Wednesday 31 December 2014

As The Year Winds Down ...!!

Well ... here we are on the eve of a new year. 2014 was certainly a life-changing one for us at the Meares' Madhouse. It was exhausting, scary, exciting, frustrating, exhilarating, stressful, unbelievable, dream-achieving ... did I mention it was a BUSY year?!! Tee! Hee! Hee!

A huge thank you to all of you who have played a part  in our year ... some of you helped and supported us in 'real life', while so many others of you have sent cyber hugs. encouragement and well-wishes. They have all been appreciated and amidst such a roller-coaster year, we have been reminded time and time again of two things ... we have FANTASTIC family and friends supporting us ... and ... God has BLESSED us HUGELY! :0)

Who knows what 2015 has in store for us ... I sure wouldn't have guessed what's happened this year! :0) And I'm not one for New Years' Resolutions ... I'm not kidding anyone ... I'm probably NOT going to lose weight, exercise more, spend less, go to bed earlier or eat only healthy food. :0) However, I found something on Pinterest the other day that sums up some of my thoughts as we step across the finish line of 2014 into the new race of 2015 and I thought I'd share them with you.

* Love what you see in the mirror
* Make time for creativity
* Never say no to adventure
* Eat more green food (do spearmint leaf lollies count?? Tee! Hee! Hee!)
* Send snail mail
* Send hand-written thank you notes
* Buy less, choose well
* Give out too many compliments
* Travel whenever possible
* Be kind to strangers
* Volunteer your time and skills
* Take a cooking class
* Give the present of presence
* Learn from others
* Embrace simplicity

Now ... I know that some of those things will be easy for me and some will be more challenging, but it's sometimes good to remind ourselves of things we're already doing as an encouragement to do more of it and set ourselves some goals to work towards ... don't you think?! :0)

So as the clock ticks down on 2014 ... I wish you all, my blogging buddies, a very happy 2015. May 2015 hold for you lots of time with family and friends, lots of good health, lots of time to create, lots of laughs, lots of hugs and kisses ... and of course ... LOTS of FABRIC! :0) And I'll look forward to sharing 2015 with you all. If you're out and about to celebrate tonight, please take care, but we're just going to kick back and relax here at Edward House and soak up the country quiet. :0) Til next time ...



Sunday 28 December 2014

Holidays Are For ... Sewing!!

I promised to come back soon to show you some pics of the sewing that I've been working on over the last few weeks. Can I tell you ... after all the kerfuffle of getting our cottage ready to sell, selling, buying and moving house, my OPAM tally for the year was looking pretty sad ... BUT ... December has been MY month for sewing and creating - YAY!! :0) In fact ... I have had more finishes in December than the rest of the year all together - 23!! WOO! HOO Let me share some peeks ...

I decided that this Christmas was going to be more about making gifties ... something that I used to do a lot more of, but seem to have pushed aside a little in the last few years due to the last half of the year being pretty darn busy for at the Meares' Madhouse. This year, with time being limited ... and the post-house-purchase budget even more limited ... it was time to get creative. :0) The new kitchen was well and truly christened with lots of sugar coated nuts, cinnamon almonds, savoury coated almonds, mini Christmas cakes, apricot balls and cherry ripe balls being made. And the sewing machine was running hot ... a little TOO hot at one point! :0) (see post a couple back about my exploding sewing machine dramas!!)

My first project for Christmas was the mini stockings I shared in recent posts, but close behind was another Christmas deco ...

... a length of heart bunting. This was actually wrapped around the Christmas tree, but looking at this pic, it might come to live on the mantle all year round. :0) I created it by cutting hearts from two pieces of fabric vlisofixed together, then raw edge machine appliquéd before being attached to some ribbon. Gotta love bunting, especially HEART bunting! :0) I dipped into my stash of French General fabrics, so no cost ... shopping my stash! :0) Next were a couple of gifties for the wives of workmates ...

... my second T-towel apron. Black waffle-weave T-towel with a cheerful birdie appliquéd on ...

... I love how the red spotty dotty fabric pops against the black.

... another T-towel apron, this time in black and white check with a different red spotty dotty birdie ...

Aren't these little birdies 'tweet'? :0) Sorry ... I couldn't resist! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Next project to be tackled was for my Mum. She uses her iPad to take photos and a few times when she's been going somewhere, has wanted a small carry bag that just fits her iPad in so it isn't as heavy as lugging her whole handbag. So once again I dug into my French General stash ...

