Friday 30 October 2020

A Morning Out

Tony and I both have a day off today, so we decided to make the most of it and took ourselves off to Temuka for the morning.  It's not far, just 10 - 15 Minutes North of Timaru. A smallish town.
We visited primarily to shop at the local butcher. We have heard good reports and wanted to try for ourselves. We came home with a few different bits to try out. While we were there we planned to have lunch which we did, then a saunter along the street. There are no craft shops, though the curtain shop does sell yarn. There does seem to be lots of Antique/junk/previously loved/op shops though and we visited them all, in search of an orange coffee mug, with spots...
For those of you who are not in the know, a certain bloggers husband has a chip out of his, and would like a replacement, so many bloggers are on the lookout. LOL
Sadly we didn't find that particular treasure, but we did find others.
This adorable little sewing machine was in one of the windows. Sadly it is broken and has a resident spider!
It didn't come home with me, but I couldn't resist a picture.
Another photo opportunity was this adorable child's commode chair.
If I had $250 to spare it would have come home with me. Wouldn't it look so sweet with a teddy or a doll sitting comfortably?
The last store we visited had loads of crafting books and magazines. While Tony perused the man cave section, I got chance to have a good browse and found this one.
There are some lovely designs which will be good for scrappy quilts.
And at only $3 it was a great bargain.
When we got home, I got busy in the kitchen, making up lunch boxes and of course a new slice for Tony. It's in the oven as I type.
I'll try to get a photo, before he eats it all.
I've been busy sewing away at some secret stuff, over the last few days, so no photo report, sorry.
With two more days off I'm hoping to have plenty of time to get some pictures of projects for my next blog post.
I also visited the post office today, to send my secret ornaments to the family in the UK.


I know less travel means fewer flights and they have to make money somehow, but seriously $25 for one Christmas card and one lightweight ornament?
The rest of the Christmas items for the UK will be bought online at and sent direct.


Monday 26 October 2020

It's been a busy week.

Do you remember I was telling you about the chocolate cake I had in the oven.
Well here it is, all finished and ready to eat.
Hmm... there seems to be a piece missing. 
A gooey brownie like chocolate cake, with a chocolate topping and coconut sprinkles.
So yum in fact there is only one piece left and Tony will take that to work with him this evening.
Time to make a new cake.
I worked six days last week. So much for more time to cross stitch and craft!
Never mind, I'm enjoying the work.
And I have still found time to stitch. Snowy St Nick is progressing.
This image was taken when I had finished for the evening on Thursday 22nd October
And on Friday 23rd. Not quite so much time spent stitching on Friday.
No stitchy time on Saturday, but I made up for it on Sunday.
I am really pleased with my progress yesterday.
Hoping to sit down with him again this evening.
I might have had more stitching time yesterday, but we had visitors.
Look who I got to cuddle with. 
And just because I can....
Torstein and Charmaine.
It looks like they wore each other out.
Floki eating a scone his mummy made.
Look at all those curls. I have a picture of me with a hair style just like that!
And would you look at this face, you can almost hear the laughter.
Una is such a happy wee soul.
And one last pic of Torstein on the blanket Nanny made.
I'm told he loves it and always falls asleep under Nannies blanket. 
That's good to know.
So that was my weekend, how did yours go?


Tuesday 20 October 2020

What is Parkin?


After my last post, more than one person asked in the comments...
What is Parkin?
For me, it is a slightly spicy, very dark and treaclely cake that my Mum always used to make in October and November.
It was always wrapped up and hidden away for a few days to 'let it improve'!
Then served in generous slices spread with butter.
The recipe I used last week was not my Mums recipe and came out rather paler than I recall, which set me to hunting through my old school recipe book. Sure enough, there it was, carefully copied from one of Mums books.  A quick comparison told me that I was right. Mums recipe used a lot more treacle and more spices too.
I'll share Mums recipe with you.


