Wednesday 30 April 2014

Winter's Creeping Closer ... EEK!!

OH NO!!!! Winter is creeping that bit closer as we farewell April and head into May ... the last buffer between autumn and winter ... EEK!! You all know how much I LOVE winter's chills ... NOT!! Here on top of our 'hill' the temperatures have already been taking a nose dive ... 10 degrees in my kitchen this morning as I was blearily trying to pour the boiled water into my coffee plunger. And since it is currently pouring rain (Yay! That part is welcome!) it is very likely to get VERY cold in the next few days ... SIGH!! I have even made my first threat to move north for the winter ... my boss just rolls his eyes now. Tee! Hee! Hee!

So ... the end of another month ... OPAMers ... You know what that means! If you haven't already done so, please update your sidebar lists of finishes and email your final April tallies through to me or my gorgeous partner-in-crime, Sweet Peg. Whether you've been stitching, knitting, quilting, crocheting or cross-stitching, we want to hear what you've been up to and even if you don't have any finishes to add, a quick email letting one of us know that you've made progress, but have no finishes for the month will be helpful to us, too. Oh ... and be sure to glance back at BOTH my blog posts and Sweet Peg's for each month's winners, cos a few of you haven't contacted us with snail mail addresses to send prizes to. We take it turn about to do the prize draw, so you need to check in with BOTH blogs to keep up with our OPAM news. :0)

I've had a fairly productive month ... though not quite as productive as planned ... isn't that always the way! :0) I thought our two long weekends in a row would mean lots of stitching time ... but  I was wrong! We DID spend a lot of time out in our long-neglected jungle ... er ... GARDEN! We donned out pith helmets, armed ourselves with our machetes and pygmy luggage bearers and headed bravely into the back yard. We didn't find Dr Livingston, but I think we saw the track he took! Tee! Hee! Hee! Will share some photos once we finish the mulching, which is on this coming weekend's agenda.

And although I didn't get as much sewing done as planned, I HAVE managed a few finishes for the month. A couple I haven't taken photos of yet - oops! :0) And two are waiting for their companion projects for a new pattern ... but I'll share a sneaky peeky with you! :0)

Bet you can't possibly guess what this project is! :0) The fabric I played with was so lovely ... will share pics soon, I promise. And then it's on to the dreaded instruction-writing phase ... BLECH! Aah ... a designer's work is never done. :0)

Well ... with not much on TV, rain drumming on the roof and the temperature cool enough to make snuggling under a doona very appealing, I think I shall go and curl up with a book (well ... an e-book on my iPad!!) for a while before having an early (by our strange standards!!) night. Hope your week is toodling along nicely so far ... I've got a couple of stitching dates coming up so need to do some prep work - EEP! :0) Til next time ...



Friday 25 April 2014

A Minute To Be Thankful!

April 25 ... Anzac Day. A time to remember. A time to reflect. A time to be thankful.

I don't only remember my Gramps, Ted Paten, on Anzac Day, but it is a day that particularly brings him to my mind. He was only in his 20's when he joined the army during WWII. Young, optimistic ... and just a bit cocky! ... like so many who joined up with him.

He was sent to New Guinea with the Ordinance Corps. Unlike so many others, he came home ... though not completely unscathed, as his health was never 100% afterwards. I was fortunate that Gramps came home to Australia to be a husband, a father, a grandfather, when so many young men ... and women ... did not. The sacrifices made by our armed service men and women to enable us to live in the freedom we enjoy are huge ... and can never be repaid. So, on this special day or remembrance and commemoration, I am thankful. Thank you to ALL who have served ... and continue to serve ... their country in any capacity with our armed services. Thank you to the family members who support these men and women ... YOUR sacrifice is noted and appreciated, too.

Gramps is no longer with us, but the thankfulness and respect he taught us lives on in his children and grandchildren.

Thank you Gramps. We miss you still.

If you appreciate living in a country that is at peace and the freedoms we so often take for granted; if you appreciate the efforts made on our behalf by men and women in all arenas of war, past and present ... then please join me today of all days to take a moment to be thankful and appreciative.



Monday 21 April 2014

Mixed Bag Easter!

