Sunday 20 December 2009

Christmas Is Coming - EEEEKK!!

I've stopped visiting some of my favourite blogs at the moment, not because they've upset me or because they're not interesting ... but because they're showing me the Countdown To Christmas ... AND I'M NOT READY!! EEEKK!! We head off to the beach for just over a week tomorrow and there still seem to be a LOT of things left un-ticked on my "To Do" list, even though I've been buzzing around all weekend like a bumble bee on caffeine injections! :0) I HAVE finished a gift for one of the nieces that I thought I would share with you ... the gift ... not the niece! :0)

No, no, no!! You're not hallucinating and you haven't had too much Christmas cheer (or HAVE you?!?!?! And where's mine!! Tee! Hee! Hee!) You really are looking at a photo of a purple monkey! :0) This is from a pattern by the clever clogs Melly of Melly & Me designs, although the pattern is for a boy monkey named McGoo. I've had this pattern tucked away for a while now, ready to pull it out to make a whole tribe ... troop ... squad ... flock ... hmmm ... what DOES one call a group of monkeys?!?! I was intending to make a few of them for Christmas presents for some of the younger nieces and nephews, but time has got away from me and this is the only one finished. I MAY get another done in between our beach trip and getting together with my beloved Geek Boy's family (the source of nieces and nephews!!) but the way THIS week has gone ... I'm not holding my breath! I had fun making this little lady monkey, though and found she was very quick to make. My dancing buddy, Lynda made a boy version a little while ago for her son, too ...

Isn't he handsome! I promise to take photos if more monkeys manage to be born.

The other thing I've been madly trying to finish is the quilt I'm making for my Mum. I've had it and the wedding quilt back from quilter-extraordinaire, Rosalie, for a couple of weeks now, but life just kept interfering to keep me from getting the bindings on. So yesterday, I locked myself in the sewing room ... well ... not LITERALLY, cos that would make me sound like a klutz! :0) I managed to cut and machine stitch both bindings and although I'll take the wedding quilt on holidays with me to finish, I really had hoped to get Mum's done so I could wrap it and keep it a surprise for Christmas. Well ... the best-laid plans of mice and men ... and silly stitchers whose ambitions outweigh the time available to her!! It's not quite finished - one and a half sides left to stitch down, but I pinned it in place and got GB to hold it up for a photo so you could see what it will look like ...

Ta Da!! I'm really happy with how it all came together! I managed to find some meterage of the same range of fabric as the charm squares I used for the coin stacks and joined it together for the binding to tie all the colours in. And of course, Rosalie's machine quilting has come up A TREAT!!! It really makes the quilt pop! Thanks Rosalie!!! Here's a close up of the quilting ...

I LOVE the Celtic design in the outer border!! and the dainty rosebud design in the white borders fits in with it so well. I was a bit stumped when it came to what to quilt in the coin stacks, but Rosalie picked the swirly vine (bit hard to see) that ties in perfectly with the other two quilting designs. In fact, it's come up so well ... I'd love to keep it!! Ah well, at least I'll get to visit it when I go home to Mum and Dad's place! :0) And I have two items I can add to my OPAM list - Mum's quilt WILL be finished for Christmas day, I'll just have to stay up and stitch a little after every else is in bed so it stays a secret ... just like the Christmas elves! Tee! Hee! Hee! In amongst the busy-ness of Christmas, don't forget to list your finishes - May Britt will be conducting the prize draw at the end of the month, because, as she pointed out, lots of people will be stitching over the holiday break. And when I come back from my beach break, I'll be sharing some exciting news about NEXT YEAR's OPAM Challenge! Yes ... it will be on again, but there's a few changes and a surprise or two in store, so stay tuned!

So there you go ... the week became a little more productive once it hit Friday - which is good or I'd only just be ready for Christmas when the Easter Bunny was warming up his hippity-hop!! Tee! Hee! Hee! We head for the beach tomorrow for 9 days (the house/dog sitter popped in to collect her destructions ... er ... INstructions this arvo!), which we are SOOOOOOOOOOO looking forward to! And I can't wait to catch up with my family - that's the BEST part of Christmas for me! Although I won't be blogging for that time, I will have access to email, so I'm sure I'll catch up with a few of you. But just in case I don't 'chat' to you before then, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one of my bloggy buddies a very happy, safe and joyous Christmas. May you be surrounded by lots of friends, family, love, laughter, good food ... and PRESENTS! :0) And remember to take time to say a "Thank You" for the PERFECT gift given on the very first Christmas! Til next time ...



Thursday 17 December 2009

Computer Chaos & Creative Procrastination!

Well ... what a shocker of a week I've had at work!! As you can probably guess from this post title, it had nothing to do with my JOB as such - which I love - it was all computer-related!! GRRRRRR!!!! It all started last Thursday when we got a phone call to say that the department's network was showing that we were off-line. So, I rang our IT department at Head Office to get them to talk me through getting it back up (had happened several times in the last month, annoying and time consuming, but do-able). NOT THIS TIME! After nearly two hours with the phone clamped between by ear and shoulder, sitting on the floor with my head stuck under my desk trying to make sense of the upturned-spaghetti-bowl of cords and cables, they decided I needed to send the server to Head Office to be replaced - it was dead. OK ... so I had a crash course in how to put something on a courier and blithely went into a busy weekend of activities, thinking the computer would be back on Monday, good as new. BARP!! WRONG!! I shall cut a VERY long and involved story short (OK, a BIT shorter!) by saying that during Monday and Tuesday I spent another four or five hours on the phone and under the desk, following instructions to pull this cord, plug that lead in, type this, press this key ... my head was awhirl!! And at the end of all this frustration ... they FINALLY decided the problem couldn't be fixed over the phone ... they'd send a tech the hour and a half to fix it!! AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHH!!! Why didn't they just do this last Thursday!! It would have saved my already questionable sanity, saved me getting a crick in the neck and shoulder from being under the desk with a phone tucked under my ear ... and my workload wouldn't have backed up like the Red Sea in front of Moses! SIGH!! So followed two very long days of catch up so that I can start holidays - today was my last day. My boss is now very careful not to mention the "C" word in my hearing - you know the Fawlty Towers catch-phrase, "Don't mention the war!", well, in our office it is now, "Don't mention the computer!"

