Monday, 31 December 2007

Visitors from France

Remember back in July we enthused over attending a wedding in France? Well Caroline and Bruno saved their honeymoon up and are spending it in New Zealand right now this minute. And they spent a few days of it here in Wanganui with us. One of the things we did while they were here was a wander around Lake Virginia with Aimee and Jessica. Caroline took this photo of us feeding the ducks with the wonderful old pohutukawa tree (New Zealand Christmas Tree) in the background. Terry took the photo of Caroline and Bruno a bit further on around the Lake.

The other two photos were taken the next day when Terry, Caroline and Bruno travelled by jet boat up the Whanganui River to check out the Bridge to Nowhere. Isn't that fabulous photo Terry took looking down from the bridge onto the top of some tree ferns?
Posted by Picasa

Xmas Day at Nana's

We woke early! The girls had stockings full of gifts from Santa Claus which included a chocolate marshmallow santa... they ate those for breakfast. But we encouraged them to have some cereal before we sat down around the Xmas tree to open gifts from friends and family.

Aimee and Jessica's gifts included santa hats, pretty party dresses and a purple umbrella.

By 8.00 am we had opened most of the parcels under the tree and were preparing a cooked breakfast for 12 people, friends had started arriving by 8.15 and at 9.00 we sat down to: oranges in Grand Marnier, a variety of fruit juices, a frittata which included sun dried tomato, courgette and potato, crispy dry smoked bacon, and cannellini beans with tomato and basil sauce. This was followed by gluten free xmas cake and coffee. Unfortunately we didn't get any photos of the long table, we were too busy enjoying the company of our friends and family!

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Xmas Card

Sorry for not blogging for a while... stuff was happening. Here is a Merry Xmas and Happy New Year greeting for you all!! I do sincerely hope you had a happy and enjoyable holiday season, whether it was with lots of family, a few select friends or in peaceful solitude.

Over the next few days, I will be posting photos of our family Christmas and the friends who visited. Tune out if you are only interested in quilty things, I haven't had much time for sewing. You can come back in a week or two :-)

But if you would like to know more about Whanganui and its surrounds there will be a few interesting photos for you.

PS - yes, I know Iron Mountain is in Oregon, not Washington, as I say, stuff was happening and once the card was at Frogprints it was too late. If you are interested in how I made the Xmas cards I posted (as in snail mail), I had that picture printed as a 7"x5" photo (30 of them at a $1.00 each) which I then stuck (with a glue stick) on an A4 sheet of gold calligraphy paper folded in half. And this year I managed to find A5 envelopes for the cards.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Aimee's Fairies

Progress on the Fairy Front - and back. I should have this on the quilting frame this week. This quilt has been shown previously here and here. The darkish green border makes the green more dominant, cools down the pink but the photos really don't show the colour properly at all, this quilt has been very hard to photograph. I just put together some of the other fairy and butterfly fabric that was left to make up the back.

I'm a bit nervous about quilting it on the Swiftquilter frame. I want to do some detailed quilting in the centre which will probably need to be done on the table. Do I just quilt around the centre and then take it off the frame and finish it on the table? or will that cause puckering if the quilt is not quilted evenly on the frame? Should I pin it and quilt the centre before putting it on the frame to finish the quilting on the rest of the quilt? Or should I try to quilt the centre on the frame? I want to quilt flowers and leaves in amongst the roses and birds and butterflies on the sky...

Please - give me advice if you have any!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Dinner with Friends

Have I told you about our friend Anne-from-Canada? Anne and Anita came to work on our nursery in, oh, 2002 I think. They saw on our website that we offered the chance to work for a few weeks in exchange for board and sight seeing trips. (We don't offer that any more because the room we gave our holiday workers is now my sewing room.) And work they did! weeding and planting out and all sorts of back breaking tasks. And we showed them the beauties and glories of Wanganui. Anne and Anita live in Canada, the northern, cold part of Canada where there is snow on the ground for 7 months of the year! And, as Anne loves to garden, she came back to Wanganui the next year and bought a property here so she could both garden in our summer, her winter, and also indulge in her other interest, house renovation and decoration. Her ordinary house in Wanganui has been totally made over to something extra-ordinary and very beautiful - and Anne is only here a total of 2-3 months every year, the rest of the time she is at her home in Canada.

