Sunday, October 15, 2006

One of the very special things that happened for us while we were in the United States was for Linda and me to be able to be there to witness Jackson's baptism at the Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas - www.cumc.com

The service was along traditional, conservative lines but that does not mean to say it was without pizzaz. We were entertained by the church jazz band and the fully robed choir sang magnificently.

The church was promoting a recent release of a CD by the church choir and their first song of the day was from the CD and it was 'Shout to the Lord', by Australian contemporary Christiansongwriter, Darlene Zshech - a long time favourite chorus of mine, given a great hymnal treatment by this group.

At the end of the service we were all asked to stand and sing 'God Bless America' in remembrance of September 11 - which was to be the next day. We felt privileged to be part of this and our only regret was that we probably did not know the words as well as we would have liked.

It was so lovely to be in Dallas to share with this significant milestone in grandson, Jackson's life, and lovely that an Australian song should have been sung and that we could stand with representatives of the American population as they paused to remember what is still an extremely significant event in their nation's history.

We are pleased to report that Jackson was happy throughout the whole service - but we wouldn't have expected anything less - would we?
I have been to the Northern Hemisphere three times now and each time I have been fascinated with the squirrels I have seen.

I guess for anyone from the 'top half' of the world, they are so common, they probably don't even give them a second thought, but I love to watch these little creatures scurrying on ground level looking for food, sitting up on full alert or climbing/jumping around the local trees that are their habitat.

The squirrel in the image was at Battery Park, New York, where you catch the ferry to go to the Statue of Liberty.

There was a gentleman there who talked to tourists and told them how he had befriended some of the squirrels in the park and they readily accepted food from him.

We also stopped and watched squirrels in Central Park, New York, at my friend's place in Maryland and in St James Park, London on our way to watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

During our travels in the States and especially when we were driving east by car we had hoped to see second hand/vintage quilts along the way.

This was not to be the case and it was not until we reached Maryland and a friend took us to an Antique Mall that we realised where they could be found.

We still did not find a quilt, traditional or crazy that made us feel that we had to take it home.

One antique store I visited in Maryland had a small selection of quilts and the owner was busy marking them down by us much as 50% to get me to buy at least one of them.

I spied the block in the image - 18" square and marked at US$18.00. I asked if he was willing to come down on price on this and he sold it to me for US$10.00.

This is typical of the few crazy quilts I saw, very basic and utilitarian. This one is backed with mattress ticking and the fabrics are either clothing or upholstery. Mostly cottons or wools with tartans and a piece of cotton velveteen.

There is only one stitch used to embellish the block, feather stitch. Other quilts that were similar only had herringbone stitch on them.

One crazy quilt I saw was made from mens ties but was very worn and sad looking and again had only basic stitching for embellishment, nothing else.

I was pleased to be able to bring this block home as an example of the work to days gone by.

Monday, October 02, 2006

One of the things that make travel so interesting is the things that are different.

On our journey from Dallas to Little Rock, Arkansas we saw a road sign that said 'BUMP' - nothing else, just the word 'BUMP'. Sure enough just a little while later there was a bump in the road. I think we only saw this sign once or twice more in all of our road travels.

Another signpost, frequently used is the use of the word, EXIT. This caused some consternation to us because we found that on the freeways you would be looking to enter a freeway but the signposting leading the way always indicated EXIT whether you were leaving or entering a new highway.

This was brought home to us once again at the Empire State Building in New York. Everything there has to done in a very orderly fashion to process the many people who go through the building every day. From beginning to end, on the sign posting all of the way was the use of the word, EXIT. The use of the word, ENTRANCE, did not seem to come into play at all.


England swings like a pendulum do,
Bobbies on bicycles two by two.

It is very hard to come on a trip down memory lane to London without remembering the words of the Roger Miller song that was such a hit in our younger years.

Once again there is so much to do and so little time, but we are endeavouring to make the most of whatever time we have.

We had planned a walk in Hyde Park yesterday morning but the weather was against us so we took a red bus to Pimlico and the return journey provided an opportunity for us to stop off at Westminster Abbey. We arrived at 12 noon and it was lovely to hear the chimes of Big Ben ring out.

Being a Sunday, there was an abundance of tourists, far more than either of us could remember from previous visits to London.

By prior arrangement we were due to meet Linda's relatives at Trafalgar Square and, as the weather was turning against us once again, we sheltered at the front of the National Art Gallery while we waited. This spot gave us a wonderful overview of Trafalgar Square which has lost none of its majesty over the years and I can see why it is still a great gathering place on New Year's Eve.

