My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Christmas Picnic Blanket

Hello everyone, it's a lovely Autumn day here in the Bay of Islands, sunny, a little breeze and the promise of a chilly evening with a warm fire to enjoy!

I've been a little quiet lately - I've been busy organising my new computer.  I consider it housework and de-cluttering as I needed to do a lot of consolidating and getting rid of old documents and junk photos.  But now it's up and running and in it's proper place on my desk - so it will be back to the paper junk soon.

Yesterday I was at a little Saturday Stitch and Chat that we organised with our quilting club.  It was an attempt to get people along who can't come to our weekday meetings and perhaps interest some new members.  We had a couple of people who had never quilted before come along and they were so enthusiastic!  There was a 10 year old girl who I think I've converted to english paper piecing - she's going to come back next month and hopefully bring along a project.  How cool!

Anyway, I want to show what I've finished recently.  It's not particularly beautiful or complex but I'm hoping it will grow to be special.  My kids picked out these Christmas fabrics and this is a Christmas picnic blanket I've made out of them.

It's our tradition to go camping at Christmas time and so I don't feel I can break out the beautiful linens and table centres of a traditional Christmas dinner.  But I do believe Christmas is about traditions - the ones you make with your own family and I'm hoping this picnic blanket will be used and loved every summer and become associated with happy family memories.

I backed the top with a lovely old wool blanket and used no batting.  I left the old Mosgiel label on the blanket for a bit of history.  I free-motion quilted it all over with a holly leaf pattern.  And boy, did the woolly blanket fill up my machine with fluff!

Now isn't this pretty?  Totally fits my rustic shed/house.  I always check the specials when I'm in a garden centre - they often have flower punnets that are a bit overgrown.  These pansies and calendulas were $1 each and they've taken off and filled my blue fish-bin with green, little white pansy flowers peeking and hopefully lots of calendula flowers soon.  The nasturtiums are self-seeded.

And just for fun!  I was trying to take a pic of the backing I pieced for my turquoise and blue quilt - but gave up in the bright sun.  So you get a silly shot instead!  Have a great Sunday.

(oh, and if anyone can tell me how to resize photos on a Mac I'd be very grateful!)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

WAHOO!!  I found the kids birth certificates!!  There are benefits to sorting / cleaning / organising / decluttering!  

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day - I was taken to lunch and had a fabulous time.  Hope you did too.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Paperwork ongoing .... the home office reorganisation.

Thanks for your comments everyone.  It's nice to know I'm not alone in the paperwork war!!  In fact, if you type something like "paperwork organisation tips" into Dr Google, you'll soon find there are a heap of other people in the same boat!

So, in an attempt to kickstart my new, organised life, I moved my desk.  Nothing major, it just faces the other side of the corner.  A change around of furniture always gets me in a cleaning, decluttering, organising mood.  And I've splashed out on some new stationery supplies too.

I've been thinking long and hard about what I do and don't like about the way I do things now and I realise that I don't like hanging or accordion files much but when I have things in ring binders they stay in order better.  Four new co-ordinated ring binders and some divider tabs later, I'm on my way.

Ahhh, paper junk!  It's so comfy!
The first tip that everyone seems to say is centralise your paperwork.  Keep it all in one area.  I realise I have a bad habit of opening mail, putting it on the dining table, shifting it to the hutch dresser when it's dinner time and then burying it with handbags/books/school stuff.  So now I'm going to put it on my desk unopened and open it in the evening when I have a chance to action it and then file it/biff it straight away.  I declare the hutch dresser is a PAPER FREE ZONE!

The next big thing is: figure out what you actually need to keep (and then biff the rest).  After chatting to lovely Suz yesterday, she has me taking a hard look at what I should and shouldn't be holding on to.

So I've started - I'm analysing my bad habits and I'm going to try and make new, more efficient ones and I'm sorting out my systems.  The hard thing is going to be putting my stuff that I already have into those new systems!  But I'm done with procrastination, I'm going to put on some music and get to it......after a fortifying  cup of tea ;)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Need Help! Paperwork Crisis!

My house used to be a constant mess. Ok, it still is a constant mess, but it’s a tidiable (is that a word?) mess with an organised undercurrent. Having kids was probably the making of me in that department. I got so bogged and frustrated and upset that I went looking for help. I found FLYlady and did a lot of journaling and soul-searching about the role of a stay-at-home Mum (not all cupcakes and day-time television). I began to go to bed with a cleared kitchen, make my bed straight after getting up, clean something in the bathroom while waiting for the shower to warm, empty the dishwasher whilst the jug was boiling for my cup-of-tea and use a calendar….just those little things that some people know instinctively how to do to stay on top of life and some people (me!) need to learn.

In the spirit of full disclosure - here are my fugly bits.  Piles of paper everywhere!  And  there are other piles hiding in other spots around the house!
But I haven’t ever really got on top of my paperwork. Yuck. I hate it. But crunch time has come. Why? Because, for the life of me, I can’t find the kids birth certificates and I need them. That’s not good. I could order new ones (at $25 a pop) but that’s not really solving the problem, is it?

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that being organised with paperwork can save you time, help you be frugal, and keep on top of life in general.

I’m thinking of making goals – they seem to work for me. Do I dare ration my quilting time? For example: no quilting until I've done 15 minutes filing? Argh! It would probably work, but I think I have deeper issues, which are hijacking my attempts to stay on-top of paperwork. I don’t think I have a proper filing system sorted. Bits go here and bits go there and I have a big pile of ‘miscellaneous’! I don’t know how to sort stuff and how to store it.

So, tell me, how do you do it? What categories do you file stuff under? What techniques have worked for you (or not!)? Please! Anything you think will help me out. We’ve upgraded our computer after eeking out our current one for eight + years and I’ve decided I’m not allowed to open the box until my desk is clear!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I see RED (in a good way)

Last day of the school holidays today.  And it just occurred to me that the next school holidays includes the Taupo Symposium - yay, it's getting closer!

Aotearoa Quilters (the National Association of NZ Quilters) is holding a special challenge to be exhibited during Symposium.  Anything goes, it just needs to be 12 inches x 12 inches and RED.  All quilts will be for sale too, so that's exciting.  I've been busy working on entries.  So far out of five starts, this one is the only one I've been happy enough with to finish to binding.  It's been a great incentive to experiment - 12 x 12 is the perfect size to play around with methods etc, if you're not happy, it's not a huge time or material investment.

It's called Manaia - which is a Maori name for bird-headed mythological creature of protection or guardianship.  (And there doesn't seem to be any restrictions on publicly showing your entry before the exhibition - yay!)

I've also been feeling the hexie love.  These little pincushions were quick to make and gave me hand piecing projects to keep me busy when I'm out and about.  The top is linen and the backs are an indigo print (for the red and black hexie flower) and a damask stripe (for the purple and pink).  Cute huh?!

The kids are I travelled down to Hamilton to surprise my niece for her tenth birthday.  And it worked a treat - lots of squeals and jumping around when my two popped out of their hiding places!  She was born on ANZAC day (stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, a day where we remember those who fought and those who fell), hence the poppies all over her cake.  Her middle name is Poppy also.

So the school holidays have been busy but fun.  A few inroads have been made on my WIP's but I'll show them another time.  The kids have been happy but I think we're all ready for them to go back to school ;)  I'll close with a couple of photos of them.  And then I best be off and try and tick another thing off my holiday to-do list - paint the bathroom!

The once-per-school-holidays iced chocolate.

Chilaxing at Cafe Utopia in Kaiwaka on the way home from Hamilton.  Now there's a cool cafe!