So ... with all of the extra time spent at work trying to sort out the "C" word, you can imagine that nothing has been crossed off my "To Do" list at home. Oh dear! And Christmas is just over a week away and we leave for the beach on Monday! EEK!! So, of course with such a long list of jobs to accomplish before Monday, I got stuck straight into the list when I eventually made it home from work ... right??? NOPE!! I PROCRASTINATED! :0) Today's form of procrastination (I am a master of sooooo many! Tee! Hee! Hee!) was of the culinary variety - yep! I played in the kitchen and made Sugar Coated Peanuts. Not only are these YUMMO, they are a great, quick idea for Christmas gifts for the sweet-tooths in your life. And it's such a simple recipe, I thought I'd share. Here goes ...


Ingredients: 500g raw peanuts (with the red skin still on); two cups of sugar; two cups of water; 1/2 teaspoon of red food colouring.

Step 1. Place water and sugar into a large frying pan.

Step 2. Stir sugar/water mix over a low heat until sugar dissolves completely.

Step 3. Add red food colouring and stir until combined.

Step 4. Add peanuts to the mix and stir until they are completely coated.

Step 5. Bring to the boil and boil for about 12 minutes, uncovered.

Stir a few times while mixture is boiling so all peanuts cook evenly.

Step 6. At around the 12 minute mark, to check whether the peanuts are ready, dribble some of the toffee mix into a saucer of cold water. If it cracks and goes brittle, it's ready to have the heat turned off. The mix looks a little like bubbling lava at this point.

Step 7. Turn the heat off and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar crystallises and goes to a powdery consistency as it sticks to the peanuts.

Step 8. Turn coated peanuts out onto a tray lined with baking paper to cool

Once these tasty, sugary morsels are cool, you can either tip them into a nice jar and tie a ribbon round the lid to give someone as a gift, or, my personal favourite ...


So ... there you go ... how to procrastinate the afternoon away. On the up side, I WILL be bottling some of these yummies to give as gifts ... if there's any left by the time I'm ready to bottle them! :0) Hmmm ... Maybe I'll just buy some more peanuts and do up another batch! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Hope your week has been less stressful than mine and that your afternoon has been more productive than mine .... though I'm not sure your results could possibly be as yummy! :0) I'll be back at least once before we head to the beach on Monday, so til next time ...



Wednesday 9 December 2009

Checking In & Christmas Mail!

It's OK!! You can call off the search parties! I'm not lost or MIA ... just flat out trying to meet a deadline and juggling all of the pre-Christmas busy-ness ... you know ... the same thing EVERYONE is doing at this time of year! :0) So I thought I'd just better check in with you all so you know I'm still here and reading about your exploits via RSS Feeds and a few quick blog hops, even if I haven't had time to leave comments.

Now, I can't show you photos of the project I've been working on with the deadline, but I CAN tell you it's a bit exciting, as it is a project to be published in "Handmade" magazine in the new year. We really are spoilt here in Australia with such wonderful craft/quilting/stitching magazines on offer! I've been hard at work in my sewing room to meet my Friday deadline and this afternoon got stuck in to tackle my "FAVOURITE" part of designing (NOT!!) the instruction writing. So, I'm on the home stretch and hope to get back to my Christmas stitching on the weekend ... AND catch up with all my blogging buddies, of course!! :0)

And while I've been slaving away in the sewing room, my postie has been making a few stops at my front steps to deliver yummy Christmas parcels - I've been VERY spoilt!! Before I show you what has been winging it's way to me, I'll confess that all Christmas gifties are being opened immediately and not kept until Christmas ... but I have a REALLY good excuse ... err ... I mean ... reason!! We're going away to the beach for Christmas (the house-sitter/dog-sitter is booked!!!) and since we only have a little two-door Ford Festiva hatchback ... there is NOT going to be much room to pack, so any gifties that arrive before we go will be opened, 'ooh-ed' and 'aaah-ed' over and the givers thanked. That's MY story and I'm sticking to it! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Right ... the first surprise to arrive via the postie's usual gentle delivery ... NOT! ... was from Deb. Do you remember in the middle of winter when I was complaining about being cold? (with 40 degrees recorded here today, that seems a loooong time ago!!) I commented that my fingers were a bit frosty when typing and perhaps I needed to find some rainbow coloured fingerless gloves. Well ... the Lovely Lilly Linda sent me a lovely blue pair of fingerless gloves that helped keep my fingers warm and now ...

I have a RAINBOW pair as well to keep my fingers warm! Thanks Deb! Aren't they lovely and cheerful!! Now, even on the cloudiest, coldest day, I'll have a rainbow ... and toasty warm fingers! Tee! Hee! Hee!

The second parcel to arrive was a bit exciting too, as it had this sticker on it ...

Ooooooohhhh!! I was pretty sure it had to be my SSCS parcel!!! How exciting!! It was from Shiree in New Zealand! And when I opened it up I found ...

Ooooohh!! How spoilt am I!! A wonderful little bag with a Christmas bear stitchery that I'm going to use as a pretty storage spot for all my gifting bits that get lost - sticky tape, ribbon, gift tags, Christmas Cards etc - so that whenever I go to wrap a giftie ... I know where everything is, in it's pretty bag! And there was a gorgeous Christmas cushion/hanger with a couple of angels - must be Shiree and me! Does one have a slipped halo - that would be ME! :0) And I don't know if you can see it well in the photo, but Shiree also popped in a cute "Noel" Christmas tree ornament that looks like it was made from candy canes. Thank you so much Shiree!! I feel very spoilt indeed!

