Monday, December 30, 2013

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world

We farewelled James on Friday and David and family on Saturday.

Our family reunion in this part of the world has come to an end and everyone has now made it safely home.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Ricky has been spending time with brother Aaron and family and getting better acquainted with his niece, Anna-Clara.

The clarity of the image is not good - sent by smart phone, but the happiness of both is worth sharing.

Our little Anna-Clara continues to grow and be as cute as ever.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Time for a cruise

Today there was time to take in Lake Taupo aboard a yacht.

In the morning we said goodbye to James and Courtney as they headed for Auckland and then home to Sydney.

Later in the day we had an enjoyable lunch at a local restaurant, Piccolo's, a favourite location of ours for coffee, breakfast or lunch.  We were just finishing there and about to head for our cruise when the heavens opened and it rained and rained.

We began to wonder if the cruise would happen but by the time we found our yacht the rain had stopped.  The clouds overhead still looked threatening but amazingly we managed to cruise for 2.5 hours and not get wet.

It is a warm summery day here and we were amazed at how the temperature dropped once we got out on the lake.  Fortunately fleecy lined ponchos were supplied and gratefully worn - hence our 'grey uniform' look.

Our time on the water was very, very pleasant.  Nothing quite like the gentle rocking motion of a boat on the water.

Lots to see, the coastline of Taupo and beyond, sheer cliff faces, maori carvings in the rock face, parasailing, sky divers, jet skiers, would be fisherman showing off their catches of the day.  It was all there.

We were very appreciative that David and Lisa made this opportunity available for us.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I hope you have had a lovely Christmas whatever your circumstance.  A lot of what Christmas is all about centred around my young grandson, Jackson.  He was very patient while he waited for us grown ups to get our act together so that presents could be opened.

The next event of the day was inevitably the main meal of the day.

We had a half leg of ham prepared for us and it was delicious.  New potatoes from our garden seemed to be extra delicious along with the roast vegetables and fresh green beans.

Another Christmas well spent and well fed too.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Jackson, Alpacas and Kunekune Pigs

One of our Sweet Pea friends, Rochelle, lives on a lifestyle block and she thought it might be nice for Jackson to visit to help feed the alpacas and kunekune pigs on their property.

Her two chickens could not resist getting in on the act as well.  When the pigs stopped eating they were happy to take their turn with the remainder of the scraps.

A lovely 'real life' experience for Jackson.  Thank you, Rochelle.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Jackson, Masterchef?

Jackson's Great Aunty Linda thought it would be a great activity for them to make pizza together during his stay.

They had such a great result it was decided that when Uncle James arrived they would go through the process again.

Second time around it was just as good and disappeared in a flash.

Maybe we have a budding masterchef in the making?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Dance time

After dinner tonight, Jackson and his Great Aunty Linda treated us to a demo of a kindergarten dance routine they had been practicing together.

It was a lot of fun.  Jackson has certainly had a great variety of activities to fill his life since coming here.

Tomorrow the family is off to Hobbiton Village in Matamata, New Zealand.  Jackson's father, David, has been interested in Lord of the Rings since his teen years and the family have followed the movies so to go 'on location' should be a great experience for them all.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Uncle James has arrived

Jackson knew when he arrived at our place that Uncle James would be visiting as well.

Every now and then the question was asked, 'When is Uncle James arriving?'

Finally, last night, James arrived.  Because he arrived late he had to have a sleep in but finally he put in an appearance and Jackson has been happy to capture his attention whenever he can.

Jackson's father, David has three brothers, Aaron, James and Ricky.  Jackson has met them on different occasions but not altogether.

Today he kept on calling James, Uncle Ricky.  I reminded him that this was Uncle James, not Uncle Ricky and he said, 'I know, but it is hard because I have so many uncles.'

Life has stepped up a notch for Jackson with the arrival of Uncle James.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cricket and all that

Jackson's Daddy grew up in Australia in the golden days of cricket with such players as the Waugh brothers, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Ian Healy, Mark Taylor and many more.

Many a happy hour as a family was spent watching the many games that came our way through visiting teams from other countries all too keen to defeat the Aussies but often going away disappointed.

Jackson is growing up in the United States and although he plays soccer and likes basketball he really does not know anything about cricket.

Jackson's Daddy, David, decided that on this holiday with us it would be a good opportunity to share the finer points of this sport with him.

