Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Back to reality......

 My time away last week ended up being a lovely break from reality with no cellphone coverage, no TV or radio, no newspapers and of course no internet. I love being completely away from what's going on in the world and just enjoying the moment. The Blue Mountain Adventure Centre is located in the tiny settlement of Raurimu with no shops, just a few houses and an abandoned and sadly desolate primary school. (Seeing empty abandoned schools always makes me feel sad)

We stayed in their new lodge seen on the left-hand side of the above photo. Their 3 acre property is nestled in a lovely tree lined setting and backs onto a normally tranquil river. It rained quite a bit of the time we were there so the tranquil river was changed to a brown raging torrent of water that would have been dangerous to do any activities like rafting on. Because I had been before to this camp with our eldest daughter Amelia 3 years ago I opted out of the activities this time around which meant I was able to take photos of Caitlin and her classmates pushing themsleves out of their comfort zones.

 I think Caitlin's biggest fear (like myself) was heights but she did really well and enjoyed the abseiling and the high-ropes where they get flung into the air on a harness. This activity was aptly named "The Flying Kiwi".

 Another Mother and I did a couple of nearby bush walks while the kids were off doing caving and canoeing. It was lightly raining on both of these walks which made everything seem clean and fresh and the bush lush with lots of ferns and moss growing everywhere.

 Mosses and lichens covered the trees....
 Being so close to the mountains the alpine plants are quite different to what we are used to on the Coromandel. The waters in the streams are beautifully crystal clear coming straight off the snow topped mountains of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.

 The walk to this waterfall starts just up from the Chateau Toingariro in the Whakapapa Village and was an  easy undulating walk through beautiful bush and alpine plants. We were told by one of the guides at the camp that they often abseil just to one side of this waterfall.
 Near the end of the walk the low clouds cleared a little giving us this hazy view of Mt Ngauruhoe to our right. We were walking along for some time chatting away before we realised it was there for us to see. There are numerous walks and tramps in this area which I would love to come back someday and do. The Blue Mountain Adventure Centre also does 'Women's only' weekends that the 3 other Mothers and I are plotting to do someday :-) 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Blocks for Romania
We have been enjoying some lovely fine and hot long-awaited summer weather this weekend. Yesterday I completed a cycle event that I have been training for 6 weeks for. It's called "The Rev" and is 100kms of rolling Waikato farmland around the back of Cambridge and Matamata on nice quiet country roads including where "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" were partly filmed. I had to remind myself to take in the beautiful views but I have to say the last 30 kms I really just wanted it to end. It is a tough route with lots of hills although what goes up must come down. I did it though in a time I was happy with and I do love the feeling of being fit enough to complete a challenge like this. The above blocks were completed on Friday and are for a project to benefit some abused girls in Romania. Deborah McClenahan is organising this very worthy project and has asked a number of Etsy sellers to make one 8"block. Once I started I couldn't stop at 1 so ended up making 3 which will hopefully make up for my lateness in getting these blocks off to her. You can read more about this project here on her blog.

Some favourites from the past week
1. hello liberty, 2. postcard from paris, 3. Rainbow Stripes, 4. Farmer's wife quilt (twin size), 5. 099 African Flowers Cushion, 6. Custom work, 7. spring works, 8. Felt Notebook Cover, 9. Granny Squares Scrappy Quilt, 10. ♥... L ♥ v e * S w e e t * L ♥ v e ...♥ - #29, 11. Vintage Ribbon Spool Stacks, 12. hex_pillow 

Today is all about recovery from yesterday, celebrating out 18th Wedding Anniversary in small ways, & preparing for my youngest daughters school camp. So I have......

  • Been for a small run this morning with Amelia who is training for her athletics day this week.
  • Making chocolate mousse for dessert and because I failed in separating the first lot of eggs I am going to make ice-cream as well to use up the extra egg yolks:-)
  • Catching up on washing because of Fridays thunderstorms and being out yesterday I am all behind with our washing.
  • Gathering supplies and packing for both Caitlin and I.
I hope you enjoy this coming week and that the above 'inspiration mosaic' will make up for my absence in blogland as I have volunteered to be a parent helper on Caitlin's camp this week. We are going to the Blue Mountain Adventure Centre in Raurimu near Tongariro National Park. I have been before with Amelia's class and am looking forward to some time away even though it will be with 25 noisy 11-12 year olds.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My String Quilt quilted and bound!

