Thursday 31 December 2015

Goodbye 2015 ... Hello 2016!!

Here we are, counting down the last minutes of 2015 ... and what a year it's been! Lots has happened here at the Meares' Madhouse with some big changes, happy times with friends and family, the loss of loved ones, some ups and downs with grown up jobs, a bit of creativity (though not as much as I would have liked!) and some steps towards acheiving future dreams. WHEW!! A busy year! :0)

I'm really hoping (and doing everything to make it so!!) that 2016 is a WEE BIT calmer and involves more time to create, design and sew ... I'm also hoping for more play dates with friends who make me want to be a better person ... and who make me SMILE! :0)

I'm also looking forward to spending more time with you, my blogging buddies ... I know some of those ups and downs I mentioned have meant I've spent a little less time here in blogland this year, so thank you for haning in there with me. Thank you for your support, encouragement and friendship throughout the year and thank you for sharing your creative journey with me ... you all continue to inspire me with your creativity, courage and experience. I am BLESSED! :0)

Heading into the new year, I wish you all a happy, healthy and safe year full of exciting new opportunities and adventures, as well as more time to "stop and smell the roses". I'll leave you with one of my favourite Irish Blessings below to take into 2016 with you. See you all on the flip-side! :0) Til next time ... YEAR!!



Tuesday 29 December 2015

Holidays & Last OPAM For 2015!!

Hello to you all from Holiday Central! :0) You might be guessing (Correctly!!) that I'm enjoying my Christmas/New Year break from my grown up job so far. As well as some sleeping in, lazy reading in front of the cricket and some cruising of Facebook and blogs, I've been enjoying some sewing time. YAY! :0)

Now, I decided to take a leaf out of my blogging buddy Kerryanne's book and get a bit organised to make the most of my time ... so I started by writing a list of WISPs that I'd like to finish (or at least progress), along with some from-scratch projects that I'd like to tackle. Hmmm ... so ... I need to be on holiday for the next TWO YEARS!!! Tee! Hee! Hee! While I wouldn't object to that, our budget would, since I don't get holiday pay. SIGH!! Still ... I'm pretty chuffed that just two days into my holiday (weekends don't count! :0) ) I've actually crossed something off my list - YAY! Wanna see?

Ta! Da! My "Combi Conga Line" quilt top is finished. (not a great photo, sorry. I left it a bit late in the day.) I'm pretty chuffed with how it turned out. Now I just have to save up my play money to get the Fabulous Fiona to work her quilting magic on it. :0)

So having crossed one project off my list, you'd think I'd work my way down to the next item, right?! Er ... well ... NO!! :0) Me, being the ultimate A.D.O.P. (Attention Deficit ... OH! Pretty!!) sufferer I found myself completely sidetracked by a pretty layer cake I found while scratching aroung in my stash ...

... "Oh Cherry Oh". I know ... that top fabric is very PINK, but there are some yummy reds, aquas and apple greens in there too. My thought was to just sew all the lovely pre-cut squares together for a throw to go over one of the two-seaters in our sitting room. But then my imagination started spinning and the creative juices started to flow ... and that has led me off on a rather fun and interesting path ... stay tuned! :0)

So ... while I can't quite add these projects to my finishes list yet, I do have a few things on my finishes list for December ... so OPAMers ... how are YOUR lists looking? Have you remembered to update them? If not ... get hopping! The end of the month is almost upon us ... and we won't think about how darn quick 2015 went flashing past! :0) Don't forget to add your December finishes to your list in the next couple of days and email your tally through to me or my GORGEOUS Partner-In-Crime Sweet Peg. Oh ... and just a little update on OPAM ... Sweet Peg and I will be doing it all over again next year! Yes, OPAM 2016 will be happening, so stay tuned for deets! :0)

Right now, though, I think I'm off to finish watching a bad movie (seriously ... the TV channels really are digging DEEP in the old movie barrel!) then head off to practice my skills at sleeping deeply and late! :0) Hope you're all enjoying a bit of kick-back time too. Til next time ...



Saturday 26 December 2015

Christmas & Cricket - LOVE Summer!!

Aaaaaaahhhhh!!! I love summer! Not only is the weather warmer for this hot-weather-chick, this time of year has so much going for it, so many of my 'favourites'. All of my favourite fruits are in season ... cherries, mangoes, lychees, nectarines, peaches, watermelon, rockmelon ... MMMMM!!!! :0) So many favourite foods ... salads, seafood and Christmas goodies like lemon shortbread, apricot balls, Christmas log and my new favourite Caramel Tim Tam  Balls - YUMMO! :0) And ... especially today and the next few days ... CRICKET! Aaaaaaahhhhh!! SUMMER! :0)

Did you all have the Christmas you were hoping for? Big family gatherings, or nice quiet ones like we enjoyed, catching up with friends, or just having a chance to catch your breath and reflect after a busy/sad time. Whichever of those comes closest to your Christmas, my wish for you is that the special feelings of Christmas flow into your new year.