Now, there was a couple of funny things happen to Shiree and I during our SSCS venture. The first happened when Swap-Mama Chookyblue first sent out the names of our swap partners. Shiree thought she'd try to trick and tease me a little by sending an email under a different name ... but my email program recognised her address from where we'd emailed each other during the OPAM Challenge sign up etc and it TOLD me it was from KiwiShiree! Tee! Hee! Hee! THEN ... poor Shiree had a little hiccup in her very organised plans to get swap gifts out on time while in the middle of moving house. She was incredibly organised and had all swap gifties ready well before their due postage dates, then somehow, they accidentally got put into one of the boxes packed for their big move! OOPS! After frantic searching failed to reveal the whereabouts of said packaged, poor Shiree then had to RE-DO all her gifties!! So, she really does deserve an extra pat on the back, I think. The funny part is ... when I was doing my blog hopping to collect the end of month finishes for the OPAM Challenge last month, I read the post on Shiree's blog where she explained that her swap gifties had been misplaced ... not thinking that it involved me at all! :0) So I hope your swap partner spoils you rotten, Shiree - at least you'll have a head start on NEXT YEAR's Christmas swaps! Tee! Hee! Hee!

OK ... so that was really the only parcel I was expecting before Christmas, so imagine my surprise when the postie dropped off ANOTHER parcel TODAY!! Hmmm ... what could it be. Well, in the words of the Playschool song ... "There's a BEAR in there ...

And what a GORGEOUS little bear it was too!! This little cutey is from Toni at the Red Boot Quilt Co. We chat back and forth and, since we're both designers, encourage each other through the instruction-writing phase of designing! :0) (Hmmm ... is there ANY designer out there who actually doesn't mind the instruction writing phase, I wonder?!?!) Now Toni has been showing photos of her lovely little bears for a while now and I've commented on how darn cute they are ... and now she's sent me one of my very own!! I really AM spoilt, aren't I!! And she knows me too well, since she's chosen some yummy red and white spot flannel to make this cuddly character from. And look at his lovely little snowflake buttons - bet he's wishing for a bit of snow to cool him down in our heatwave weather. I've decided to call my new little critter "Cranbeary" for a few reasons. One ... he's the colour of cranberries. Two ... Cranberries are a perfect match with Christmas turkey and he's arrived just in time for Christmas. And three ... Cranberries are sweet and I looooooove them in a fresh salad and "Cranbeary" is sweet and ...well ... I won't be putting him in a salad, now, will I, that would just be silly! Tee! Hee! Hee! Thank you Toni!!

PHEW!! Now that I've let you know that I'm not MIA and how spoilt I've been, I think I'm going to go and find a nice, cool, icy glass of something refreshing. Hope you're having a great week and feeling spoilt too! Til next time ...



Friday 4 December 2009

A Special Quilt!

I know I promised to be back to share more about the exciting things that have been happening here this week, but I'm working on a bit of a deadline for a Secret Squirrel project, so haven't had time to take photos of the exciting things - I will, I promise!! Today, though, I thought I'd share some pictures of a special quilt with you.

One of my lovely stitching buddies, Ros, dropped in this afternoon to share some photos with me. She bought a copy of my "Fairy Bears & Butterflies Quilt" pattern back in September to help her make a special quilt for her sister-in-law who had been diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, Ros's SIL passed away not long after receiving the quilt, but she loved it and now her family has a wonderful keepsake. Now, Ros's quilt isn't anything like my pattern really, but she used the cute Fairy Bears applique shape on a lovely bright, cheerful background of green and purple. These photos don't really do the quilt full justice, I don't think, but they were taken in a bit of a hurry in the hospital waiting room before the quilt went to it's new owner. Here's a shot of the whole quilt.

You'll see she's used a great hydrangea fabric then matched the bright green and purples and the big butterflies she has used are from the hydrangea fabric. Here's a bit closer look ...

Ros included some lovely symbolism in her quilt - the two bears up the top holding hands represent her SIL and BIL, then below them are two boy bears and one girl bear representing their children and they're 'joined' by the quilting pattern that has pretty swirly butterflies in it. The butterfly above the bear couple's heads is quilted around with a heart shape. The heart, of course is the couple's love for each other and their family and the butterfly signifies hope. Here's a closer look at the fairy bears ...

Aren't they angelic looking?! :0) Instead of blanket stitching the applique shapes by hand like I did, Ros used the raw-edge applique technique on her sewing machine in a gold coloured thread, adding some zig-zag stitching around the bears' faces etc to create a 'fuzzy' look. She's done a fabulous job and it touches my heart to know that she included a little bit of my design in such a special quilt. I love the symbolism of presenting quilts to people going through serious illness or some other difficulty ... whenever they wrap the quilt around them to keep warm, they will be reminded of the love and care coming from their family and friends to 'wrap' them in a great, big BEAR HUG! Isn't it lovely to think that something we create as part of our 'hobby' can mean so much to someone!

OK ... back to the sewing room and meeting my deadline. Hope you all have fun things planned for the weekend and that you're able to make some time to spend with those you love. Remember to give them a big ol' BEAR HUG and tell them how precious they are to you, cos we never know what's around the corner. Til next time ...



Wednesday 2 December 2009

November Winner & Butterflies Released!

Well ... here it is, only Wednesday, still with two days to go in this week and already it's been a big one! Some exciting things have been happening here at the Meares' Madhouse, home of "Tag Along Teddies" designs ... BUT FIRST ... I need to announce the end-of-month winner for November for the One Project A Month Challenge. Before I do, can I just say that, either lots of us have got our sewing mojo happening again at the moment OR ... we're all starting to panic, cos it's less than a month til Christmas! Tee! Hee! Hee! For me, I think it's a bit of both!