Are you all having a relaxing and enjoyable Easter break? I do hope so. It's been a bit of a mixed bag kind of Easter here on top of our 'hill'. Our Easter started on a sad note. My Beloved Geek Boy and I attended the funeral of my friend Lynda's 99 year old Nan on Thursday. It was a lovely celebration of a life well lived and a reminder that whether we are allotted 20 years, 50 years or 99 years, the thing to remember is to LIVE and squeeze the most out of every day ... not to put things off for 'one day', but to get in and DO them, because sometimes, 'one day' never arrives. So although it truly was a celebration of her Nan's life, it has left a huge hole in my lovely friend's life, as she has been one of the main support/carers for her Nan in the last few years. Big hugs to you, Lynda!

Then on Friday, I received an email from my Mum to say that her sweet furry baby, Sunny, had crossed the Rainbow Bridge overnight.

My brother and I bought Sunny for Mum when my brother was leaving home for the second time and from the first time she laid eyes on him, Mum said he was a little ray of sunshine in her world ... hence the name. And since he was VERY spoilt ... I joked that he was the namesake of the youngest spoilt "son". :0) He was 14 1/2 but his death was unexpected, so you can imagine there were quite a few tears from us all ... my Dad included ... though he always insisted that he didn't like small dogs. He really is a big softy under that gruff exterior, my Dad. :0)

So ... not much happened here on Friday ... apart from me supporting the tissue company and vowing that my next pet will be a goldfish cos I won't get as attached to that and be upset when it goes!!

Saturday was errand running day for GB and I ... this was actually the first weekend in ... well ... a LOOOOOONG time!! ... that we were both home for the WHOLE weekend!! So there was a bit of catch up happening on chores and errands. On our way back from some of those errands, though, we decided to just go for a 'drive in the country' and headed west to the area we'd lived for four years before moving into Toowoomba. Sorry ... no pics ... we just kind of cruised and commented on changes as we went.

The rest of the weekend has been a little bit of this and a little bit of that. There was a LOT of this ...

... I ask myself how two people can accumulate so much washing ... but then I reminded myself that for the last few weeks the 'bare necessities' of washing have been done, so it was towel/sheet/heavier clothing catch up this weekend ... six loads later ... PHEW!! Then there was some of this ...

The poor vege garden had been VERY neglected for a long time ... I don't have a "Before" photo to share ... which is just as well, as I would have to hang my head in shame! :0) But with the assistance of my Beloved GB, we've cleaned out the garden, dug in some new compost, planted some winter veggies and herbs and given it a nice thick layer of sugar cane mulch. We've planted broccoli, cauliflower, snowpeas, chives, garlic chives, sweet basil and rescued/replanted a couple of overgrown strawberry plants and a parsley plant. I'm not certain whether the sweet basil will survive Toowoomba's chilly winter, but I thought for the price of a punnet of seedlings, it was worth a shot to get at least a few dishes cooked with delicious fresh basil flavours. :0)

Then during a bit of TV viewing (catching up on some missed episodes of another UK produced favourite "Death In Paradise") I did a bit of this ...

... re-stitching the block that the iron spat on. There were a couple of suggestions left in comments when I shared my spitting-iron mishap that I couldn't reply to personally as the lovely commenters were "No Reply". Someone said they use a dry iron ... so do I ... but GB uses the same iron on steam to iron his work clothes (aren't I lucky to have a hubby who does his own ironing! :0) ) and although I'd switched it back to dry, the iron obviously still had something stuck in its gullet from the steaming process and ... well ... spat it out ... at a very inopportune moment. SIGH! There was another suggestion that I could tea-dye the block to disguise the ugly spot ... I actually intend to try this, but am not certain it will take well, as the dots on the background fabric are a bit shiny and I don't know if they'll take the colour. Also ... it's one block of a pair to match ... so I couldn't have one tea-dyed and one not ... plus they wouldn't match the bag fabric I've chosen quite as well if they were tea-dyed. Still ... the replaced block will be used for something ... some day. :0) And ... I will be using an ironing cloth EVERY time I iron stitcheries, now, instead of 90% of the time ... live and learn! :0)

So far this weekend, though, I haven't quite got around to any of this ...