Now ... Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without at least a few special gifties and one of the hardest for me to resist opening early is always my SSCS parcel ... but you'd be proud of me Chookyblue! I was a good girl and only opened it yesterday!! And BOY!! Was I spoilt by my Kiwi swap partner Michelle!! I think Michelle must have been lurking around my blog to get to know me, cos she sent me something I had been saying for a while that I needed ... a pretty patchwork cushion to adorn our guest room!! WOO! HOO!! :0) How excited was I when I opened it to find ...

.. a GORGEOUS cushion made from fabric by one of my fave fabric designers ... French General. Here's the cushion in it's new home ... looks right at home, doesn't it?! :0)

Michelle has used some "Pom Pom de Paris" fabrics, which match perfectly with the quilt made from "Paris Flea Market" range fabrics ... I LOVE it!! :0)

And Michelle has done some GORGEOUS needleturn applique doves and flowers on there ... perfect for a household where we spend a LOT of time watching the birds that visit our garden. THANK YOU SO MUCH MICHELLE!!!! I feel very spoilt! :0)

And as always, a HUGE thank you to our Host Mama, the inimitable Chookyblue. This year's swap is even more special to me, as I know Chooky has been going through a really tough time and recently lost her sister to cancer, so her commitment to hold this fun annual swap for us is all the more special and courageous this year. Big Squooshy Bear Hugs to you, Chooky.

Our Christmas Day was very laid back and relaxing with just my Beloved Geek Boy, me and my folks gathering at the Meares' Madhouse ... but there were still some lovely gifties exchanged. :0) GB spoilt me with vouchers for some girly indulgences ... a pedicure and foot massage, as well as a hair cut and foils with my preferred hairdresser. Won't I look SWISH when I start work again in January?! Tee! Hee! Hee! The other end of the spectrum was the items he popped into my new Santa sack which included a new timer for the hose and a new pair of secateurs! He's so hopelessly romantic, my GB! Tee! Hee! Hee! And along with a few little items and a much needed new set of sheets from my parents, they gave me something I've been wishing for for a while ...

... a sheepskin rug!! I know ... many of you will be rolling your eyes and saying it's SOOOO last century, but I had a sheepskin rug for years that I'd bought in New Zealand when I was 13 and we had a wonderful family holiday there. That rug travelled everywhere with me when I left home and it was always SOOOOOO nice in winter to sink my toesies into that soft, warm wool. Well ... my original rug finally gave up the ghost a few years ago after being chewed and peed on by one of our doggies and ever since, I've been looking for a new one. This one is so very SOFT on my toesies and you all KNOW how I hate winter chills, so maybe this will help get me out of bed a bit quicker on frosty mornings. Maybe ...!! :0)

But even more special and precious to me than gifties received have been the phone calls, emails, text messages and Facebook messages I've received over the last few days from family and friends near and far. Not only have they been lovely wishes for Christmas, they've been a reminder of the precious gifts of family and friends who love and care about me. Feeling pretty darn BLESSED! :0)

And now I'm off to put my feet up with a cool drink and some Christmas lunch leftovers to enjoy the Boxing Day cricket match ... Aussies against the West Indians. GB said he really wanted to watch today ... just in case this test goes by as quickly as the last time these two teams met ... Oops! :0) Whatever you're up to today, I hope you're enjoying some time to do what you love with the people you love. If you're travelling, please take care and if you're in any of the areas being affected by our extreme summer weather, please stay safe. Til next time ...


Thursday 24 December 2015

Twas The Night Before Christmas ...!!

Twas the night before Christmas in the Meares' Madhouse
Not a creature was stirring ...

... cos all the gifties were wrapped, the cooking was done, the Christmas preparations were finished, it was overcast, rainy and coolish ... so the Meares' of the Meares' Madhouse had made themselves a cuppa and put their feet up. Tee! Hee! Hee!

We're looking forward to a very low-key Christmas celebration this year with just my Beloved Geek Boy and I being joined by my parents. After a very busy year, it's just what the doctor ordered. :0) How about you? How are you celebrating this year?