The total number of projects completed (either emailed to me or May Britt, listed or posted on blogs - if you didn't do any of those things, sorry, your projects didn't get counted!) for November was ...


That gives us a running total ... SO FAR ... of ...


WOW!! Can you imagine what a sight that would be if we had ALL of those completed projects displayed in the ONE ROOM!! It would be crafter heaven, I think! :0) OK ... drum roll please! And November's OPAM winner is ...

Maria H!!

CONGRATULATIONS, Maria!! If you email me your snail mail address, I'll pop your prize in the mail and who knows - we might even manage to convince our mail systems to get it to you in time for Christmas. And that would be very fitting because THIS is Maria's prize ...

A fun pattern by another Toowoomba designer, Majella Rush of "Kookaburra Cottage" designs that has three versions of a country Santa! I've got a copy of this pattern myself and the flat wall-hanger Santa (a bit hard to see cos the camera flash has hit right on his face!) is very quick and easy to make AND it looks FANTASTIC!! :0) Maria also gets a cute country-style calender that will help her schedule regular stitching days next year :0) AND a groovy laser-cut timber gift tag button created by Lisa at Button Bliss (I have a stash of lots of her fun timber buttons!). I hope you enjoy your prize, Maria.

CONGRATULATIONS to ALL of the OPAM Challenge participants on all of your finishes and CONGRATULATIONS, too, to everyone who has made some progress on some long-term projects, even if you haven't actually finished them yet - every stitch takes you closer to enjoying a finished project! :0)

Now ... a few of you have been asking whether May Britt and I will host the OPAM Challenge again next year. Well ... we're thinking about it! If we do, there will be a few changes to the guidelines and we will limit the number who can join in because we've discovered throughout the year that 276 blogs is a LOT of blogs to visit at the end of each month and keep track of finishes for. So, stay tuned for more news of that later this month.

And on to the first EXCITING thing that happened this week. There was some of this going on here at the Meares' Madhouse on Monday afternoon ...

Yep, HAPPY DANCING!!! Which had to stop when the RSPCE (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Elephants) sent a representative to our house after neighbours complained we were forcing our pet elephant to learn to tap dance! Tee! Hee! Hee! And what led to the tap-dancing-elephant-impersonation? This ...

The long-awaited December issue (No.79 Vol.10 No.12) of "Homespun" arrived on my doorstep. Now although many of your (especially Aussie gals!) will understand that the arrival of the latest "Homespun" issue is USUALLY cause for Happy Dancing anyway, THIS particular issue was a BIT more exciting to than usual because inside ...

... was my "Butterfly Hunt" quilt AND a designer profile on yours truly! OOOOOOOOHHHH!!! HOW EXCITING!!! My quilt-baby arrived home last week - probably the first of my exciting things, really! I know a few of you have already commented and emailed that you had discovered me lurking in your magazine - thanks for your lovely comments! And as if THAT wasn't exciting enough ... my very first quilt design is in the SAME issue as a project by my fave designer ... Bronwyn Hayes!! More Happy Dancing!! Oh ... and if you haven't already heard the buzz, Bronwyn now has her own blog, so you can pop in to see what she's up to. I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to Catherine and her team at "Homespun" for inviting me to share my quilt design with their readers and for being so encouraging and helpful to work with throughout the process.

There have been a couple of other exciting things happen this week, too, but my Beloved Geek Boy has just come home from work and I'm going to go have a cup of tea and see how his day was. I promise I'll be back soon to share the rest of my excitement. And who knows ... with two more days left in the working week even MORE exciting things may happen! Oh dear ... I'm not sure I can take much more! Tee! Hee! Hee! I hope that whatever you're up to today, you find a little bit of excitement to keep your day interesting. Til next time ...



Monday 30 November 2009

Happy Birthday Mum!!

Today is November 30 ... My Mum's birthday. And since I can't be with her today, I've already rung her and thought I'd also do a little birthday tribute here on my blog. And to do that, I thought I'd share a couple of photos of Mum with you.

Here's Mum as a marching girl in her home town of Mackay in northern Queensland, when she was about 18 or so - Dad always says it was her legs that caught his attention! Tee! Hee! Hee! The marching troop Mum was part of competed and did well in many competitions around the state.

And this was taken a couple of years ago for Mum and Dad's 40th wedding anniversary. I might add that she hasn't aged at all since this photo was taken, although Dad has a little more 'salt' than 'pepper' through his hair now! :0) Bet you can't guess how old Mum is!! And she might hurt me if I made it public! Tee! Hee! Hee! I'll just say that people are always surprised to find our how old she is and leave it at that. See what a wise daughter I am!! :0)

When people ask who my heroes are, I always include my Mum in the list. She was always (and continues to be!) there for my brother and I growing up, made most of our clothes, made sure there were always home-baked biscuits in the bikkie barrel, encouraged us to do better, praised us when we had done our best, taught us to work hard to achieve our dreams, showed us by example to never be too busy to help someone, modelled true Christian compassion and love and ... even when the whole world seemed to be against us ... she wrapped us in the magical healing warmth of a Mother's hug! If I grow up to be half the woman my Mum is ... I reckon I'll be pretty happy! :0)

So ... even though my Mum doesn't know how to turn the computer on, 'sends' emails by writing her message out longhand and giving it to Dad to type and send (makes for some funny emails when Dad adds his comments in brackets throughout!!) and probably won't even see this, I thought I would indulge myself by paying tribute to a wonderful, wise and loving woman and by wishing Mum a very


Thanks Mum!!!

I'll be back in the next day or so with this month's OPAM end-of-month prize winner (so all you OPAM gals better get updating lists or emailing me!!) and share a couple of other exciting things with you, so stay tuned. Til next time ...



Monday 23 November 2009

I'm A BMW!!!