Here is my beautiful assistant modelling the finished product ... good on ya, Mum! :0) You can see I put a nice long strap on it so it can be slung across her body to keep hands free. And a little closer look ...

There's a fleur de lise appliquéd by hand on the front to echo the French General theme. It doesn't actually stand out as much as I'd hoped, but it does add a little bit of interest, as does that yummy giant coconut shell button ... I inherited that one with some other sewing bits and bobs when one of the residents moved out of the retirement village where I work, but I'm keeping an eye out for some more like it. Again ... all fabrics etc used to make this came from shopping my stash. Very satisfying AND good for the holiday-strained budget. :0)

So there you go ... proof that I have been a busy little bee bear so far this holiday period. :0) So, SOOOOOO nice to have a respectable tally on my OPAM finishes list this month. And speaking of OPAM tallies ... it's only a couple of days til the end of the month, so ... OPAMers ... have you updated your sidebar lists to show ALL your finishes? Have you emailed my GORGEOUS Partner-In-Crime Sweet Peg or me with your final number? Well ... what are you waiting for?! Chop, chop! :0) Sweet Peg and I might be a day or so behind with our blog-hopping as we recover from our wild New Years' parties (Tee! Hee! Hee!) but stay tuned, as we'll be doing the last draw for 2014 next week.

Oh ... and to answer the question that a few of you are starting to ask ... YES ... Sweet Peg and I will be hosting OPAM in 2015 to help us all stay on-track to get some of our many starts across the finish line. :0) Sign up will be towards the end of January, but we'll both put details and dates on our blogs in the new year ... promise! :0)

But right now, it's time for me to grab myself a cuppa and help cheer the Brisbane Heat to victory in their T20 cricket game. Did I mention I LOOOOOOOVE summer?! :0) Til next time ...



Friday 26 December 2014

Spoilt By SSCS Partner!!

Happy Boxing Day everyone! :0) Did you have an enjoyable time with your family? My folks are visiting and we spent the day with my Beloved Geek Boy's extended family ... you know ... a small gathering of 25! :0) So it was a noisy, busy day of musical chairs as someone would pinch yours if you got up to get a drink ... and dodging water bombs that the kids (and brother-in-law!!) were tossing around. Not to mention FOOD!! Cold meats, salads, summer fruit, pavlova, trifle, cheesecake, as well as the traditional plumb pud and custard. We all waddled around for the afternoon in between dozing in food-comas in the closest, unoccupied chair you could find. A pretty typical Aussie Christmas, really! :0)

This year we didn't do a lot of giftie exchanging ... GB's family decided we'd all make a donation to mission work instead. However ... there was one pretty special giftie under my Christmas tree this year ... my main SSCS giftie - WOO! HOO! This year, my swap partner was Dagmar from southern Germany and can I tell you ... she SPOILT me! :0) It was so very obvious that Dagmar took the time to visit my blog in the months after she was given my name as her partner ... she worked out what my favourite colours were, she realised that I love bears ... and that we'd recently moved so needed pretty things to decorate our new house! :0) How very lovely to know she took such care to spoil me ... Thank you Dagmar!!

Now ... when I opened my main giftie on Christmas Day, I was blown away ... would you like to see why??

... A GORGEOUS pieced wall hanging in my favourite colour, GREEN, featuring a tree-climbing bear. And if you look a little closer ...

... you can see that this lovely, lazy bear has been pieced ... I'm guessing paper-pieced! WOW!! There are some teeny, tiny pieces there ... the ears and nose are each made up of about 8 individual pieces of fabric. This is something I could never make for myself, so I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!! THANK YOU DAGMAR!!! I truly feel very blessed and SPOILT!!

And a HUGE thank you to our Swap Mama, too, the lovely Chookyblue, for her work in organising SSCS once again. Chooky has been a VERY busy gal this year and I know she's faced some tough decisions thanks to extended drought which also quadrupled her workload day to day, so Chooky, your efforts are even more appreciated, as organising a bunch of bloggers world-wide is no easy thing. WELL DONE!

My send-to partner this year was Nancy and I think she liked the gifties I sent her, too ...