Whether you're like us and enjoying a small, quiet celebration, or you're gathering with a group to rival the cast of "Ben Hur", I wish you a very safe, healthy, happy and holy Christmas. And to those who will be struggling a little this festive season because they're missing loved ones, my thoughts and prayers go out to you and I hope that special memories of those you're missing would be some comfort to you at this special time of year.

I'm off to join GB putting my feet up with a cuppa. Happy Christmas, dear blogging buddies! :0) Til next time ...



Monday 21 December 2015

CRIKEY! Christmas Is Coming!!

YIKES!! I'm not sure what happened to the last couple of weeks, but they seem to have slipped past me at the speed of light without me managing to cross too many things off my "Must Be Done Before Christmas" list. SIGH! How does this happen to me every year?!

The last couple of weeks have been full of end-of-year parties, pre-Christmas-catchups, the shopping for and wrapping of gifties to be posted off (one of the few jobs that HAVE been done!!), frantic Christmas cooking (half done - EEP!) and trying to wrap things up at my grown up job so I can have a couple of weeks off over Christmas/New Year (counting down!!) whilst dealing with a boss with a slightly unpredictable temper and a calendar that's flinging days away with wild abandon so that I'm a week behind ... the story of my life!

So ... there HAS been a wee little bit of sewing, mainly towards Christmas gifties, so I can't show that yet, but my SSCS parcel made it all the way to Germany to Alexandra so I can show you the Christmas decoration I made for her ...

A mini quilt/wall hanging made with a Gail Pan block and some yummy French General fabrics.

Now although I've made a dent in my Christmas cooking, I'm not quite done yet, but was gifted two sweetie treaties that I just have to share a photo of with you ... 

A mini gingerbread house and a mini Christmas cake. Aren't they cute?!! Both are about five inches tall, so that gives you a bit of a clue how fiddly it would be have been to make ... especially that gingerbread house. There's even a slice of a licorice all-sort as the door mat and a mini sugar snowman in the front yard - CUTE!!!

And speaking of Christmas and decorating ... I did manage to dig out the Christmas tree to decorate it ... sort of!

I'm afraid there aren't a lot of ornaments on it ... I decided to go with blue and neutral colours this year ... at which point I discovered that most of our decorations were red! OOPS! :0) So we're going with a "minimalist" decorating style this year and hoping the pretty blue lights distract from the absence of decos. :0) But ... the gifties are wrapped and in place, so that's a plus. And while we were happy snapping ...

A Christmas selfie ... sort of. Is it really a proper selfie if you get someone else to take it for you cos you have short arms?! Tee! Hee! Hee! Me and my Beloved Geek Boy. He's not really shorter than me ... we were kneeling down in front of the Christmas tree to get some of the pretty lights as the background and ... he slouches! :0)

So ... that's an update from our Christmas Chaos Castle. I hope things are a little LESS chaotic in your corner of the world ... though I suspect a lot of you are experiencing a lot of the same things. :0) OPAM gals ... don't forget to update your sidebar lists if you're heading off on holidays so that when Sweet Peg and I do our bloghopping, your lists are ready to go ... or even simpler, drop us an email with your December tally.

But right now ... I'm off to make myself a cup of tea (I know that's a huge surprise to you ... NOT!!) and consult my "Christmas To Do" list to see where I'm up to. If you're travelling this week, please stay safe. Til next time ...



Wednesday 9 December 2015

Spoilt With More Squishy Mail!!

G'day to all in blogland on this humid, storm-brewing Wednesday on our 'hill'. :0) It's taken me a little bit longer to get back here than anticipated ... that seems to keep happening, doesn't it? Life just keeps getting in the way of my best laid plans. I'm sure you all know exactly what I mean! :0)

So ... I told you last time I popped in that not only had I been the lucky recipient of an SSCS giftie parcel from my lovely Kiwi partner Michelle, but I had received a SECOND squishy parcel ... which was  rather unexpected, but ... HEY! ... who doesn't love getting squooshy mail! Tee! Hee! Hee!
The return address was my clever clogs blogging buddy and fellow designer Toni Alexander. Hmmm ... it wasn't my birthday, not yet Christmas ... what could she be sending me???

... a parcel with a card saying "Happy Birthday, Thank You and Merry Christmas". Well ... since TWO out of THREE things had passed ... I decided I could unwrap it! :0) Don't worry Chookyblue ... my SSCS parcel is intact! :0)

Inside ... OOOOOOHHH!!! How EXCITING!!!

A GORGEOUS original Toni Alexander quilt! OH MY GOODNESS!!!! How excited am I!! :0)

Isn't it just so CHEERFUL?! I love my Sunshiny Bear quilt! And I found the perfect spot to display and enjoy it ...

