Sunday 31 January 2016


This afternoon Kathy and I met up at Olaf's to exchange Christmas gifts.   Both of us were too busy at the correct time, so like my Christmas lilies, we were a month late!   But we had lots of time to sit and have a great chat, catching up on holidays, books read and plans for the coming year.  Great.
Olaf's was originally set up by a local man of German descent and the breads and cakes had a distinctly European flavour.   Today Kathy and I decided that Olaf must have sold his business and the new owners have retained the name only.   There is a distinctly Indian sub-continent feel to both the waiting staff and the goodies on offer which were nothing like this photo taken in times past:-(
Perhaps next time we will try the new cafe on the opposite corner and see what Jones The Grocer has to offer.

Saturday 30 January 2016

The lilies with no sense of time

My Christmas lilies have never had a sense of timing commensurate with their pretty name but this year they didn't flower until 25th January!
Never mind.   I can still enjoy them even if the fragrance is a little overpowering and causes the sneezes:-)

Today has been a long and very hot humid day, starting at 6am the itinerary was

Baking -  loaf and ginger crunch
A cool drink
A cool drink
A cool drink
Fruit and vegetable shopping
A cool drink
Call at the library to pick up the latest Val McDermid book
Visit The Ribbon Rose to pick up Gloriana thread and look for fabric glue (no luck)
A cool drink
Shopping for the HD3QBEM
A cool drink AND a soft serve kiddie cone ice cream
Call at hardware to pick up magnets
A cool drink
A cool drink
Pin the zip into Woodland Delight pocket
A cool drink
Cook the dinner
A cool drink

Yes it was quite a journey and I am too tired to stitch.  Perhaps I will pick up a book??  The HD3QBEM is snoring softly in her chair.

Friday 29 January 2016

John to the power of two

This afternoon was another AVL saga.   I was expecting John and "another John" who turned out to be Kerry!   John rolled up in a TV3 station wagon, but John Kerry drove into the car park in a large mobile TV One studio.   I suggested he park in the area marked staff, around the corner of the building in order to provide less attractive options to our usual clientele.   His laughing reply was that his van was secure but I notice he did what I suggested:-)   It was intriguing to see these guys, from rival TV stations assisting each other to get the very best settings on the video feed and the audio link.  Cooperative competition?

While they were actively connecting metres of multicoloured cables and talking in what seemed like a foreign language of techincal terms, I chatted to the TV3 reporter and sneaked this shot of "my two Johns".   And guess what?   After the unwitting tutorial last Monday I managed to set up the AVL link perfectly first time!  Johns are great and Kerrys not so bad either:-)

Thursday 28 January 2016

Time to feed the tin

Some years ago I read on Gill's blog about how she saved small amounts in tins for extras such as holidays, birthday gifts etc.   At that time I started saving $1 a day in a tin.   I didn't really miss $1 a day.  When going on annual holiday this was my "luxury" money and over time has bought me some great necessities - a great pair of boots, a very useful cardigan and another time, a most comfortable pair of sandals.  I'm not a great lover of shopping but I do wander the shops when on holiday:-)
Great result but I didn't like the original tin.   And one day at the local charity shop I found a $2 bargain -  a Harrod's money box tin.
So once a month on the last payday of the month I deposit the $1 a day for that month. My next holiday, brief though it will be, is planned for September and I wonder what luxury-necessity I will find then?  It was pay day yesterday so I'm off to feed the tin.

PS can you see the mishap that occurred when cutting out my hardanger runner?  I plan to replace that runner this year and will be more careful when cutting the edge :-(