... I had a lovely time playing with my little stash of Lynette Anderson's "Scandinavian Christmas" fabrics and as well as the ornament of the stocking in the top right corner, I sent Nancy a T-towel apron, a bauble bag to store special Christmas ornaments which features a free stitchery from Gail Pan from a couple of years ago and some cute little strip-pieced mini-Christmas stocking ornaments. In her post, Nancy said she has made a lot of aprons for other people, but this is the first time someone has made one for her, so that was fun. The apron was inspired by a tutorial my blogging buddy Kerryanne shared over at her blog Shabby Art Boutique. It's made from half a t-towel, which makes it great to wipe hands on when cooking ... I may have to make one for myself! :0) In fact ... I've made three this Christmas for gifties ... I'll share some pics next post.

But right now ... I'm off to grab a piece of watermelon to nibble and slurp while I watch the Boxing Day Cricket test ... Aaaaaaaahhh!! Christmas in Australia! :0) Wherever you are in the world, however you've celebrated this special time of year, I hope there's been time for you to rest, enjoy time with family and friends and catch your breath. If you're still travelling, please take care. Til next time ...


Wednesday 24 December 2014

Christmas Chaos!!

I had planned to be back here way before this to show you what I've been busily sewing away at in the last few weeks, but time has got away from me and I've been overtaken by the Christmas chaos. It always baffles me how the season of "Peace On Earth"  and "Good Will Toward All Men" seems to bring out the crazy in people who turn shopping centres into combat zones and parking lots into a demolition derby!! EEK!! On the up side ... the presents are all sorted, sent and delivered, the Christmas cooking has happened, Mum and Dad arrived safe and sound for a visit, the parties are all done and dusted and I finished work for the year today - YIPPEE!!!!! :0)

We enjoyed being part of a carol service tonight at the retirement village where I work, so it's actually starting to feel a bit like Christmas ... it snuck up on me again this year. And although I'll probably be largely absent from blogland over the next week or so, I couldn't forget to pop in to pass on some Christmas greetings to my blogging buddies. Thank you to all of you for making 2014 such a special year. You've all supported, encouraged and inspired me during a year that was a bit like a roller-coaster ride and included some pretty big changes for the Meares' Madhouse.

So, with the jolly fat man in red well into his schedule of deliveries, I'd like to wish you all a happy, safe and restful Christmas. And I hope the bestest Christmas gift ever is in your thoughts during this special time ... the gift of the Lord Jesus on that first Christmas that brings us hope. :0)

Til next time ... keep the Christmas candles burning to spread light and warmth in what can often be a dark, cold world!!



PS. We received our Christmas wish of full water tanks! WOO! HOO!! :0)

PPS. Sorry to last month's OPAM winners ... I haven't forgotten your prizes, I just haven't been able to fit in a trip to the post office. Prizes coming in the new year ... PROMISE!! :0)

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Silly Season Strikes!!

Are you like me ... feeling just a little shell-shocked that somehow ... when you weren't looking! ... the so-called "Silly Season" just snuck up and jumped up behind you shouting "Surprise! Here I Am!!" No??? Just me being ambushed by Christmas ... again?! Tee! Hee! Hee!

So you might be guessing that the Meares' Madhouse may have changed addresses, but the madness and mayhem continues ... you'd be right! :0) It's been one party or break-up after another, whilst still having to be a 'grown up' and go to work, round up (or make) Christmas gifties AND try to fit in the cooking of some special Christmas goodies. Somehow sleep is being squeezed out of the mix there. Now I KNOW I'm not alone there! :0)

I know that Christmas parties are like kids ... you're not supposed to have a favourite! ... but I DO have a favourite Christmas gathering this year. It was our Friday Night Sit N Sew group's break-up last Friday night ... and I played hostess here at Edward House.

Oh! The planning and scheming that went into this party! The preparations, the organising ... the fluttering of eyelashes to enlist the help of my Beloved Geek Boy! Tee! Hee! Hee! (Just quietly ... the offer of a back and neck massage was MUCH more effective than the eyelashes!!) You see ... as much as we loved our previous home, the cosy cottage really didn't have the ROOM to decorate for Christmas or entertain ... and more often than not, we celebrated Christmas at someone else's home or out of town, so I was looking forward to letting my Christmas spirit loose. I decided on a rustic/shabby chic/simplified/red-and-white theme for decorations and was REALLY happy with the results. Sorry the pics aren't better ... a new camera is on my Wish List To Santa. :0)

