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 ...



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