Wednesday 27 January 2016


Today's defeats began early when I was defeated by the hot humid night and woke at 4am instead of 6am.  I suppose that could be classified as a victory over the alarm clock.
Then the weather defeated our office air conditioning system.   Excessive humidity and hot temperatures could not be controlled and to some extent, nor could the staff who got progressively more irritable.
Human kindness all but defeated me as I was pulled every which way with requests from all and sundry to do this, that or the other.   I did admit defeat, to myself, when the umpteenth person said, "I'm really busy so could you do this"!!!
The traffic defeated me this evening returning home.   Despite leaving 15 minutes early I took 30 minutes longer to get home.  Why can't those with whom I have to share the road realise that they are not driving in Delhi, Hong Kong, Taipei!  
And finally I admitted defeat on the stitching front and instead of picking up a needle and continuing on with the two all-but-completed projects, I went looking at my stash of charts and found this.  
Stitched in the same threads as the thimblepod,  I already have the floss to hand.   My fabric stash is only a step away.  I like creating objects like this.   Don't the birds look gorgeous?   So shall the Noddy tote bag be next or shall I start this?  Rather than admit yet another defeat, I shall keep this for "after-Noddy".

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Red eye etc

Is it too much stitching?  Too much work?  Too much reading late at night? Or is it just too much altogether?    I don't know, but on Sunday morning I woke up and one of my blue eyes had gone all patriotic.  
Well, to be totally accurate the white had turned red.   A quick investigation means I have not gone to the real doctor as Dr Google reports that it will go away in time and only if the blue gets invaded by red is there a problem.   So far the red has only defeated the white and the blue is standing firm so all is well.....I think.
Anyway, it hasn't stopped me reading or stitching.   What has stopped progress on the stitching is the level of assistance required for the HD3QBEM's current knitting project.  
She is knitting for the great granddaughter, hence a slightly more complex pattern.   Unfortunately fingertip sensitivity is no substitute for good sight in the knitting field and I have reversed out of several crises for her.
Tonight I hope to go back to a small silver needle with an eye and continue to finish The Basket so there could be a progress report tomorrow.

Monday 25 January 2016

Silver linings

At work I have become close friends with Polycom HDX.   You haven't heard of him?   Believe me, he is not someone a lady wants to set her cap at.
He (and he is most determinedly male!!) is the AVL (Audio Visual Link) machine and sometime ago I got asked to help connect him up.   The various cables at the rear seemed fairly simple and by some stroke of good fortune when I turned him on he worked:-)   Since then I have become what The Department calls the "go-to person" for the AVL unit and every time I am asked to assist I have many anxious moments and heave huge sighs of relief when everything works.
Today was one such occasion when a local TV station came to conduct a pre-interview test with our equipment linking to another Department facility.  The extremely skinny and very fashionable journalist was very friendly but I liked her even more because she brought with her John.   And John is an expert in AVL.   Watching John navigate his way around the buttons on the remote control was amazing and so very helpful, even though that was not the intended outcome of their visit.  What's more John is coming back on Friday and bringing with him John Number Two so I may learn even more.  This is certainly a silver lining to what has been for the past 10 months a very dark cloud on my horizon.

Sunday 24 January 2016

Its a scorcher here

Currently our living room is hot, very hot.   Around 35 degrees celsius.   I would really appreciate just some of the snow on the east coast of the USA!
It is too hot to stitch.   It is too hot to read.   It is too hot to do anything and it is certainly too hot to cook!
Yesterday I got up very early and did my necessary baking in the cool of the early morning.   My brain must have been still asleep.   Does this photo prove that?
I forgot the time and left one tray in the oven too long.  Oh dear.   What it doesn't show is that I left out the baking powder:-(  However they still taste quite delicious and the HD3QBEM assures me she will eat them with her morning and afternoon tea!

Saturday 23 January 2016


Today at the supermarket this charming gentleman greeted all comers.   Mr Breadhead was advertising the bakery.   And what a hot job he had.   It was 28 degrees celsius here today and around 90% humidity!  However he obliged with a photograph and a thumbs up :-)  
And that's the only thumbs up today.   I stitched together, very carefully,  the lining and the pockets for the workbasket.  Next I placed it inside the actual basket and ah woe is me!   It is ever so slightly too large.   And I had measured it twice if not three times.  
What to do?   The HD3QBEM suggests running an elastic around inside the lining and drawing it in that way.   I don't know.   Meanwhile it is pegged on while I think.   The base still needs to be constructed so I don't have to attach it all to the basket just yet.
The TV called me and I decided that I need another dose of Doc Martin and the idiots of Port Wenn.   Well, Louisa and the Doc had a happy ending so perhaps my basket will too.   We shall see how I feel about it tomorrow.