However, while she is here we make the most of her company and that includes at our regular Sunday evening dinner with Robert and Jennifer. As you can see, lately its been pleasant enough to have dinner outside. Last week Anne was here with us (Terry was taking the photo). That evening was a vaguely Spanish themed meal, with Anne bringing shrimp cocktails, Robert provided a tasty chicken stew and I made cauliflower and potato dishes. Jennifer made a yummy cassata with icecream, yoghurt, sultanas and apricots.

By this week's Sunday dinner, Anne had left to return home (Robert took the photo) but we promised to think of her and we did. We took photos of the food she had left us:the potato salad included potatoes, eggs and spring onions that Anne gave me when I picked her up to take her to the airport.

Jennifer made a green salad using blanched beans, broccoli and asparagus with almonds and gherkins and a red salad with tomatoes, radishes, red onions and smoked tuna - they were both worthy meals in their own right! But Robert had gathered the ingredients for a blue cheese sauce so I found some steak to grill... and then there was wine left over from the blue cheese sauce to drink so we drank a toast to absent friends. To you Anne - many happy returns to Wanganui!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Orphan blocks Quilted

You may remember that way back in February 2007 I completed this top . I documented its progress here, here and here. I have finally found the time and energy to finish this quilt. I used it as practice on the Swiftquilter. Its the second quilt I have done on the frame. But other people have quilted, I think three quilts on the frame in the meantime. This was the first one I did, back in April.

I'm happy with the result on this one, an all over pattern of alternating leaves and squiggly lines. My hands are a bit stiff at the moment so I folded the binding to the front and machine stitched it down. It'll be a nice strong binding!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Jessica's Third Birthday

Terry and I took a day trip to Wellington on Saturday for Jessica's birthday party. It was a Jane and the Dragon Party and Sarah made a dragon cake using these instructions.

She also did face painting (Aimee didn't want her photo taken).

Chris was kept busy making swords and dragons from balloons.

Jessica took a rest on my lap.

We had a lovely day with the family and a restful trip home. I made tinned smoked fish & chickpeas in a white sauce on toast for dinner. Yumm!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Gluten Free Banana & Quinoa Biscuits

I've just made these for a friend's birthday present but I don't think he'll be getting all four dozen! I've adapted an old recipe, both the ingredients and method.

Dry Ingredients:

½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup tapioca flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup sugar (I used my vanilla sugar made by storing vanilla pods in the sugar jar)
1½ cups quinoa flakes

Wet Ingredients:

2/3rd cup (165 gm) butter or margarine
2 eggs
2 bananas

Put all dry ingredients EXCEPT quinoa flakes in a bowl and use a hand held whisk to gently blend together and remove any lumps. Beat wet ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Add mixed dry ingredients slowly through the tube while beating. Scrape batter from food processor into a bowl and mix in quinoa flakes gently. Drop from a teaspoon, widely spaced, onto three oven trays lined with baking paper - about 16 per tray. Bake 190 deg C for about 15 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Update: Terry had one of these after breakfast this morning. I asked him if he liked it and at first he said "yes, they're great". Then he realised I was asking for a considered reaction, not an automatic one, and he looked at it and said "well, i'd prefer it to have more flavour". So while I was sitting there thinking, ok, i could substitute some brown sugar for some of the white sugar, or I could add more spice, maybe some ginger, or I could add some chopped walnuts or sultantas, while I was thinking all this he ate another four biscuits - looking for that elusive flavour I guess!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Challenge Quilt II

I so much enjoyed doing the small Limited Edition Challenge Quilt that I have now completed another - this time in green/blue and white instead of green/yellow and black. What do you think?

Again, I've used photos that Terry took in Anne's garden in Canada but this time, I've taken elements from four different photos to get this one scene.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Sewing Class II

Aimee and Jessica saw the pictures on my blog of James & Jasmine's quilts and asked if they could make one too when they came to stay for a few days. They are a bit younger (4 and 2) so we were less ambitious for these quilts. They chose the pink background fabric and some pieces of ready vlisofixed fabric which we cut into shapes. They arranged the shapes on the background and carefully ironed them on. Then they helped me choose the backing and layer it with some cotton batting. I pinned them all together and then we quilted them. Aimee is big enough to reach the foot pedal while seated and did sew a few rows at a careful speed, steering between the safety pins. Jessica wasn't tall enough to reach the pedal and watch the fabric so she did the pedal bit and I steered. Aimee thought that looked like good fun so then they both did the rest of their quilts by holding down the foot control while I steered! After I had trimmed them square, under supervision, we did a quick edging with a zig zag stitch.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Birthday Card