String quilt, quilted and bound
My first finished quilt of 2012, although the quilt top has been in my WIP pile since March 2010! This is also the last project I have to finish off  which is a great way to start off this year don't you think! I'm not sure why it took me so long to get around to quilting this quilt. I guess because it is for us it was not urgent and I had other projects that actually had deadlines to complete by. Also I think because I love this quilt so much I was a little bit intimidated by how to quilt it without ruining the design. The free-motion quilting is far from perfect in some of the squares where I first started off but I quickly got better and figured out the best way of dealing with the bulk of the quilt as I was sewing. 

String quilt, back of quilt
I think I love the back as much as the front which is just made up of fabrics from  my stash that needed to be used up. I used a variegated thread in the bobbin for the quilting which mixes in with all those colours so it neither stands out too much or gets lost either.

String quilt, quilting detail
Here's a close-up shot of the decorative machine stitch I used. I really like the effect that this rainbow thread makes as you sew. If you're interested the decorative threads I have used they are mostly all by the Guutermann brand which are readily available in most places I think.

String quilt, quilted and bound
And here's one of my favourite shots of it taken on our back steps leading to our garden. Thankfully yesterday it stopped raining so I could take it outside for its photo-shoot. You can see more photos here on my flickr page. This is a true scrap quilt as it started off with a scrap swap with some ladies in the Old Red Barn flickr group. I added scraps from my own stash, used up scraps for the back and also ends of binding leftover from previous quilts and projects. It certainly feels good to have made a quilt entirely from scraps and of course it makes an interesting quilt to make and look at. I can pick out fabrics that were leftover from dresses I made my girls when they were younger and fabrics that are from a different era that were given to me from an Auntie, and even a couple of fabrics from the very first quilt I made. I have to say my stash is nicely getting depleted of fabrics I have had for a little too long.
Now I'm off to start a brand new project :-)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine biscuits...

Some heart shaped biscuits in honour of Valentine day today. We don't get into the whole commercialisation of  Valentines day in our house but I'm quite happy to do little things like make heart shaped biscuits to celebrate in a small way. The bottom biscuits are Shewsbury biscuits (lemon flavoured and sandwich together with jam) and the top biscuits are chocolate shortbread which as I am typing this up it has occurred to me that they would be nice dipped in chocolate, white or dark. Anyway the Shewsburys are my husbands favourite and the chocolate shortbread are a favourite of both my daughters. They are melt-in-the-mouth shortbread, so delicate that they break quite easily but are very moreish and I thought I'd share the recipe here.

Chocolate Shortbread.
  • 250gms butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup/75gms icing sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  1. Place butter and icing sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until mixture is creamy. Sift together flour, cornflour and cocoa powder. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture.
  2. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Roll out until approx. 1/2 cm thick and cut into squares or shapes with cookie cutters. Bake @160C/325F for 20 - 25 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool on trays. 
*Please note if dough is too soft to roll place in fridge for about 15-20 minutes until firmer.

Enjoy and I hope everyone had a wonderfully happy day today!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Scrappy binding for a scrap happy quilt!

Scrappy binding

The quilting is all finished and yesterday I sewed together some scraps of leftover binding from previous projects and now it is ready for the final stage of hand sewing it down on the quilt back. I thought a scrappy binding was the perfect finishing touch to this very scrappy quilt. Hopefully it will stop raining here some time soon so I can get outside for a photo shoot although wet weather will mean I'll just get some more sewing done which makes me happy:-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Keeping it real here....

Machine quilting in process
A quick progress shot of my machine quilting. I haven't done a lot of free-motion quilting so I still feel as if I have 'learners plates' on my sewing machine this week. I decided on a squiggly lines diagonally across the actual coloured string blocks. I'm using coordinating machine embroidery threads some are just one colour and some are variegated. With all this practice I can actually see some progress and when my lines are nice and straight and my stitches are a more even size my confidence grows. It's hard work though man handling a large-ish quilt while trying to keep my lines straight and my curves nice and smooth. Free-motion quilting is definitely much easier on little pieces like cushion covers but I'm getting there :-)

A happy stack of Nicey Jane - my next project
And this pretty stack of Nicey Jane fabrics is keeping me motivated to finish quilting my string quilt sooner rather than later. I've had these fabrics quite a while now just waiting for that perfect project but when I bought a copy of  " The Farmers Wife" last September I decided they would be perfect for this quilt along. This is going to be one of my long term projects this year and I think it will be nice to have something that I can work on at my leisure with no deadlines.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Sneaky peek...

After much procrastination yesterday I decided on some wavy line quilting on my string quilt but then I sat down at my machine and inspiration did indeed strike and I decided on this geometric decorative stitch on my machine. It takes a bit longer than a normal straight stitch and A LOT more thread so thank goodness I like it, a lot :-) I'm thinking it might take me over this coming long weekend to finish it.
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