Friday 22 January 2016

False Pretences

At Christmas we were given far too many boxes of chocolates, including this one, full of hazelnut flavoured truffles.  Full?   I don't think so.  Do read on....
The HD3QBEM has been carefully eating one a day (I may or may not have helped out a little) and this evening we finished off the last two.   Imagine my surprise when this was revealed.....
The hazelnut truffles were cradled in this plastic bath shaped container which cunningly raised the base of the box by around 1.5cm.   Deceiving isn't it?   I had thought the box full and no doubt my nephew and his wife thought the box full when they sent it to us.   False pretences:-(   But we thoroughly enjoyed the chocolates Graeme and Tabitha.  Thank you very much.

Thursday 21 January 2016

Love The Bear

Last week the HD3QBEM  had a super visit from Great Grandchild Number One.   It was such fun.   She's a serious wee thing but has exquisite taste.  My cabinet of needlework really took her fancy and I decided to release The Bear for her to have a look at.  
Success!   She was intrigued and stroked, prodded, pushed and generally explored all in total silence.

I love my Great-Niece and she loves my teddy.  Win win!   (I have pixellated the photo for privacy)

Wednesday 20 January 2016

What do you want them for?

The HD3QBEM and I don't have icecream in the freezer.   In fact when we do occasionally eat icecream we indulge in highly expensive cones from Kapiti Icecream -  like these ones here.  They taste great and there are no leftovers for further temptation!
So now I am nearing the construction phase of the thimblepod I need icecream.  Technically, I need the lids of icecream containers.   Today at work I asked some of my colleagues who look as if they might eat more icecream than I, whether they could spare lids from their containers.  Some looked sideways at me, others laughed out loud, some selfishly said they keep their containers :-(   But one kind person gave me this, asking "what do you want them for?"
So now I can press on with the construction.   Icecream container lids form the perfect stiffening for the sides of thimblepods.  Not too stiff, not too soft.  Just Right!

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Preparation are underway

The cheque is written, the holidays are booked, the tutor fee is in its envelope and the floss is purchased.  
What for, you say?
In mid-March I am going to do a class with Alison Snepp and I am soooo looking forward to that.  A whole two day class to enjoy a great tutor and learn a great new project.   I hope mine turns out looking like this sample.
The variegated thread is a Gloriana Silk which my LNS has had to order in.   Stephen promises it will be here in a week.   Should that not come to pass,  I will still have enough time to order on line so all is well.
Oooh, I am looking forward to this class.   It is to be a Tuesday and Wednesday so I have taken the Thursday and Friday of that week as annual leave too and promised the HD3QBEM a day out and a day shopping.   We might go exploring for new yarn stores:-)

Monday 18 January 2016

My new favourite tool....

Over the years since a friend gave me this little tool I have not actually used it much.   But, tonight it has been my new buddy:-)
My friend's husband was very keen on wood turning and he made these beautiful little wooden handles poked a tapestry needle into it (eye portion in the wood) and they are the most fantastic 'unpicking assistants'.   Yes!   I have been reverse stitching tonight so I am off to do the dinner dishes and hope to recover my stitching momentum during that break.   Wish me luck.   This is the base of the thimblepod.

Sunday 17 January 2016

Creepy crawlies

Yesterday I saw a spider scuttle across the carpet and disappear under my bed.   Despite a vigorous search and investigation with the vacuum cleaner I have been unable to find it.   So I spent a restless night as I imagined that black spider crawling across my face.  And that tickle on my leg was....well, no, it wasn't!  At around 3am I scrambled on the floor with a torch, convinced that black spot was the spider, but no... no spider has appeared.
 I hate creepy crawlies and could certainly not live in this house.   Could you?  This might be supposed to be a grasshopper but it looks to me like an extraordinary large size weta.   They are Native to New Zealand and made famous by Weta Workshop, the visual effects company responsible for the success of all those wonders in the The Lord of The Rings trilogy.

