Friday, October 03, 2014

October 2014 - Newsletter

Wholly Quilts

October 2014


Spring seems to be the time of year for teaching - here there and everywhere. A class in Coromandel had a second day of finishing off their Start to the Art. Art quilts are so amazingly individual almost anything goes. The gals at my own club, Patchwork Unlimited allowed their quilting to take Wings and two days in Tauranga saw a class doing my Snap Happy Scrappy (quick cuts to traditional blocks) and the old favourite Ooey Gooey Hearts which always gets lovely results in an easy day of quilty camaraderie. As always catching up to old familiar faces makes teaching great fun.

Early warning! The picnic day has to be a week earlier because of symposium. So pencil in January 10 for the big day out. The challenge this year is totally self-serving (for me) - I need hot water bottle covers for the retreaters during winter. So make a cover, be in to win the best of show prize and receive a fat quarter as a thank you!

Read all about It is a new chapter in my newsletter. I will regularly review a book that might titivate your quilting knowledge. Jean Wells, in her Journey to Inspired Art Quilting, proves to be soul mate of mine when it comes to converting ideas intuitively to fabric. I love her work and her inspired teaching.  If you have a quilter in your life this would make a great gift but the Book Depository also have a wishlist feature which is great to share with the friends and family so they know what to get you for Christmas :)

Natter Later!

By the way, if you want to bring a group of friends for a relaxing weekend available weekends are filling fast so get in touch.

Pumpkin Patch

The Pumpkin Patch is so pretty right now - all the fruit trees are budding and blossoming. The flowers on the quince show great promise of another bumper crop as do the plums, peaches, cherries and olives (this year I have a companion tree to the olive as it needs a pollinator, so hopefully there will finally be fruit). Did you know that the flower of the fig is actually enclosed in the fruit? There are lots of them there too. My garlic is fattening up and so it should (I told you about the crop that was planting on the shortest day last year and did nothing). To compensate I have two crops this year.
Seeds have been planted and they too are doing their thing so the vege patch should be spectacular come summer.
After talking so kindly about the birds last month - now they are nesting right above my car and won't be moved. Mm! plotting now!  Any suggestions for a peaceful disruption to their nesting there would be appreciated.

Chopping Block

The Chopping Board went crazy and a little bit orange this month. I made a Crazy Cake (print recipe) that has no eggs, no milk or butter and uses no mixing bowl.

Preheat oven to 170deg C

Mix 1½ cups flour (all-purpose), 3 tbsp. cocoa, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp  salt in a greased 8 inch baking pan and make three depressions (2 small and one larger).

Pour 1 tsp white vinegar and 1 tsp pure vanilla extract in the smaller ones and 5 tbsp vegetable oil in the larger. Pour 1 cup water over the top and mix till smooth
Bake on middle rack of oven for 35 minutes.  Check with toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.  Cool.  I  iced with a cocoa, icing sugar and orange juice mix and scattered some crystallised orange peel over. So-oo goo-ood! And simple.

Lovely Feedback Is A Wonderful Thing

I love getting feedback like this.
Sent: Thursday, 2 October 2014 3:24 p.m.
Subject: Shelley Gray - re ooey gooey hearts.
Thanks Natalie for a wonderfully relaxed class. I really enjoyed it and even though it put me outside of my comfort zone I really enjoyed my day. I was so glad of the already cut packs and the wonderful choice of colour.
I appreciate your calm helpful manner , and going to your class with its relaxed friendly atmosphere set me back on an even keel, from whence I had strayed. So all in all it was great to get to do something that I have wanted to do for a long time. All I have to do now is find the time to finish it. I was off to Yoko Saito’s class in Auckland so had to go home and organize fabric for that otherwise I think I would have set my machine up that night and carried on.
Hopefully will get to do some on the weekend.
Thanks for a lovey newsletter and the recipe. Will give it a try, but if my hips grow then I might not be talking to you for awhile.
Cheers and thanks once again. You really are a good tutor. Love the way you help everyone to keep up and achieve good results.
Actually any feedback is great so if you have been to a class of mine or stayed in retreat with me then I would love your comments.

(links added for context and your browsing pleasure)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

My Crimplene Family - Home At Last

My now-American sister has been visiting and she returned the doll family to me that I made for her when she left New Zealand 35-ish years ago. How clever was I then - father wore a crimplene suit, mother had her hair in rollers, daughter had a maths book in her school bag (with not very flattering marks) and the two boys sucked their thumbs and all were only nine inches tall with detailed clothing, hair etc.  Now they have come home :) Seems my love of fabric and sewing goes back a lot further than I thought.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Autumn Retreaters

I have just had an amazing weekend with a group of retreaters from Rotorua and points south. Eight gals arrived with a plethora of colourful projects and went home with many completed or at least on the way.

It is their enthusiasm that is so inspiring and shows in the comments they made on the weekend:

- A wonderful weekend, filled with great creativity, fabulous friends, amazing food and the best camp mother in town! So good for the soul! Thanks Natalie

- A whole lot of sewing, a whole lot of food and a whole load of fun and laughter. See you next year for more.

- Such fun! Such fun! To sew, laugh, eat fabulous food, enjoy great friends. What more could you ever want ... many thanks

- Fantastic weekend. A huge learning experience for me. I can't wait to come back for more ...

- Sewing for the Soul at Natalie's Thank you ... you are a continuous inspiration

- Fabulous time - good friends, great host, lots of fun. Natalie, I am sure you will learn to love my quilt!