8oz / 225g Plain flour
1/2 tea spoon salt
1 Tea spoon Cinnamon
1 Tea spoon Mixed spices
1/2 Tea spoon Ginger
8oz / 225g Oatmeal
5 oz / 140 g Butter
4 oz / 110g Soft brown Sugar
4 oz / 110g Golden Syrup
4 oz / 110g Black treacle
1 Egg beaten
1/4 pint / 120mls Milk

Sift flour, salt and spices into a bowl and stir in the oat meal.
Place the butter, sugar, syrup and treacle into a pan over a low heat. Stirring until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved.
Allow to cool slightly.
Beat the egg and stir into the milk and stir this mixture into the cooled syrup mixture.
Fold in the dry ingredients and pour into a 9 inch lined backing tin.
Place in to a preheated oven (Gas 3, 170C / 325F) bake for 1.5 - 1.75 hours or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
Cool in the tin for 10 - 20  mins, then allow to go cold on a cooling wire, before wrapping in kitchen paper and foil.
Store in an airtight tin for a few days before serving.
It is especially good when served with plenty of fresh butter.
Well, my new parkin recipe may not be as good as my childhood memories, but it still got eaten.
Sliced thickly and spread with butter.
The new recipe didn't say to try storing it for a while, maybe I'll give that a go, or maybe next time I fancy parkin, I'll use Mums recipe.
What ever, there is only a couple of slices worth left, so I have the next creation in the oven as I type.
It smells amazing.
Well it would, it has chocolate in it!
I did find time to stitch on Sunday and made great progress on St Nick.
His little piece of Holly garland has been joined by a fold of that beautiful blue overcoat.
AAAAaand I found my way to the shop after work yesterday, where I bought more brown thread, so the butterfly bodies are all finished and I even tidied the threads. Now I just need to find some fabric for sashing strips and corner stones.
Shall I do that?
Or shall I sit with St Nick?
While my lovely chocolate cake bakes...
Did I say it smells amazing?

Sunday 18 October 2020

Two new starts and Zooming along.

Chookyblue had another of her world famous Zoom parties yesterday. They really are fun and a great way to sew along in good company and to meet new friends. I joined in late as I had stuff to do. As usual there were different folks in and out all day.
Here are just a few of us.
I got on with various things throughout the morning. I pulled out this lovely pattern 
and yellow fabrics and made a start on the cutting,  then I cut butterfly bodies for my RSC blocks. I also got on with some secret stuff.
Then it was lunchtime and time for Tony to try and sleep as his two night shifts this week fall on Saturday and Sunday.
So I shifted camp into the sitting room as my sewing room is right next door to our bedroom, and apparently a zoom stitch along is very noisy!! I sat listening to everyone chatting and even managed to join in while I was busy with Jack the ripper! Un quilting the last couple of rows I had done on the Purple turning twenty quilt. If you remember I was having tension issues. I pulled it off the frame a while ago but just never got around to the unhappy un quilting part. 
I had just finished doing that when Tony surfaced from his snooze.
So I folded it up and dumped it on the arm of the couch, grabbed the zooming laptop and headed back to my sewing room. 
I made the petals and the centre for the sunflower and started to put them together.
I have a choice of greens for the back ground but by now it was getting dark and I didn't want to make colour decisions with the room light on. So I put my lovely sunflower to one side and started to applique bodies onto butterflies, using the blanket stitch setting on my machine.
That was going all fine and dandy until the thread ran out!
Made even more frustrating by the fact that I had only two and half bodies to go.
I see a trip to the store in my near future.
It was at that point I decided to call it a night and said good bye to the girls and headed back to the sitting room to have a glass of wine and read my book for a while, where I discovered that someone had made herself comfortable on my half quilted quilt.
A few pages of book later and she was really settled.
So there you have it, a rather itty bitty day, but I did make some progress.
In other news, I've been working away at some secret stuff, not Christmas ornaments this time, but other Christmas stuff, which includes buttons. LOL
And speaking of Christmas.
I made a start on St Nick. The fabric is a piece I ordered especially for him from a local dyer it's called Snow Drifts. I wanted something that looked cold and wintery. I think I got it.
If I'm reading the chart correctly, this dark green blob is part of a holly garland. Hopefully I'll get to sit and stitch some more of him today. 
I've been busy in the kitchen all morning making lunch boxes for the freezer. Tony loves mince and potatoes, so a big batch of that was portioned out ready to freeze, I also made up a chicken curry and rice which was also divided into lunch box portions. They are handy to have as a back up for those days when there are no leftovers to take. That should keep us going for a couple of weeks. All we have to do is grab a box from the freezer and head out of the door to work.
 And of course a new slice.
I remember my Mum and my Gran both making this. Sadly this is not either of their recipes but one I came across in the Best Baking collection which  I showed back here.
I have to say, this recipe is not as good as my Mums.
I'm also very happy to report that I have Mums recipe in my old school recipe book.
Do yo still have your school recipe book?
That's it, that's me all caught up. Time for some lunch and then some stitching. 