After a lovely get together with friends and family we took time out to have a quick look at some of the wonderful array of paintings at the National Art Gallery before it closed for the day.

Back to the buses and we worked our way across town to Knightsbridge and a quick look at the wonderful food halls at Harrods before we wearily made our way home, once again by bus. We were so pleased when the bus stop turned out to be just in front of our hotel and so it was not too long before we could collapse in our room and take stock of a lovely day in London.


After the bustle and activity of New York it was quite a contrast to go to Boston for a brief interlude before leaving the USA altogether.

Such was the contrast of Boston to New York we actually felt that we had left the USA altogether.

Our stay in Boston was all to short and it begs another, more leisurely visit from us.

We did manage to fit in a visit to the USS Constitution, one of the first ships built by a then fledgling nation and still in commission by the USS navy.

The ship is kept in beautiful condition and tours of of the ship are well conducted by members of the navy.

Following this we went back into the city streets in search of a nice place for lunch. We found a delightful Irish pub and had a very nice meal there. The ambiance, the food and a most welcome glass of Guinness contributed towards Boston being added to our list of highlights in our visit to the United States.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

New York, New York

New York certainly is a very busy city with people from every race and creed
living here.

We have done the Statue of Liberty thing, been up the top (as far as we were
allowed to go) of the Empire State building, seen Ground Zero, Times Square,
went to see Phantom of the Opera and shopped ‘til we dropped.

We found an altogether lovely costume jewellery store on 5th Avenue and I have added another watch to my collection. Don't ask me why, I have now bought four of them since I have been here.

Our hotel is in the midst of Broadway and not far from Times Square so there is activity, motion, horns tooting, people walking, street vendors, you name it they are there.

In the midst of all of this Linda spotted a sign – Unnecessary Noise Prohibited – oh really?

Central Park is just as lovely as anything you have ever seen in books or
movies and Linda and I went to a most wonderful restaurant there for lunch, Tavern on the Green. I had the most expensive BLT ever for lunch - about US$24 - so you can imagine what the other items on the menu were like.

This place was so lovely and fresh, bowls of fresh flowers on the tables, lots of windows and soft lighting with green outlooks towards Central Park. White d├ęcor with lots of floral paintings and an amazing array of coloured chandeliers and light fittings.

Linda and I also discovered a lovely Italian restaurant (Trattoria Daniella – 728 8th Avenue) close to our hotel and have given them quite a bit of our business. When you find a good restaurant, on your travels, it seems nice to be able to stick with it. It seemed easier than working our way through the myriads of eating houses that New York had to offer.

It would have been a crime to come to New York and be in the midst of Broadway and then not go to a show so we had to choose. Some shows were eliminated because they were not open on Monday nights and that was the only night we had available to go. Linda and I had never seen the Phantom of the Opera and it was right next door to our hotel so that is what we decided on and we did not regret our choice. It was a real treat for both of us.

A great way to get around New York, if you are there for a short time and want to get to see the inner city is to buy a pass for their double decker buses. These will take you on different loops around the city, commentators accompany the buses and add interesting detail of all the landmarks and activities going on around you. The roof has been removed from the top level so that you have open air views of the city as you move around. Most people sit up here and it is a great way to get an idea of what is going on. Be warned - it can be cold, so take a jacket at least, and be prepared to duck your head in relation to overhead traffic lights and branches of trees. You can freely pick up or get off the bus at regular intervals along the way.



Wednesday, September 20, 2006

We have been fascinated with so many varied and different homes along the roadways between Dallas and Maryland.

When we arrived in Memphis we got a 'little bit lost' as we searched for the hotel we had pre booked and as a consequence saw a mix of housing in the suburbs.

We spotted a sign for a garage sale and stopped to see if there might be anything we would like to take home with us.

I came away with some jewellery - bargain priced at 50c per piece.

Across the road from the sale I spotted this home and it represented many that we had seen. Nestled amongst trees it typifies many of the homes here.

I had visited Dallas in December and it had been so brown and the trees were barren. It has been so nice to come back at a different time and with autumn approaching I am thoroughly enjoying the many trees of all shapes and sized in abundance.

Thankfully, I can add, that after quite a bit of suburban travel in Memphis, we did find our hotel.
Growing up in a very small town in New Zealand in the 50's and taking on the era of rock 'n' roll and Elvis Presley, I would never have dreamed that I would one day sit on the seat in the front of the house that Elvis Presley called home.