I don't know if you've seen the posts on a few blogs in the last couple of days where bloggers have declared themselves "COWS". Now, this isn't a livestock study, we don't suddenly have ladies munching on grass or chewing their cud ... COW is an acronym for Cranky Old Woman. And with the heatwave here in Australia, a few are feeling a little crankier and older than usual! :0) Many have jumped on the COW bandwagon and joined the 'herd' ... But not ME!! I have decided that I am a BMW!!

B - Bothered, Bemused, Bewildered, Baffled, Bright, Bubbly, Beautiful (select the most appropriate for the occasion!!)
M - Middle-aged (at not-quite-forty, I figure I've got a ways to go before I'm old!)
W - Woman

There! I think that description not only suits me better - it sounds so much CLASSIER! Tee! Hee! Hee! And of course, if one is going to be a BMW ...

... one REALLY should be a break-your-heart-tart RED, don't you think! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Whether you're hot and bothered or cold and contemplating snow, I hope you're having a fabulous start to your week! Til next time ...



Sunday 22 November 2009

An 'A', 'B', 'C' Post!

OK ... so ... I was a little longer getting back to post some photos of what I've been working on this week, but I'm finally back to share an "A", "B", "C" post. Of course, since this is ME we're talking about here, you just KNOW it's not going to happen in order, right?! Tee! Hee! Hee! So I'm going to start with the "B" part of the post.

It all began with me trundling down the hill on Friday to visit my bestest buddy Lynette. You see ... it was her "BIRTHDAY" on Thursday, so I just HAD to go help her celebrate. We decided that we would play 'LADIES' for the day and headed off to Fleet Street, for a repeat performance of the DELICIOUS High Tea we enjoyed earlier in the year. You know ... just to check that their standards were still high! :0)

Here we are, playing 'LADIES' with our FABULOUS treats and our freshly brewed tea in pretty china cups. Oops! We forgot to make sure our pinkie fingers were out! Guess we'll never really be ladies! Tee! Hee! Hee! Right at the back, behind all the yummy treats on the table, you can just see a blue and white teapot shape - that was the tea menu and there were SOOOOOOOOO many to pick from, all sounding fabulous! I decided to try the Christmas tea and it really was like drinking Christmas! Fruity with lots of cinnamon. MMMMMMMMMMMMM!! I just know it's the tea that Santa and Mrs Claus drink up at the North Pole when they're having breakfast! :0) Can't remember what Lynette had ... she changed her mind a couple of times first! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Couldn't have a "Birthday" post without a photo of the birthday girl with a 'cake'! I think this was the mini orange and poppyseed cake - just one of the YUMMO treats we enjoyed. Oh look! Lynette remembered the 'pinkies out' rule! Tee! Hee! Hee! We had a wonderful day of chatting, eating and drinking cups of tea - but then that describes MOST of the play dates that Lynette and I have! Tee! Hee! Hee!

OK ... so on to the "A" part of my post. "A" is for ...

"ANGELS"!! Aren't they cute!! These are two of five of these cute angels that I'm making to put into my Christmas box - not sure who any of them are going to yet, but thought I'd make a few and then decide where their new homes would be! :0) Another couple of finishes to add to my OPAM list and another two gifties for the Christmas list. I know the one on the right isn't' really Christmasy colours, but I thought I'd mix it up a bit - whoever receives this cutey may even like to leave her hanging all year round! Oh ... I don't think I explained that they are wall hangers. I guess you could put them on a Christmas tree, too, but I think they look pretty groovy hanging on the wall to add a Christmasy feel.

And finally ... the "C" part of my post is for ...

"COIN QUILT". This is the smaller version of the stacked coin quilt I showed you last post. The first one for my Mum has been dropped off at my super-speedy quilter extraordinaire Rosalie's place last week so she can work her machine quilting magic on it. This is the throw/lap quilt size version for my workmate Tony and his fiancee Elese when they tie the knot in early January. This time I used charm squares from my "Swanky" packs that I bought from Sarah - aren't they bright and funky!! A bit too much pink for me, but since bright colours, especially pink, yellow and blue are Elese's faves ... these charm squares seemed to fit the bill! I shall drop it off for Rosalie to again work her quilting magic on and I promise I'll show them both to you once they're quilted and bound.

So there we go me ... "B", "A", "C" post! :0) As you can see, it's been a busy week here at the Meares' Madhouse, but my sewing mojo is hanging around for a bit, so I'm making the most of it while I can! :0) I've got quite a lot of Christmas performances with our "After Five" vocal group coming up in the next few weeks, so I'm madly fitting in as much sewing now as I can.

And now ... since it's still hovering around the 30 degree mark after climbing back into the mid-30's again today, I'm off to find one of my cool beverages and rest my poor pin-pricked fingers - did I mention I'm a bit clumsy with pins when quilting?! But it's OK, cos I didn't bleed on the quilt! Tee! Hee! Hee! Hope you've all had a fabulous weekend ... although I know a few Aussie gals I 'chat' with have suffered through a scorcher - we're all praying for rain soon!! - and hope the coming week is a fun and productive one for you. Til next time ...



Tuesday 17 November 2009

Heat Wave & Sizzling Sewing Machine!

I sure could do with one of these today!! You know how it wasn't really all that long ago that I was complaining about the unseasonably COLD spring we were having here on top of our hill? Well, it must be all that global warming coming into effect, cos we've gone from averaging about 26 degrees last week to mid 30's for the last two days, sitting on 37 degrees Celsius here as I type at 4:30pm!! - that's 98.6F for those playing overseas and VERY unusual for Toowoomba! Even I'M feeling the heat a bit and I'm a self-confessed hot-weather-gal! Have to say, it's the humidity that's making me feel icky and sticky, not the temperature, cos there's storms rolling around the area teasing us with the possibility of rain ... but not following through! RATS!! Still ... it's better BY FAR than being cold!! :0) (No matter what you say, Lilly Linda!!!)