... as I had planned for this weekend. Maybe this afternoon ... if I get stitching and finish off that sock block. :0)

Mixed in with all of that, there have been a few sleep-ins and some quiet time spent with my Sweetie, so as my title today says, Easter has been a bit of a mixed bag here at the Meares' Madhouse. But that's life, I guess. :0)

So ... whatever you've been up to, whatever you're doing this afternoon for the end of your Easter break, I hope you've managed to spend some time appreciating loved ones, doing something that brings a smile to your face and hopefully you've been reminded, too, of the reason for our four day weekend ... the loving sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. THAT sure is worth celebrating! :0)

OK ... I'm off to get stitching on that sock block (I feel like Dr Seuss!!) I'll leave you with a favourite photo of Mum and Dad with sweet Sunny taken during a beach break a few years ago. Remember to give your family and furry friends lots of hugs cos you don't know how long you'll have them!! Til next time ...



Tuesday 15 April 2014

Wouldn't It Rot Your Socks!!

Have you ever finished a stitchery project, decided it needed a press ... only to run into a ...

"Wouldn't It Rot Your Socks!!"

... moment? Sadly I've had it happen a few times ... including one of the projects I was working on over the weekend ... GRRRR!! I had finished the stitchery, gave it a press and ...

Do you see that 'ugly spot' on the left sock? My iron was obviously having a bad day and spat ... SIGH!!! I tried wiping it off with a damp face washer, tried some white vinegar on a cotton bud ... NOTHING! That 'ugly spot' wasn't budging. So it was back to the drawing board ... well ... the lightpad! :0) ... to re-do this stitchery. SIGH! Ah well ... it's a good thing I enjoy stitching, right ... but it sure was a pain in the butt that interrupted the flow of my productive weekend. (two finishes to share with you soon!)

And while I was doing a bit of that re-stitching this afternoon, I was enjoying ...

... some new flavoured tea! You just KNEW there was going to be a cup of tea mentioned here, right?! Tee! Hee! Hee! These flavoured teas are from Elmstock, a Western Australian tea producer and were a much-appreciated birthday gift last month from my Beloved Geek Boy's youngest brother ... thanks Benny! :0) He gave me a gift voucher to use on-line. There was a little hiccup with the website, but the people from Elmstock were very helpful and it wasn't long before it was all sorted and my delicious new teas were arriving on my doorstep. I treated myself to some "Cinnamon" and "Parisian Rose" flavoured black teas ... YUM!! I haven't tried the Parisian Rose yet, but the Cinnamon was this afternoon's drop and it was GORGEOUS! Nice black tea flavour with a bounce of fresh cinnamon. I can see this will quickly become a favourite. :0) If you like interesting teas and (for Aussie gals!) would like to support a local Aussie business, check out the Elmstock website ... let me know if you try other flavours, cos I'm always on the lookout for delicious, refreshing teas. :0)

And of course all this talk of tea is making me thirsty, so I'm off to play Polly and put the kettle on to try the Parisian Rose. Bet that doesn't surprise you! :0) Hope your week is toodling along nicely ... and that your socks are not being rotted!! :0) Til next time ...



Friday 11 April 2014

Puppy Love & Makings!

You all know that The Quilters Angel at Highfields is referred to by all my family and friends as my "Home-Away-From-Home" ... in fact my Beloved Geek Boy has been heard to mutter under his breath sometimes that I spend MORE time amongst the fabrics there than I do at home! :0) So it will come as no surprise to you to hear that most Thursdays, after I finish my 'grown-up' job as an Administrative Assistant at a retirement village, I head to my HAFH to catch up with the Marvellous Marion and Stupendous Steph ... as I did yesterday.

Not only do I count Marion and Steph amongst my closest group of fantastic friends, as a designer, I find it invaluable to spend time in the shop, listening to the types of projects people are looking for, chatting to stitchers and quilters, seeing what people have made and perusing the new ranges of fabric as they arrive ... and spark new pattern project design ideas! Tee! Hee! Hee! I joke that I spend most of my spare time and play money at The Quilters Angel ... GB says it's my ambition to see if I can get at much fabric in my stash at the shop has! Hmmm ...  it's still cheaper than therapy! :0)

Yesterday when I called in, there was another little 'somebody' hanging out in the back workroom to say hello to ...