Its my dad's birthday next week. I've found a big packet of large sticky raisins which I know he likes and can't get in the shops where he is and I'll also get some large sticky figs to put in the parcel. Here is the card I've made for him. Its taken from one of Terry's photos of an iris in Anne's garden. I vlisofixed the pieces to the background and ironed it all on to very heavy interfacing so it stands on its own. I also vlisofixed the backing to it and brought the edges round to the front to form the frame. Some free motion stitching, catching down all edges and adding some leaves and a birthday message and it was done!

And here is a progress report on Aimee's fairies too. I've finished adding flowers to the centre panel. The next step is to iron some facing to the back of the centre panel so that I can free motion stitch the flowers down and add the details of the fairy. I'll also add stems and leaves to the mix of flowers and maybe the outline of a few more butterflies.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

A Day Filled with Treats!

Wednesday is sewing day - well, the morning anyway. And I enjoyed the morning with the rain pouring down so heavily at times that it was quite dark outside but I was warm and working well in my lovely sewing room with the lights as bright as daylight. I can't show you what I was doing as its the row by row challenge and who knows who might see their row quilt on my blog! But it went well and I'm happy with the finished row.

I had a lunch appointment with Jennifer and Terry decided he could be in town at that time too and would join us. So he popped up to the shed to collect the mail as I got ready to go out. And look what he brought back down to the house! My Four Seasons Swap Quilt! isn't it lovely? The colours and fabrics are wonderful and it is perfectly at home on my coffee table. I can look at it and smile whenever I pass the table (which is often as its on the way to the stairs and going up and down the stairs because I've forgotten something is what keeps me fit!) The quilt is beautifully finished and I think the pattern was a good choice for the fabric. There was also a parcel of goodies - two bag patterns, some ink jet fabric sheets and some fabric! What a fabulous package. I wonder if she knew that one of the other Challenges we have for the quilt show in April next year is "My Best Bag"? I'll enjoy making a bag from a pattern instead of guessing and fudging it which is my usual method. I'm going to make the one with the gathered side pockets. And you can see the box it was sent in in the background - she has even put a map of Australia and New Zealand on the box! I tried to open the box without ripping the map but I was too excited to be careful enough and it tore itself apart.

Well, I just had a few minutes before I had to leave to put a comment on my partner's blog to let her know it had arrived safely. Follow the link to her blog - she since posted about the quilt and tells of the problems she had making the quilt and why it was late arriving. I really didn't mind and there was no need to add the extra goodies - but it was wonderful to receive them!

After that excitement we carefully drove into town, still lots of rain about but thankfully, none as we walked from car to cafe. It was hosing down at the time we intended to leave so we all sat back down and had another cup of coffee and a gluten free biscuit. Then Jennifer and I spent a happy couple of hours shopping - clothes from "The Mill", and then a look at the $2.00 shop! Another drink and show and tell and then I dropped Jennifer off and came home.

And now the rain has stopped and the sun is pretending to shine. Terry is out planting nasturtium seeds in the orchard and I'm thinking about what to cook for dinner.

So - how about that for a perfect day? Sewing, shopping, a wonderful parcel from abroad and lunch with two of my favourite people?

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Challenge Quilt

1. Limited Edition Choose an analogous colour scheme of two or three colours. You can also use shades (darker colours, moving towards the centre of the wheel) and tints (paler colours moving towards the tips of the colour points) of the colours you have chosen. You may also use one neutral colour (white, black, grey, cream). Your quilt must be A3 size i. e. 11.7" x 16.5" (297mm x 420mm). The edges need not be bound – be creative!

This is one of the challenges for our quilt club's biennial show which will be in April next year. I haven't felt like working on any of the larger quilts I have started (and should finish very soon) so I started thinking about this challenge. Here is what I've done over my last two afternoons in the sewing room. Do you like it? The orange around the edge is not part of the quilt, its the table its lying on.

And here is the photo that Terry took in Anne's garden in Canada and that I worked from.

Saturday, 29 September 2007


And Chris just rang to say he loves his t-shirt! Happy Birthday Chris!