Saturday 16 January 2016

Cross purposes

This morning I added Lemon Delicious Yogurt to the HD3QBEM's morning cereal.   She made no comment.   Later we went into the City.   Yes, she needed some more yarn;-).  Lunch was a sandwich and cake at the cafe, cake being a piece of passion-fruit cheesecake.   In the bus On the way home I asked, 'did you like the lemon yogurt this morning?'   Her reply?  'Yes, it was just like the cheesecake we used to make from that old cookbook'.   Cross purposes.  Her mind on passion fruit cheesecake and mine in lemon yogurt.  Just as well not all conversations are like this!
But there have been other purposeful crosses in my life and the second panel of the thimblepod is done and I have made a start on the third panel.
I am definitely a one at a time girl so Noddy is waiting in the wings for this to be completed.

Friday 15 January 2016

An Old-fashioned Scrapbook

I was too tired to watch the complete finale of Downton Abbey last night so recorded it and have indulged tonight.   The HD3QBEM has not been a follower (well she can't see it clearly anyway) but she sat quietly and knitted, keeping the necessary repairs until the end when I could assist.   I do think that Queen Elizabeth should have issued a royal decree that Lord Fellowes of West Stafford must continue the series ad infinitum.   I feel bereft now.
Anyway, back to the more prosaic normal life chez moi.
Once upon a time, long long ago, my very kind grandmother made me a scrapbook.   Each page had pictures lovingly cut by her arthritic hands, from the pages of magazines, newspapers etc.  She glued these in varying combinations and themes onto a large A3 size blank book.   I loved that book and it wore out completely.   Over the years I promised myself I would make one and full of the inspiration and energy that seems to accompany the start of a new year, I have begun!   .
This book will be made out of bits and pieces I have to hand so that the only purchase will need to be glue.  It's fun.   The actual A3 book I bought about 20 years ago so this project has been a long long time in the incubator:-)

Thursday 14 January 2016

And now we have two..

The blue birds of the giant thimblepod are finished and I am very pleased with them.  
Even the alphabet on this project is fun.   I've not seen this almost circular font before.  And I love the acorn - it's cute.
Tonight my stitching will no doubt suffer from the distraction that is the finale of Downton Abbey.   But the dishes and the evening's chores are all done so it is "hello Edith" for me.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Favourite colours

Many years ago when living in Japan I was an avid watcher of the programme "Hyaku Nin Ni Kikimashita".  
A quiz programme with a difference, each question involved asking 100 people the answer to trivial questions.   The answers given by programme contestants were only counted for points if they were in the list given by the unknown 100.   Well, that explanation sounds like gobbledegook doesn't it!

But my question is,  if you asked 100 women what their favourite colour is what would be the top five answers?
Here's a clue, neither orange nor yellow are in the top five!
Here's another clue,
Yes.  The top choice is blue, followed by purple, green, red and pink.  
No prizes available but I am happy to know so many other women share my love of blue :-)

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Blue Birds of Happiness

There will be two blue birds but here is current progress on my oversized thimblepod.
Back in the day when I was on a much larger salary with greater disposable income, I splurged on Gloriana Silks for this project.   I remember ordering them on line from Australia and being super impressed when they arrived.   Soft as, well, silk and smooth as butter they are a delight to sew with. Can you tell I am enjoying this project so far?
Designed to be stitched over one on 32 count linen, I am instead stitching this over two threads of fabric.   Perhaps this will turn out big enough to hold treasures other than thimbles??

Monday 11 January 2016

Brain exercises pour moi

Last year I heard about MOOCs.   Have you every heard of them?   Massive Open Online Courses.

Brilliant idea these, so I have been quietly investigating and despite being time-poor I have enrolled in a four week course on nutrition.  It starts today!   But Sister-In-Law, Niece and great Niece Number 1 are visiting until Wednesday so my brain exercises will be delayed.
Until Friday mind you, as Thursday night is dedicated to watching the Downton Abbey Christmas Special =  Finale.   More important than any MOOC is knowing whether or not Edith will find happiness!!