The weekend menu included: Pea and Ham soup with herb bread and a fresh crusty fruit loaf for supper. Saturday's lunch: cold chicken with warm pumpkin salad (topped with caramelised pumpkin seeds), pasta salad and green herby salad from the garden and for dinner a slow cooked beef casserole. That was served with braised red cabbage, stir-fried garden greens and horseradish potato mash. For dessert we had feijoa and raspberry crumble with custard and cream.

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 2014 Newsletter

How many of us turn to our quilting in times of stress? Way back I began my first quilt the day after my husband left me and have had comfort from quilting ever since.

My extended family are waging a battle against cancer right now. My lovely nephew has been an officer in the army for over 20 years and now his private war is on. It amazes me how members of the family deal with this - all of us open our arms wide and send love to him and his little family in different ways. It is a stressful time. A time when only the medicos can offer immediate help but a time when the family can be there in spirit.
Key Lime Project
You all know by now that my daughter has come to live with me, well not for some days now. She is on a mission first to my sister and then onto Matt's family next week. I think she has the easiest job cos she actively helping. All I can do is turn back to my quilting.

I have finished three quilts in the past weeks and have this next project set out to ponder. I issued a 'paint chart' challenge to club members and as you can see my chart is lime green and I have all the makings but not much inspiration yet. 'Something small' I told everyone so something small it shall be - will show it off next month and yes you may well ask, what I am going to do with the feathers. 

Pumpkin Patch

PersimmonsThe Pumpkin Patch is shrugging on its autumn glory though I think the ripening oranges and lemons will add more colour than the leaves. The slow start of winter is confuddling all the plants with new growth and rose buds in abundance.
This morning I made a large batch of muesli using produce from last year's autumn garden - dried figs, feijoas and persimmons. How gratifying is that? Except now I have to pick those same crops and dehydrate them all over again. That's what gardening is all about. 

Chopping Block

The Chopping Block is just hankering after ripe persimmons (and they are only days away) so I can make my favourite ice cream - persimmon and passionfruit.
According to Gillian Painter's Home Orchard Cookery book you need two cups of persimmon pulp and blend in one cup sugar and juice of quarter lemon or grapefruit (here's where I go off and add the pulp from 2 or 3 passionfruit instead).
Stir this through a cup of whipped cream and freeze 2-3 hours.

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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Feijoa Time

Today was to be a concerted effort to get some of the feijoas off my bench. I had a Monday bucket (not quite full) and a Tuesday bucket (overflowing) so I set to work
I made Feijoa and Apricot jam; I made Feijoas and Prune Indian relish; I made Feijoa and Raspberry scones and finally I made a Feijoa and Walnut cake. Now I only have to work out what to do with the remaining half a Monday bucket. Jared has already put his dibs on the Tuesday bucket.
See TVNZ for some of the recipes!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 2014


Here's a wee peak at my latest PhD* with at least a start made on the quilting. I finish my annual camp catering gig this week and so hope to be back in front of my sewing machine soon enough to get some of 'those quilting ideas' out of my head and down on fabric. Wot I would really like to do is make a award winning quilt just for my own satisfaction - maybe that kaleidoscope one I've been planning. First I must finish this one off for the 'growth' challenge.

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Wellington (in the face of a cyclone) to offer my help to the national association. I make no claims to be able to fix anything but I think Aotearoa Quilters needs to find a new direction and place in the quilting world. We all avidly guard our own little corner, be it club or guild, often to the detriment of our craft. An old-fashioned quilting bee on a national scale is what we should strive for - a place to go for information, somewhere to share and show, friendships to foster and lessons to learn. I would love your input into this debate - please contact me.
Changes to the constitution have been mooted that could allow the association to take its place as a governing body rather than continuing the perception of an exclusive club that has a show or challenge each year for competitive quilters and ignoring all others.
By the way, if you want to bring a group of friends for a relaxing weekend, the second half of the year still has some vacancies so get in touch. 

Natter Later!
* projects half done

Pumpkin Patch

The Pumpkin Patch is also largely a PhD* with the garden tween seasons. I have huge crops of feijoas, persimmons, oranges, lemons and limes just hanging around looking very green. The birds have been given free-range on the remaining figs and grapes though before they got into the figs I 'stored' for winter by drying, making a tasty paste/pate and an equally tasty chutney. The last days of summer are reflected in what remains as you can see of my salad garden above. At this time of the year the herbs have either bolted to seed or died off though there is still enough green bits for a herby salad.  Having an extra pair o hands (Nina) in the garden makes a huge difference when it comes to keeping on top of the weeds cos they are seemingly the only growing things that like a drought. And then there are the empty beds waiting seeds or green compost.

Chopping Block

The Chopping Block recipes this month are straight out of the garden. Poor Man's Caviar (aka Baba Ganoush) and Poor Man's Olives (aka Pickled Grapes). I picked four medium egg plant from the garden; halved and rubbed with garlic, salt and oil and roasted in a fairly high oven (200 deg C) until soft and juicy. I then scooped them out and into a food processor with lotsa black pepper, a 'slug' of olive oil, juice of a large lemon, 1tbsp tahini paste more salt and garlic to taste and 1tsp allspice. Blitz.
The 'olives' were made from 2 cups of grapes de-stemmed and packed into a sterilised jar. Pour 1 small cup white wine vinegar, 1tbsp kosher salt, 1tsp sugar, 1 lge clove garlic, the leaves from a small sprig of rosemary and a pinch of chilli flakes into a pan and slowly bring to a simmer. Pour over grapes and let cool; then seal and refrigerate 1 hour before serving. Keeps up to 2 weeks.