Our front lawn has proved an ideal location and already they have spent considerable time honing their skills.  I understand they are going to continue when they return home.  Maybe our American cousins may get to appreciate this game as well.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New potatoes

Jackson really enjoyed the planting experience in the garden with Aunty Linda the other day.

While they were busy planting Aunty Linda was telling him about 'bandicooting' for potatoes.

We have potato plants in our garden and so a little bandicooting was required.  

Together we showed Jackson how you dig with your hands around the base of the potato plant to see if any potatoes have developed.  By the time we finished we had enough to include new potatoes on the menu for lunch that day.

Although the taste of new potatoes did not appeal to Jackson he did like the digging experience.

He is keeping a journal of his holiday adventure and that evening he wrote, 'bandicooting is like digging for treasure without a shovel.'

Nuggety new potatoes from our own garden are a real treasure to us!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The innocence of childhood

One of the things that Jackson has learned to enjoy since coming to stay is letting the hens out each afternoon for a bit of freedom.

He likes to have the honour of opening the door to the coop himself and enjoys the antics that follow.

Yesterday I found him sitting on the bank quietly watching them digging and scratching and doing what hens do.

He likes to do that but he also enjoys being able to coax the hens back into the coop after they have had their fun.  Throwing them some wheat as part of the whole process is an activity he likes to participate in as well.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Time for the garden

Seven year old Jackson hasn't had any experience of gardening and so today he was in for a bit of 'real life' experience with Aunty Linda in the garden.

Children size gloves were bought for the occasion.

The hose needed to be extended and Jackson also needed to carry the plants to the spot high on our block of land.

His Great Aunty Linda showed him how to take the plants out of the pots to put them in the soil.

Linda had dug holes for each plant and filled them with water.  This she called mud pies and Jackson was greatly taken with the concept.

He has a daily journal to write for school even though on holidays and writing about his gardening experience is top of the agenda for today.  He even wants to know if Great Aunty Linda is going to be planting out again tomorrow.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The simple things in life

Jackson is here on vacation with Mom and Dad but it is still school time back in Seattle and so his teacher prepared an 'adventure' book for him with activities that need to be completed before he returns to school.

When he gets home his school will be on Christmas vacation and so he gets to have an extended vacation.

Mom and Dad are happy to be in New Zealand at this time of year because back home it is dark by 5pm.  They are enjoying the warm, sunny days and the extended sunlight in the evenings.

One of Jackson's activities for his 'adventure' book required a ruler so we went looking for one.  The one I found for him was a metal one and it just happened to have two very strong magnets attached.  After homework was done he had extensive fun, and continues to do so, with the magnets.

Amazing how appealing the simple things of life can be.  I well remember how fascinating I found magnets to be when I was young.  Ah, for the simple things of life.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Family arrivals

Much excitement at our place at the arrival of family members from Seattle.  David, Lisa and Jackson came to us via a few days of rest and recuperation in Hawaii.  Hugs all round and a special hug from Jackson for Aunty Linda.

Our son, James, is talking of coming too from Sydney, so it could be quite a family gathering here for this Christmas.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Where the wind doth blow

We used to have several of these poppy plants growing in parts of the garden where we could easily see them from our house.

This year they seemed to have disappeared altogether.  A bit sad we thought.

We had saved seeds from previous years and sprinkled them in the garden to no avail.

Then a lovely surprise.

At the back of our property we have an area we call the 'secret gully' and Linda spotted a magnificent specimen of this lovely poppy plant.

Definitely self seeded, the poppy must have wanted to claim this secluded landscape all to itself.

Mount Tauhara in the distance and the Waikato River in the middle what better place for the poppy plant to grow.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Pikelets or pancakes?

We grew up with these yummy treats called pikelets.

Americans make their own version, much larger of course, and known as pancakes.

When my grandson, Jackson visited when he was three years of age I introduced him to pikelets. They soon became a firm favourite and it is a given that when Nana visits there will be pancakes.

This year Jackson, now seven, is coming to visit with us (Mom and Dad are coming too).  'Pancakes' have already been requested and much anticipated so I made a batch today for the freezer so we can be sure not to disappoint when family arrive this week.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Last of the year

 This week our Sweet Pea ladies met for morning tea in a local cafe.

Our last meeting for the year, it was nice to do something a little different.