... meet the handsome and cuddlesome Axel ... Steph's newest fur-baby. Isn't he just too cute?! :0) He loves to soak up pats and cuddles from everyone who visits ... and my long patchwork skirts are a puppy's delight to hide under ... apparently! :0)

When I could tear myself away from puppy love and cuddles, I headed in to the shop to stock up for the weekend ... for the first time in WEEKS I have a WHOLE WEEKEND AT HOME! Woo! Hoo!!! BLISS!! There are the usual 'grown-up' chores to do, but after that ... I'm going to light up the oil burner, find some Cool Jazz to listen to and SEW!! Here's what I brought home to play with ...

... some French-themed fabrics and some spots to pair with some stitcheries/appliqués that I started to play with some time ago and never quite got around to finishing ... OOPS! One of the Friday night Sit N Sew gals spotted the stitcheries and is now nagging me to get myself organised and finish the projects and write the pattern so SHE can make this simple, pretty but practical project ... stay tuned! :0) I've also brought home a scallop ruler to play with after Linda Blake showed us all how to use it at Girls Stitch In ... they are MAGIC!! And Marion and Steph now have them back in stock, so pop across to their web site or phone them to get one of these clever and handy rulers for yourself.

So ... that's what I'll be playing with in my sewing room this weekend. Are you planning some quality lock-yourself-in-the-sewing-room time this weekend?? What are YOU hoping to work on?? It's always so interesting to see the wide variety of projects being played with in blogland. Well ... whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope it also includes some kick-back-and-relax time for you to enjoy. I'll be back soon to share some pics of what I do with the fabrics above. Til next time ...



Tuesday 8 April 2014

WHEW! Made It Back Here!!

Here I am, back as promised within a day or two ... it's been a hectic week and it's only Tuesday ... I feel a bit like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day" ... except MY groundhog day has been a Monday ... TWICE!! You know how Monday's always seem to be that little more chaotic, a little busier and you discover all the things you have to manage to fit into THIS week will actually take a month ... and rediscover all the things you forgot to do LAST week?!?! Throw in copious amounts of interruptions by phone calls and office-drop-ins, the boss being out of the office two days running ... and THAT'S how my week started ... WHEW!! Is it Friday yet?! :0)

Enough excuses ... I promised I'd be back to let you know the results of the OPAM random draw for March ... My birthday month ... [ just saying! :0) ] A big WOO! HOO! And congrats to all you busy OPAMers who contributed to the March total of a whopping ...


WOW! I can almost hear echoes in all those gradually emptying sewing rooms as finishes are taken out of cupboards and finished. What's that? Your sewing room is still wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling fabric and WISPS?!? Gotta tell you ... you're not Robinson Crusoe! Tee! Hee! Hee! Well done to everyone who was able to get some finishes on their sidebar lists ... isn't it a great feeling of accomplishment! :0) And another congrats to all of you who may not have added finishes, but managed to spend some time progressing longer-term projects. It might seem a bit slow going, but remember it's as important to enjoy the process as much as the finished product ... or to use a much-over-used phrase ... enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Being creative is very calming (unless the machine isn't playing nicely or the thread gets in a tangle!!) and working on our sewing/knitting/crochet/quilting projects means we're taking a bit of a breather from being grown-ups and taking time for ourselves to recharge the batteries. And THAT'S the most important part of OPAM. :0)

A big THANKS! also to everyone who took the time to email their tally of finishes through to me or my sweet Partner-In-Crime Sweet Peg. It is VERY much appreciated. Sorry I haven't had a chance to email everyone back this month ... too many things happening to keep me from my computer. I promise to try to do better next time. :0) OK ... drumroll for the draw ... the winners are ...

If you gals would like to email me with your snail mail address, I'll pop a little something in the mail ... I confess that I'm way behind with some mailing, too ... EEK!! I can see 2014 is going to be my year for being several months behind where I should be. Oh ... wait ... that's NORMAL!!! :0)

Now, because I don't like to do a post without pics, I thought I'd share with you a little treasure I discovered on my last play date with my Bestest-Buddy-Since-We-Were-Nine Lynette. When we head out for a play date, Lynette and I (like so many other bloggers!) love to hit antique and collectible shops to see what bargains and treasures we can find. I already showed you my little Scotch Thistle Depression Glass bowl I found ... well ... I also snaffled this little beauty ...

