Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

2012 has already dawned in the land of the long white cloud.

My grandma always told me to start the year as I meant to continue it.  So this year I spent the night at home, quietly with my little family.  At midnight, as my street erupted in cheering and fireworks, I popped a bottle of sparkling grape juice (non alcoholic) so we could toast the new beginning.

2011 was a year of disasters and triumphs in the most literal way.

In January there was extensive flooding in Queensland and Victoria.  My husband was put on standby to join in the rescue and recovery in the second deployment which thankfully did not take place.  My youngest brother and his family live in Brisbane near the Gold Coast and thankfully they were all safe.

February brought sunshine and the hottest month of summer.  In late February we were thrust into another example of mother nature's awesome power when an earthquake struck Christchurch around lunch time on a busy work day.  Lives were lost.  It was horrifying.  My husband was deployed the next day and in all did three trips to Christchurch to assist, all the while aftershocks were striking and I spend many nights worrying for him and my friends in the city as the rescue turned into recovery.

March bought a massive earthquake and tsunami to Japan.  Japanese rescue workers in New Zealand to assist with the recovery hurried home accompanied by an NZ USAR (urban search and rescue) team to assist in their own country as a nuclear power plant stood on the brink of meltdown as a result of the earthquake.  My friend Q, a former team mate at work who now lives outside Tokyo with his wife and children were safe.

April and May passed in a blur of activity related to the Christchurch earthquake mostly and news of the Japan quake.  Aftershocks, clean up, raising funds, stabilizing the reactor.  Stories of incredible survival against the odds, heartwarming tales of solidarity and stoic resolution emerged.

In June I suffered an illness that put me out of action for a month and is still not fully resolved.  Out of that, and at the risk of turning into Pollyanna, good things came.  I rediscovered the joy of crochet and I re wrote my centre's business continuity plan which earned me much kudos in the workplace.  As they say, there is always a silver lining.

After that it was all about the Rugby as we geared up as a nation to host the Rugby World Cup.  Visitors from overseas poured into the country for the matches throughout September and October.  Neighbourhoods organized to support different countries, flags of every nation appeared on houses, cars and people.  We had the amazing two month long party!  And then we won!

December brought more natural disasters with extensive and continuing flooding in the top of the South Island.  Once again our rescue teams deployed to assist and then...

Two days before Christmas and exactly a week after I visited.  Christchurch suffered another Earthquake and is still suffering aftershocks.  Thankfully nobody was killed this time.

2011 has been the year of triumph of the human spirit.  As a nation, a community and family we faced adversity on an unusually large scale and we triumphed.

I'm proud of my family, my colleagues and my country.  It was a challenge but we got through and with dignity.  2012 is going to be a better year for us all.  I know it!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 29 December 2011

More flower scarf

All done!  I'm feeling proud!

My Wee Girl is going to love this and it's going to look just awesome with her denim jacket.

I crocheted the flowers together top and bottom using two petals for strength, then for added security, I used lime green cotton to edge the whole thing in single crochet.  I used a 1.75mm hook to do the edging and that raised the petals slightly .

I also added a decoration to each end, a flower bead and a circle made of the same cottons one end and a simple flower at the other.  Both hang off a chain.

It's not super long nor is it super thick or warm, this is purely decorative.

I so cannot wait to go pick her up from her friends this afternoon and give it to her.

Each flower measures 8cm across and there are 14 in all.  I'm so, so happy with the way it turned out!  I'm considering using left overs from her blanket to create a winter scarf for her with hearts and or stars.  It's the perfect time of year to make smaller projects.

This morning saw my husband wake up with the worst stiff neck in history.  He's had a stiff neck that has slowly got worse since Boxing day, he has no idea what he's done to it but the pain was so bad last night that he was up every other hour.  So this morning saw us off to A+E for some relief for him.  He has the added complication of being on duty for Fire calls so he can't take any really decent medication.  Hopefully the muscle relaxant and will help.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Between projects

Having finished the granny striped blanket and it being Christmas break, I find myself with time on my hands.  It's also a little hot and humid to be playing with wool quite frankly.

So I've been doing this...

With 2 ply crochet cotton and a 2.5mm hook.  I've decided to make a flower scarf.  I've seen a number of them on line including Lucy's at Attic24.  I found a flower tutorial here  at Revving it up,designed by Revlie Schutte and modified it slightly as follows.

Do the first three rows as per the tutorial, 

chain 6, sl stitch into ring
Round 1: chain 4, dc1, ch1, dc1, ch1 around, slip stitch to join (12 dc)
Round 2: chain 5, dc1, ch2, dc1, ch2 around, slip stitch to join (12 dc)
Round 3: chan 3 + 3dc in 1st loop, 4 dc in each loop around, slip stitch to join

Then my modifications 

Round 4: *chain 4, skip 4, slip stitch to join, continue between * around, slip stitch to join
Round 5: *1 sc 8 dc 1sc in each loop, slip stitch to join* around finish with a slip stitch. 

