Saturday, 31 December 2016

At year's end

Vestiges of my time living in Japan still remain with me and one of those is the inner urge to do a complete clean of my house, my car and me before midnight on the 31st December.   You can imagine how busy the past few days have been!!  Now it is almost midnight and the fireworks will soon begin, so a ‘clean me’ is off to sleep in my clean house :-)
And my final "job" for 2016 was to add up and average my food bill spend.   Did you hear the happy dance?   I managed to reduce the weekly average by $4.09.   So for the past four years I have been able to continuously reduce the supermarket spend -  a total weekly average reduction of around $50. The DBEM was impressed and then said "I didn't think you were trying so hard this year" which kind of popped my balloon a little.   I am pleased and will definitely try again in 2017.   What has helped is doing a bulk shop every 5 to 6 weeks and only getting a few fresh fruit and vegetables each week.   This has been a huge saving on time and has made me very strict about writing a menu then a shopping list and sticking to it.   
I’ve not had time for a lot of stitching these past few days as the DBEM has needed a lot of help with her knitting.   Today we counted up the garments she (and I) have made in the nine months since April – a happy total of 25.   Several of these need buttons so I have promised her a trip to the button store next week but I do want to get my sewing done too.  
So the Quaker Christmas Sampler has not had much attention.   Here’s a progress shot -  I’m working on page four and trying to get to the top of the sampler.   She looks like an unbalanced Angel of the North although possibly a little prettier.  The remainder of the left wing is on page three!   I am tiring of the nearly monotone colouration of this so when page four is finished will have a break and stitch on something else.   Next post I hope to show you my “want to stitch” list for 2017

Meanwhile Happy New Year and thanks to all for reading my little blog.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Merry Christmas

The DBEM and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year

Thursday, 22 December 2016

All the better to see you with

Several weeks ago I went to the optometrist and received good news and bad news.

Good news was that my distance vision had not changed but bad news,  a tweak was necessary on the close vision.   Result = new spectacles.   Ostensibly French, I suspect these might be the "designed in Paris made in China"  type but they are light weight metal frames and will hopefully last me well into my retirement.   The lovely Grant told me that at my age I could expect to see little change to my vision.   I'm not convinced but it was lovely of him to say so.
Good news is that my cornea are slightly thicker than normal and will be a protective factor, which is helpful given the bad news that I have optical hypertension.   Result = annual checks for glaucoma.
Strange how the pressure in my eyes can be high when my blood pressure is low??

And tonight I am putting the new specs to good use as I stitch more on the Quaker Sampler while watching Masterchef.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Last new start for the year

Progress on what I have termed the Quaker Christmas Sampler.    In actual fact the real name is Stickideen von der Wiehenburg Christmas Quaker 2008!
Anyway two cherubs, an angel's skirt and part of a word later this is a reasonable start and one page of a 28 page chart.   I wonder if I will finish by Christmas 2017??
And for the record this is on 40 count Antique White Linen and in the charted DMC floss (red, green, gold and white)

Monday, 19 December 2016

Thank you very much Mr Z!

My cousin put up a happy comment on FB today that she had attempted this and had been told she was estimated to be 33.   She's a couple of years younger than I am so I decided to attempt it too.
And the happy result....
Mr Zuckerberg - you are truly a friend even if you are a terrible judge of a woman's age!!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Sacrificial lamb etc

Last time that Little Brother came to visit he told me he had left some meat from his farm in my freezer.   So he had.   Two large roasts, one mutton and one beef.   Last week I had the brilliant idea to roast it for one meal and then mince the remainder to make cottage pie.   However our daytime temperatures are in the mid-twenties celsius now and our house is west facing so gets very much hotter than that in the afternoon.   Nothing daunted I rose at 5am this morning and set the roast going then went back to bed having set my alarm clock for two hours later.   Roast cooked to perfection, a slightly longer sleep than normal for me and I still got to church on time:-)
This afternoon I sliced/carved the leg of mutton, retained some for dinner tonight and minced the other in my good old fashioned cast iron mincer.
Herewith, sacrificial lamb which shall tomorrow be made into cottage pies for the freezer.  Enough energy has been expended on this for one day.   This will make several cottage pies for several people for several days :-)   I shall freeze them for cooler weather.   Lean cuisine this is not but it is delicious.
I have been diligently stitching on the Quaker Friendship Book and it is all but finished.   My initials and the year fill in  gaps on the cover and I need to stitch a couple of small motifs to fill in the gaps on a couple of others-  the ABCD square and EFGH square have gaps.   Gaps have arisen because I have not done this as a round robin with initials of friends. So here she is in all her glory - including the two false starts which I just left.
This may be the last finish before Christmas as this week looks to be really busy.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Mr Postman loves me