Isn't it cute ... the Depression Glass bowl, not the bunny ... tho ... she IS pretty cute too! Tee! Hee! Hee! I've never seen a little bowl quite like this one before. It has fluted, wavy edges with etching on it. I sometimes wish I knew a bit more about the pretties I collect, but usually end up just doing the A.D.O.P. thing again! Tee! Hee! Hee! I shall have to find the perfect home for this sweet bowl, but for now, Bunny can bowl-sit. :0)

OK ... that's it from me for today. Hope your week is off to a less "Monday-ish" beginning than mine has been and that you manage to find time to escape into your sewing room. Fingers crossed ... I might get into mine tomorrow after work ... if that darn Groundhog lets me move on to a Wednesday! :0) Til next time ...



Sunday 6 April 2014

Better Late Than Never!!

OOPS! So much for popping back in a day or two to give you the wrap up of last weekend's annual Girls' Stitch In. Sorry about that ... someone seems to have hijacked my week ... AGAIN!! How does that keep happening?!?! Lots of other things to share, too, but I thought I'd stay in chronological order. So ... grab a cuppa and sit back in a comfy chair, cos this post is going to have a LOT of photos. Brace yourself, Chooky!! I'm giving you a run for your epic post! :0)

Righto ... Girls Stitch In is organised and run by the Magnificent Marion and Stupendous Steph of The Quilters Angel ... AKA my "Home-Away-From-Home" and just like Stitchers Dream Day Out, it's always a hoot! Imagine a day where you grab a couple of friends (or come to meet new ones!) and enjoy having yummy morning and afternoon teas laid on for you, lunch on DELICIOUS roast chicken, ham and roasted veges, tuck into plumb pudding and custard, get to chat to two lovely and talented Aussie designers, receive two not-yet-released patterns, have one of those patterns all prepared ready for you to start stitching, browse around the goodies at a mini-shop all in a beautifully decorated space hung with gorgeous samples of projects created by the guest designers ... in fantastic company!!! What more could you ask for! :0)

Nikki Tervo of Brandy Gully Designs and Linda Blake of Bella Embroidery were this year's guest designers and they came up with some GORGEOUS designs with some shabbily pretty Tilda fabrics ...

Saturday dawned beautifully sunny and fine ... a perfect autumn day and the fun got under way! :0)

The tables and chairs were decorated, and since this year's theme was "Christmas Comes Early", we had a shabbily chic Christmas tree to help us feel festive.

The mini-shop was stocked with lots of yummy goodies ... ooh! Can you see a certain Bauble Bag, Stocking and Christmas Bunting on display there?! :0) More on that further down ...

... and the stitchers gathered! :0) Oh ... a little reassurance ... your eyesight hasn't deteriorated overnight ... a few of my pics are a bit blurry. I'd LIKE to say it's because I was using my iPhone ... but the reality is ... I was probably jiggling around cos I was talking, laughing or just having an A.D.O.P moment ... those of you who know me in 'real life' or have been reading for a while will know what that means! :0)

Another table of stitchers all hard at work ...

Well ... almost all!!! There's one on every table, isn't there?! My mad ... but GORGEOUS! ... mate Fiona from Bubz Rugz. She loves to photo bomb! :0)

Here's Linda showing us how to use the scallop ruler. I have to say ... I am NOT a gadget girl, but the scallop ruler was pretty cool and so simple to use ... when you disregarded the markings on the ruler and did it the way Linda showed us! Tee! Hee! Hee! Lots of gals were entranced with the scallop ruler and all stock flew off the shelf, but Marion is getting more into the shop soon, if you'd like to make super sweet and simple scallops. :0)

And it was fantastic to catch up with Nikki again ... who insisted that I take my very first 'selfie' ... something I've resisted because you see so many unflattering versions. This one didn't turn out too bad ... apart from being blurry cos I was giggling! :0)

Stitching sisters Jean and Joyce come to every stitching event Marion hosts and always join in the fun of it all ... do you like the Christmas shirts they were sporting?! :0)

Laurel is another 'repeat offender' and look what she brought with her! This is the stitchery I designed last year when I was a guest designer for Girls Stitch In. This was the original project ...

