Tuesday 31 December 2013

New Years Eve

How fitting that my last post for 2013 is my last ornament for Heather's Ornament SAL.   This has been a really delightful SAL and my nieces and nephews have benefited with a new ornament each for their tree.   My local Embroiderers' Guild also benefited with small ornaments for their sale of work.   Last but not least I benefited from the opportunity to view the great variety of ornaments stitched by all the other participants.   Thank you so much for organising this SAL Heather.
So without further ado - voila!
My 2013 Christmas Tree.
From this years JCS Ornament Issue -  stitched entirely from stash.   28 Count Cashel linen (Vintage Mocha) and DMC floss.  The small spool came from my friend in Japan.  One stray star, a drinking straw, some pins and tacky glue and I am happy with this finish.

A Happy New Year to you all.   I plan to welcome 2014 before most of you (^_-)

Monday 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas to all

The HD3QBEM and I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year.

Have a very safe and happy holiday.

Saturday 21 December 2013


Today is the first day of my summer holidays and just like a small child I woke early!   As a result I accomplished much today: grocery shopping, gardening, sewing (I made myself a summer dress), cooking (I made sushi for dinner) and a finish in my embroidery.
Tonight I have only a snapshot of the embroidery to show you.   Although the dress is finished I haven't got a suitable photo so that will follow later.   I am pleased with the Floral Garden Initial and hope that this A5 notebook cover will prove useful to the recipient.   The HD3QBEM suggested I make an M for myself but that will need to wait awhile.   Surface stitchery like this is hard on the fingertips - I have the puncture marks to prove it!
Being neither a Christmas gift nor a New Year gift, indeed not even an anything-in-particular gift, it will sit here a while before I trust the mailman.   Currently New Zealand Post seems to be so remarkably overworked that a letter across town can take over a week and then possibly be declared missing!  
Last night I chopped up some fabrics into two and a half inch fabric squares as in the new year I am going to try my hand at English Paper Piecing.   The HD3QBEM has requested a new runner for the top of the blanket box and an 'artistic' arrangement of Granny Hexagons seemed more achievable than any artfully pieced quilted runner.   Pamela assures me that EPP is relaxing as well as portable and steered me in the right direction for pre-cut hexagon shaped papers.   I am now fully equipped and only waiting for the New Year so that I can begin.

Thursday 19 December 2013

Further along the floral garden path...

Twelve years ago when Diana Lampe's book (Embroidered Garden Flowers)was first published,  I attempted one of these floral garden wonder-pieces and it ended up consigned to the rubbish bin.   I vowed never to try again.   Now I am ever so glad I kept the book as this piece is working out -  sufficiently similar to Diana's to make me happy.   This is to be a gift so a slightly skewed part-portion snapshot is all I can show you at present.   I have added Agapanthus, English Primrose and Periwinkles to the mix.
Today at lunchtime I made a trip to the Library for the first collection of Christmas Holiday reading.   Besides this I have downloaded 10 eBooks from the Library collection and five from Kindle so I feel safe knowing I will have plenty to read over the holiday break.   I plan to make a final trip to a different Library branch on Monday and collect some more as over the summer they allow an extended borrowing period of six weeks.
If re-creation is the true definition of holiday I am set for success as I plan to sew some new dresses, get active in my garden, read these books and stitch and stitch and stitch.   Oh yes I forgot, a couple of new cones of yarn arrived from England so I will be knitting another summer cardigan too.  Do you wonder why the HD3QBEM asks if I realise I only have three weeks off work and not three months??

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Look what the mail man brought me this morning!

The bell from the security gate interrupted my breakfast this morning with this wonderful surprise package from my friend Yuko.
First the box.  Yuko knows me so well.   I love boxes and tins and this one instantly transported me back to the times when I visited Tokyo Disneyland.  One can never have enough visits to that magical place - why I believe I shed decades of age the instant I walk through the gates and once again become a child oohing and aahing over the familiar and well loved characters.   So thanks for the box Yuko.
Second, inside the box were cards, fancy post it stickers (shaped like a mother panda and a baby panda, so cute), writing paper, a pretty handkerchief, a wonderful book of blank postcards ( I shall use this as a journal book as I do not want to part with even one of these fantastic art cards) and washi tape.   So thanks for the goodies Yuko.
Last but not least was this - didn't Yuko do well with this one!   A tiny box of even tinier cards and they are all just made for a stitcher.   Thank you so very much Yuko.   I love them and one day when the cards are finished I have grand designs for the box to turn into a small sewing kit.  
Mr Mailman, you can come to my house at breakfast every day if you brings me packages like this one (^_-)

