27 December 2008

Lots of Presents

Another Christmas has come and gone - we've had a wonderful few days. We're so fortunate to have our family living within reasonable distances and to be able to spend time together. Our family spent Christmas Day at Elizabeth and Matt's house along with Matt's family which was lovely as his sister has 3 little children who made the day lots of fun. Elizabeth and Matt outdid themselves - the table was gorgeous, excellent turkey cooked by Matt, loads of other food brought along by everyone, great company and lots of laughs.

One of the presents Elizabeth bought me is "Dancer" - how gorgeous is this reindeer? It's a Patience Brewster design and is so detailed and beautiful.

I made this quilt, "Ruffles & Rows" designed by The Birdhouse, for Matt's 5yo neice, Emily - it was finished on Christmas Eve.

Received this lovely cushion, which is more than a cushion, from Jenny - the cushion is explained on Jenny's blog. Was a lovely surprise when the parcel arrived in the mail. I know people won't believe me, but I didn't open any parcels until Christmas Day - didn't even squish them.

I took part in 2 swaps this Chrismas - one with the on-line group I belong to, Prim Treasures: Vicki made me this fabulous Cinderberry Stitches wallhanging - it will be on my wall straight after Christmas. Vicki also made me 2 stars from Nancy Halvorsen's "Star of Wonder" book (but I haven't taken a photo of them yet). We both love her designs.
My partner to send to was Kerry and I made a Bareroots sewing bag and accessories - have had this pattern for ages and this swap was a great time to make it.

The other swap I was in was organised by Wildcraft Farm. My partner, Julie (who doesn't have a blog yet) send me ths wonderful sewing caddy, which is a great size to fit into my handbag to take to work.

Lots of goodies inside.

I sent Julie a wallhanging designed by "Country Cupboard"

plus an oven mitt, after Julie provided a subtle hint that she LOVES black and white.

I found the pattern somewhere online but have no idea which site so that I can put a link to it. Was pretty happy with how this one turned out so made some for my girls and some other friends.

Boxing Day was spent mostly recovering from Christmas Day, as we didn't arrive home until 11.30 pm (a very long day for the Nannas), then a bunch of friends came over for a bbq dinner - always enjoy the Boxing Day bbq.

Today was brunch with another group of friends - we arrived home at 6.30 pm, then went off to visit other friends to exchange our Christmas presents. We usually spend Christmas night with these friends but we thought visiting them after 11.30 pm was a tad late.

Wonderful Christmas this year.

17 December 2008

Miss Jenni Joy BA

Today was a milestone day - our baby girl, Jenni, graduated from Wollongong University. We are so happy for her and so unbelievably proud of all her achievements. In mid-January Jenni will commence Dip Ed studies so she can become an infants/primary school teacher.

Last Saturday night we went to a Mexican-themed 21st birthday party. I was at the hairdresser that morning and, when John came to pick me up, he persuaded the hairdresser to dye his moustache black for the party. Couldn't believe she used a permanent dye! Thought I was going to pop a foo-foo valve. So, that explains John's El-Gringo look in the photo.
Monday afternoon I arrived home from work to find a box waiting on our verandah table. I wasn't expecting any mail so this was pretty exciting. Ripped it open and found it full of presents - one for each day 15-26 December. I'm very lucky to have such a fantastic friend.

14 December 2008

Nativities and Precious Artworks

Our first Nativity was coloured in by Jenni at pre-school (about 16 years ago), then she decided it should be mounted and she chose (the very traditional) pink laser cardboard for John to draw up the stable shape.

My dear friend, Barbara, bought me this Nativity teapot for Christmas 1998. The colours are really lovely. The teapot is well used each Christmas.

We bought this nativity in the post-Christmas sales 2002 - loved it as soon as I saw it - all the clothing is slightly stiffened fabric, the figurines are porcelain and the trees and backdrop are metal.
The following Christmas Mum turned up with these porcelain figurines for us and John whipped up the stables from wood off-cuts and glued the shavings/sawdust to the floor.

Made Nancy Halvorsen's "Joy to the World" during 2006 and finished the quilting in 2007.

I found these little cute guys in Launceston on the first day of our Tassie holiday last year and bought the Jim Shore stable in the post-Christmas sales in January (thought it was a lucky find).
I've bought a couple of other nativities as presents for friends and think I have a spot for one more in our house.

This swag of Christmas decorations in the family room is my favourite of all our Christmas goodies - all the pre-school artwork of our three children.

This year's Christmas cakes - stupid me made double the mixture but forgot to double the flour - had to taste test one and it's actually ok.

05 December 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Tonight was the night to start putting up some of the Christmas decorations. I have a growing collection of Willow Tree figurines (started by Peta and Michael) and a few Christmases ago I bought the Willow Tree Nativity. I think it's beautiful.

I also love this Christmas Krinkles "12 Days of Christmas".

Another "The Wish Quilt" stitchery block is finished. They are such sweet designs.