... draped over a sofa in our sitting room, which is perfect because we have to walk through the sitting room to get to the bedrooms and bathrooms ... those Sunshiny Bears get admired often throughout each day! :0) 

Aren't they SWEET?

Colourful cuties. SIGH! I'm DEFINITELY SPOILT!! :0) Thank you SOOOOOOOO much Toni! I LOOOOOOOOOVE my surprise giftie! MMMMWWAH to you!! :0) If you haven't already discovered Toni's FABULOUS quilt designs, you really need to pop over and have a peek. All of her quilts are so darn CHEERFUL and most have a fun quirky element to them, with a mix of simple piecing, blanket stitch applique and a range of cute softies. Check it out and I dare you not to fall in love with at least one ... they're guaranteed to make you smile! :0)

OPAMers ... have you popped across to visit my GORGEOUS Partner-In-Crime Sweet Peg? You really should, cos she's done the November prize draw. Well done to everyone ... November was our highest tally for the year ... WOO! HOO! 424 finishes - WOW!! I think we must have all been stitching our little fingers off to make Christmas gifties and get swap parcels on Santa's sleigh. :0) And even if you didn't get to add to your finish list, if you took some time out from the end-of-year craziness to be creative and progress some of your long-term projects, then well done to you too, cos lots of little steps gradually lead to finishes.

Right now, though, I think it's time for me to rustle up some dinner for my Beloved Geek Boy and me. I hope you're having a fantastic week and managing to steal a bit of time amidst the Silly Season craziness to stop, take a breath, create and recharge your batteries. Til next time ...



Tuesday 1 December 2015

I Must've Been GOOD!!

Only GOOD kids get gifties from Santa, right?! Well ... I must've been GOOD cos a Christmas giftie arrived for me yesterday! :0) Alright ... I know some of you have now hurt yourselves laughing about me being "Good" ... I'm SOOOOOO misunderstood ... or in the famous words of Jessica Rabbit ... "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way!" !! Tee! Hee! Hee!

OK ... so ... the truth of the matter is ... yesterday I received a lovely, squooshy parcel in the mail ...

... all the way from across the 'pond' in New Zealand. It was from my sweet SSCS partner Michelle. Ooh!! How EXCITING!!! I LOOOOOOOOVE squooshy mail! ;0) So after a mad search for the "Evil Scissors" (the counterpart to the 'good scissors' that we are all always looking for or warning people to keep their hands off!) ...

... I found two parcels just for me! :0) Now, you can see that Michelle is making sure I don't open that big parcel before December 25 ... she must've heard that I'm like the cat that curiosity did in ... I hate being kept in suspenders!! :0) But I've been good (told you so!!) and popped the big parcel on our hearth in front of the fireplace ... cos that's where the tree will be displayed, once I get around to putting it up this weekend. But ... I was allowed to open that little parcel and found ...

... two lovely new ornaments for my tree! :0) Isn't that mitten just too cute?! And very much my shabby chic style. And that shiny red bauble is gorgeous too ... and especially appropriate for our household, as we spend a lot of time watching the little fantails in our garden. We call them our garden ninjas because of the way they swoop and hover ... they look like the overly slow-motioned martial arts films where the speaking doesn't mesh with the lip movement. :0) THANK YOU MICHELLE!!! I adore my lovely new ornaments and have actually popped them over the latches on a restored disaplay cupboard in the sitting room for now ... and they look so sweet that maybe they'll stay there for the festive season! :0) What a lovely start to my week!

A big thank you to Swap Mama Chookyblue for once again organising this fun festive swap ... it's the only swap I join these days, as I just KNOW that it will be well run. :0)

And the squooshy mail kept coming this week with ANOTHER squooshy parcel awaiting my arrival home today ... but I'll share that with you next time cos it deserves a whole post to itself! :0) Keeping someone else in suspenders is much more fun than being kept in suspenders! :0)

I think I'm going to try for an early night ... my pillow says that I look vaguely familiar but I haven't spent enough time with it lately for it to recall my name! :0) Before I sign off ... OPAMers ... have you updated your sidebar list and emailed your tally to me or my GORGEOUS Partner-In-Crime Sweet Peg? If not ... you'd better shake a leg and get it done, cos we'll soon be doing our blog-hopping.

And on that reminder, I'm off to reintroduce myself to my pillow. Hope your week is toodling along nicely so far. Til next time ...



Saturday 28 November 2015

AAAAAAHHH!!! Summer!!

I know it's still two days away, but the weather feels like it's here already ... AAAAAAAHHH!!!! SUMMER!!! Why do I love it? Let me count the ways ...