Sunday 15 December 2013

Another tin top and a teaser

The stitching is finished for the second Altoid Tin Topper.   Only one tin to go and I think I may repeat this second chart.   As they are to be sold and it is unlikely any buyer will purchase two identical tins, a duplicate is not going to be a problem.
Although stitched in the same linen as the previous 'topper', today's photograph shows an entirely different colour.  Permin 28 count Star Sapphire linen (I checked the name this time) and DMC floss.  
This has yet to be finish-finished as I need to search out the remnant of sari silk I have in my stash cupboard.   A slither of that to back the hardanger doves eyes is needed and is a good excuse to put this piece away and get on with the other start...
I am surprisingly pleased with how this has turned out so far.   There is still a significant length of the initial to go and satisfaction levels may fall, but currently this is proving to be a happy experience.   Shasta daisies, forget-me-nots, cyclamen, lavender, hollyhock and pansies so far.   The floss is all DMC and the linen is a closely woven twill I purchased years ago in a fit of enthusiasm to try crewel work.   Yes, as you all know, it proved cruel and I gave up but the expensive-at-the-time linen is at long last proving useful.   Do you like it so far?
My first Christmas party of the season tonight so I need to get ready for that.   In true New Zealand style it is "ladies bring a plate" so I will be taking a platter of assorted Christmas baking and hope it will be scoffed up as sweet things usually are this time of year.  It is 27 degrees (80 degrees farenheit) here today so I am not wanting to be in the kitchen (^_-)

Saturday 14 December 2013

A Christmas Sampler of a different kind

Today I assembled the Christmas baking sampler tin and am mighty pleased with the results.   Making these was such fun but looking at them I can feel the kilos being added to the hips.   Fortunately to someone else's hips as these are to be a gift!  Ginger snaps, 2-4-6-8 Biscuits, Brandy Balls, Cranberry Slice.  Yumm.  The HD3QBEM thinks this is wonderful and is quite excited to know if the recipient will think so too.
Today I am making a start on a piece of surface stitchery.   Never my strong forte, this will certainly be a labour of love, but since Diana Lampe's book was published in 1991 I have wanted to do a floral initial.   This may well prove to be another cruel crewel-like experience but I want to feel I have mastered both the desire and the technique.  
Besides which I have a piece of hardanger kitted up and tacked out and this will be my consolation when Diana Lampe drives me to tears.   The floss ordered from overseas for my Mermaids Chest has not yet arrived so I have had to rearrange my To-Do list.  Only one more week of work and 12 more sleeps until I go on holiday!
Back tomorrow I hope with some stitching progress to show.   We are having homemade cranberry and smoked chicken pizza tonight as it is far too hot here to cook a 'proper meal'.

Friday 13 December 2013

The Altoid Tin

Several years ago I received three empty Altoid tins as part of an exchange.   This was at the height of "Altoid Tin Topper Fever".  However these have languished in my stash cupboard while I tried to find a suitable chart (for free of course) or to pluck up courage to design my own.  

This is stitched on 28 count pale sea green linen in DMC floss using a free chart from Victoria Sampler which I altered to suit myself.   I glued satin ribbon around the tin and added a twisted cord in DMC perle around the top edge. I don't really like the words on this but I am not good at charting letters so left it as was.
Tonight I will line the inside with fabric and then Finito!  This is the first of the 12 items I plan to stitch for the sale of work at next years Embroiderers' Guild Exhibition.   Do you think it will sell?
I have another free chart, a hardanger one this time, also for an Altoid Tin Topper so that is lined up to do next.  All being well that should be done before Christmas too.   Yeah!

Wednesday 11 December 2013

My only tree this year....

The Naxos Necessaire is all stitched and I have begun the search for suitable lining fabric before constructing.   Our tutor told us to take time to choose carefully and I am looking for a striped silk.   So far I can only find blue striped silk but am determined to wait until I see exactly what I want.   So no happy dance for this one yet.
However it meant I could start a new piece.   So start I did and finish too!   Here's this year's tree.
From this years JCS Ornament Issue -  stitched entirely from stash.   28 Count Cashel linen (Vintage Mocha) and DMC floss.  The small spool came from my friend in Japan.  One stray star, a drinking straw, some pins and tacky glue.  Voila!
Tonight I hope to glue the ribbon and twisted cord on my first Altoid Tin Topper.   Yes yes, I know.   These went out of fashion about five years ago (^_-) but I have three tins and stitching one of these was on my list of 60 Things.   They are tiny (therefore quickly finished), useful (thereby satisfying William Morris) and stash reducing (self satisfying) -so all in all a Good Stitch.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

60 Weeks Until ..... Number 14

This week was delicious!  I highly recommend this one.

