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November 2008
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December 2008

Cleaning up

I want to start sewing but I have to clean up my studio first.  What a mess.  I have a nice clean book case.  (That is only the half that is finished!)


But the desk!  Well I have just dumped everything on it.


I have decided to be ruthless.  But, being ruthless is making me feel quite sick on the stomach.
I added up the purchase value of the books and patterns that I have culled.  It comes to over $1,200.00.  Still the ladies in my quilting group will get first pick and then the rest can go to the Embroiderers' Guild for the sale table.  (Doesn't make me feel any better and I still have the fabric stash to go.)


Three days at the beach.

I have just returned from spending three days at the beach.  The days between Christmas and New Year are the time for Cricket, Department Store Sales, and the beach.


This has been the pattern since I was a small child.  The beach has to be a surf beach, flat water is just no good. As we live about 2 hours from the surf it is now a luxury to be able to walk to the surf.  I grew up in Sydney and my grandparents had a house at the beach, then I lived in Bondi  so that was within walking distance.  I was never too far far from the surf.

Most years now we stay at Caloundra at the home of our friends and this year the weather was great.  The moment I entered the surf I could hear my father (who is long dead) talking to me.

"Don't turn your back on the sea."
"Remember that when you dive under a dumper there will be another one behind."
"Don't swim early or late in the day you will be shark bait."

As I got down to the beach at 6am that last one was on my mind.  Also the lifesavers don't set up shop until 7am so you have to keep your eyes open for rips.


My friend had a wall hanging that I made for her years ago on the wall in the holiday house. It didn't look too bad.


Chirstmas Gifts

I got a great book for Christmas this year.  It is called The Elegance of the Hedgehog  by Muriel Barbery.


I think that it is going to join the list of my favourite reads and I think it will be a book that I will re-read a number of times.  It is quite beautiful.

The other book I read was my friend Rod's book that he received from his son, who is my God son, Gerrod.  I also loved this book, but in a different way.  I will have to investigate all the research quoted in this book.  We are implementing the "Essential Learnings" in our class rooms.  Some of the research quoted here makes me wonder just how sound parts of this is.


So two new books, both of which I enjoyed and both of which have opened up other vistas for me.  Who could ask for more?

Next year I will appoint a photographer.

Yes I will.  I just can't cook, serve, be a hostess and do every other little thing.

Christmas Eve dinner is over for another year.  My holiday now begins.  It has been a funny time,with 12 guests unable to make the party and another three arriving late because of work commitments.  But, with the current financial situation if you are needed to work, you work.

A complete change of theme this year.  Informality and a family orientation.  We had "A Cowboy Xmas".  I got the idea for this when I was traveling in the USA  and we stopped at a 'Texas Roadhouse'.  The customers where just like people up on the downs.

Everyone came with their cowboy hats on.  For some this just meant getting the "Akubra"  out of the cupboard, others had to find theirs in a shop. 


Storms were forecast and I had vision of us being drowned on the verandah.


We used an old piece of mesh to hang the lights and boots over the centre of the table.


Red and white check overlays and a red overlay on the centre table cloth.  A mixture of napkins, red, green and checks.  A small Xmas tree with candy canes and some angels.


The house looked welcoming.


Our old Christmas ornaments welcomed guests as they came through the front door.


Then everything went wild and I was so busy I couldn't take another photo.
Next year I will appoint a photographer.

Here is our Menu.Download Menu 2008

I need a Christmas Angel!

Oh dear.  It's Christmas Eve and tonight is my big dinner.  I have far too much food as some of my guests aren't going to make it back to Australia in time because of the snow storms in the USA and some of the others are ill and yet others have to work.  So, this year we are going to be down to about 18 people.

I just can't get myself motivated.  So Xmas angel, pick me up and point me in the right direction.  Give me the energy to get things going.

I was given two new decorations this year, both of them angels.



I hope that the Christmas angels bring you peace and happiness in this Holy time.

A Christmas Surprise

I get so tired up in the rush of Christmas. Sometimes something wonderful happens and I catch my breath and come back to the moment.  This happened today.  I am in the middle of preparations for my Christmas Eve dinner.  Thirty guests are invited, so much to do!  I collected the mail and found cards from people I had dropped off my list, another job, and there was a big parcel, definitely a book.   Now, I had ordered Annette Gero's new book months ago so assumed this was it.  I would open it after Christmas and have a good read.


I put the parcel aside, and I don't know what made me turn it over,
there on the back was the address of the sender.  My friend Angela.