Sewing Class - continued

Well, look at these! Jasmine managed the first 7 lines of quilting on the machine (the horizontal lines, from the bottom of the sea upwards) - and then decided, like a lot of more experienced quilters, that her time would be more enjoyably spent in design and execution of the tops only and that she could contract out the quilting and binding to Auntie Janice. And as she told me, she is only five! So her quilt is now finished but she did spend quite some time deciding on the colour of the binding.

James did almost all of his quilting himself - all of the sea and most of the wiggly seaweed lines. He managed the sewing machine very well, learning to control the speed and to wiggle the fabric to make the straight stitch sew the curves of the seaweed. He chose the binding and I sewed that on with the machine. He is persevering in the hand sewing of the binding on the back of the quilt, so his is not quite finished yet. But he'll get there, I'm sure.

After a couple of hours in the sewing room yesterday afternoon they both decided that the day was beautiful and sunny and they hadn't explored the swing or the tree house or the fort since last time they were here and they had better go and check them out. I could hear where they were and continued on with the binding of their quilts. After a while I realised I hadn't heard much for about the last five minutes so went to investigate. They had been searching "the forest" (our patch of bush which stretches down a fairly steep slope on the side of our house paddock) for the fort and wandered too far down the slope and Jasmine couldn't find her way back up. I had to find a good way down and show her a good way back up, through the bracken and broken branches. A few months ago it would have been a lot harder for me to do than I found it to be yesterday. Yayy for weight loss!

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Sewing Class

James and Jasmine have arrived a day earlier than the rest of their family to stay with us for a week or so. Jasmine loved the quilt I have hanging in the lounge and asked how to make a quilt like that. So we spent a couple of hours this afternoon, tracing pictures from a colouring book onto vliesofix, cutting out the parts of the picture, ironing the bits onto carefully chosen fabric and then cutting them out and sticking them on a background. We then roughly cut coloured squares to make a border and stuck them on too. What do you think of the results? These will be layered tomorrow and then James and Jasmine will be doing the quilting on the sewing machine. I suggested they choose to either do green lines top to bottom to suggest seaweed or blue lines side to side to suggest water. It doesn't matter in either case if the lines are not straight.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Aimee's Fairy Quilt

Well, I have three quilt tops completed, waiting for quilting (apart from the final border on two of them, but lets not be picky). So what does any self respecting quilter do? You've got it, she starts another quilt. Our grand-daughter, Aimee will be five in February and all of our grand-children and all of my sister's grandchildren have got or will get a quilt from me for their fifth birthday. Aimee requested fairies and these two pictures show progress so far. Sarah took me to Thimbles and Threads in Upper Hutt last week where I spent up large on fairy fabric in pinks and greens. I've also pulled all the pale pink and green floral squares from my 5" square pile and this is what has grown. I know some of the points are cut off but I don't care and I'm pretty sure Aimee won't either, at least, not for a few years. Its because I sewed four 5" squares together and then cut them across the diagonal to make the triangles that set the squares with the stars in the middle on point.

I'm unsure what I will do about the middle section. I will applique a fairy onto the sky/grass background panel and will edge the panel in some fashion, either with the corners as shown or with some other border.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 22 September 2007

These are tasty

Janice's Rice Cakes:
3 cups cooked brown rice
3 eggs
1/3 cup grated tasty cheese (romano, parmesan, etc)
4 shallot cloves
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp oil (olive or rice bran)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

Mix the last 5 ingredients together to a paste in a small kitchen whizz or blender. Stir all ingredients together. Mixture should be sloppy. Spoon into paper muffin cases set into muffin trays. Cook 20-30 min at 160 deg C on fan bake. Yummy for lunch. Can be frozen and reheated.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Sewing Day

Wednesday is now sewing day - moved from Thursday. And that's just what I did today. I finished the blocks for the frame around the poem illustration and then I put it all together. The working drawing shows the words of the poem that the quilt will illustrate. The words and a lot more detail on the centre picture will be added with the quilting.

You can see the last three blocks I did, in the top right hand corner. They have a different look to the rest of them. That is because I had a long break between finishing the bulk of them and doing those last three. I had lost touch with them. I've made them without the plainer pieces that the others have. I wonder if I should remake them? Whaddya reckon?

Friday, 7 September 2007

okay, okay

I know I haven't posted for a while, that's because I've been hosting family, working hard and doing secret stuff in the sewing room.