As always, our common sewing interests were part of the mornings proceedings and Debbie brought along this quilt top she has nearly finished.

Stunning, to say the least.
Created by the Gourmet Quilter this pattern is available on her website.

You may like to take up the challenge.  Debbie has enjoyed the process and is looking for another project that equals this.

We will take a break now over the Christmas holiday period and start meeting again towards the end of January next year.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Magic binding lives on

Linda wrote about this quilt after she had finished machine quilting it.

That was earlier this year.

Last week the owner, Jo, came to visit and brought the quilt with her for a little more show and tell.

Jo had read about magic binding on my blog and decided to give it a go herself.

It looks so good.  Nice to know that by sharing on my blog others can pick up ideas and run with them.

Magic binding lives on.

Thanks for sharing your show and tell, Jo.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The gift of friendship

At the moment we are enjoying flowers in our home that have only come our way through the thoughtfulness of friends.

One of our Sweet Pea ladies, Andreena, popped in to see us the other day and brought these lovely roses from her garden.

These alstroemerias are growing in our own garden but only because of another one of our Sweet Pea friends.

Debbie has these in her garden and they grow so well there she feels they could be considered to be weeds.  They seem to have a habit of growing everywhere, even amongst the vegetables.

A couple of years ago she was digging out the bulbous roots and brought a whole lot our way.

They have taken a couple of years to get established at our place and we are now reaping the benefits.  We have a lot of garden area and are happy for them to grow where ever they like.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Birthday blocks - something different

When Rochelle heard about the birthday blocks the Sweet Pea ladies were going to make for each other she was not sure that wanted to have some made for her.

However, she went away and found a birdhouse pattern that she liked and so birdhouse blocks have been happening.

Different and very bright, they should make a very cheery quilt for Rochelle when they all come together.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It really works

On the 15th November, Deb Stambaugh shared on her blog, A Simple Life Quilts, about a quilt she was making from half square triangles.

I left a comment about the quilt admiring the fact that she was willing to make so many half square triangles to achieve a lovely result.

She wrote and told me about a favourite quilting tool - a Triangle Square Up Ruler and what a great bonus it was for this process.

I thought it worth investigating.

Eleanor Burns, the creator of the Triangle Square Up Ruler, talks about how to use the ruler on this video and it was enough for me to decide to buy and try.

The ruler arrived today and it worked for me.  It really does eliminate some of the trimming required to square up the blocks and that is a huge plus for me.

Thanks, Deb, for sharing with me - great to have good quilting friends in this blogging world.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You may have guessed

When I wrote about making a hexie fabric coasters the other day you may have guessed that hexie fever was headed my way once more.

When I made the Science Fair hexagon quilt top in July I was already thinking of the possibilities of making something similar in different fabrics.

In my stash I had a jelly roll of fabric that I had purchased last November when visiting in Seattle.  At the princely sum of US$7.50 it seemed like a bargain to hard to leave behind.

What to do with the jelly roll once I brought it home was another story but it did occur to me that I might use it to make a hexagon quilt.

The 2.5 inch strips from the jelly roll lend themselves to this sort of project really well.

I soon came to realise there would not be enough fabric from the roll to complete the project so I added some soft pink fabric which I had purchased in a stash busting exercise a while back and with this combination I am making good progress.

This is not the final arrangement.  I am pinning the blocks to the design board as I go.  No doubt changes will be made before I am through.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Margaret's work in progress

When we were Margaret's for Sweet Peas last week, Debbie asked if she could see the Golly Quilt that Margaret has as a work in progress.

This was a block of the month project and a lot of work has gone into it to bring it to this stage and still it needs more before Margaret can have it quilted and bound.

I took some close up images of certain parts of the quilt so you can get a better idea of what is involved.

You can see those images below:-

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gift for a friend

 I visited at a friend's place the other day and she has small circular tables like this one attached to her lounge room chairs.

She only had small round coasters on the tables and it put me in mind of the hexie fabric coasters I made in July when I was going through a hexagon phase.

It seemed only the right thing to do to come home and make some in colours that she likes.

Fancy getting Kaiser the cat included in the photo - how did that happen?

The pair of hexie coasters completed and made so they are fully reversible.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

At last

This week I was able to finish piecing together the Urban Nine Patch blocks I have been working on since early October.

I have really, really enjoyed making this project and doing something totally different from the normal.

