visited many events.  Sadly, my blog posts seemed to fall to the wayside and I haven't documented many of them. Of course, our Lou and Tony visiting from NZ was a highlight.

On the home front, inside we have made a few changes.  I did blog about our laundry update, but not about our new display cabinets, or most excitingly, my sewing room organisation.  That will come very soon.  The pictures have been taken, ready to share.  

One big investment this year was to add solar power with back up battery to the house.  It is wonderful.

Outside, it is a bit of an ongoing battle with the elements.  We planted our cherry tree and removed the messy wattles, which I shared. The spring garden looked lovely, which I didn't share. As our local water supply continues to fall, we are only able to water the garden with a hand held hose for half an hour on Wednesday and Sunday evenings.  I so feel for those with much loved substantial gardens.  Due to the ongoing drought, back in March, Mick installed a 5,000 litre water tank on our shed, to add to the three 3,000 tanks we already had. What I didn't get around to posting is that in September he removed another ratty garden and installed a 10,000 litre water tank and has now set up for water from our house to go into the tanks.  I can't believe we have water storage for 24,000 litres of water on our residential block.........now we just need it to rain to fill them.  We were lucky to get a couple of good storms after we added the big tank, so they were all full at one stage. We are carefully rationing that water for our garden.  We have removed all annuals from the garden and are being mindful of what we water and what will be sacrificed, as there is still no rain forecast for some time.  Of course, there are many, many in a worse state than us.  We did plant a few veges.  Tomatoes were planted in pots quite early and brought inside each night to avoid frosts.  Picking a tomato before Christmas is always the holy grail.  We were picking them at the beginning of December.  The unseasonably hot weather may have assisted there.

On the stitching front I think I had a rather good year.  I once again joined in with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, One Monthly Goal and One Project a Month.  

I am so pleased to be able to say that I finished at least one project each and every month, even though some were very small.  Every little bit counts.

For the Rainbow Scrap Challenge I selected a very simple quilt pattern and for the first time, used it as a leader and ender project.  This was a double success, having finished the quilt by the end of the year and also realising that a leader and ender project works really well for me, and I have now started another one.

My goals for One Monthly Goal were generally quite small compared to others that were listed.  However, by making them achievable, every goal was met, and occasionally exceeded.  Setting small goals towards a larger outcome really worked for me.

In 2018 I wanted to really make a dent in my UFO pile, and I did complete quite a few, some being really old.  I hoped to continue on this path in 2019, but only finished one.  

This was the quilt I gave to Mum for Mothers Day.  It makes me so happy that she loves it and enjoys showing it off to the staff where she lives.  It was definitely worth getting my act together and finishing it off.  

Another outcome that I am happy with is that everything I started in 2019 I finished.  No UFOs created.  

I do have my WIP - The Splendid Sampler 2.  I always thought it would be a two year project and have been plugging away at it every month. I am on track to meet that time frame.  This year I have made several blocks that used foundation paper piecing, and as a result, feel much more confident with the technique.  Likewise, I've used the Ultimate Flying Geese Ruler for several blocks and now feel confident in making nice, accurate flying geese.

For something a bit different, I crocheted a shawl during the winter.  I really enjoyed making it.

So after reading that post at the beginning of the year, I seem to have achieved  pretty much everything I wished for.  It is a really good feeling.


2020 is going to be a year of change for us, as Mick is going to attempt to semi-retire as of now.  For someone who works hard and often six days a week, this will be some adjustment.  He won't go "cold turkey", as that would drive him mad.  He is fortunate in that he will have the opportunity to get work when he wants it.  The trick will be achieving a balance and working out how he will spend his extra time.  I'm sure motorcycling will feature, as we haven't been able to participate in many day rides, as he has been working, or we've had to do other things on the precious weekends. He may also do some volunteer work or join a service club.  Once again, things he has not been able to commit to in the past. I will continue to work three days a week.

We don't have a lot of travel planned for this year.  Just a week away to attend the Ulysses Rally at Lismore in May.  This will be our first motorcycling holiday since our failed trip around Oz in 2017.  We do hope to get away for lots of weekends in the van, or on the bike.  We were planning on leaving today for a few days, but the weather is too horrible to be enjoyable.  Of course day trips and attending events will be on our agenda, as always.

At home we have a few more home improvements in the pipe line.  They will keep Mick amused for a  little while......if he paces himself and doesn't have them done in just a couple of days.

Hopefully, this horrid drought will break and we can potter in the garden.  This is something Mick really enjoys.

