Sunday 31 December 2023

Looking Back at 2023

Here we are at the end of another year and time to look back over the last twelve months, which has been our first complete calendar year of not working.

It has been interesting to read over my post at the start of the year with my wishes for the twelve months ahead.  Let's see how I went with my goals from back then.
A big feature on how I achieve things is to set some goals each month and join in a couple of challenges.
I participated in One Monthly Goal again and was delighted to reach my goal every month.  Some were very simple, but the idea is to make it achievable.
I enjoyed the Rainbow Scrap Challenge again and made two different blocks each month.
I completed the black and white quilt using half square triangles.
The split nine patch blocks will be ongoing in 2024.
I also completed the 1930s butterfly quilt from 2022 RSC, which I was very happy about.
2023 saw me join in the 15 Minutes a Day challenge for the first time.  This worked so well for me.  It gave the push to do at least a little something each day, even when I didn't really feel enthused.  Here are my final stats:
15 minutes a day/2023 = 341/365
Success Rate = 93.42%

I'm really pleased with that.  The success rate is so much better than I anticipated.  It just goes to show that accountability works for me.
It is nice for stitching to be social.  The girls I have met online through my blog, via Zoom and in person are a truly wonderful group.
Scrub Stitchin' was super special this year, as we were joined by seven ladies, and in some cases their husbands, from all over the world.  To actually meet them in person was so nice. We also had some ladies attend from further afield in Australia and met them for the first time, which was equally special.
Our Chookshed Stitchers Zoom days are always a wonderful time.  We chat, laugh, solve the problems of the world and even get some stitching done on occasions.

This year I also wanted to join a local stitching group, now that I had the time.  I signed up for the U3A "Stitch and Chat" group at the start of the year and then very shortly after, a new group "Bathurst/Orange Patchwork and Bag Making" was formed, so I joined that as well.  Now, I head off to my stitching mornings on Wednesdays and Fridays.  They are both lovely groups to be a part of.  One advantage of these groups is that I am doing much more hand stitching, as it is too difficult to lug a sewing machine along.
This year I completed 48 projects.  I can't quite believe that.  Many are small, but it just goes to show what you can do when you have the time.
I had said at the start of the year that I would like to finish my Make it Blue Quilt.  That didn't happen, but I did make good progress.  Just two more borders to add.  My initial aim was for it to be a two year project.  I started it in June 2022, so I still have six months to go.

I finally started to use Monique, my Grace Q'nique 14+ quilting machine.  I have mainly quilted small donation quilts, but have done a couple of larger ones.  They have all been edge to edge pantographs, but I am gradually gaining confidence.

I mentioned at the start of the year that I needed to finish off some UFOs, as they were starting to build up again.  That is still the case.  I didn't get many finished. Quite a few of those just require quilting, which I am still trying to get to.  There is still a definite lack of confidence.  I will get there.
Talking of donation quilts, I took six quilts, a crochet rug and few other things I had made to Ronald McDonald House during the year and am working on another pile to donate fairly soon.

I specifically mentioned that I wanted to complete my kitten cross stitch.  I did make a start early in the year, but that petered out. The last time I did anything was in January.  It is really hard on the eyes, with the pale colours and really slubby, difficult fabric.  It requires too much concentration to take to stitching mornings and also requires good light.  It has waited this long to be finished, so a little longer won’t matter.  I won’t beat myself up about it.

I also mentioned a new leader and ender project.  I did start, but it also petered out.  Oh well, you can't win them all.
Knitting and crochet were on my wish list and I did work on some projects.  They are great to take to stitching mornings. I have rediscovered the joy of knitting.
Kits also were mentioned.  I did complete two bookmark kits.  Better than nothing, I suppose.
I started the Laundry Basket Spring Mystery Quilt and a crochet rug, which are still ongoing, but didn't create too many additional UFOs or WIPs, which is a positive.
So, what else did we get up to during the year?

We didn't travel as much as we expected.  Our trip to New Zealand in February was cancelled at the last minute, but we aren't too devastated about it.  
We took a quick trip to visit friends in Queensland in March.
April saw us have Lou and Tony visit and us all travel to Scrub Stitchin' at Baradine.  Sadly, the dreaded COVID attended as well.  
May took us to Nyngan and then down to Lake Cargelligo for a few days.
In June, we went to Nelson Bay to see the whales.
August saw us head off on our main trip, travelling to the Mundi Mundi Bash at Silverton.
We then kept on our way to South Australia to the Flinders Ranges.
And then to the Eyre Peninsula.  It was a wonderful trip, as we weren't rushed and had a good look around the places we visited.
We also took the van over to Gulgong for their swap meet, when the ute came home on the tilt tray.