Am hoping to finish off a couple of swap presents in the next few days - too many other activities to be able to get into the sewing room.
Yesterday was Mum's 81st birthday - she wanted to see "Australia" and have tea at Subway so we did. I have very mixed feelings about the movie. I hope I have half Mum's energy when I'm her age - she's truly amazing.

30 November 2008

What a Show!

Last night Mum, Tammy (my friend from work), her 10yo son, Nick, and I went to see Schools Spectacular. I am so fortunate to be able to see this phenomenal show live each year. The young performers are extraordinary. Many ex-School Spec performers returned this year as it was the 25th show - Paulini and Roshani from Aus Idol fame; Shannon Brown an immensely talented Wollongong boy who was one of The Ten Tenors, Human Nature (their version of "Danny Boy" was a show-stopper), Travis Collins, Darren Coggins and, the absolute stand-out of the night, Lorenzo Rositano - remember his name because he is set to have a huge international career. When he sang "Nessun Dorma" I was in tears.

So many highlights - the male singers performing "Abide with Me" interspersed with "The Last Post" along with a dramatisation of soliders leaving their family to go to WW1 was heart-wrenching; excellent disco section with Village People songs; Lauren Azar singing "Fields of Gold"; Lorenzo, Shannon, Robert McDougall and Nicholas Gentile singing "Depths of the Temple" accompanied by the most beautiful ballet; Travis Collins singing "Message to My Girl" and "Shout" (the finale).

As you can tell I could go on forever about the show - highlights will be on ABC1 at 7.30 pm, 14 December and the whole show will be on ABC2 (but I can't remember the date).

Our on-line group had a Christmas ornament swap - this is what I received from Helen - her stitching is beautiful. I love Santas (have a little collection) and he is going to be front and centre on our tree this year. Helen and I have such similar very much in common regarding designers etc. Amazing how you can meet such like-minded people via the internet.

I sent my partner (Susan no blog) the gingerbread man and star ornaments. Thought I'd try something different so had a go at punchneedle (these designs are from Anni Downs' book "A Christmas Story"). Can see myself doing some more punchneedle - I bought some supplies when Diann (no blog) and I visited Patchwork Angel earlier this year. I sent the heart ornament to Jane as part of the giveaway prize.

This photo is of a hairclip Peta made for Jenni.

Time to do the ironing before we go out for the afternoon.

29 November 2008

Happy Birthday Peg!

Today is Peg's birthday - pop over and wish her the happiest birthday ever.

26 November 2008

Advent Calendar

Jenni's Advent Calendar, designed by Hot Possum, is now finished. Shame the photo is a little dark because the colours are so lovely and bright (and the quilt does hang straight - I always manage to take wonky photos).

Bought lollies etc last night and posted a bagful each to Elizabeth and Michael - Jenni's bag is ready too.

Think I might make a start on some suffolk puffs for "Ruffles 'n' Rows" at lunchtime today. I can't find a link for that quilt anywhere. It was designed by Natalie Bird of The Birdhouse and Thread and Ginger.

25 November 2008

Playing with the New Toy

For our 30th wedding anniversary earlier this year, Mum and our children bought us an embroidery machine (John loves graphic art and fancies making his own designs). For a variety of reasons the machine has been waiting patiently in the box until we had some time to set it up and plug it in. On Sunday I headed off to the shop to buy some bobbin fill and threads and last night we had a little play.

This new toy is a lot of fun - so much to learn. Can see myself making lots of embroidered tea towels and quilt labels.

The back-ordered fabric for "Ruffles 'n' Rows" arrived yesterday, so it was time for my favourite part of quilt-making: cutting up the fabrics. This will be a fun quilt to put together as it has a large amount of cute factor - suffolk puffs, prairie points, ric-rac, buttons etc.

Will sew the buttons onto Jenni's Advent Calendar tonight and then it will be finished - will need to buy lollies and chocolates when I do the grocery shopping tonight so the children can fill up the little pockets (all 3 will now have a funky Advent Calendar).

24 November 2008

Outing with the Schoolgirls

On Saturday afternoon, the Schoolgirls (Lynell, Denise, Gail and I) plus Mum went on a roadtrip to Sydney to the Art Gallery of NSW to see Monet and the Impressionists. We were lucky to have a personal tour guide along (Gail) - she is extremely knowledgeable and was able to explain how Monet and his contemporaries were able to capture the beautiful light in their paintings.

I particularly liked the photographs showing Monet on the bridge in the garden above the waterlilies - lovely to see the real-life inspiration for his most famous work. We had dinner in a Greek restaurant at Brighton-le-Sands on the way home - lovely day out.

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's messages about the get-together in Tasmania and also the Cyber Stitching day. Lots of fun.

18 November 2008

Stitching + Shopping = Good Times

Finished the secret sewing last night

and also added some of "tinsel" to the "Funky Advent" wallhanging - bit more to go tonight then the angel and presents can be appliqued.