Stitching will continue in much the same way as previously.  

I will once again participate in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, One Monthly Goal and One Project a Month.  

I have decided to make two small projects for RSC, rather than a quilt.  I will make just one block for each, each month, using new to me techniques.

OMG is the best thing to keep me on track with whatever project I am working on.  This will vary throughout the year.

OPAM is a great motivator to at least have something finished, and encourages me to sometimes make small, quick projects.

I  intend to finish Splendid Sampler 2 - hopefully by June, which is two years since its commencement.  I have decided to bight the bullet and make the extra blocks to have the full 100.

I'd like to complete more UFOs.  No set number, but at least make some progress.  Also, like in 2019, I want to complete whatever I start, or if a larger project, make progress each month. 

I have joined in  with Cheryll with her " WOOFA" Challenge - Working on or Finishing a UFO.  That may keep me motivated.

It seems that I am happy working on multiple projects, as long as I do a bit each month.  Having said that, I don't want to start a big project until SS2 is completed.  There are several I'd like to start, but they can wait quietly in the queue.

I have a leader and ender project on the go at the moment and I think it will become a charity quilt. This doesn't have to be a big quilt, so can also be an opportunity to increase my machine quilting skills.  Hopefully, I can make more than one.  We'll see.  The lady that lives two doors up from me is quite involved in making them, so I have somewhere to give them to.

Of course, the aim will be to use my stash as much as possible for all of the above.  Hopefully, I will only buy fabric for a specific project requirement, not "just because".

During the winter, I'd like to create another crochet project.  I have the yarn for a couple, so I'd like at least get one made.

Hopefully, I haven't bitten off more than I can chew for the year.  My aim is to achieve lots of small things, which will add up to a larger total at the end of the year.

I'm going to link up over at Quilting Jetgirl's Planning Party this year. The more accountable I am, the more I seem to achieve.

I hope everyone has a Happy and Productive 2020.  It will be fun to look back in twelve month's time and see how I went.

December Sewing Recap

It's the end of the month, year and decade!

How did I go with my goals?

At the beginning of the month I set my One Monthly Goal to be to finish my Rainbow Scrap Challenge Plus Quilt  and make one Splendid Sampler 2 block.


Yes!  It is totally finished.  You can see my main post here, but this is a much better photo.

And the backing.


Yes!  Another finish.  I knew this was a fiddly block, but just for fun, I counted the pieces.  Can you believe there are 84 pieces in this six inch block!!  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.


For a change, I have a few projects.  Obviously, the Plus Quilt.

The hanger I made for Loulee.

Two Christmas ornaments.  One for Loulee and one for us.

And, finally, a bib for the youngest member of Mick's family.

I'm pretty happy with that little lot, considering it is such a busy month.

I'm linking up with Elm Street Quilts, So Scrappy and Kris at Tag Along Teddies.

Thanks to all of you for keeping me motivated throughout the year.  These little challenges work very well for me.

Monday 30 December 2019


I've been involved in a few little swaps lately, but haven't shown any details.  It is about time I did!

Firstly, back in October (nothing like being timely), when Lou and Tony visited, Lou and I did a little swap.  

I gave her the Aussie Table runner that I shared back here, along with a couple of other bits and bobs I forgot to photograph.  Lou shared them on this post.

Lou brought some little gifties for me too.

A beautiful caravan stitchery.  I keep pinning this style of project, but have never made any.  I have the perfect place to hang it.  The caravan themed tea towel is beaut too.  Especially as one of the pictured vans is orange.  You have to love an orange caravan.......not that I am biased or anything.

Then, after I sent a tea towel to Jenny in NZ, I also sent one to June, as she admired it, and it would go very nicely in her caravan for Christmas.

I was delighted to receive a return envelope in the post.

How beautiful is that!  I have found the perfect place for it in my sewing room.  Thanks heaps June.  It was totally unnecessary, but lovely just the same.

Now onto Christmas......

Lou and  I have swapped gifts for quite some years now.  There are quite a few of her hand made ornaments on my tree.

I didn't have too much trouble deciding on a project this time, as while they were visiting, she commented how much she liked a certain hanger in the Natalie Bird Blue Book.

I really enjoyed making this one.  Lou loves blues, and I found a nice little selection.

Here is the complete group of gifts. I had to add one of Mum's crocheted hand towels and a little ornament. Unfortunately, it didn't quite arrive in time for Christmas, but then, there was another gift to open after the big day.

Lou's gift also got caught up in the mail, so I too had a nice gift to open after the big day.