Crochet together with a slip stitch by placing flowers with two petals matching and right sides together.   I've done a dozen flowers so far and this is how it looks.  This one is going to be a lightweight summer version single row, but I will make a woollen version with three rows or maybe four for winter.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The granny stripe reveal

So here it is, two months in the making.....

Personally I would have liked it a bit wider but the wee girl was sick of waiting.  For weeks she had been playing with it, fingering the soft wool and asking if it was finished yet, so I gave in and edged it.  To say that she is thrilled is an understatement.  It's big enough for her bed and big enough to snuggle with on the sofa.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Day

Welcome to Christmas dinner :)

This was my dining room at lunch time today.  Thank goodness for my grandmother gifting me the contents of her china cabinet when she moved into assisted living at age 99.  I used her silver cruet set, a couple of her crystal bowls and out of tradition, my late maternal grandmothers china gravy boat and matching bowl for the roast potatoes.

We were woken by the wee girl bearing coffee at 7am, she was awoken at 5am by her elder brother (15!) and together they spent a good two hours watching cartoons and inspecting their wrapped gifts, no doubt guessing what was enclosed within.

I started the turkey about 9:30, the ham was already glazed and ready.  The wee girl helped me by peeling potatoes for roasting and washing new potatoes for boiling.  We made egg salad out of the eggs she boiled, a green salad with fresh tomatoes, camembert cheese, celery and spring onion.  Then we made a trifle for dessert.

We all sat together at the table, with its crisp white cloth threaded with silver and toasted a Merry Christmas with sparkling grape juice.

A wonderful festive family meal was enjoyed and then we cleaned up and the dogs got the table scraps as a treat.  After clean up we all (dogs included) adjourned to various parts of the house to sleep off the heavy meal for an hour or two, then it was off down to the park on foot to play with the radio controlled helicopter I got my husband for Christmas.

Many crashes and much laughter followed.  It wasn't an expensive gift but my husband B just loves such intricate and clever things.

Our evening meal was leftovers, ham sandwiches and salad.

The kids tired out by their early rising were in bed early which left B and I out in the living room on our own with plenty of time to be together.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, or have one if you haven't had it yet.

Best wishes to all. xxx

Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Decorating

I'm a little behind in my decorating this year.  Last week I flew to Christchurch for the weekend, Tuesday was the Love of My Life's 40th birthday so I've only been preparing since Wednesday.  I made the centre piece above yesterday.  The most expensive part was a the mini tree which cost a whopping $10.  Everything els was less than $5.  With my trusty glue gun I glued the ribbon onto the candles, I then glued the bead string to the glass tray and the ornament to the candle.  I spread some multicolored glass beads on the tray et voila, one centre piece ready to go.

Here is my dining room, ready for Christmas in a silver and white theme to match my dinner service which is white with a silver line around the rim.  Touches of blue match my existing decor.  I've given up trying to theme the tree, it's strictly the territory of the Wee Girl these days.

Mental note: I have to get some better lamps for that fitting!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Progress on the granny stripes

Well it's half as wide as my queen size bed and nearly as long now.

I'm using lots of random colors and widths to add interest.  Since that photo was taken I've added another 6 rows.

I'm off to Christchurch tomorrow for a party.  Exciting to catch at plane to attend a party!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Live Fire Exercise

Have I ever mentioned my husband is a rural fire officer? Monday night is training and tonight they had a live fire exercise, live in that there was a real fire to fight.  I was invited along to take pictures to be used in recruiting and informational pamphlets.

These two were taken as everyone was packing up, I think they look suitably heroic for pamphlets.  I also got a lot of hoses and dams and other rural fire fighters doing their jobs.

The fire was a bit of a fizzier, we've had some rain this week and the brush collection although suitably large and brushy, wasn't as dry as it could have been.  None the less I did my best ...

Saturday, 3 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

1 December is the first day of summer here in New Zealand.  Not that it felt very Summery that particular day, or the next.

I've just had a text from the wee Girl who is currently out with her father.  She wants to know when we are putting up the tree.  The annual question that causes me no end of angst.

I have two dogs, two rather large dogs, two rather large dogs with big swishy tails in fact.  The large swishy tails have a habit of wagging against the tree causing branches to sway wildly and baubles to shoot off in all directions.  I also have a cat, an elderly but spritely cat who takes an almost kittenish joy in batting baubles from the tree to the floor then chasing them all over the house.

Then there is the whole balance thing.  I like a well decorated tree as much as the next person.  I like a balance of color, bauble, tinsel and lights. My children like to decorate the tree, they lack the appreciation I have for balance.  By the time they sit back with big smiles of joy, the tree tends to look like a decoration factory threw up on it.  I smile and tell them what a wonderful job they've done.  When they go to bed, I rearrange the tree :( I can't help myself.  On the plus side, they never seem to notice and always take credit for the tree.