Yogurt-Baked Fish with Walnut-Herb Crumbs

You will need

500g White Fish season with salt and pepper

Grease a baking dish
Remove any stray bones from fish and place in one layer in the dish

150g breadcrumbs
150g finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon butter

Mix altogether with your fingertips until the consistency is fine crumbs

250g natural Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon cornflour
1 egg
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all these together into a smooth cream. 

Pour the creamy yogurt sauce over the fish.
Pack the walnut crumbs generously over to cover the fish.
Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Serve hot with rice and fresh salad. 

I used New Zealand Hoki but any firm white fleshed fish that becomes succulent and tender when cooked will be successful.


Sunday 1 December 2013

Colour Coordination and Naxos Red

Yesterday the HD3QBEM and I went to Daruma Sushi and here's the proof.  Doesn't the HD3QBEM eat a lot!   I colour coordinated the pile of dishes to make it easier for the waitress to count.
On the way home we called at my LNS and I sneaked a couple of shots of Christmas trees.   Somebody else has made a Suffolk Puff tree!   I really like the idea of cinnamon quills for the tree trunk.   Might try that myself next year.   The button tree would be better in green and/or red I think but I doubt I will copy that idea as I couldn't be bothered sewing all the buttons on (^_-)

Last night I completed the final ornament for the 2013 Christmas Ornament SAL and the big reveal will be later this month.   This one is not a hanging ornament - it stands alone on its own one foot.

The Naxos Necessaire is coming along well.   I have one main panel, the wide hinge and the two narrow hinges to stitch and then I will have completed my target for this year.   Construction of this is complex and not suitable at all for the silly season busyness of this time of year so I will put it away, joyfully start a new project and finish-finish in 2014.
Yes, she says with a small jump of great happiness.  I can make a start on a new piece.  What shall it be?   I have already decided -  it will be a sampler so that I get a variety of stitches and colours.   While it may be traditional,  these monochrome Naxos inhabitants have created in me a total boredom and somewhat temporary dislike of red.  
 Weekend chores are now done and I'm off to put tonight's dinner in the oven and then read some more of my Henning Mankell e-Book.   Enjoy your weekend as I have enjoyed mine.

Thursday 28 November 2013

November Christmas Ornament

And now for the November Christmas Ornament.  I have had this one prepared for a few months and soon it will be wrapped and posted off so it can be displayed on its very own tree.  
But here's a photo to prove I've done it!
Please don't ask me where the design came from.   I can't remember.   It's a scrappy piece of A4 paper but I do know that I stitched this on 28 count linen in DMC115

Still a little early to say Happy Christmas so I'll try Happy Thanksgiving instead.

Monday 25 November 2013

This is made for me!

I work for an office products supply warehouse and today while chasing up the manager for a signature I went past a new shelf and saw a "made-for-me" notebook.
What sort of notebook is that?
Let me show you
Just perfect for someone like me who loves lists!
I can see this filled with a variety of lists but first up is of course an embroidery To Do List (^_-)

Sunday 24 November 2013

60 Weeks until .... Number 12 and 13

It's catch up this week.

First up Easy Lemon Chicken

4 chicken breasts (around 250g each)
500g potatoes peeled and chopped into small pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a shallow pan.
Place the potatoes around the chicken.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Combine the vegetable oil, lemon juice, garlic and seasoning
Bake for 50-55 minutes until the chicken is done and the potatoes tender when seasoned with a fork.
Increase the temperature to 200 degrees Celsius and cook for another 10 minutes until the potatoes are browned.

Delicious and enough for three meals.   Yay!   An easy week for meals this week.

Next is Roast Pumpkin, Zucchini, Capsicum and Feta Crustless Quiche.

Cut 500g of peeled pumpkin into 1cm dice and roast in a hot oven
In a pan sauté
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • 1 small red capsicum diced
  • 1 zucchini trimmed and diced
  • (and I added four mushrooms also chopped finely)
Season the mixture well then add the roasted pumpkin.

In a bowl mix together 1 cup self raising flour with six eggs and 100g of grated cheddar cheese.

Add the vegetable mixture to the egg flour and cheese mixture and combine well.

Pour into a well greased and floured 24cm springform cake pan.   Smooth the top and crumble 100g of feta cheese across the top.

Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown and the egg is set.
Serve with a side salad and tomato chutney. 

Yummy!   But should really be called Vegetable Cake as that's what it looks like on the plate.