But I'm happy to report that the heat wave hasn't chased away my sewing mojo and I had a VERY productive weekend and start to the week. Firstly, I finished the top of a stacked coin quilt for my Mum's birthday/Christmas gift. Do you remember some charm squares I found at Patchworks Plus a while ago?

Well, the pink ones (I know, I know!! But they weren't ALL pink!!) were transformed into ...

This was my first try at a stacked coin quilt and I confess to making some things up as I went along, but I'm pretty happy with how it's turned out. In fact, I was SO happy with it, that I HAD to order some more charm packs from Sarah ...

... to make another smaller version as a wedding present for Tony, who I work with and who's getting married in January. The Swanky packs (the ones that are THAT colour!!) are the ones I'll use for Tony and Elese's quilt and the others ... well ... they kind of followed me home! :0) OK, so they didn't, but I'm intending to make some Christmas gifties with them, so feel justified in adding to my stash! It's a good story and I'm sticking with it! Tee! Hee! Hee!

And although this quilt top is the only finish I have to share at the moment (well, sort of finish - I'll be chatting to my super quilter Rosalie tomorrow!!) I have also finished the machine stitching on five more projects that now need some hand stitching done, so I'll be able to share photos of those soon - I promise! :0) So, all in all, my sewing machine has been sizzling along with the weather!

But right now, I think I'm going to go make myself an icy cold beverage and sit under the fan for a bit. My fave libation at the moment is a self-made concoction consisting of a splash of Mango Iced Tea syrup, ginger ale to top up the glass (Kirks is the best taste for any Aussies wondering!) and finished with four or five mint-ice cubes. If you've not tried mint ice cubes before, all you have to do is put a couple of handfuls of fresh mint leaves into a heat-proof jug, pour boiling water over them and let them steep for five minutes or so, then strain the liquid (a mint tincture or tea which can be enjoyed hot as a tea and is good for unhappy tummies!!) into ice cube trays and freeze. Actually, you could probably just make up some mint tea bags if you don't have fresh mint taking over your herb garden - like I do! :0) Mint-ice cubes are a must at our place for summer - they even give plain ol' water a bit of a boost! :0) Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh .... I can taste that cold drink now!! :0) Til next time ...


PS. It's raining - YAY!! Hope it sticks around for a while!! BH! KRIS

Friday 13 November 2009

Home Is The Sailor Home From Sea!

You know how I've been teasing you by telling you about SOOOOOOOOO many finishes coming out of my sewing room, but not SHOWING you cos they're Secret Squirrel projects? Well, I can now show you one of them, cos it arrived where it was travelling off to.

Now, it was the lovely Kerryanne's birthday last month, but since I was so snowed under at the time, I sent her a cute card and an IOU for her giftie ... which I finished last week and was so excited that I just wanted to borrow Dr Who's Tardis to deliver it STRAIGHT AWAY!!! Are you like that?? Whenever I make/buy a giftie for someone I want to give it to them RIGHT NOW so they can start enjoying it! Well after a quick (remarkably so!!) trip via Australia Post this is what arrived at Kerryanne's door this week ...

AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRHHHHHH! Me Hearties! Yo, Ho! Yo, Ho! A Pirate's Life For Me!! (Pirates have 'colourful language, right?! Tee! Hee! Hee!) Hmmm ... it seems he was getting into the swing of his piratey character here - a treasure chest, a ship, a pretty mermaid and a bottle of rum ... what more could a buccaneer bear ask for! :0)

Since Kerryanne and her family have recently undertaken a 'sea change' I thought a salty sea-dog ... er ... sea-BEAR ... might be just the ticket for her birthday! He's yet to be named, but Kerryanne tells me he's already being accepted as part of their family and he fits right on in with her sea-side themed decorating. I did warn Kerryanne that bears can be just a WEEEEEEEE bit mischievous and I'm sure he will lead her into many new piratey adventures! Hmmmm ... or will that be KERRYANNE leading the BUCCANEER BEAR on adventures! Tee! Hee! Hee! Can't wait to see the photos ... especially now that Kerryanne's camera is back from it's check-up! (Snicker!!!) So I wish my little beary friend and my bloggy buddy fair winds and following tides. "Drink Up Me Hearties - Yo Ho!"

In other sewing news ... I have been busy in the sewing room, but once again, I can't show you. Not because I was working on surprises this time ... I just forgot to take a photo before I delivered things! Oops! My friend Lynda ended up 'volunteering' to co-ordinate the craft stall for the annual fete at her kids' school, but very little assistance was forthcoming from other parents, so I whipped up a few sets of coasters, made a small herd of clothes peg reindeer and helped add some simple applique to some bag-bags. (No, I'm not stuttering - they're the bags you store your plastic shopping bags in, although I've noticed a decline in our stash since we now mostly remember to take our green bags.) I delivered everything to Lynda today and spent a few hours helping and encouraging her - but yes, forgot to take photos! Ah well ... next time!

And now I'm heading off to pop the kettle on and make a list of the projects I want to work on this weekend, cos we actually have a WHOLE weekend free of plans ... so far! So, I'm hoping to spend quite a lot of time in the sewing room - I may even be able to show you the things that I work on this time! Tee! Hee! Hee! I hope you all have a fabulous weekend and find some time to do something just for "YOU". Til next time ...



Tuesday 10 November 2009

Grand Opening Give Away!!

No, no, no ... it's not ME who's having the Grand Opening Give Away ... it's my gorgeous blogging buddy, the very talented Miss Kerryanne over at Shabby Art Boutique!! She's just re-launched her fabulous web-based boutique and as well as all sorts of DELICIOUS treats to buy (Christmas is sneaking up on us after all!!) she is having a Grand Opening Giveaway on her blog, so hop on over to find out the details!!