Mr Postman kindly brought me two gifts this past week.   Neither of them were wrapped in Christmas paper and marked "do not open"

Little Sister sent me a package with some material to make a skirt and this fancy Christmas Tree she had made at her quilting class.
At the top are two glittery angels.   Little Sister has only angels on her "real Christmas Tree" so of course she had to make this a replica :-)   Thank you very much Little Sister.   I hope to get the skirt made in time for my Christmas Holiday.
And from Japan, Yuko sent me a parcel of mixed ingredients.   Ah...a real nostalgic wander down memory lane.
Two types of Japanese green tea, fancy correction tapes, two reels of novelty Japanese washi tape, note paper(in the front), yellow 'secret post-it' papers and buttons.   Guess what?   The DBEM immediately said she could find a use for the buttons!!   Thank you so much for such a pleasure-giving-gift Yuko.   I'm going to share the secret post-its with my boss.   Currently she tucks messages under my computer key board so this could be a great alternative:-)
I have only two squares left to stitch on the Quaker Friendship book so have already decided on my next project.   Of course!   I'm going away for four days at Christmas and I need a project to take so what better than a Quaker Christmas Sampler.   Watch this space.   I may be able to show progress pictures soon.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Bluebird of Unhappiness

Today was information overload at work.  I drove home looking forward to relaxation with my needle and thread.   Not to be!   This darned bluebird is not correct.   I have already reverse stitched the wings  - only to find that what I thought was an error was not :-(  Now, seemingly complete, the darn bluebird is all wrong.   Ah woe is me.
So I started another piece and this seems to be progressing well.   At least so far everything adds up.
There are 10 pockets in the Quaker Friendship Book so I am well on the way to completion.   Certainly by the end of the year.....I hope.  
But the good news was a lovely surprise package from Pamela.   Look at these cute mug coasters.   Such even blanket stitching.   I am very impressed.   And I am looking forward to a nostalgic cup of green tea too.   Thank you very much Pamela.
I plan on doing some sewing on Saturday - a T shirt and a dress are both cut out ready to go.   And tonight I washed up a piece of fabric for a skirt.   Can you tell I am wanting some new summer clothes?   The DBEM and I are going away for a few days at Christmas and I thought it would be nice for us to have something new.   The DBEM's new top is already complete (and she has already worn it twice !!) but mine have yet to be started.   I wonder how much i will get done this weekend?

Sunday, 4 December 2016

An interruption

Today at persistent prompting from the DBEM I put up my Christmas tree.   I always begrudge the amount of time it takes but I love the finished product!   I have at least a dozen angels of varying types hanging on it but the angel and tree I love the best are these.   And they are much easier to put up!
Another interruption from the DBEM was this.   Can you see what is going to happen?
Yes!   I am to sew in all the ends and sew up the garments, iron them and then put on the buttons.   The DBEM does the knitting but finishing is beyond her now so I have these to complete.   This will interrupt my stitching schedule in a major way but what can one do??   The DBEM suggested I took them away on holiday at Christmas but I can't face that so will try and get them all done well before that.   Do you think I could manage to complete one tonight while watching Midsomer Murders?   I'm going to try.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

My men friends

Tonight I put buttons, eyes and mouths on all my little men friends.   The DBEM did a taste test and they passed.
Now all I have to do is put them into little cellophane bags.   For Christmas the friends who live locally are getting a boxed sampler selection of home baked goodies.
Most years I do this for at least some of my friends and each year the selection is different.   The 2016 edition will be Gingerbread men, Apricot and Orange Coconut Balls, Walnut Shortbread, and mini mini Chocolate Chip Cookies.  The first of these is to be delivered next Sunday afternoon.   Kathy has a very busy social schedule so she and I start Christmas early!  Actually last year we ran out of time and so exchanged Christmas gifts at the end of January.   Both of us thought that such an extended festive season was not a good idea so we have gone the other way for 2016 :-)

Tuesday, 29 November 2016


I was a late starter with both these projects.
Sweet Pea seed planted at the time stated on the packet came to nothing so I put in some plants, a bamboo teepee and voila.... they are beginning to flower.   The DBEM watches their progress daily and we both look forward to a fragrant display.