Monday 12 October 2020

Queenie Took a Bath.

As I predicted on Saturday. Queenie is now finished. What a wonderful feeling. She has taken a while. I started her back in August of 2017. So You'll forgive me if it takes a while to get to the completed image. I had managed to look after her well over the years and I couldn't see any dirty marks on her fabric, but I still opted to give her a bath.
Then I wrapped her up in a fluffy towel.
After a few hours of being wrapped in her towel, it was time to press her.
The best way to do that is to get another nice dry fluffy towel and lay her face down.
I know, poor Queenie.
But laying her face down means that the fluffy towel will protect all those lovely beads I stitched on and the other stitches will remain nice and plump and not get crushed.
Here you are, a closer look at some of those hundreds of beads I had to sew on.
Doesn't she have such a serene look on her face.
Usually I'm unhappy with faces, I never seem to do them justice, but this one is lovely.
And as I showed the bare hems of her skirts last time, here is a peep at it now, with more beads.
And finally the big
Spring Queen, designed by Mirabilia and stitched by Loulee.
Started August 2017 and completed October 2020.
I'm unsure yet how she will be displayed. I do have patterns for her three sisters and at one time thought I might make a quilted wall hanging with them. But if they all take as long as Spring.....
When I know, you'll know.
A finish means a start right?
And here he is, my next cross stitch project.
Some of you may feel that you have seen this chap on my blog previously.
And you're correct. I stitched a miniature version of him along with 5 others as Christmas ornaments. You can see them here. I refurbished them in 2017 as I wasn't happy with my original finish. 
This one will be a bit bigger than those ornaments and has a lot more detail!
I didn't make a start yet, instead I got on with the 'other' project I mentioned. It's rather nice to work on after all that fiddling with beads.
Belle didn't join me on my armchair the other day, preferring to keep an eye on me from the back of the sofa, only moving when I went into the kitchen to make a cuppa.
It was a cooler day, so I had kept the door closed, to keep the sitting room warm.
I heard a noise as I was filling the kettle and turned around to see this.
She really didn't want to be left alone in the sitting room.
But soon settled back onto the sofa once I was reinstalled back into my sewing chair!!
I have to vacuum that spot on the sofa more often than I do the floor! It gets a good coating of white fluff. 
Well that's my happy news.
Now I'm off to catch up with your blogs, and see what you have all been up to.


Saturday 10 October 2020

Moving on and moving in!