Temperatures climb into the mid 20's-30's and this hot-weather gal LOVES IT!! :0)

Light, floaty skirts and tops replace the jumpers and layers of winter.

Crispy fresh salads are JUST RIGHT.

It's almost time for a couple of weeks' break from work.

Lots of parties and catching up with family and friends! :0)

All my fave fruits are ready to be enjoyed ... like ...

PEACHES!! These beauties are from one of our loaded trees ...

MMMMMMMMMM !!! They're so juicy and delicious. And the second peach tree, nectarine tree and plum tree are all loaded this year too. YUMMO!!  Yep ... I sure do LOOOOOOVE Summer! :0)

Til next time ...



Friday 27 November 2015

Secret Squirrel Stuff On Sleigh!!

WOO! HOO!! Ring the bells! Light the Christmas Tree! Not because it's nearly Christmas ... cos this ostrich still has her head firmly in the sand about the "C" word!! I'm celebrating cos for the first time EVER my SSCS parcel is on Santa's Sleigh (or at least Australia Post's truck!!) on the VERY FIRST DAY of mailing!!

Are you impressed?! I sure am! :0) Chookyblue has probably fainted in shock, cos usually (and I've been involved in all SSCS's bar the first one!) I'm one of the recalictrent swappers bringing up the rear to get my parcel posted and Chooky has to crack her whip at me. WHEW!! What a relief! One thing crossed off my overflowing "To Do" list. :0)

Actually, I've had a pretty productive couple of weeks here at the Meares' Madhouse ... I've been able to stay home on my Friday's off for the last two weeks and it's amazing what you can acheive when you actually get to sit down at the sewing machine. :0) Now, a lot of it is still Secret Squirrel "C" word stuff that I can't show you yet, but I CAN show you a couple of cuties that I've finished.

Two little needlecases ... and I do mean LITTLE! They're about 2"x3" when they're folded up like this, so a really handy size to pop in your sewing pouch. And opened up ...

A doubled flap of lovely wool felt that is large enough to pop a couple of needles, some pins, a safety pin and I reckon you could pop in a card of embroidery thread, too. In fact, I think you could probably tack a couple of spare buttons to the felt and wind lengths of a few different coloured sewing thread around a thread card to pop in ... keep it in your handbag or suitcase as an emergency sewing kit. The best part is, they take hardly any fabric to make ... two 7" squares of fabic plus a square of wadding or pellon. I'm making a ridiculously large number of these to use as gifties ... if I ever pull my head out of the sand to deal with the fast-approaching "C" word! Tee! Hee! Hee!

So ... a good number of finishes going on my OPAM list for November ... THANK GOODNESS!! Last month was dismal. :0) And that's the good thing about OPAM ... it doesn't matter if you finish one project, 50 projecst (honestly! When do you people sleep?!?! :0) ) or no projects in a month ... if you've scheduled a little bit of "ME" time to be creative, to make some progress or be inspired, then that's A-OK. Which reminds me ... OPAMers ... only a few days left of November, so update those sidebar lists and email your tally through to me or my GORGEOUS Partner-In-Crime Sweet Peg ... or Moo Moo as she is known to her new favourite little person! :0)

Right ... I'm off to find a nice, tall, cool drink before I hit the sewing machine again. Temps here are set to hit 36 degrees today ... and while others are grumbling about it being "Stinking Hot" I've decided it's "A Little Warm" today ... yes ... I am such a hot weather gal! Tee! Hee! Hee! Whatever you're up to today, stay safe, stay thankful, stay creative ... Til next time ...



Sunday 22 November 2015

Secret Sqirrel Stitching & Treasures!!

Hello to all in blogland from a heatwavy top of the 'hill' ... not that I'm complaining overly about the heat, you understand ... I'm a hot weather chick, so not actually feeling it too much cos I would much rather be a wee bit hot than shivering in the cold. Mind you ... I think my washing dried on the line in record time today. :0)

Somehow another week has snuck past me and I'm not sure where it went, but at least this week I did manage some time at my sewing machine. The problem is ... I've been working on Secret Squirrel Stitching for my SSCS projects and weilder of the whip, Ms Chookyblue would crack that whip at me if I showed you ... one of those "S" stands for SECRET you see. :0) But I can tell you it will be nice to put an actual number beside November in my OPAM list of finishes.