The Ackworth Quaker trend bypassed me a few years ago.   Well, I purchased several charts but never got around to stitching them until now.   Despite some kilometres of reverse stitching on this one I am making good progress and am enjoying the colour, the fabric and the rhythm of the cross stitch motifs.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Finem Gloriosum

Allow me to introduce to you my favourite angel of 2016
Jo from the Norfolk sent me the chart and Heather from Whanganui sent me the wooden head - thank you very much to you both.
The hardanger is stitched on 32 count linen and the cross stitch with DMC threads so she is definitely not a haute couture angel but I love her.
Even from the back she is elegant.
And a sideways glance
Now to name her.   Gloria? Alleluia? Seraphina?   I don't think so :-)

Friday, 25 November 2016


Thanksgiving is not a custom that New Zealand has imported from the United States.   We fiercely embrace halloween which grows bigger by the year.   Christmas decorations fill the shops even before the ghosts and ghoulies have been consigned to the warehouse.  Black Friday sales have reached our shores - well and truly.  But nary a mention of Thanksgiving.

Family gatherings around a special meal, when each member lists what they are thankful for seems to me to be an excellent tradition.   Not so much fun though when it's just the DBEM and me.

However today I tried to be mindful all day of Thanksgiving and created my own little list.
I am thankful for

  • Good health
  • An interesting job.
  • Energy to enjoy life.
  • Embroidery to keep my hands occupied.
  • Books to keep my mind stimulated.
  • Friends who expand my horizons.
  • But above all I am thankful for God's goodness to me
And tonight I am thankful that I have done most of my Saturday chores and now I am off to add some more blue crosses to my needlework and to give the Hardanger Angel some hair..   Photos tomorrow I promise.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Sweet peas and fairies

My lovely colleague Susan brought these from her garden and rather than leave them on my desk they have come home with me.
The DBEM loves sweet peas and is peering closely at my plants each day but as yet no flowers.   Thank you Susan for giving us this bunch of fragrance.
A couple of weeks ago I sewed this little dress for my great-niece.   I fell in love with the Cicely Mary Barker fairies and the internet provided the "Pillowcase dress" pattern and Mackenzie loves it.   No photographs of her wearing it yet but happy dances all round :-)

Friday, 18 November 2016

Dress Rehearsal

My lovely boss told me to take this afternoon off as I had been working long hours. So I was able to get the large grocery shop done.  I tried doing the grocery shop once a month, to save time but that has stretched out to once every six weeks.   Mind you I still hate shopping!
Anyway, I have some free time so I have been auditioning bodies for the Hardanger Angel and tonight we had a dress rehearsal.  
The Body Shop flowing soap turned out to have the exact size bottle I required.   Then the plastic stem of one cotton ear bud  and the tip of a bamboo toothpick and voila.   I can see how this will come together.  Maybe not tonight though:-)

Thursday, 17 November 2016

And we have Shepherds!

The second "panel" of the Nativity Sampler is now complete - well almost.   I have two rows of specialty stitches and the trailing vines to do before welcoming the three wise men.
But so far so good.
And a close up shot -  each of the "lacy whitework" patterns are different and fun to stitch even if the Silk Mori does catch a  little on my rough hands.
And now I have a letter to write so I'd best be off.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Surprise in the mail

My mailman is my new best friend :-)
Today he brought me a surprise package all the way from Texas.   Phyllis had packed lots of love into the envelope, along with this exquisite embroidered acorn.
Isn't it beautiful?  I love acorns and this one is beautifully stitched and finished.
And guess what....Phyllis sent me a card with this cute sticker on the back.  
Would you wait to open it?   I didn't and inside was this amazing encouraging card.  
Thank you so much Phyllis.
But wait!   There's more.   Another card with another cute sticker.   This one I haven't opened, but Phyllis you have the honour of having sent my very first Christmas card for 2016.