... but Laurel decided she had enough bags, so made the design her own by playing and turning it into a stitching cushion, complete with storage pocket on the back for her scissors, threads and project. Well done Laurel!! :0) And there was another lovely lady who had made up the "Life's Good" bag beautifully ... even if she thought it was one of Nikki's projects! :0) But I forgot to get a  photo. :0(

So ... I suppose you'd like to see the projects Nikki and Linda designed? OK ...

Nikki designed a Dresden Plate table centre with a pretty star stitchery that you could leave out all year round ... and she showed everyone how to use the Dresden Ruler ... which Marion will be getting more of for the shop very soon after selling out. :0) Some things are just so simple once you're shown, aren't they! :0) And being the queen of using up as much fabric as possible, Nikki also included the GORGEOUS star banner ... I might just have to add this one to my own "To Do" list. :0)

Linda's wall hanger included several cute stitcheries to show off the pretty fabric colours and since this project wasn't overtly "Christmassy", she had another little play and designed ...

... a table runner ... with scallops. ;0) Like most designers, Linda ran out of time to write the instructions, but will be doing so soon, so stay tuned if this project tickles your fancy. Now ... I shared with you that I had also had a little play with the fabric bundle the designers worked with ...

"Sweetly Shabby Christmas" pattern is now available from The Quilters Angel and will soon be available from my website ... as soon as I find a moment to upload it. :0) Now this pic doesn't really show the stitcheries well and I promised to show some close ups, so here they are ...

This is the stitchery on the front of the bauble bag ... designed to protect and store your breakable, precious and heirloom decorations.

Sweetly Shabby Christmas Stocking. This little project was fun to make and so quick! A great idea for swaps ... and room to hide little surprises inside. :0)

Sweetly Shabby Christmas Bunting stitchery no.1 ...

... stitchery no.2 (although I should be like a parent and not have favourites ... this is one of my favourites!! Tee! Hee! Hee!)

... stitchery no.3. A friend saw this and said ... "Oh! That's YOUR Christmas Tree!" ...

Yep ... my inspiration! :0) (don't be alarmed by the countdown board ... it's from a couple of years ago ... and was probably wrong then too cos I keep forgetting to update it and drive my OCD mate mad! Tee! Hee! Hee!)

... stitchery no.4 a Christmas lantern ...

... and of course, some Christmas gifties. I had lots of fun designing these projects in a COMPLETELY "Not-Me" colourway, but confess that I'm hoping to make some up in "MY" colours one day. :0)

So ... wrapping up ... a HUGE thank you to Marion and Steph and their merry band of helpers for putting on a fantastic and relaxing day out for everyone ... we were VERY spoilt! :0) Sadly, due to declined numbers, Girls Stitch In won't be happening next year. :0(  Marion said it may make a return in the future, but for whatever reasons, numbers are too low and running costs too high for her to be able to continue to run it. HOWEVER ... if you missed out on all the fun of Girls Stitch In ... never fear!! You can come and join us in September for  ...

... on Saturday and Sunday September 13 & 14. Guest designers for this year are Libby Richardson of Art Smart Cottage and Debbie Magee from Always Stitching. OOOOHHH!!!! I am VERY excited about that as I LOVE so many of Libby's and Debbie's designs. If you want to come and play with us the cost is just $100 per day, which includes morning and afternoon teas, lunch, goodies bag with two not-yet-released patterns from each designer, plus a kit and prepared stitchery for one of the projects ready for you to just sit and stitch away. WOO! HOO! What a bargain!! I've already booked myself and a few friends for this weekend ... we'll be the ones at the "Naughty Table" having a blast! Tee! Hee! Hee! If you'd like to come and join the fun (or book a seat at the naughty table! Tee! Hee! Hee!) you'd better get in quick, cos places are starting to fill up for this fun event. And if you ARE coming to play, let me know so we can catch up. :0)

So ... I think that's finally it from me ... did you stay with me to the end?! Chooky ... are you still awake?! Tee! Hee! Hee! As I said, I still have lots more to share with you, but I think I've made this an epic post already, so will be back soon to share more ... promise!! :0) Including the OPAM prize winners for March. 

In the meantime, I hope you're all enjoying a relaxing and/or productive weekend ... I'm off to grab a bite of lunch before heading into my sewing room to play. :0) Til next time ...



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