As well as some wonderful folk/canvas art patterns that are sure to inspire you to pick up a paintbrush, Kerryanne has a range of ready-to-purchase canvas artworks, but the SWEETEST corner of her boutique is reserved for her incredibly realistic faux cakes and sweets. Or as some of Kerryanne's new neighbours like them to be called "Fake Cakes". Tee! Hee! Hee! (you'll have to read Kerryanne's post about her market adventures to understand that!!) Now, in case you haven't yet been introduced to the GORGEOUS goodies that the lovely Kerryanne creates, here is a photo of my own little stash of faux cupcakes I have displayed with some of my pretty china in the lounge room ...

Aren't they SWEET! And that's another of Kerryanne's decorative paintings on a re-vamped vintage tray at the bottom of the photo. Here's a close up of the cuppies ...

Don't they just look good enough to eat!! But the best part ... NO CALORIES! Tee! Hee! Hee! And to coincide with the launch of her new web site, Kerryanne has added some scrumptious new cupcake treats, so you REALLY should pop across for a little look-see.

In the meantime ... suddenly, I feel a little bit peckish, so I think I'm off to put the kettle on and find what treats I might have lurking in my pantry! Til next time ...



Sunday 8 November 2009

A Couple of Reveals!

Well ... my productive week has just kept rolling right along! While I didn't get much done yesterday due to "After Five" rehearsals, today was a VERY productive day! YAY! As well as catching up a bit more on tackling Mount Laundry, I've almost finished another Secret Squirrel project - but ran out of homespun - don't ya just HATE that!! And I also finished a birthday giftie for one of our nieces ... it's only a couple of months late - OOPS! :0} (sheepish grin!) The good news about that is ... I can SHOW it to you!! After lots of Secret Squirrel stitching, it's nice to be able to share something, so here goes ...

Ta da!! I've stitched some fun, funky, bright ... and sweet ... applique shapes onto a plain white pillow case, along with a big letter "T" for "Taylah". I machine appliqued it so it should stand up to frequent washing a little better - hope she likes it!

Now, the other chore I tackled this morning was to clean up the kitchen COMPLETELY so I could FINALLY take some photos of the finished renovations to show you all - you have all been VERY patient waiting for the final reveal - probably a LOT more patient than I was waiting for it to be finished! :0) Ready???

I feel like there should be a "Tarant-ta-ra" fanfare to herald the unveiling! I'm REALLY happy with how it's all come up! This photo doesn't really show the bench top, but it shows our newly finished floor, the fresh apple green walls, the clean white cupboards and the red dotty curtain I was encouraged by Jenny to get done last month. I wasn't sure originally whether to put a lower curtain up, but after living with curious passers-by peering in the window, I've decided this will be one of the next jobs on the list ... as soon as my Beloved Geek Boy gets around to putting up the brackets for me!!

And here are some of my pretty kitchen collections - including my pretty vintage green-with-folk-art-roses trio painted by the clever and talented Kerryanne and my set of three jugs that look oh-so-pretty holding milk when visitors come to visit for afternoon tea.

Beside the coffee machine is my brand new kitchen plant, given to me last night by a friend when we had her and her fiancee over for dinner. It's a "Kitchen Warming" giftie. Isn't it LUSCIOUS and just the right red to fit in with my kitchen decor!! Thanks Amelia & Matt! Hmmm ... now I just have to manage to keep it alive - my track record with indoor plants is NOT the best, though I really like them! This wall is a bit bare at the moment and I'm not quite sure what I want to do there - I'm thinking of keeping an eye out for a vintage look plate rack or a little shelf unit to display some of my tea cup trios. No rush ... the RIGHT thing will jump out at me one day! :0)

So ... there you go ... that's been my productive weekend and since I've worked SOOOOOOOOO hard ... I think I might see if GB would like to order pizza for dinner! :0) Hope you've all had a great weekend and if it couldn't be productive like mine, then I hope it was restful and relaxing! Til next time ...



Saturday 7 November 2009

Return Of The Sewing Mojo!!

Hmmm ... that sounds a little like a bad "B" grade superhero movie title, doesn't it?! In fact, it was a wonderful thing that happened this week - especially wonderful since my sewing machine and needle and thread were starting to feel neglected after three weeks of nothing stitchy happening. I have to say, I've more than made up for that this week, with four finishes already added to my OPAM sidebar list, plus some progress made on another project. The only problem is ... I can't show you any photos cos they're all ...

... Secret Squirrel projects!!! Sorry about that! One I should be able to share in a week or so, once it's winged its way over the border to wish a special someone a belated Happy Birthday! :0) I can't give sneaky peeks, cos I know she visits my blog and I want to keep her in suspenders! Tee! Hee! Hee! So ... instead, I thought I would show you what followed me home from my Home-away-from-home the other day ...

Aren't they pretty! Now these are for a special project that I'm planning ... but I can't tell you what it is!!! I know, I'm a terrible tease ... but at least I'm showing you my pretty fabrics, right?!?! I just love how fresh these colours look together - perfect for summer, wouldn't you say? And look at those cute little bears on the top two fabrics - hard for a bear-addict like me to go past these. I promise to give you a hint about what these yummy fabrics will become as soon as I can.

Oh ... I thought I'd also share a photo with you that I took at work this week. As most of you know, I work four mornings a week as Admin Assistant at a retirement village and we are VERY spoilt with the beautifully landscaped, spacious grounds and gardens, as well as our panoramic views of much of the surrounding area. It seems that no matter what time of year it is, there is SOMETHING gorgeous to admire in our gardens and for the last few weeks, it has been the showy jacarandas. Being a bit of a colour-freak, these trees always grab my attention and this is the one I see as I walk out of my office ...

Don't you just love the combination of the green, purple and blue?! I really am spoilt working where I do! :0)

And now ... I'm heading back to the sewing room. It really does feel WONDERFUL to be sewing again, and better still, to see some FINISHES happening! Hope you're all planning to enjoy a wonderful, relaxing weekend with some time scheduled just for "YOU". Til next time ...



Tuesday 3 November 2009

Mayhem & Murder At The Music Hall!