It has been a surprisingly good day ;-)    I'll be back tomorrow with some stitching progress.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Shaken about

I will not fear when the earthquakes come and mountains are cast into the sea

But I will be thankful I live in the North Island  :-)

Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Shepherds

The coloured portion of this band is complete.  I rather love the little cardinals.   We don't have those birds in New Zealand but they are certainly more colourful than our birds.
Now I am working on the white band and first is what is called Broad Cross Stitch.
A really 3D stitch this has 8 steps for each complete stitch.   I am wondering if there will be enough of the white silk to complete this.  
Today I planted five planter boxes - two with flowers for the DBEM.   Pink and blue petunias which I hope will provide a great deal of pleasure for both of us.   Also lettuce and silverbeet which will definitely feed both of us.
Now I am ready to take the lasagne out of the oven and that is the last item on my weekend To Do List.

Friday, 11 November 2016


At this stage of the Heirloom Nativity Sampler I am stitching snow.  White, white and yet more white.  So I decided some light relief was necessary.   Well to be totally honest I wanted to cross another chore of The List.  
Late last year Little Brother brought me a huge container of walnuts from his venerable old tree.   Still in their nuts!   So little by little I have cracked the shells and extracted the nuts, until my hand got too sore.   Tonight I promised myself I would finish the job.
As Rudyard Kipling said, "desire doth outrun performance" and despite cracking countless shells and filling this bowl, there is still a huge quantity remaining.
Tomorrow morning some of these will be chopped up and disappear into cookies for the DBEM.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Out of sight and Out of mind

Tonight I have decided I must be "out of my mind".   I can't even count to 3 correctly :-)
Here is a progress shot of squares three and four of the Quaker Friendship Book.   Looking good?
Well take a closer look and tell me if you can see the error?
Top right there is a square which is four threads wide when it should be six.   Bother.   The joys of poor eyesight, poor concentration and 36 count fabric.   I am not going to reverse stitch this but will leave it as is.   There is plenty of fabric to start again and I will do that and discard this piece. Bother again!
And "out of sight"?   Well look what I found hidden away.   How embarrassing.  I thought I didn't have any Unfinished Objects.  This is from The Victoria Sampler -  "Heirloom Nativity Sampler"
I started this at least three years ago (I see it was actually four) and only got this far, less than a third.   As this is a complete kit and I have all the threads, beads and bobbles necessary I am going to finish this off in time for Christmas .....2017

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Wisdom gained

On the way home from Church this morning I stopped to buy the DBEM's magazine which contains her weekly dose of Royal News.   Right next to the corner store is the local Fish and Chip shop, The Ancient Mariner" and as usual they have a board outside with a wise and funny saying on it.  This one tickled my fancy and seemed worthy of photographic record.

This afternoon Kathy and I went to Little & Friday cafe in Newmarket.  Obviously very popular, the place was crowded but the Lemon Meringue Pie was delicious and well worth the wait.    Strange name for a cafe isn't it?   I asked Kathy if it was the names of the owners but not so she said and made some enquiries.  Apparently it is so called because initially, the self taught baker/proprietor Kim Evans opened in a "little" shop on a "Friday".   Well, if my nephew and his wife can name their new baby girl London, I guess Ms Evans can call her cake shop Little & Friday :-)

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Spring Cleaning

With Spring almost over and my Spring Cleaning not yet completed I set to and polished, wiped and generally cleaned the sunporch today.   Now I bask in the after glow of satisfaction that one complete room is crossed off The List.
The DBEM decided to help by sorting out the old photographs.
One pile for each sibling.  The biggest pile for the sibling whom I have nominated to be Family Historian.   Next week these will be sent to each one and I will be happy with the space in the cupboard and the knowledge, that while the DBEM can still see a little we have notated and archived some family history.   I am almost totally without sentimentmyself but found two photographs of the DBEM as a young girl that reminded me of photos of myself at a similar age.   Those I have kept to look at when folks say to me "you look like your father".   I shall look at these ancient photographs and smugly think-  You Are Wrong!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Two out of ten isn't bad.

I have completed two of the ten panels for the Quaker Friendship book.   36 count antique white linen from stash and DMC 930 is exactly what I hoped for.  More blue than this photo would lead you to believe,  I am already mentally going through my fabric stash wondering if I have any blue silky print to finish this off.   I know there is some blue Liberty Lawn but a blue silk would be better.
Little Brother came to visit during the week and it was lovely to see him.   DBEM is feeling a little tired so we may not get up to anything energetic during the weekend.  I plan on a visit to the Library and will meet up with a friend for coffee at Little and Friday.   Strange name.   I don't know why Little or why Friday but may find out more on Sunday when we go.   Kathy is a cafe connoisseur and on our meet-ups we generally investigate a different cafe each time.
See you soon.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

