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.