Sunday 10 January 2016

Out with the old and in with the new

Great ideas of starting the Noddy bag and choosing a hardanger piece all went out the window.
I couldn't read the Noddy chart well and will need to enlarge it on the photocopier at work tomorrow.
Then I picked up my basket of. "want to stitch" pieces and found this,
so tacked up the linen and put in a few crosses before going to bed.   Instead of stitching over one I am going to do this over two fabric threads and see what happens.
Today I went by bus into the city and failed massively to cross anything off the shopping list.  But I did find this beautiful ceiling in, of all places, the railway station.   A veritable kaleidoscope of colour but a bad photograph.
Off to make dinner now.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Off to Toyland

Today has been  a long day with an early start to make sure I completed the list

Baking - done 
Cleaning - done
Bathrooms - done
Ironing - done
Shopping - done
The HD3QBEM's chores at chemist -  done
Library - books returned and new books chosen
Stitching - work basket stitching finished, new project started
Now while enjoying Doc Martin  I have sorted out threads and linen to start my next project - A  Noddy in Toyland tote bag.   I'm using up a leftover piece of Cork linen in a rich cream shade and using DMC floss.  
And once again I am itching to do a piece of hardanger.   Guess what section of my stash I will be delving into tomorrow?   I plan on having a hardanger runner as my next project.

Friday 8 January 2016

My Favourite Things Stitching basket - Update

The stitching for the basket lining is completed now and I need to read the instructions carefully before beginning construction.   I have pinned together the lining piece and the pocket piece to see how much space there is before and after the words.   I'm thinking of stitching a crown at one end and a squirrel at the other.  What do you think?
I'm pleased with this though and it will be a very useful basket.  I intend to construct it all by hand to ensure I have control over the matching and alignment.
One useful trick I learned in this was that strawberries do not always have to be stitched in queen stitch.  This one was done in vertical lines of closed herringbone stitch.  Quite effective and for me far more satisfying.
And lastly, with apologies for bad photographs (today El Nino has caused heavy rain and grey skies making photos difficult), here is a shot of the base which is of course, circular.
The dinner dishes are calling me so farewell for today.

Thursday 7 January 2016

The Queen and I ...

Last year one of my neighbours, Brian, went on an extended tour of Italy and Spain but finished up with a week in London.   During his absence I collected mail from his mail box and made several trips to the depot for the large, heavy boxes of books sent by courier from exotic locations such as Barcelona and Genoa.   Brian sure collects a lot of books!
Anyway at Christmas he presented me with this beautiful tin which he told me contains the Queen's favourite biscuits.   Well, I don't know whether or not that is true, but if so, then the Queen and I have a lot in common :-)
The "hole" is because my exceedingly royalist HD3QBEM has already sampled the goodies.   I am trying to say goodbye to the kilo of weight I received as a Christmas gift!
The HD3QBEM may eat the cookies but I will be snaffling the tin.   I love tins and apart from its royal connection this is such a useful size.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Brain exercises

For Christmas I gave the HD3QBEM a Sudoku a day calendar -  choice based solely on the font size.
When unwrapped and the cellophane removed we both were shocked to find that these are not only the standard 3 x 3 sudoku square.  Some are 'mammoth', some are 'giant', some are 'extreme' etc etc
Anyway she is enjoying them don't you think?

A reading decline?

Today I typed up my list of books read during 2015.   My total is a lot less than that of 2014 and as I wondered why I realized two things:
      falling asleep at night over a book does rather slow progress and ,
      caring for the elderly takes up time of which there is only a limited amount.
The total number of books read in the year has decreased over the last four years and in 2015 I did not even make the 200 target.   However, in Pollyanna mode, I can be thankful that unlike the HD3QBEM I do have my eyesight and can still read :-)
So far this year I have finished two books from the library and enjoyed both.   I plan a trip to the library this weekend so will stock up again.
Now I am off to start the 'word band' of the basket liner and promise an update on that tomorrow.