Linda and I enjoyed Elvis so much in those early years (not to mention our mother) and collected records, books and went to see as many of his movies as we could.

Initially we thought that the tours for Graceland had been booked out for the day we were going to be in Memphis, Tennessee but we decided to turn up before the booking office opened that day. We were second in the queue and we able to go through the building as members of the first tour of the day.

It was very satisfying to move on in our travels knowing that we had achieved what was a milestone to us.

The last few days have been very pleasant as we have worked our way east from Dallas and head towards Maryland.

Today we discovered a delightful little town called Parrottsville, Tennessee, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains and one of the earliest settlements in that area.

Although Halloween is still some weeks away we have noticed shops selling product already and some homes along the way have been decorated to varying degrees with halloween theme items.

The house in the above image is a bed and breakfast and had scarecrows and pumpkins out the front.

Just up the road from the house there was a general store totalled decked out with Halloween theme items and two benchs covered with all sorts of pumpkin and squash.

Thursday, September 14, 2006



Babies are special and Moms are special too.

Feeding time between them is extra special and it has been our privilege to watch the bonding process between Lisa and Jackson at these times.

Lisa and David have taken time out to take us to a lot of eateries during our time in Dallas and this was one such occasion in an Ihop restaurant on a Saturday afternoon.

Jackson's needs are simple - at this stage he only needs his bottle and nothing off the menu.

We were told before Jackson was born that his nursery was to have a cowboy theme so appropriate fabric had to be found.

Down Under, in New Zealand, cowboy fabric is scarce and so we had to resort to sending to the United States for fabric to be sent to New Zealand so we could make up the quilt to bring it back to the States with us.

Linda was the brains behind the design of the quilt. I was happy to assist with cutting and pressing but Linda gets all the credit for putting this together and for quilting it so nicely.

The quilt looks great in his room and Mom and Dad were happy to receive this extra accessory for Jackson's room.

Of course we had to get the little man to try it out for us and we thought he looked pretty good lying on it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

QUILT SHOP HOP - DALLAS, TEXAS

A trip to the United States just had to include matters of quilting interest.

At first we looked for quilt shows but they were either before or after our scheduled visit dates.

Linda, however, spotted a Dallas Quilters Shop Hop for the time that we were going to be in Dallas and so we made enquiries about the possibility of joining a bus tour, resulting in us being able to join a lovely group of ladies for 2 days to visit quilt shops in north and south Dallas.

This proved to be an ideal way for us to meet some lovely people, get a great snapshot of the Dallas metroplex, as well as enabling us to see 13 different quilt shops.

You might think that to see one quilt shop you have seen them all but we found they each maintained individuality sufficient to keep our interest sharpened right to the end.

Our group photo was taken at the end of the second day outside Quilters' Dream the shop which hosted the bus tours and includes our delightful bus driver, Prentis.


QUILT-A-LOO

Never let it be said that this quilt shop would like to miss an opportunity to promote for retail.

Not the only one we saw like this on our Quilt Shop Hop around Dallas.

Even the cutting room where staff were working behind the scenes preparing kits, etc., was not off limit to customers - might as well make the most of every little bit of bit of space available.
Our Claim to Fame

Some people say that everybody knows somebody who is famous.



Linda (left), Peggy (middle) and Royce (right).

We were participating in a quilt shop hop in Dallas and in one of the first stores there were fabric postcards, one with an image of Elvis Presley's face.

One of the ladies from our group looked at the postcard and said, "I know Elvis, I am from Memphis and I went to school with Elvis."

I immediately went over and stood next to her as my claim to fame that I have met somebody who knows somebody famous.

We got to talk some more with Royce during the day and she said that Elvis was very popular at school and regularly participated in the monthly school talent shows. She remembers Elvis being blonde and seemed disappointed that his publicists 'got to him' to change his hair colour.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It has been so nice for us to observe David's involvement in all facets of fatherhood, bathing Jackson as per image, babysitting, preparing baby's bottle, changing nappies and clothes and taking him out with us to shopping centres and restaurants.

Note - this lovely little baby's bath has legs, a mattress for baby to lie on, as well as an attachment at the bottom of the bath that allows you to shower the soap off baby after you have finished washing.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A trip to Dallas would not be complete without an update on our border collie, Ivey.

True to his nature, the excitement of our arrival caused young Ivey to make a little puddle on the floor.

He was so pleased to see us and there was no doubting that he remembered who we were.

The Texas summer has been so hot and so Ivey has had the shortest hair cut ever to help him to cope.