We had Sarah, Chris, Aimee and Jessica to stay last weekend. I would have posted about that but we didn't take any photos and its a bit boring without photos. Then all my quilting time this week (which wasn't much, see the comment above) was taken up with completing a row on Audrey's Row by Row quilt. And I can't post pictures of that because she isn't allowed to know what is happening with her Row by Row until she gets it back. Suffice to say, it involved ripping patches out and resewing because I hadn't read her preferences properly.

And this weekend I've been doing more secret stuff but I'm going to show you anyway because I'm pretty pleased with it and I don't think Chris reads my blog. Hope not. Sorry Chris if you do but you'll be getting it soon anyway.

Our grand-daughters do some pretty nice artwork at times and one evening while they were visiting us, Chris was musing on how cool it would be to have some of it put on a t-shirt. I don't think he ever did anything about it but I decided to see what I could do for his birthday which is coming up soon. The first step was to scan the art, add their names and print it onto a vinyl transfer sheet. Then I ripped white fabric into a rough square and ironed the transfer onto the fabric. I ripped some fine calico into another, slightly larger rough square and layered these onto the front of a black t-shirt. After pinning a piece of vilene to the inside of the shirt, I machine sewed round the edges of both squares with a mock hand quilting stitch sewing through all four layers (white fabric, calico, t-shirt and vilene). A bit of a twiddle through the middle and then trim the vilene away from the back. Finished!

Monday, 27 August 2007

A Settlers of Catan Dinner

Terry had a fraught day fighting off alligators as he tried to drain the swamp up at the nursery so I suggested we had a game of Knights & Cities and a finger food dinner before he spent the evening catching up on the office work that hadn't got done during the day. The picture shows our dinner table set ready.

The rose in the vase (and ribbon) was one of four that Terry presented to the four ladies (Judith, Jennifer, Val and I) who attended Fries on Friday last week - just because he had been walking past the flower shop.

The Settlers of Catan (3d version) is on a board made from two layers of corrugated card laid at right angles to each other for strength, covered with quilt batting - its supposed to be a temporary board until I get a perspex one cut - or until I cover it with fabric. We've been using it for a couple of years now I guess...

The plate is from France. Christine, Caroline's mother, bought it for me in Lyon. On the plate are: venison gluten free sausage from our local market, sprouted blue peas, grilled chicken breast, plum sauce from plums from our tree, carrot sticks, hummus mixed with garlic mayo, roasted almonds, tomato, kiwifruit. On the side plates are gluten free rice flour waffles which I make without sugar so they can be used as crackers with savoury foods.

Rice Flour Waffles
Put the following ingredients into a blender in this order:
2 eggs, 1/2 cup oil (I use rice bran or light olive oil), 1 & 3/4 cups soy milk, 1 cup white rice flour, 3/4 cup brown rice flour, 1 tbsp gluten free baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt.
Blend all ingredients, scrape sides and blend again. Leave to sit while waffle iron heats. Cook each waffle for 5 min. Makes 10-12 large waffles. These freeze well and can be defrosted and crisped either in the toaster or 5-6 min in a hot oven.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Nearly Finished

I've only got the label to do now. I've used a very thin batting as I wanted it to be suitable for use as a table centrepiece. I won't attach any hanging system but I will include three little rings that could be sewn to the back for hanging if my partner wishes. I'm quite pleased with it. The colours work and, even though I changed the right-hand border from the original design, its still balanced. Want to know why I changed it? Well, I cut the strips, sewed them together, cut the 45 deg angle for three of the border pieces that make up the bottom and right hand borders - and then cut the fourth border piece out of one of the others! I pieced two more borders and made two more mistakes (in size and then in colour)! So I gave up trying to make the border as designed and started fresh. The quilting is fairly basic, just a meander in variegated thread that suggests air flow or a windy day.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Fabric Sorted

Here are my fabric choices for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap and you can also see the roll of embroidery thread that Helen gave me as a thank you for letting her use my quilting frame while I was away. Its a lovely maroon with a slight brown mottle - perfect for the autumn colouring I'm aiming for.

And you can see that I also intend to use some orphan blocks left over from making my daughter's Plenty-o-Pockets bag shown in the making here (I didn't get a photo of it finished). When you make snowball blocks using this method you get two triangles cut off each corner. And I'm sure you all know that if you sew them together BEFORE cutting them off the snowball while its easy, you get a bonus bunch of small squares made from half square triangles. That's what I'm using for the Tree of Life block in the middle of this Four Seasons Quilt.