So ... since I can't show you any sewing pics (I'm scared of Chookyblue! Tee! Hee! Hee!) I thought I'd share a few pics with you of a couple of new-to-me treasures that have joined my growing eclectic collection in the last couple of weeks. If you've been popping in here for a while now, you'll know that I LOOOOOOOVE pretty china and collect all sorts of vintage goodies, from teapots to trio sets, cake plates to depression glass ... if it's pretty and catches my eye ... and doesn't break the budget!! ... it follows me home. :0)

My first new treasure came home with me the other day when I went in search of a birthday giftie for my Bestest-Buddy-Since-We-Were-Nine Lynette. She's like me and collects all sorts of vintage pretties ... alas! I didn't find anything that had her name on it ... but I DID find something that followed me home. :0)

Isn't this pretty?!! It's a lovely Johnson Brothers sandwich plate that I fell in love with. The garden scene is just so pretty and peaceful. I love the creamy background colour, too, which really makes those pretty garden colours pop. I have a few nice Johnson Brothers pieces now ... while I don't actually collect specific names brands. Johnson Brothers seem to have made quite a few pretties that I fall in love with. :0)

This second little treasure is just so sweet! It was gifted to me by a lovely lady who has just moved into the retirement village where I work. In conversation I mentioned that I collect vintage pretties and one day soon after, she popped into my office and said she'd found this while unpacking her things and since she was downsizing, didn't want to keep it and thought I might like to adopt it ...

Isn't it pretty!! It is such a delicate little dish ... I'm not even sure what it would have originally been designed as. It is a Limoges piece ... from the makers mark I've worked out that it was made before 1930 but that's about all I could find through Mr Google. Anyone out there know their Limoges?? I'd love some hints. :0)

It balances on three gold decorative legs to sit it up off the table. Perhaps it was a sweetie dish?? I can see it houseing some pretty rock candy or perhaps cubes of sugar for tea parties ... I wonder ...! :0) I think the inside design is too pretty to cover up, so it will just sit and be pretty for now.

I just love their pretty colours! So cheerful! It's always fun to add to my collection and each piece has a story to tell. Do you collect something special? Post some pics of your pretties and let me know so I can pop over for a visit. :0)

But right now, I hear the siren's call of my pillow, singing to me of sleep and dreams, so I'd better sign off for now. I hope your weekend is off to a fantastic start and that whatever you're up to, you've scheduled some time for some fun stuff. Til next time ...



Saturday 14 November 2015

Crazy-Busy Week & Ostriches!!

Hello to you all in blogland! I hope you're all enjoying your weekend so far. I'd love to say I'm sitting back with my feet up, watching a movie whilst doing some relaxing stitching ... but I'd be lying! :0) It's been a crazy-busy week (is there any other kind?!?!) and the ol "To Do" list is building towards eruption point, so my goal this weekend is to cross at least a couple of things off ... hmmm ... not much progress yet!! :0) And since the progress that I HAVE made is Secret Squirrel stuff, let me tell you about my week. :0)

There's been heaps happening at my 'grown up' job lately ... we're down a staff member and three of us are like little duckies ... paddling madly behind the scenes to keep it all running smoothly, whilst maintaining outward calm. QUACK! :0) But this week held a particular highlight for me ... A visit from the QLD Police Pipes and Drums. Yes ... the pipes, the pipes were calling! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Not a great pic, as the red canvas from the marquee gave everything an unhealthy red tinge, but you can see they were in performance mode. We tapped our feet along to such favourites as "Scotland The Brave", "Black Bear", "The Skyboat Song" and "Amazing Grace" ... and it did this Celtic gal good to hear the pipes echoing around our village green. :0) And can I tell you ... my Dad had a grin from ear to ear for the whole day. :0)

But perhaps the best part of their visit came after their concert. You see, they were visiting us on November 10 ... a day before Remembrance Day ... so we took the opportunity to organise our own special mini-Remembrance Day service to pay our respects to all who have served our country in war time and peace-keeping efforts, the service men and women who returned and those who paid the ultimate price and never came home.

One of our residents, a returned serviceman, read three versions of "The Ode", representing Army, Navy and Airforce. Lest We Forget.

... Before Pipe Major Pat Murphy played the traditional Scottish lament "Flowers Of The Forest" as the flag was lowered to half mast.

Afterwards, there was a lunch and time to chat to band members ...

Drum Sergeant Yvonne and Pipe Major Pat (much yummier than Postman Pat! Tee! Hee! Hee!) pictured with Len who recited The Ode ...

Yvonne with Dad and Mum ... see what I mean about Dad's grin? He DOES love his bagpipes! Tee! Hee! Hee!