Here's the table before it got dark enough for the candles and lights to really be pretty ... and my blogging buddy Fiona checking out my garden from the deck in the background!:0)

I laid the table with some inexpensive white tablecloths, added a frayed runner of hessian down the centre, then asked GB to cut me a few 20-30 inch long branches from one of our backyard pine trees. Hmmm ... I think I'm buying him a tape measure for Christmas cos I ended up with two small trees!!! Maybe not quite ... but way longer than I mentioned ... it's obviously a boy thing! :0) I then wove a couple of battery operated sets of red Christmas lights through the branches to look like glowy berries, added some red candles in groovy K-Mart special tin/lanterns ...

... repeated the theme, along with some half-price berry branches from a speciality shop (don't you love the reflection of the fairy lights in the glass of the painting?!)

... Scattered more candles around the room ... including my favourite Christmas candle there made for me by the lovely Kerryanne of Shabby Art Boutique ...

... added the tree in a rustic cream can ... and called it Christmas party central! :0) The only thing missing then was ...

... my sewing buddies to share it all with! Oops! A couple on the right dodged the camera there ... that would be Gail-Sue and Sue-Gail! :0) We had a lovely, relaxed evening of chatting and eating Christmas goodies that everyone contributed to and I had managed to squeeze in some sewing time amidst all the preparations, too, so was able to gift each lady with ...

... a sweet Christmas stocking for their tree. If you look in the photo above of the Christmas tree, you'll see all the stockings looking decorative. Thanks for a wonderful evening, ladies ... looking forward to catching up again in the new year to chat and laugh ... oh ... and maybe a bit of stitching will get done, too! Tee! Hee! Hee! Mind you ... since I made 19 of those little stockings, my OPAM tally is looking the healthiest it has for ever and a day! :0) 

Someone else who had been doing some sewing was the Fabulous Fiona who gave me a GORGEOUS giftie ...

... a GORGEOUS wine cooler bag with a fun patchwork stocking tag (great minds think alike!!) and ... would you look at that! There's one of Fiona's favourite forms of size-judging-implements in there! Tee! Hee! Hee! Thank you Fiona!! I'm looking forward to sipping a glass or two on the back deck over the Christmas/New Year break.

So ... that's how life here is muddling along here. I've got a few more things that I hope to share with you before I take a little break over Christmas, but we'll see how we go. :0) I hope you're enjoying some time catching up with friends, decorating and eating favourite foods in the lead up to the holidays. What's your favourite Christmas activity?

I think it's time to play Polly, then tackle some more Christmas cooking. Til next time ...



Wednesday 10 December 2014

I'm A Muddle-Headed Wombat & OPAM Winners!!

Most Aussie gals will be familiar with this kid's book and will know that the main character is a muddle-headed wombat who is always muddling and mixing things up ... and today I'm feeling like I can very much relate to this mixed up marsupial. :0) You see, it is MY turn to do the OPAM prize draw for November ... except ... I'd FORGOTTEN that it was MY turn!! OOPS! Thank goodness I have a wonderful, understanding Partner-In-Crime in Sweet Peg ... Thanks Sweet Peg for being patient with this forgetful muddle-headed wombat! :0)

So ... did you get a lot of sewing, stitching and creating done in November? A lot of you sure did, with the highest monthly tally for the year so far coming in at ...

501 Finishes!

WOO! HOO!  Well done to everyone! Why do I get the feeling that there's been some frantic Christmas creating going on in sewing rooms around the world?! Tee! Hee! Hee! I have to say, I was VERY happy to be able to add my best tally for the year in November ... I had 8 finishes for the month! YAY! That tally included my SSCS gifties that flew across the seas to Nancy in the USA. Since her parcel arrived safe and sound, I can show you what I made her for the OPEN NOW ornament part of the giftie ...

... another version of my Sweetly Shabby Christmas Stocking, this time in some of Lynette Anderson's "Scandinavian Christmas" fabrics ... which I was pretty happy with and Nancy says she loves it, so all good ... it's always a little nerve-wracking to send handmade gifties, isn't it? You can never guarantee someone's style and likes until you see their reaction. :0) I can see I need to make up a couple of new versions of this stocking for myself and GB cos it's so much fun to see how it comes up in different fabrics and colours. Hmmm ... it may have to be for NEXT Christmas! Tee! Hee! Hee!