The curved piecing is designed so that you can sew without pins.  At first I thought that would be a challenge and I found it so but used a spot of glue at the beginning and end of the curved seams to help.  By the time I finished I was able to abandon that and work without pins or glue.

Jenny Pedigo, the creator of the Urban Nine Patch pattern has just completed quilting another Urban Nine Patch quilt and it looks amazing.
You can take a peek here at her wonderful work.

The good news is that I have enjoyed the process so much, I am going to make another curved piecing quilt but in totally different colours.

It is not too far down the pipeline........

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sweet Peas meet at Margaret's place

This week our Sweet Pea ladies met at Margaret's place.

The first thing that greeted us was these beautiful roses.  Roses were in abundance at her property and these ones were extra special.

Margaret had a couple of items to share.  On the left a gift from an overseas friend.  A necklace knitted with sparkly ladder yarn and finished with a large cube shaped bead.  The star block on the right is the beginning of a Kaffe Fassett quilt that Margaret has recently embarked on.

Andreena shared two recent projects she has been working on with Christmas in mind.  On the left is a table runner for a family member visiting from overseas.  The Christmas panel is for a another family member.  Andreena has highlighted the snow flake motifs by machine quilting.  Fairy lights are also an added feature for this wall hanging.

Moira was thrilled with the machine quilting that Linda had done on her golly quilt.  You can see some more detailed images of the golly quilt on Linda's blog. Rochelle has made a major achievement in completing her 36 block quilt as you go retro flower quilt.  Very impressive and so bright and cheery.

Thank you for a lovely morning, Margaret.

Monday, November 18, 2013

That's my excuse

I am well aware that my Urban Nine Patch blocks are still waiting for me to piece them together.

However, I have another challenge that needs my attention before I can complete them.

Our Sweet Peas group meets this Wednesday and we have a couple of outstanding birthdays for which our ladies need to make Birthday Blocks.

Contrary Wife is the block of choice for Mary on the left and Basket on the right, is for Moira.

Samples needed to be made, some instructions need to be written and then, maybe then, I can return to finish off the Urban Nine Patch.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quilt labels

When Linda and I make quilts we usually add a label as a finishing touch.

Sometimes I am asked by others to make quilt labels for them and such was the case this week.

Methods for making quilt labels can be so varied and I have tried a number of different ways over the years.

This past week I had three different labels to print and complete and my latest way of completion is to frame the label with a single layer binding.

Top left - I cut a 1 inch binding strip the length of the outside edge of the label plus 6 inches;
Top right - I sewed the binding on to the label the same as if I was binding a quilt, doing mitred corners as I went;
Bottom left - After pressing I turned the binding to the back and pressed, making sure the corners were pressed neatly.  The binding will have raw edges on the reverse side but this will not matter;
Bottom right - I turned the label over to the front and it is now ready to be hand stitched to the back of the quilt. All the raw edges are now hidden.

I repeated the process for all three labels.

I like to use some of the quilts backing fabric for the binding, if it is available.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Our changing times

Today my brother and I had a discussion about the way we communicate with each other.

When we were young our Mum encouraged us to write letters.  We never failed to write home if we went away for a holiday and when we left home letters were still an expectation.

Along came the internet and with it e-mails.

I really liked this form of communication - the speed, compared to snail mail, was great.  With it, though, came a more casual air about how we talk to each other.  I used to work under a senior manager who thought it okay to e-mail communications without any form of capitals or punctuation.  I found that very difficult to come to terms with.

That was nothing compared to texting.  If Linda went to town and I remembered we needed something I would text, 'Can you please buy eggs at the supermarket?'  My sons came to visit and were appalled.  Mum you just write, 'Get eggs.' Somehow it did not sit right with me to text like that.

Advance to the world of social media and with it FaceBook and Twitter and it can all become a bit bewildering for someone like me in my sixties.

Never mind, I can be considered to be making good use of 'blogging' - another form of communication in our changing times.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fresh Interest

We had a gardener come and do a big clearance at our property.

The hens could not wait to investigate and see what pickings there might be in store for them.

Definitely a case of bottoms up for the one in the middle.

Linda captured the hens in action on video.  You can see that here.

When we let the hens out in the afternoon, more often than not, CiCi will be there, quietly watching proceedings.

No, we don't think she fancies her chances for a meal.  It is more like she feels she has a guardianship role in keeping an eye on the hen's activities.