As lovable as ever, he seems to have come to terms with his lot in life here and he and Monet (the other family dog) are good companions.

Linda made a lovely meat pie last night for our dinner and Monet and Ivey just about had a fight over who might be recipient of the left overs, if there were going to be any!

David and I took the two of them for a walk in the neighbourhood last night after dark. They both still put great ghusto into their walking efforts as they both like to strain to take the lead. Ivey still manages to be the leader for the best part of journey.
We have arrived in Dallas and David was there at the airport to meet us with Jackson in tow.

Our journeying went well, in spite of conflicting and misinformation about what we were and weren't allowed to take on board our flights as carry on luggage.

We were both impressed with the refurbished Air New Zealand planes and enjoyed some of the best airline food in many a year.

Our brief sojourn in Los Angeles went well - going through customs was relatively easy and we had time to spare while we waited for our connecting flight to Dallas.

Linda commented that she felt that spending time at LA Airport showed just how much we have become a global village with so many similarities in the way people dressed. She did begin to wonder why there were so many coloured people around and then she reminded herself that she actually was in the United States of America and perhaps this may be the norm here.

Whilst I am enjoying revisiting memories of last December, it is lovely to see Linda's reaction as she makes observations on the American way of life for the first time.

Already we have had the opportunity to visit a couple of SUPERSIZE stores - Hobby Lobby and Walmart - and had a lovely lunch out at a local Thai restaurant.

Tonight Linda is introducing Lisa to the delights of a meat pie, down under style. We hope it will become another favourite, like the meat loaf from last visit.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

From time to time I receive commissions to create crazy quilt cushions with a memory theme that incorporate photos of significanceto the owner.

This past week three of them have been on display at Legacy, 215 Chadwick Road, Greerton, Tauranga, New Zealand.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Milestones at the beginning of a child's life are so special.

Seeing Jackson's face come to life with the first smiles that follow those first 6 weeks is just one of those precious moments.

I look forward to seeing lots more.

Monday, June 05, 2006






On Friday 30th May a group of ladies gathered at Tau Tau Lodge, on the outskirts of Tauranga for a day of teaching with well known crazy quilting tutor, Judith Baker Montano.

This was Judith's 3rd visit to New Zealand but her first to Tauranga.

As always, Judith was very generous and kind with her sharing of her knowledge of this craft.

At the beginning of the day, Judith spent considerable time talking about the use of colour in crazy quilting and this was reflected in excellent results by the ladies who participated.

Judith always brings a selection of her own completed and works in progress and these are always a source of inspiration on the day.

The images from this Blog entry:-

1) Judith demonstrating the 'how to' for making a crazy quilt block'
2) A heart block completed by Judith and used to demonstrate the use of colour;
3) Demonstrations over, it was time for the ladies to get on with their individual projects;
4) Two of Judiths wallhangings - the one on the left features original cigarette silks - the one on the right is family heirloom piece and reveals many images of Judith's family;
5) The work of the day over, the pupils gathered in the lovely gardens at the front of Tau Tau Lodge to have a group photo taken. Judith is sitting on the ground in front and yours truly is seated at the left end of the photo.

Thanks to friend, Julie, for taking the photos.

If you are looking for a lovely, peaceful haven for rest and recreation, Tau Tau Lodge, hosted by Barry and Lorraine Langford provides that as a bed and breakfast retreat - lovely craft shop attached.

For more information:-
Barry and Lorraine Langford
1133 Pyes Pa Rd, RD 3, Tauranga
Ph + 064 7 543 1600
Email: tautaulodge@ihug.co.nz

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Crazy quilters (and other sundry crafters) seem to love using the fabric from men's ties.

Often they can be found in op shops searching out these treasures and if they are lucky they might even find some beautiful silk ones along the way.

My friend, Julie, approached some tie manufacturers and scored a whole box of tie off cuts in an array of beautiful colours.

Knowing my love of all things autumn she shared some of her wonderful stash with me.

I made the block in the image with intention of embellishing the seams with my stash of rayon threads while on holiday with my sons in Sydney - so far the block remains naked - oh dear. Still I have a few days left, so you just never know.

Last night I actually got it out but ended up stitching on another block instead. Maybe tonight...............

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

















A short walk up the road from Liberty Grove is a shopping mall.

Looking out from the front of the mall you can see the entrance to Bi-Centennial Park and beyond to the stadium and other facilities used for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Apartments across from where Rick and James live at Liberty Grove.