Actually, now that I look back, we went away more than I realised.
We had plenty of fun days out, attending both Quilt Shows in Sydney.
There were loads of open gardens in the spring, as well as plenty of events attended in our more local area.
We continued to experiment with more new recipes and I read quite a few books, but not as many as I wished.
Sadly, my intention to be more active and get some organising happening at home seemed to fall by the wayside.
Motorcycling has not featured at all, with us only getting on a bike twice in the year.  As this is not nearly as big a part of our lives these days, Mick has sold "Snubby" the silver sidecar and her camper trailer.  They have both gone to separate homes in Victoria.  We are getting updates on Snubby, which is really nice.
Mick has a new toy and project, being "Rosie" the 1990 Suzuki Sierra.  He has been having a great time sprucing her up and kitting her out in preparation for a planned trip to Cape York in 2024.

We both started to learn to play lawn bowls at the start of the year.  I decided after a while that it wasn't for me, but Mick has really taken to it.  

So, that pretty much wraps up the year of 2023.  It has been a good year for us, as we settle into our "new normal".  It’s been fun looking back over the last twelve months.  Now it will be time to look forward to 2024.

Saturday 30 December 2023

Wrapping Up December

It is the second last day of the year and time to do a recap of the rest of December. Firstly, I will start with my stitching.
There isn't a lot to report, but I have completed a further four blocks of my Spiked Granny Rug.  This has been a great project to pick up at a moment's notice and do a little on.  I threaded in the ends this morning on yet another Zoom get together with the Chookshed Stitchers.  
It was a lovely sunny morning, so I set myself up on the little verandah outside the sewing room.  I didn't realise, but Mick snuck a couple of photos.  Joey was settled in his favourite morning spot.
Once the threads were tidied I picked up my ongoing stitchery.  I am finally starting to see some progress with this one.  I stitched most of the leaves today.  I now feel a little more enthused to finish it off.
This isn't my stitching, but my Christmas ornament from Lou arrived in the mail, just a tad late for this Christmas, thanks to the slow mail.  Isn't he a cutey.  He will be put away, ready to hang on my handmade ornament tree next year.
I will do my final report on my Fifteen Minutes a Day and make the assumption that I will work on something tomorrow.

15 Minutes/December = 27/31 - I think that is about my worst month.
15 Minutes/2023 = 341/365
Success Rate = 93.42%

That is so much better than I had expected.  The challenge really keeps me motivated and if I haven’t done anything during the day, Mick will also remind me to do my 15 minutes.  I’m looking forward to keeping this going next year.
What else did we get up to that I haven't reported?

Not very exciting, but we have had our internet connection updated so that we have fibre to the house rather than copper.  It was only connected yesterday and we can really see the improvement in speed.  
With my little goals, I actually found time to read a book.  It was a very quick and easy read.
I did make two new recipes, but forgot to take a photo of both of them.  Firstly, I found a recipe in the paper for a Pineapple and Coconut cake which used a can of crushed pineapple, juice and all.  It turned out fine, but did make a rather large cake, so ended up being a cake and a few muffins.

Secondly, I made some chicken meatballs from a new recipe for our neighbourhood Christmas party.  Some of the mix was saved and used as chicken rissoles.  They were very tasty.
There was a local hotrod display as a fund raiser at the start of the month, so we had a little look.
I joined a couple of friends for lunch at O'Connell and the village had a lot of gingerbread men decorating the fences beside the road.  They were each sponsored and were a fund raiser for the local primary school.  It was so bright and cheery.
Mick is really enjoying playing lawn bowls and has started to volunteer looking after the gardens.  As a part of that he has offered to restore and repair the fountain out the front of the clubhouse.  He is enjoying the challenge.
Some friends, knowing how Mick likes to watch the Boxing Day Test cricket match sent us a gnome for a Christmas present.  Mick loves it.  He looks so sweet and innocent here, as if he wouldn’t tell anyone to go away. Well, just try interrupting his cricket and you may get told.
Here it is, doing a fine job.
While Mick was watching the cricket I finally got out a jigsaw to work on.  This one came from the white elephant stall last year.  I knew it was a stack of quilts, but didn't realise until I got it out that they are actually Christmas quilts.  How appropriate.
Mum has never been a sporty person, but during the summer she liked nothing better than watching the test cricket and tennis and doing a large jigsaw.  When working on them, she always spread the pieces out on several trays.  Those trays now live here, so I used them for this puzzle.  I can't really remember them being used for anything other than jigsaws, so it was a nice trip down memory lane.  I don't think I realised that the two top trays actually have the same decal on them.  The roses on the beige one are hand painted.  The draught horses were always my favourites.
This is where I am up to now.  The easier parts are completed and I have to concentrate a bit more.  Hopefully, I will have it finished in the next few days.

Lots has been happening in the garden, but I will leave that for another time.

That just about wraps up December’s going ons.  Tomorrow, I will do a post looking back over the year, which I always find interesting to prepare.