Monday 4 January 2016

Last day of holidays

Today is the last day of our public holidays.   Oh dear, back to work tomorrow.   
However on the bright side I did manage to cross all the items off my to-do list.
No stitching yet -today it was all sewing and my new dress is now complete.    Looking at this picture I think a black belt will be better.  
I'm off to do the dinner dishes and then finish stitching the base of the lining for My Favourite Things Sewing Basket.

Sunday 3 January 2016

Flowers and figures

Last night I chortled over Doc Martin and his antics in Port Wenn while diligently stitching on pocket six of the workbasket liner.   Only the birdcages to go at the top tonight.  I love the squirrels but the square flower looks decidedly unnatural.
Today I did the maths to figure out that over the last two years I have reduced my weekly food bill by $43 a week.   Yes, I am one of those nerds who keep a record of every cent I spend and categorise all expenses.   When I started my new job last year, the substantial drop in salary prompted me to change supermarkets and just last year alone that choice enabled me to save $28 a week.   According to NZ statistics food prices increased by 2.3% over the past two years which means that my 23% savings don't look too shabby.
I wonder to myself if it will be possible to make any substantial reductions this year? So far my techniques have been monthly meal planning, cook from scratch and change supplier.   What could I do next?

Well actually I am off to cook dinner:-)


Saturday 2 January 2016

Peko chan and the basket

Another wet, windy wild day here in Auckland and the HD3QBEM and I were confined to quarters.   Household chores completed I sat down to read and promptly fell asleep!  There are still two days of our long holiday weekend so the time wasted can be redeemed.
Last night I finished pocket number five of "My Favourite Things Sewing Basket" and tonight while watching Doc Martin and the idiots of Port Wenn,  I plan to stitch pocket number six.   I think this basket should be renamed as none of the motifs pictured on these pockets are my favourite things although perhaps that title refers to all the needle work tools that go with the set.   I don't plan on stitching those.  
However this photo shows one of my favourite things.   When I lived in Japan I loved Peko Chan Milky sweets and have kept this tin since then - for nearly 30 years!.   For Christmas my friend Sonoko sent me the cute little key holder.   Aren't they cute?   I love them both and will keep them safe.   They have been sitting on my coffee table as the tin has special buttons in it which the HD3QBEM uses for her knitting.   A recent visitor picked up and in a very covetous tone of voice admired the tin.   No way, thought I, and promptly put it away.   However Sonoko's cute gift needs to live in its matching tin so once again it is on my table - but only temporarily:-)

Do you like the hardanger cloth?   Back in the days when the HD3QBEM could see well she stitched this for me.   I love it and it's double precious now that her sight does not permit this sort of work.  

Off to do the dinner dishes now and then to listen to the dismal weather forecast for tomorrow.

Friday 1 January 2016

In times past...

Happy New Year.   Last year blog posts were a little erratic but as today marks the season of resolutions I am back with fresh determination.   The trivia of my life shall be recorded:-)

Nearly sixty years ago I was given these small china ornaments.   They have survived childhood caressing and bear the cracks to prove it.   I loved the stories of Noddy and Big Ears and my books fell to pieces and have long since gone in the rubbish.   But these two figures still have a place in my cabinet.
At Christmas Little Sister sent me a surprise...Thank you very much Little Sister.
Twenty first century solid plastic equivalents and now PC Plod has joined me.   He was great wasn't he?.   When his stress levels rose "the steam came out from under his helmet".   Most days at work I think about PC Plod!!  
My enthusiasm for this childhood favourite has never waned and this year my cross stitch charts of Noddy and friends + quilting fabric of Noddy in Toyland + a strip of afghan fabric will = a child's book bag.   I shall also search the local independent bookstore to see if these classics are still in print.  My great nieces too shall learn to love Noddy, Big Ears and PC Plod!
Today my stitching involved not a tapestry needle and DMC floss, but rather an Elna sewing machine and Gutermann thread.   A new summer dress is almost completed and hopefully tomorrow the hem will be done.
This evening I stitched a little more on "My Favourite Things Sewing Basket" and learnt how to make colonial knots.   So much better than french knots as they are easier to place precisely.  I am now firm friends with this new stitch.
All in all a good day - even though it was wet and not so warm.
Good night for now.