On a quilty note - I finished all 25 blocks for my Urban Nine Patch project today.

I need to attend to a couple of other smaller quilty projects but it should not be long now before the blocks become a quilt top.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What next?

I made good progress on  my Urban Nine Patch project today.  4 blocks completed - now only 5 to go.  Maybe, just maybe the end is in sight.

Already I find my mind wandering to the possibilities of what my next project might be.

I recently bought some second hand quilt magazines and it was not hard to find a few inspiring projects.

There was a time when I would not even contemplate making a quilt with star blocks but I think they are calling to me.

In the meantime, if you are interested in my Urban Nine Patch challenge you may like to take a look at Sew Kind of Wonderful blog.  Jenny Pedigo has done some amazing quilting on one of these quilts where the blocks have been set on point.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Where is that quilt project?

You may well think that my Urban Nine Patch project has disappeared into the unfinished project pile, but not so.

Real life has intervened a bit.  Gardening, housework, supermarket shopping, visitors and so it goes.

Enough excuses - the project continues, just not as quickly as I would have liked.

I need to complete 25 blocks and for a while I had only completed 9 but yesterday and today provided a window of opportunity and I now only have 9 to go so that is a giant leap forward.

I still have sashing strips to stitch and trim but I feel the end is now in sight and am encouraged that maybe I will be able to complete on the blocks over the next couple of days.  It will be lovely to be able to show you the quilt top all pieced together.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oh dear, what a surprise!

We have had a couple of very hot days here but there was promise of a southerly and with it, cooler weather.

The southerly was more blustery than usual and we were just serving up our midday meal when we heard a noise which I thought was the sound of a door banging in the wind.

Linda found otherwise - a piece of trellis had been blown off its fixtures, had hit the chicken coup and tipped it over.

What a surprise for our hens!

We went looking for them first and they were happily scratching under one of the trees.  They must have had a bit of shock but they did not seem any worse for wear.

We abandoned our meal for the moment, tidied up and relocated the coop to a more sheltered spot and then coaxed the hens back home with a favourite treat, grains of wheat.

Linda has a different take on the day's event on her blog.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Back to the garden, again

It is nearly two years ago since our Mum passed away.

When arranging her funeral the florist came to our home to see if there might be any suitable flowers for the occasion.

We were surprised at what she found to use.  Mostly it was fox gloves and rhododendrons.  They made a glorious display on the coffin.

A lovely memorial for us as we enjoy these flowers that come back year after year.  Thanks, Mum, for teaching us to appreciate and love flowers just like you did.

Bumble bees doing their business amongst the fox glove flowers always fascinate me even if they are a little hard to capture.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Just one more rose, I thought

The apricot rose I talked about yesterday was spent by this morning.

I will just go to the garden and pick one more, I thought.

Too much temptation in the rose garden at the moment.

I did get another apricot rose but there were these as well - so nice to have around the house.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Love that rose

Last Saturday we bought a lot of plants for our garden  from a local church fair.

They never disappoint with the range and quality of plants available for sale at very moderate prices.

It has taken me until today to get most of them planted out - oh dear.

I can blame the rain for some of the delays, we have had a lot of rain this week.

This morning looked like rain but I thought I would brave it and plant out anyway.  Amazingly the sun broke through and no rain at all so most of the plants are now in their new homes.

This rose, however, has been in our established rose bed ever since we came here.

It has soft apricots tones and a delightful perfume.  This particular one is a stunner, measuring 7 inches across.

All of the rose bushes are doing extremely well.  We are not sure the reason for the improvement.  It could be the extra rain this spring, or the fact that our hens have cultivated their roots for us, or the chicken manure mixed with pine shavings that we have been using as a mulch around the base of the plants.  Whatever the reason, we are really enjoying the first flush of roses on the bushes.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Oh how the weeks slip by

This week our Sweet Peas group met at Mary's again.  Trish was back from a seven week trip to Australia so it was good to see her again and be able to catch up with life in her world.

Not so much by way of show and tell and not helped by me forgetting to take my camera.

Time to make do with the iPhone camera.

Moira brought her hen project as a work in progress.  She has done some special stitching on the leaves with trailing blossoms below.  She is still deciding what to do in the centre area below where the hens are perching.

Rochelle has been busy working on her retro quilt.  It is a quilt as you go project and is coming along very nicely.

More to share next time.