Received a box in the mail yesterday

containing beautifully wrapped packages and my first jelly roll

Bought the charm packs and "snow" fabric to put away for when I feel like starting "Dear Jane"
and couldn't for the life of me remember what I'd had in mind for the Christmas fabric, then it came to me this morning - thought I'd make a Christmas version of "Happy Days" and applique stars or Christmas trees instead of the flowers. Thanks Maree for letting us know about the fabric sale.

Waiting for one piece of back-ordered fabric to arrive for "Ruffles 'n' Rows" then I can start that quilt - can't wait 'cause it's so cute.

Looking forward to next weekend - on Saturday Mum, the Schoolgirls and I are going to the Monet exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW. I'm making plans to visit the National Art Gallery in Canberra in January to see the Degas exhibition - when I was much younger my bedroom curtains featured the Degas ballerinas (no, I wasn't a ballet dancer - just liked the paintings).
Lots of activity over the weekend - nothing ever goes to plan but that's what makes life so good.

Friday night we went to watch Gary (a dear friend of ours) perform in a charity fund-raising review - his Dr Frank-N-Furter was sensational and I forgot to take the camera. Saturday was busy with visiting a friend in hospital (all's well and she's now home), shopping, Elizabeth and Matt turning up (instead of Sunday), going out for dinner to Amigo's Mexican restaurant (where Jenni works) - dinner was excellent. Elizabeth drove home from the restaurant (she's learning to drive again) while John and I stayed for sweets.

Sunday morning was the Camp Quality Convoy which is organised by 2 announcers from a local radio station - 380 motorbikes and 600 trucks were entered and the day raised over $260,000 - phenomenal effort. John and I walked down to the corner of the main road to watch most of the convoy pass by (very noisy). Arrived home to have brunch with Jenni and Ian, then spent most of the afternoon cooking and a bit of secret sewing.

Had a fridge full of food that I didn't cook when Elizabeth and Matt were here, so invited Sharon & Gary to join Jenni, Ian and us for early dinner - Roast Vegie & Prawn (or Chicken) Salad, followed by Tiramisu - yum. Excellent way to end a weekend.

12 November 2008

Some Christmas Shopping

These gorgeous Lakehouse Dry Goods fabrics arrived last week - the cupcakes and bright stripes are for a couple of aprons and oven mitts; the gorgeous pastels are for the "Ruffles 'n' Rows" quilt - this is such a pretty, little girl's quilt. Elizabeth and Matt have a 5 year old niece so it may end up on her bed. Luckily I placed an order before the dollar dived. Another fabric is on backorder so I'm hoping it will arrive soon.

The "Advent Calendar" pockets have been appliqued, sequinned and beaded, ready to be added to the pile of sewing for the weekend.

Elizabeth and Matt will be popping down on Sunday (she is learning to drive so the trip will add lots of k's to her log) - might have to buy some prawns for lunch, especially if the weather if lovely. Perhaps not so much sewing will be done.

10 November 2008

Christmas Swap

For those of us who missed out on joining in a Christmas swap this year, or those who cannot help themselves and love to be in more than one, Janet is hosting a swap - send her an email before the end of the week to sign up.

09 November 2008

A Winner

The winner chosen by random number generator is No 4: Sew Create It - Jane. Please send me your address Jane and I'll organise for some McGrath Foundation goodies to be posted your way.

Friday night I spent some time cutting out this little pile of fabrics and appliques which will become one of these Christmas wallhangings for Jenni.
This afternoon I spent a couple of hours quilting a bit more of "Sharon's Roses" - this quilt is almost 5 years behind schedule - I'm hoping like mad that I have it finished by early February next year. It isn't really a quilt to put on the frame and I believe it should be hand-quilted but that's just too daunting.

05 November 2008

Girls' Day Out for Melbourne Cup

Yesterday John and I attended a Melbourne Cup function at our local racetrack with our friends, Sharon and Gary, and their daughter Kristy and son-in-law Heath.

After a good choice for my first bet of the day, I ran out of luck ... not to worry, it was a fun day and the only time of the year that I have a flutter. Last year Sharon, Gary, John and I spent Melbourne Cup day in Strahan, Tasmania.

Gary and I studying the form:

Block 5 (the cafe) of Girls' Day Out is finished - seemed to take me so long but it was lovely to stitch all that wisteria. Following are photos of blocks 4 (the lolly shop) and 5 (without buttons/beads). The fashion shop is next.

Don't forget the giveaway closing on Sunday.

03 November 2008

"Truly Scrumptious"

" Truly Scrumptious
Though we may seem presumptuous
Never, never, ever go away
Our hearts beat so unruly
Because we love you truly
Honest Truly, we do"
Richard & Robert Sherman
"Truly Scrumptious" designed by Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches.
This quilt and the backing have been made mainly from stash fabrics and leftovers from other quilts. Remnant pieces were bought for the borders and binding.
I wanted to use the "extra" block as my quilt centre because her name is Elizabeth, so Miss Izzy became my label.
As I'd pieced the blocks prior to tracing the stitcheries, I should have taken more care about choosing the stitcheries for each block because each Miss Scrumptious is either blue or green and it took me a while to finalise the layout of the quilt.


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