 Foolishly I thought she must have had to distribute Annette's book.  When I opened the parcel it was a copy of "Australia's Quilts" by Jenny Manning.  This has been unavailable for some time.  Angela rescued it in a sale and saved it as a Christmas gift for me.


Back in the moment I realise that Christmas reminds us that friends are one of the best gifts a person can be given at this time and at all times of the year.

Christmas Stories

I have been surfing the web to find old Christmas stories, that I could use as a basis for an embroidered story book I want to make, and I came upon the story of "The Christmas Thorn of Glastonbury".  It had overtones of "The Di Vinci Code".   Also, the Legends of King Arthur are interwoven and many other old legends.

This isn't surprising as the setting for all these stories is Glastonbury.  Where there has been human occupation and religious observance since neolithic times.  There are some wonderful websites to look at, with great photos and stories that are academically researched  and many others that would appear to be based more on fantasy.

I found this old post card, but not the date of publication.


Glastonbury 01
Artist: Molly Power
Publisher: Clare, Son & Co., Ltd
PM: none
Holy Thorn aka Glastonbury Thorn
And this pretty image from the official Glastonbury Cathedral site.

This was from the site advertising the modern pilgrimage.GLABSEAL

And there were a number that had images of the descendant of the original tree.


The "Holy Thorn" as found on Wearyall Hill, (overlooking the A39 road into Glastonbury) said to be a descendant of the original thorn as planted by Joseph of Arimathea.  Cuttings from this tree, now grown to full size, can be found in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey and St Johns Church.
Glastonbury Tor and the Holy Thorn are both places of pilgrimage.


There is a golden Christmas legend and it relates how Joseph of Arimathes - that good man and just, who laid our Lord in his own sepulcher, as persecuted by Pontius Pilate , and how he fled from Jerusalem carrying with him the Holy Grail hidden beneath a cloth of samite, mystical and white.

For many moons he wondered, leaning on his staff cut from a white- thorn bush.  He passed over raging seas and dreary wastes, he wondered through trackless forests, climbed rugged mountains and forded many floods. READ ON  

The table cloth and napkins

Fifteen years ago , when my son was a year 10 student, he had to design and make a Xmas item for Home Economics.  He could operate straight stitch and zig zag on the sewing machine so we sat down together and came up with this simple applique.  We bought a pre-made tablecloth and six napkins and he sat and sewed each one.  He wasn't all that careful with his sewing and now 15 years later and many washes, some of the point are staring to fray.  But we still use the cloth every year on the breakfast table, and wonder at his sewing ability.


I am becoming most adventurous, trying to include a free pattern. It is a PDF so you will need Adobe reader  (The pattern is full size.)

Download Xmas AppliqueDSCF0003_2_2

White Xmas

Not everyone likes Rum Balls so I thought that we had better make some White Christmas.
Now, this can be a bit sweet, so, I greased some mini muffin tins as molds.  Just the right size.




250g copha
3 cups rice bubbles
1 cup powdered milk
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup mixed fruit
1/4 cup chopped glace cherries


  1. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.
  2. Melt copha and allow to cool.
  3. Add copha to dry ingredients, mix well.
  4. Press mixture into lightly greased molds or a tin.
  5. Refrigerate.

(NOTE: Only make one amount, they are so nice you will eat them all before you give them away!)

Christmas Cooking

My daughter came home bemoaning the fact that she couldn't afford to buy presents for her work-mates.  Mum to the rescue!  "What about Rum Balls". 

So, Mum went down to the shops and bought the ingredients, found some ribbon and cellophane to wrap them in.  Laura mixed the ingredient together, rolled them out, and,


Hey Presto, Christmas presents.


(The table cloth was my son's Home Ec project when he was in Year 10)

So what is the recipe?



1 tin condensed milk
8 weetbix or 1 pkt plain biscuits  (I've tried Corn Flakes and they work as well)
1 pkt Glace cherries
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup mixed fruit  (or 1/2 cup mixed fruit and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts)
1 teaspoon rum essence    (you can use rum but this makes it more expensive)
extra 1 cup coconut for rolling.

  1. Crush the weetbix (or biscuits) and finely chop the cherries.
  2. Mix all the ingredients, except the extra coconut, together and let stand for 15 minutes (if time allows).
  3. Roll the mixture into small balls and toss them in the coconut until well coated.
  4. Refrigerate overnight and then package.
(You can also freeze the Rum Balls for later use.)