So this week the HD3QBEM won't have to cook anything, just reheat as needed.   Isn't she lucky to have such a kind daughter ;-)


Friday 22 November 2013

The week of odds and ends

This week I seem to have filled my time with odds and ends.   All profitable and all on the "to do" list but not as enjoyable as constant stitching!
The HD3QBEM has had a fair few dropped stitches in her knitting so I have been repairing that.  Then she decided to "tidy up so that there wouldn't be a mess left for the children".   That plan went well until we reached papers that she could no longer read properly so I was eyes and ears for an evening.  
My oh my!   Photos of my grandmother at 21 in 1924 (I wish I had her looks),
my grandparents wedding in 1926,
letters my father wrote when he was travelling in India (still carrying Delhi Dust inside their plastic pocket), various birthday cards, etc etc.   I am amazed -  the HD3QBEM is very decisive!   A pile to go through the shredder; another pile to go in the rubbish bin; and another pile to go to Little Brother.  
Next shelf had two framed samplers stitched in the days before blindness came -  one is going to the storage cupboard in the garage (postpone that decision?!) and the other to a granddaughter (when I get to writing the accompanying letter).
The end result was empty shelves and a happy mother -  but no stitching!
Tonight I am going to have a stitch session - accompanied by a most interesting audiobook.   My local library provided this one "A Teardrop on the Cheek of Time" - all about the history of the Taj Mahal.   I'm enjoying the history of the moguls while stitching on my Naxos Necessaire and plan on making good progress this evening.   Three of four panels are done as well as the needle case panel and the scissor keep panel so on I reckon I am half way through the stitching.   So far so good.
The Dutch Hussif is at the stage where no further stitching can be done until the next 'pages' are completed.  I won't be doing any more on that until my two weeks of summer holidays which start in one months time.

Tomorrow I have to go to the City and exchange my bus ticket as they have changed the system and my old electronic ticket will expire on Sunday.   The HD3BEM has a small list of Christmas shopping I need to do for her and I have a few items on a list myself.   When am I ever without a list?

My list of  "Want to Stitch" for 2014 includes the following
Mermaids Sea Chest -  Lauren Sauer
Acorn Stitch Roll - Heritage Needlework Guild
My Favourite Things Stitching Basket - Ellen Chester
A small item for Little Sister
A small item for Little Brother

And with that I'm off to my lamp, my needle, my stitching and the delights of the Moguls of Agra.

Sunday 17 November 2013

A few dozen ...

Today was St Catherine's Day and as she is the patron saint of Lacemakers, the local Guild sponsored a get-together.   They had an awesome display of beautiful lace -  some old vintage and some created this past year by members of their Guild.   As happened before ( here)  I was really tempted to try this exquisite work but do not need to add any further obsessions hobbies into my already packed schedule.   So I watched, admired and closed my mouth when I was tempted to make enquiries about lessons.   Beautiful bone bobbins, glittering spangles and detailed textbooks were ever so tempting!
Meet Evan.   He was the guest speaker and he is an expert painter of Pysanka.   Yet another temptation! 
Dozens and dozens of these beautifully painted eggs came out of his capacious supermarket bag.   Gingerly we passed them from hand to hand.   One poor lady dropped two which miraculously did not break so obviously they are more robust than I imagined.   He told us much of the significance of each of the motifs - much of his explanation I have already forgotten but for this egg
I do remember that the oak leaf =  King of the Forest and is supposed to be a good luck  charm for men who have fertility problems.
I rather liked this one with the poppy motif too.
After bringing out nearly a  dozen trays of eggs (yes 144 in total!), apparently only a minute percentage of his vast collection, Evan gave a demonstration of how the original design is sketched on symmetrically. 
He showed how the wax resist (blackened beeswax) is applied with a delicate stylus similar to that used for batik;  how the egg is placed into the cold dye bath = ever so many steps in applying all these colours; how the wax is melted off the completed egg (ever so gently and rubbed delicately with many many paper kitchen towels).  
Many of the ladies wanted him to come and take a workshop, but moi??   I prefer my hands to be their natural lily white, unstained by blue, yellow, red or any other colour dye.  
And as for stitching..... well I have completed the stitching on the Dutch Hussif, Dorset button fastenings included, and now have only the construction of that page to go.    Photos to follow.
The Naxos Necessaire progress report is  Cover 1 and 2 completed, Scissor keep completed, Needlebook cover half done.   Excellent progress Margaret.  Keep up the good work.

Sunday 10 November 2013

And a stitching update

All the little running stitches combined to make another side of my Naxos Necessaire but they gave me a severe case of "have a break start something new" sickness.  
So I looked in the 'want to do box' and found I had all the ingredients ready for another recipe and so made a start on what I am calling my "Dutch Hussif". 
You may remember I showed you the ingredients back in September?
I have made a start on the pocket for the cover. Surface stitchery as opposed to counting is proving surprisingly soothing.
What's more this is using up odds and ends of stash - threads, linen and fabric - so I am doubly happy.  A frugal new start.   What could be better?   Next will be two Dorset buttons and then it will be back to page three of my old friend, the Naxos Necessaire.
Have a good week.