And you just KNEW that I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to have my photo taken with a cute Scotsman in a kilt, right?! Tee! Hee! Hee! This was Jordy ... I could've listened to his accent all day! :0)

This was the fourth time the QLD Police Pipes and Drums have visited us at Highfields and not only do they always put on a fantastic concert, they are very generous with their time answering questions and chatting to residents afterwards. And I heard from many members that they love to visit us, too. For some, it's because the gardens and Village green, and the warm welcome make for a nice visit ... but I have it on good authority that the reason most of the guys like to visit ... is the food! Tee! Hee! Hee! BOYS!!! :0)

So ... add in trying to get the usual household chores done in between frequent storms (full water tanks - YAY!!), running errands and trying to get some stitching time in, I'm sure you'll understand why I stick my fingers in my ears and sing "La, la, la, la ... not listening!!" every time someone mentions the "C" word ... CHRISTMAS!! EEK!! I am SOOOOOO not ready for it to be mid-November! However ... since I've once again signed up for ...

... I can't afford to procrastinate too much longer!! So tomorrow I have to stop being an ostrich, pull my head out of the Christmas sand and get stitching. What a shame ... I'll just have to ignore the rest of the housework! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Whatevre you're up to this weekend, whether you're a Christmas Elf like my bloggy buddy Kerryanne or a Christmas Ostrich like me, I hope you're able to take some time out to relax and be creative. Ooh! Speaking of my Christmas Elf Buddy Kerryanne ... have you been following along with her for ...

If not, make yourself a cuppa, grap a pen and paper and pop over for a visit to get yourself organised for Christmas. I think I'm a bit of a lost cause in getting Christmas organised ... but Kerryanne loves me anyways! Tee! Hee! Hee!

 Til next time ...



Sunday 8 November 2015

YAY! A Finish & October's OPAM Winners!

G'day all! How's everyone travelling? Have you had a great weekend? I certainly have ... if only the weekenda lasted longer! :0)

A mini-retreat with the gals from our Friday Night Sit N Sew group meant not only yummy food, lots of chatting and lots of laughs, it also meant quite a lot of stitching accomplished ... including a ... FINISH!!! YAY!! With no finishes last month (but lots of starts!! I'm a serial starter! Tee! Hee! Hee!) Friday morning was all about prep ...

... sewing the binding on so I could sit, chat and stitch away easily. A couple of hours later ...

TA! DA! The quilt for my brother's number 2 son is FINISHED! Well ... except for the label. :0) I'm pretty chuffed with how it's come together.

LOVE the combi van and VW Beetle. (stay tuned for two new quilt designs showcasing these cuties!!)

The Fabulous Fiona has worked her quilting magic on these sweet boy quilt ... I hope you can see the fun squiggles and wriggly lines she's quilted that complement the simple design without overwhelming it or taking the attention from the applique. THANK YOU FIONA!! She really is my Quilting Magician! :0)

It was given the paw of approval from a couple of furry buccaneers as a swag ...

... and tested for sitting comfort by Jimmy and Rupert Bear. All gave it a tick, so it's just a case of attaching the label and working out how/when to get it to the nephew in Melbourne. :0) Nice to add it as a finish for my November list, too.

And speaking of finishes ... It's that time again where my GORGEOUS Partner-In-Crime Sweet Peg and I have been blown away once again by just how clever and prolific you clever-clogs OPAM gals are! :0) We've tallied up the emails you sent us (thank you to everyone who emails ... it is a BIG help to us!) and we've blog-hopped to catch everyone else's finishes. I DID find a few that haven't been updated for a while ... and a few that blogs have closed. PLEASE ... if you're closing your blog, can you let one of us know so we save a little time in our hopping.

Congratulations to all of you again this month! There were 316 finishes for October! WOO! HOO! Well done to everyone who can claim part of that tally. And to those of you who (like me!!) were working on longer term projects, don't feel dejected ... if you took some time to advance your project/s, if you took a little time out of your busy schedule to stop and do something creative, if you took a little time to nourish your soul with beauty and creativity ... even if it was a ten minute break with a cuppa to cruise Pinterest! ... then well done to you too. Remember to recharge your batteries and take care of yourself ... you can't keep giving out if you aren't topping up your inner reserves. Plus ... we all need regular doses of "PRETTY"!! :0)

Righto ... to the prize draw, Batman! :0) The October winners are ...


Well done gals!! Drop me an email with your snail mail address and I'll pop a little something in the mail for you.

And I think that's about it from me for now. I'm off to think about what we're having for dinner, then maybe a little bit more stitching ... cos I'm not sure I've done enough this weekend! :0) I hope you all have a fantastic week and manage to squeeze in time to be creative. Til next time ...



Saturday 31 October 2015

Sneaky Peeky, Sidetracking & OPAM!!