A bit of time off work and one or two other changes and I'm feeling more like my old self.
Thank you to every one for your lovely thoughts and get well wishes.
My Doctor prescribed rest and I added stitching to the prescription. 
Of course we all know about the restorative powers of our crafts.
As you know I'm all up to date with Gail Pans I Stitch BOM. I've also had ample time to get my October Christmas Ornament completed and was wondering what to do next.  I did think about just getting on with and completing the last two ornaments, but that felt like cheating. 
So what should I do? I was trying to think of something small that I could put away when Novembers Stitchy commitments came along. Just a little something to keep my hands busy in the evenings. Then there was a big change and suddenly I have more time on my hands....
But a few days before all that happened Janice had suggested that Queenie should come back out of exile.
Well, she wasn't really in exile. I put her away when my lamp was out of order. She was staring at me, and making me feel guilty.  
So anyway, here she is. I forgot to take a before photo, so this one is ten minutes in progress. LOL
I finished the bouquet.
That frizzy blue flower is made up of cross stitches and beads.
There are lots more beads to add, especially along the hem of her dress and petticoats.
Hopefully I'll get that completed today.
When I realised how close I am to the end of this one, I allowed myself to start thinking about the next big project. I spent an hour yesterday evening prepping for that.
And during a break from stitching I was looking on Pinterest when something caught my eye.
Which sparked a memory and before you know it I was digging through photocopied pages from back copies of magazines, sorting out fabric and threads and visiting the button jar and lots of precious memories. 
My button jar is made up from several button collections. I had my own wee stash, then a dear lady who I nursed back on the Isle of Man gifted her button tin to me. Then of course I inherited mums small button tin, and since moving here to New Zealand, I have inherited Tony's grand mothers button tin too! All of those button collections now reside in a huge jar in my room.
So now I have my next two projects lined up. LOL
One I'll share regular progress on. And another which involves buttons will be kept secret for a while.
So that's some of the moving on news.
The other news?
I'm changing jobs again.
The job I was in was making me ill. So after talks with my Doctor and my lovely husband I have handed in my notice, which I do not have to work as I have more than enough annual leave accrued to cover two weeks notice. I have applied for and was offered a casual position at a local nursing/rest home. It's only a casual position at this time, no guaranteed hours. But you know how these things go, now I have my foot in the door...
As some of you know I was a care giver for 20 years back on the Isle of Man. It feels like I'm going home.
And of course a casual position means more sewing time too.
Win, win.
So that's the moving on part of this blog post dealt with, what about the moving in?
The other day, while I was sitting sewing, Belle was moving between my chair and Tony on the couch. She loves to snuggle with me, especially if I have a blanket, but I fidget and wriggle a lot, which annoys her. So then off she goes to see Tony.
He was watching a video about fine scale modelling but she managed to get his attention.
A little head scratch is always good to break the ice.
Just let me get closer, to save you stretching...
And quick wash before you scratch my ear.
Thank you. 
That's enough of that. You watch your video, while I have a snooze just here. You don't need your left arm do you? 
I couldn't resist snapping photos as she moved in on Tony and got all settled. They stayed like that for an age, while she snoozed and he watched some bloke 'un boxing' scale model aircraft. Which apparently is a bit like you and I opening a quilt kit and showing off all the lovely fabrics and discussing the pattern format. 
How can a bunch of plastic pieces, usually grey, be anything like all the lovely fabrics that come in a quilt kit?  They don't even sound exciting. Sprue. Flashing. And don't get me started on the smells given off by the glues and paints. 
They do seem to have the concept of 'stash' correct though. They buy all this stuff, un box it, look at it, fondle it, stroke it, talk about it, then put it back in the box and leave it on the shelf or in the cupboard until 'one day' comes along! Now that does sound familiar. LOL
Maybe we're not so different after all.
I have to be quiet today, as it is the day between Tony's two night shifts and he is sleeping. The perfect excuse to sit in my comfy chair and stitch beads all day long. I wonder if Belle will join me, or if I will wriggle too much? I'll take pictures if she does. 
How is your weekend going?


Wednesday 7 October 2020

Kitchen Catch up.