60 Weeks Until .... Number 11

Tonight is Bubble and Squeak -  with a  nod to my maternal grandmother who was a master at this.
She always told me that this recipe was great for leftovers and so it is.

The quantities I used for the HD3QBEM and me
2 medium potatoes cooked and mashed
1 large carrot cooked and mashed
1 large parsnip cooked and mashed
2 cups cooked cabbage
2 Cups of left over corned silverside diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together well

Heat olive oil (should be butter but I am trying to be healthy!) in an oven proof pan
When sizzling hot spread the mixture into the pan firmly and cook until the underside is well browned.
At this point transfer to the oven and let the upper element set at 180 degrees Celsius brown the top.

Serve with salad and/or salsa and a flourish!


Thursday 7 November 2013

60 Weeks Until ..... Number 10

This week we have a cake   No Bake Weetbix slice.

10 Weetbix
200g condensed milk
125g melted butter
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 cup dried fruit ( your choice -  I used currants)
1.   Crush the Weetbix finely into a bowl.  Add coconut, cocoa and fruit and mix.
2.   Melt the butter and condensed milk
Add 2 to 1
Press the mixture into a well greased  slice tray and chill well in the refrigerator
Mix up the icing
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 and a 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon of boiling water
Mix all together until well combined and spread on top of the chilled cake.
Cut into slices.   Best stored in the refrigerator
And for my overseas friends who may not be familiar with the iconic New Zealand Weetbix.   It is a breakfast cereal of crushed wheat compressed into rectangular cakes and eaten with enjoyment by most NZ children and affectionate nostalgia by many New Zealand adults ;-)


Sunday 3 November 2013


Last night, thanks to a re-run of an ancient James Bond movie I managed to complete this!   The final page of my NMMSAL.   Ukranian Whitework.
And still in the spirit of resisting temptation I retrieved my Naxos Necessaire from the box where I had hidden it, sniffed and decided it was either time for bed or a new start.   Bed won!
Then in the light of a new day I looked once more at the Naxos and made an adult decision to continue on and finish that one.   But as a compromise I will kit up my next project..... this
Kitting up a project cannot be classified as a new start can it?   There are only seven weeks until my summer holidays and I need some stitching projects to take when I go away so I am classifying this as "holiday preparation"!
At the moment Kurt Wallender and I are very close friends on my eBook reader.   Enthusiasm ran away with me and I downloaded so many eBooks from the local library that I am scrambling to keep up before the expiry date.   I have a "proper book" to recommend.  It is The Coat Route and you can read more details here.   No, I don't want a Navy Vicuna overcoat but I definitely want some of that beautiful silk with which the gorgeous coat is lined.   I promise not to hide such beautiful silk away as a lining -  I will display it in a beautifully made garment for all the world to see.   I promise!

Saturday 2 November 2013

First strawberries of the season

I have a bad case of start-it is and the itch to commence a new piece is almost impossible to resist.   Several strawberry pieces in my stash are calling my name loudly and then I see these in my garden....
Is this an omen?   Should I fling my good resolutions to the winds and start a new piece?   No!   I will be strong and finish the one in the hoop at the moment.   Then the Naxos Necessaire - and then it will be Christmas and the New Year and I can begin fresh.  

Thursday 31 October 2013

October Christmas Ornament

Time to check in with the Christmas Ornament SAL hosted by Silver Lotus.
Stitched in July (yes I like to be prepared), this ornament is one purloined by the HD3QBEM and destined to be sent to one of the grandchildren at Christmas.   She chooses and it will therefore remain a mystery to me who eventually receives but I certainly experienced this emotion when stitching and finishing this one.   Yes!!!! Satisfied and Joyful.

Monday 28 October 2013

60 Weeks until ..... Number 9

This week's recipe is Fish Curry Bake

1 cup of long grain rice - rinsed and cooked
30g butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all these together and press into a greased oven proof dish

Spread one 375g can of well drained Tuna in Spring Water over the rice mixture.

40g butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 and  1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 heaped teaspoons mayonnaise

In a pan, melt the butter add the flour and curry powder.  Add the milk little by little stirring well to make a thick curry sauce.   Add the lemon juice and mayonnaise and mix very well.

Pour the curry sauce over the layered rice and tuna.
Cover with grated cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Bake 30 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius

Enjoy.   The HD3QBEM did!