Another caravan themed gift.  We love it!  We definitely are "Happy Campers". That will definitely get hung up in the van.  And, of course, another beautiful hand made Christmas tree ornament.  The fabrics are gorgeous.  I made similar ones back in the mid 80s.  What a difference the fabric makes.  Thanks heaps Lou.

And that is about it.

It has been fun over the last few months being involved in these little swaps.

As tomorrow is the last day of the month, year, and decade, I will do my final check in with December's makings.  Yes, as of a couple of hours ago I have achieved my goals.

Saturday 28 December 2019

2019 Rainbow Scrap Challenge Plus Quilt Finished

I have just a few minutes ago put the last stitches in my Plus Quilt, which was my 2019 Rainbow Scrap Challenge project.

It's not the best photo, as taken at 10.30 at night, but I just wanted to share that it is done and dusted!  I'm so happy to have completed the quilt within the year.  Happily, I was able to get the coloured blocks made each month, and then added a few extra blocks at the end to make the quilt larger.

The details of this quilt are:

Inspiration - Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2019 run by Angela at So Scrappy
Design - Plus Quilt - inspiration taken from many quilts on Pinterest
Started - January 2019
Completed - December 2019
Block Size - 10 inches
Finished size - 70 inches x 60 inches
Fabrics - Colours all from my stash, backgrounds taken from a Zen Chic "Modern Backgrounds" charm pack, stash and extra low volume greys collected along the way. (I have a nice little collection now.)
Stitched  - as a leader and ender project.
Backing and binding - tone on tone blue that has been in my stash for many years
Batting - cotton
Quilted by - my friend Val O'Shannesy.

I'm linking up over at So Scrappy.  Pop over and see the other completed projects and works in progress.

Thanks so much to Angela for organising this challenge it has been great fun.

Yes, I will participate again next year, but maybe not creating a quilt.  I may switch it up a bit.  We'll see. 

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Merry Christmas Lights

Twas the night before Christmas.......and we explored the Christmas lights.

It has become quite a tradition for us to take Mum around to see the Christmas lights and is something we all enjoy.

First, we have to see ours.

They aren't all that spectacular, bu are the start of our street, which we colloquially call "Christmas Street".


Each year we add something extra and this year it was "Skippy".

Not much has changed inside this time.

We've nearly reached saturation point with our decorations.

Our area of town is one of the most lit up, with the house just up the road winning the "Put Christmas in Your Street" competition.

Their next door neighbours added a good display as well, so it really is rather spectacular.

Several other houses in our street put up their lights and this year there were more than ever.  It makes it all rather festive.......and means that there is constant traffic going past enjoying the displays.

Another street behind us also has some impressive displays.  A favourite past time of ours is to go for a walk around the neighbourhood after dark to see them all.

This evening we drove around town for a couple of hours oohing and aahing over the various light shows.  

The most stunning sight is this tree totally festooned in white lights.  It was first decorated last year and this year they have added the large coloured star decorations.  So beautiful.

 Mum really enjoys it all, as do we. 

Tomorrow is a day of celebrating by spending time with family and friends.  It should be lovely.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Monday 16 December 2019

A New Leader and Ender Project

Now that the Plus Quilt top has been finished, I've been missing having a leader and ender project sitting beside my sewing machine. 

Time to start a new one, but what?  There are just too many choices and I have too much fabric as well.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time prepping, as that would defeat the purpose of achieving something for very little effort.

Finally, I made a decision.  I saw a quilt on Pinterest called Black and White TV.  It is really effective and made up just from half square triangles using half a black and white fabric and the other half just white.  Too simple.  Not only that, I have a charm pack of black and white squares that I had cut.  

Some years ago, I had made a black and white quilt and at about the same time my friend Loulee (Manx Girl) was also making one, and was looking for a few extra fabrics.  I cut her a charm pack and one for myself while I was at it. It didn't take much for me to now cut a bunch of white five inch squares to go with it.

So there we have it.  My flat storage box with white squares, black and white squares, white squares with the line drawn and pairs sewn together.  I"m sewing both sides of the line each time I pick up a block.

Once I get all these sewn, I'll cut, press and trim the blocks to size and see what I will do with them.  They may be the same as the inspiration quilt, or they may turn into something completely different.  Who knows?  The main thing is that I am sewing them and using that long forgotten pile of squares.  I have quite a little stash of black and white prints, so plenty of options to expand the project if I wish.  The only fabric purchased for this should be the white for the triangles.