OK, so it's taken me a couple of days to get back with some photos of the theatre restaurant production that I was in, but it took me much longer than I thought it would to put the photos through PhotoShop. This was a necessity since the photos were taken by Tiff on my little point-and-shoot digital camera that has a piddly little flash that didn't cope at all well with a darkened room!! As a result, the photos are DEFINITELY not the best quality (and still have some REALLY peculiar colours!!) but they will give you a little bit of an idea of how it all looked.

So ... for those of you who tuned in a little late ... the production was called "Murder At The Music Hall" and was set - funnily enough - at an old-time Music Hall performance. It all started when act one was interrupted by a 'member of the audience' dying dramatically and noisily onto the lower part of the stage and the rest of the show alternated between the murder investigation and 'flashbacks' to the victim's previous 24 hours, which saw him attend two Music Hall performances. Got all that? I might add, I had to explain all of this to my Mum so she didn't spend the whole show driving Dad mad by asking, "Who's he?", "Is he a good guy or a bad guy?", " Why did he do that?" Tee! Hee! Hee! To get the ball rolling, here is our entire cast photographed after our last dress rehearsal.

There I am in the bottom right hand corner - the one with the bright pink feather boa! :0)

Here I am before the show got underway, chatting to Lynda and Deb. Lynda said she didn't think she'd EVER see me wearing anything pink! :0) Her daughter also loaned me the feathery thing in my hair - thanks Amy!

And here I am with Grandma - not sure what she thought of my new look! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Now, as the story started to unfold, it quickly became clear that the main character, James (the one who died dramatically and noisily!), was a bit of a ratbag. As his most-recent fiancee said, "He was always trying to 'find' himself. Every night he'd go out searching for himself and along the way he's find Gladys, Ruth & Amee!" Added to that, he was blackmailing a society dame, chatted up a waitress who realised he was four-timing her, dumped a vengeful dancing girl with a brother who was a heavy-weight boxing champion and, most importantly, borrowed money from the Music Hall owner, Big Lil ... That was ME!

Here I am with "My Boys" - my somewhat inept thugs who are SUPPOSED to take care of any problems ... but actually seemed to cause a few more! :0)

Here's "My Boys" questioning James' finance Sandra about why he didn't stick around for a 'chat' with Big Lil about his gambling debt.

The murder investigation was broken up by performances from the Music Hall show and this was a touching little tune called "Hang On The Bell Nellie".

Being a fairly small group, we often had several characters that we were playing and this was one of my alter-egos - a 'cute' little girl who, after a run-in with the Chairman, sang "Good Ship Lollipop". I might just say that the audience's sympathies in both performances were with me rather than the Chairman! Tee! Hee! Hee! Don't know if you can see very well, but my hair was in pigtails for this - an 'interesting' new look that I'm unlikely to adopt!!

This was the delightfully-dated look for "The Swimming Master".

The story was set in the 1920's and this group of energetic gals performed a Charleston-esque version of "When The Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin' Along". Hmmm ... I think it just took me longer to type that than it did for the girls to dance it! :0) They did a great job, actually!

Every good Music Hall show needs a potted pantomime - and ours sure was a 'potty' version of Cinderella!! Here I am in another of my guises as one of the best looking Ugly Sisters you've ever seen! :0) I had a bit of a giggle every time I looked at my 'sister's' wig - couldn't help but be reminded of the Bride Of Frankenstein ... or Madge Simpson ready for Halloween! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Here's Cinders getting ready for the ball, with her footman and coach ... er ... scooter ... and her hairy, fairy godmother - who was a bit of a cross between Dame Edna Everage and a footy player at the annual fundraiser concert!!! :0) Not a pretty sight, but he sure did get some laughs ... especially since it was HIS foot that fitted the slipper to run off with Prince Charming!!! As Cinders said, "I should have gone for Ginger Meggs, cos you just can't trust a fairy with hairy legs!!" Aaahh ... I'm sure the Brothers Grimm would be so proud of us! Tee! Hee! Hee!

And finally, after we found out that the Doctor dunnit ... the show ended to a rousing rendition of "Goodbyee!"

We had fairly full house for both the evening and matinee performances, though the matinee audience seemed to join in a little more and sing along more often. We decided that a greater percentage of that audience were ... er ... a little older, shall we say ... and so were more used to interactive stage shows and sing-alongs. The Saturday night audience were still pretty responsive, though in my role as owner of the Music Hall, Big Lil, I DID have to deal with a couple of hecklers ... which I did! :0)

So ... after three months of hard work, lot of learning lines, hours of rehearsals, many late nights and MANY bizarre dreams about various songs in the show ... it was all so very worth it! Not only did I rediscover my love of amateur theatrics and get involved in a great choral group, I met so many fabulous people who I look forward to getting to know better as we continue to sing together in "After Five" - that's the name of the choral group. In fact, last night was the first rehearsal for our NEXT 'gig' - a fund raising concert at a local Anglican church. After a week's break it was great to catch up with everyone as 'themselves' rather than characters - though there were quite a few lines from the show bandied about throughout the evening! :0)

There you have it ... the promised report of my theatrical adventures - hope you haven't dozed off! :0) Other than recovering from the show and its heavy rehearsal schedule and catching up on the HUGE mound of washing that had piled up over the last few busy weeks, I have also managed to spend some time in the sewing room this week - YAY! I actually hadn't done ANY sewing of ANY kind for about THREE WEEKS, so you'll appreciate how great it was to get my sewing mojo back!! I've even been able to add three finishes to my OPAM list on the sidebar ... but I can't show you, cos they're part of the package for my SSCS partner - Sorry! :0) I do hope to get a few more things finished in the next little while, though, so promise some stitchy photos soon. Hope you've all been keeping well and not TOO busy during my little hiatus (I haven't even been able to visit many of my usual blog haunts!!) and I'll try to get back here to chat again soon. Hope you're all having a great start to the week and ... til next time ...



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