It's no secret that I enjoy being in the kitchen almost as much as I enjoy my needlework. And on occasion I show things off here on my blog. Like my friend Janice, I love to try out new things and experiment with recipes. Unlike Janice, I forget to take photos and blog about food more often.  Moving countries has opened up a whole new avenue of cooking for me as I have discovered new chefs and food authors.  One, or rather two of those authors are Simon and Dame Alison Holst. (Mother and son)  I had already purchased one of Alison's books while we were here on holiday in 2009, but since my immigration, my collection of her books has grown. Recently we have visited this one a few times. In fact last nights dinner was the cover picture.
Sweet and sour chicken, which I served on noodles rather than rice. 
I enjoy doing stir fry style dishes as the food is always fresh and Tony joins me in the kitchen. 
He likes to take charge of the wok. 
Another recipe we recently tried was spiced Indian mince, which came out a lot like biriyani. 
No pictures of our creations, sorry, we ate it!
As you can see from the markers, there are one or two more recipes we want to try soon.
I have a whole three tier bookshelf of recipe books, below you can see less than half of it. That lovely collection which forms the image of macarons is rather special. It was released as a weekly or fortnightly thing while mum was ill. We spied book three I think on the shelf and grabbed a copy. We were both hooked, so I subscribed and made sure to get the back issues.
Sadly we didn't have time to make many of the recipes and my lovely mum passed before the collection was  even halfway complete. The last issue was delivered to the house just days before I left the island for new Zealand. I haven't made many of the recipes in those books, but recently that has changed. Last weeks chocolate and walnut brownie was out of book three.
And so is this weeks gingerbread brownie. I had to say, I did much better this time. It turned out as a very deep, sticky, gooey brownie. Just like brownies are supposed to be.
I'm not a huge fan of ginger, but had to give it a go for Tony.
As well as crystallised ginger being sprinkled all over the top the batter had lots of spices added including chilli!
The bite I stole from Tony was very, very good and not too gingery. 
I might be tempted to try a half a slice!
It's not all been about the kitchen though. 
I've been busy with I stitch. Here is Octobers block.
I'm not sure what happened while I was preparing the blocks for stitching, but my circle in the garden was not very circular! And it had some extra lines. I could have just pulled it out and drawn another block but decided instead to challenge myself to hide my mess. Which I believe I did.
I had a look around on pinterest and found lots of lovely ideas there, but not the right one. So I pulled out some of my stitchy books and eventually came across whipped chain stitch. Hmm, I didn't take a close up photo to show you but I did a green chain stitch and whipped it with a variegated pink/peach thread. I think it looks a little like flowers growing on a vine or bush. 
And here you have September and October sewn together and awaiting November.
I'm all caught up with I stitch and with my Christmas Ornaments, yesterday saw me start on Octobers. Once that is complete I'll need to find something to keep my hands busy in the evenings while I sit in my comfy chair. I'm sure there is plenty I could do, it's just making that decision. 
You all know how that goes!
We've had some ups and downs in temperatures over the last few days going from as high as 24 C to as low as 8 C. I was cool while sewing yesterday and pulled a blanket over my legs. Never one to turn down the opportunity to snuggle on a blanket Belle joined me.
I got such awful looks when I had to move for any reason. LOL
I'm not feeling 100% so having a few days off work this week, maybe a couple more stitching days will help to readjust the balance. 


Saturday 3 October 2020

Friday Night with Friends

It's been a while, but I finally managed to join in with another Friday Night With Friends Sew-along.
I got on with my RSC blocks. This month is yellow.
Hmmm, the lighting here is not very good and the yellow looks rather washed out, but I assure you, I did make three yellow blocks.
I spread them all out on the design floor, to see what they would look like and to get an idea of how big this one will be once I add sashing strips, corner stones and borders. And of course, I need to add bodies. 
It will be a good size for a cot quilt. Maybe for a little girl.....
Perhaps I can get it finished in time to send it for Christmas??
I've enjoyed using up some scraps each month and have started to look about for another fun block to make for next year.
While I had all of the blocks out of the box....
Somebody thought she would try it on for size.
As there was still some of Friday evening left, I got on and put together the October I stitch block and prepared it for stitching this week.
Then I sat and worked a little on a Christmas Ornament.
I had hoped to spend some time stitching today. And I did, just not as much time as I would like.
But I did manage to squeeze in enough time to make up my alternate RSC block.
And I put it together with it's friends.
And noticed for the first time, that I had laid out the blue one differently to the other colours....
It can stay that way.
This one will go to sleep now until January, when the RSC starts up again, I'll make more blocks for it next year.
And as promised, I have put together the first two rows of I stitch.
I'm very pleased with it so far.
As I said previously, I have taken off the border pieces, it was just a bit too scrappy.
I'm thinking it will still be a scrappy border, just larger pieces.
The September block is all stitched and awaiting the company of the October block.

Which is as I mentioned, all ready to go. 
Well, gotta go, we're off out with friends this evening. 
curry night