Well ... here's the end of another week, another month ... and I'm still wondering what's happened to the year as I find myself less than two months away from the "C" word ... you know ... "CHRISTMAS"!! EEK! I'm firmly in denial about that one ... don't giggle, Kerryanne!! :0)

It's been another busy week here at the Meares' Madhouse with comings and goings ... and some VERY welcome rain. At the risk of seeming greedy ... we could do with another inch or so, but it's a nice start. In between, I've managed to do a bit of sewing on a new quilt design and I'm having a lot of fun. :0)

Do you remember me showing you my rainbow?

Well ... I've been channeling my inner hippie-flower-child (which my brother would tell you is more 'outer' than 'inner'! Tee! Hee! Hee!) and playing with ...

... more combi vans. :0) There is just something sweet and appealing about combi vans ... I think they not only appeal to the hippie-flower-child in me, they just seem so darn CHEERFUL! Especially in the rainbow colours I've been playing with for them. :0) I've finished the raw edge applique and just need to attach borders now, so I hope to have a finished top to show you soon. Stay tuned. :0)

Now ... with a quilt awaiting borders, another needing binding (will show you that one next time!) and no finishes on my OPAM list for October, you'd think I'd have been hitting the machine today right?? Hmmm ... NOPE! :0) Completely sidetracked! I'm blaming my Beloved Geek Boy. He was looking for something in his shed and decided it was the perfect time to clean and tidy in there ... which somehow translated to him bringing stuff from the shed into the house. Hmm ... ?!!!

So ... one (or two!!) of the things he brought in was ...

... a pair of stools Mum was getting rid of when they moved earlier this year. They're a bid faded and ... well ... PINE-y ... but a coat of paint, new cushions and they'll be a welcome addition to our kitchen island bench. They now have their undercoat ... see ... sidetracked! :0)

And speaking of sidetracked ... the main reason I was popping in tonight was to give all the OPAM gals a nudge to update sidebars and remind you to email your October tally to me or my GORGEOUS Partner-In-Crime Sweet Peg. We'll soon be bloghopping cos the end of the month is here, so don't be late!!

OK ... I'm off to bed after a tiring day of chores ... and painting. :0) Hope you're having a lovely weekend so far and that you've got some fun stuff planned ... I'm actually hoping to get some sewing in tomorrow ... if GB doesn't sidetrack me again! :0) Til next time ...



Sunday 25 October 2015

Healthy-But-Yummy Weekend Treat!

Hello all in blogland! I hope you've had a lovely relaxing and/or productive weekend. It's been a little of column A and a little of column B here at the Meares' Madhouse ... a few jobs have been crossed of the ol "To Do" list and some relaxing and weekend-slugging-around was also slotted in. :0)

Part of the slugging-around happened today when both my Beloved Geek Boy and I had a bit of a sleep in, which led to a late brekkie. So ... when lunch time rolled around at about 3pm neither of us really felt like much, but felt like a little nibble on something. So ... I cruised through my Facebook page ... where you'll predominantly find recipes that I may never make but would like to try, funny sayings that apply to me or my friends and photos of food or sewing projects that I've created. Nothing deep or profound. :0) So I found a recipe for muffins  that I've successfully made before ... but this time I decided to have a little play with the ingredients to make it MY version of Sweet Potato Muffins. And just quietly ... they were YUMMO! :0) I've already shared the recipe on Facebook, but thought those of you who haven't turned to the "Dark Side" as Chookyblue calls FB might also like a healthy-but-yummy sweetie treaty recipe. So here goes ...



* 1 cup rolled oats
* 1 cup wholemeal plain flour
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1 cup cooked & mashed sweet potato
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1/3 cup coconut oil
* 1/4 cup milk
* 1 large egg
* 1 tsp vanilla essence
* 3/4 cup currents


1. Preheat oven to about 160 C
2. Grease two standard size muffin trays.
3. Place dry ingredients & currents in medium bowl & mix through well.
4. In another bowl combine coconut oil (melted but not hot), honey, sweet potato, egg, vanilla & milk. Whisk to blend well.
5. Pour wet ingredients into dry & stir to just combine - don't overwork the mixture.
6. Divide mix into muffin tins & bake until firm in middle & just starting to brown on top.
7. Enjoy with a dollop of butter

There you go ... something not-too-naughty but awfully nice to enjoy as a snack. :0)

Hmmm ... there were some muffins left after lunch ... I think I shall heat one in the microwave to have with my ready-for-bed-cuppa. Hope you all have a fantastic week ... OPAMers ... don't forget to update your sidebar lists this week!! Til next time ...


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