There is no time frame for this, nor is their any planned purpose, but it will be a fun bonus project.

Sunday 15 December 2019

The Things You Find at the Op Shop

We popped into the local Sallys yesterday, still on the lookout for a replacement orange mug for Mick, and discovered this.

In among some tacky Christmas items was a handcrafted table runner.  It is one of Anni Downs' designs and have been nicely worked.

I couldn't leave it there for $2.00.

A quick run through the washing machine and it will get added to our collection.

Saturday 14 December 2019

A Nice Surprise

Each Thursday I take Mum into town to meet up with some of her friends and then we wander around the shops and do whatever we have to do.

Well, on Thursday I had a nice surprise.  

We were walking through Target and a lady came up to me and asked "Are you Janice?"

It turns out it was Louise who reads my blog, and although she doesn't have a blog of her own, has made an occasional comment on mine.

They have Bathurst connections and have even visited a few places in the area after reading about them here.

I was really chuffed.  It was so nice to meet her.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Unexpected Cooking

If you had told me in late November that I would be making a Cherry Pie, I would have replied "Yeah, sure....whatever you reckon!"

That was until we attended some Christmas markets in town late on the Sunday morning.  The markets had been going since Saturday morning and a cherry vendor had some cherries that had been sitting on ice all that time and were getting past their use by date. The price was $5 for two kilos.  What the heck, we'd buy some and do something with them. 

I thought there may be a cherry/olive pitter somewhere in the deep dark depths of the miscellaneous kitchen drawer - the one we all have, right?  There was.  So, after pitting them all and searching for recipes on Pinterest, I got baking and we had cherry pie for dinner.

It was SOOO GOOOOD!  When we were kids, Mum used to preserve cherries in the Vacola bottles and they had a very distinct taste from the seeds.  The secret ingredient in the pie filling was a tiny bit of almond essence and there was that same flavour.  I do admit that I used frozen pastry.  The pie did not last very long at all.  The best bit is that the other half of the pie filling is sitting in the freezer waiting for me to make another one.

If you had told me last Wednesday that I would be making marmalade I would have given the same response as for the cherry pie.

That was until Mum called to tell me she had been given about a kilo of cumquats at a Christmas party she attended.  My first thought (but not spoken) was "Mum, you live in aged care, what are you going to do with cumquats?"  

She rather sheepishly said "I thought we might make some marmalade."  Mum has made loads of preserves over the years.  She doesn't enjoy a lot of cooking, but this is a definite exception to the rule.  So, of course, on Thursday we started the process by cutting the fruit and putting it in the pan to soak overnight.

I was even able to bring out her jam making wooden spoon to use.  She has always had one for jam and one for sauce, so the vinegar taste from sauce and pickles doesn't taint the jam.  Look how much they have worn down over fifty years of making preserves.  I know they are a strange thing to keep, but they have so much character.

On Friday we completed the process.  Mum did a lot of supervising and teaching, as, although I have made quite a bit of jam over the years, I've never made marmalade.  I'm not that fussed on eating it, and it seems like a lot of mucking around. Mick on the other hand, loves some marmalade on his toast.  He happened to arrive home in time to have a bit of a stir and help with the decanting into the jars.  He also did the washing up.  Bonus!

We ended up with eight little jars.  I was surprised how far the fruit went.  It set really well, too.

When I took Mum back home each staff member we met asked how the jam making went and she was very happy to show off our completed product....even still a bit warm.  She'll enjoy taking a jar home with her every now and then.

I dare say I will have another go at making marmalade in the future.  However, the cupboard is empty of tomato relish, so that will be our next cooking episode...soon......then plum jam.......and tomato sauce.....

I just found a post where Mum and I made some plum jam a couple of years ago if you want to pop over for a look.

Wednesday 4 December 2019

One Monthly Goal Setting for December

I can't believe we are already up to our final month of goal setting for 2019.

Once again, my goal has been very easy to set.

My quilting fairy has returned from her holidays and this evening we will be delivering my Rainbow Scrap Challenge top and backing to her, so that she can spread her fairy dust.  The turnaround time is generally fairly quick, so my goal is to finish the quilt.  

I can't wait to have it on our bed, as the colours will be nice and fresh for summer.

In the background, I aim to have at least one Splendid Sampler 2 block made.  That will bring my number of blocks to 90 and then I hope to start preparing sashings.  I'll see if I end up adding the final ten blocks as I go along.

Pop over to Elm Street Quilts to see what other goals have been set for the month.