But ... I digress!! OPAM winners ... a big thank you to everyone who emailed their tallies through to myself or Sweet Peg ... this is a HUGE help to us in saving time spent scrolling through blogs. And a big thank you, also, to those of you who make sure you update your sidebar list of finishes before the end of the month ... this is another big help to us, as we can see at a quick glimpse how creative you've been. And even if you didn't get to add any finishes to your tally, but you took some time out from the busy-ness that is well and truly pushing us towards Christmas ... well done! Progress can come in leaps and bounds ... and sometimes it comes in baby-steps. :0)

Right ... the winners for the November draw are:

Congratulations, gals! Be sure to drop me your snail mail addresses and I shall pop something in the mail to you ... hopefully in time to be a Christmas treat.

Righto ... I'm off to make myself a cuppa and answer a few emails ... I am SOOOOOOOOOO far behind with emails that I may just draw a line and start again! If you've emailed me in the last couple of weeks and haven't heard from me ... SORRY! I've been pretty busy at work and home getting organised for the end of the year stuff ... I promise to try to do better! :0) I hope you're all having a lovely week so far ... we've had some rain, so our tanks are looking a bit healthier, the garden is happy and the grass has remembered how to be green ... but we could really do with another inch or two to fill the tanks completely and give everything a really good soak ... fingers crossed! :0) Whatever you're up to, take care of yourself as the busy 'silly season' ramps up ... Sweet Peg and I want you to be happy, safe and well enough to join us again for OPAM in 2015! :0) Til next time



Friday 5 December 2014

Santa's Sleigh Arrived!

Well ... in reality it was probably the little yellow car that our postie drives that delivered a very special parcel this week ... my SSCS 2014 parcel arrived on my mailbox ... it was too big to fit IN the mailbox! :0)

My parcel had come all the way across the globe from southern Germany where my swap partner Dagmar lives. It's always so exciting to find out where my SSCS partner hails from ... I've made blogging buddies all over the globe. :0)

I opened the box to find ... I had been SPOILT big time! Ooooohh!! Look at all those lovely parcels just for me!! :0)

There were pretty things and tasty things, something for me to 'make' and something 'made' for me. You sure can tell that Dagmar has tagged-along to visit my blog a time or two to see what I like ... fabric to play with, a gorgeous teal green decorative bottle that is already living on my mantle, as well as a sweet wooden teddy bear Christmas ornament, some tasty gummy bears and five ... count 'em ... FIVE yummy Lindt bears! MMMMMMMMMMM!!! I don't eat a lot of chocolate, but when I do splurge, it tends to be on Lindt choccies. :0) Mind you ... those poor little bears were just a wee bit soft from sitting on the mail box for a few hours, so I popped them into the fridge ... aaaahhh!!! Christmas in Queensland where the summer sun beams down on us ferociously! :0)

... my lovely new cross stitched ornament ... I love that it spells out "Joy", "Love" and "Peace" ... the heart of Christmas right there! And this bottle is so PRETTY ... I just love this colour! In fact, it is a good match to the colour I'm introducing into our main bedroom, so it may find it's final home in there. :0) And what a cute teddy bear with his smart red and white bow. Thank you Dagmar! I love all my gifties and feel very spoilt indeed. There's nothing that makes you feel more special than to receive a giftie that really suits your tastes! :0)

... And just to prove that I've been a good girl (so far! Tee! Hee! Hee!) Here is a pic of my main giftie form Dagmar under my little Christmas tree, which is starting to look more Christmassy with my two new ornaments. Thank you Dagmar for your special gifties!! And a huge thanks, too, to Miss Chookyblue for hosting SSCS even in the midst of your 'real life' not being much fun. I only join one swap most years and I keep choosing SSCS, not only cos it gives me the whole year to get organised (in theory!!!) but because it is the best organised and run swap I've come across in blogland, Thanks Chooky!!! And may you get your Christmas wish of buckets and buckets of rain!!

Well ... that's all the news from me today, I hope to be back soon to show you some Christmassy stitching ... I need to get my skates on cos some of it needs to be done before next Friday when I'm hosting the Christmas break up for the Friday Night Sit N Sew gals ... better make myself a paper "To Do" list rather than rely on a mental one so I don't miss anything! :0) I hope you've all had a fantastic week and that your weekend includes some time to kick-back-and-relax. Til next time ...



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