A weekend of repeats

Yesterday I washed my car, thoroughly and felt pleased with the shiny result.
Today I took the DBEM to see the Embroidery Exhibition and we parked the car in the middle of the car park.  Not under a tree, not near a fence and not on the side of the road.  An hour later we returned and the shiny car was now spotted with excrement from what I take to be a swarm of bees.  Little yellow orange spots dotted the shiny cobalt blue of my Mazda.   So this afternoon I washed my car thoroughly -  AGAIN

Today I measured the floss needed to make a twisted cord for my newly completed box top.   I twisted the floss, knotted it carefully and measured the box.   Oh dear not long enough.   So I consulted my book, measured carefully, twisted the floss, knotted the ends AGAIN!   Success.   Here is the box top.   I love it and am so pleased to have finally completed a stitched top for this box which I bought twenty years ago while on holiday in the South Island.
The perspective of this photo is skew-whiff - the stitching is actually centred.   Now to find a use for the box.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Belated celebrations

Today the DBEM took me out for a sushi lunch.   Well to be honest, I took her in the car.   But she paid !!
We had a great time at our favourite Sushi Go Round.

The DBEM is right in to nigiri sushi and was a little perturbed when there was no tuna sushi available.  A wink at the waitress and a brief conversation in Japanese and instant service from the kitchen.   This was a real happy meal!
My boss surprised me with this flowering plant for my desk.   She obviously doesn't know that I'm no fan of house plants but as I sit right outside her office door I will have to try and keep this one alive!

I know Little Sister reads this blog as she has been asking why I was off air.  This next photo is a teaser for her.   Little Sister you may find a gift in the mail sometime soon!

And another spurt on the sewing machine and the odd notebooks cowering in the corner of my desk received fabric covers.  And in so doing I found a use for the piece of hardanger that was too long for a bookmark and too short for its original purpose.   Well done me!

Tonight I have a new start and another episode of New Tricks on the TV.  Off to get a light meal now -  we ate a little too much sushi earlier on.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Refreshed and renamed

Life administration took longer than expected but several items were ticked off the never ending To Do List and with the start of another year I'm looking forward to better things.   Yes, in the 'Calendar of Margaret', the sixty third year begins today.
Progress has been made on another front also.   I have decided to rename my elderly parent as DBEM since she is now a great deal more than half deaf and three quarters blind!   She is now deaf, blind and elderly.   Don't tell her I have noticed this progress.  She is fiercely independent and probably assumes my silence on the matter means I have not noticed her growing ineptitude, the need for me to redo tasks she "can still do dear", the increased volume on the TV,  the increasingly restrictive dietary requirements etc
Fun and games here.   DBEM drops her dark coloured 4mm knitting needle on our light coloured carpet and when she can't find it I search.  Moi?  I drop a small number 28 tapestry needle on a grey mat, worry that I will end up with said needle in my bare feet, only to have DBEM say, "is that a needle by your feet dear?"   How did she see that?   Apparently it sparkled in the light from where she was sitting!  And so we help each other even if the help equation is mostly unbalanced.
The basket of finishes is now empty and I have a sense of satisfaction along with a new resolution.   As I stitch projects I will find a new home for the chart and so reduce unnecessary stash.
My friend Susan took the chart for this chook (and his friend the Quaker Chicken)
Doesn't he look great?
Two Christmas ornaments - I have kept these charts as I will probably repeat.  I love both of them.

Mary Beale's Christmas Wreath all finito!   I don't know what I will do with either this or the one I did last year:-)   The back is red velvet fabric from the local curtain shop -  excellent for Christmas ornaments!
The tote bag - this project veered far from my original plans but has turned out highly colourful and highly usable.   I am well pleased as all ingredients were from my stash cupboard.   The black is a heavy woollen fabric left over from my winter skirt, quilting cotton lining etc etc   Large pockets on either side are really useful.   The DBEM is making appreciative noises so she may get to use this.

This Christmas Ornament is supposed to be Holly berries but looks too pink to me.   Still it turned out well and I will use it as I rather like the 3D hanging bauble effect.
Another hardanger tassell -  I do wish I had kept count of how many of these I have made.   Nearly 50 I think.  They are always welcome as gifts and sell well at the Embroiderers Guild Exhibition.   Besides which they use up scraps of linen fabric which I am loathe to discard.
And now to work on filling up the basket again.