Life goes on … Christmas Party 2009

I can only say this has been a really stressful and emotional week, and I’m glad it’s all over … the week saw the passing of beautiful dear Erin, I found Mum has been in hospital recently, and amidst all of this I was the key staff member involved with releasing a new product this week, due to our department’s project manager being away on leave – unfortunately the latter project was quite stressful in itself as everything didn’t got 100% as planned, and it meant a few extra hours work this week (read 10-11 hour days).  All this while struggling to comprehend the news of Erin’s passing.  Not to mention also dealing with two other projects, including daily hook-ups with the sites … it didn’t leave much time to ‘breathe’ this week!

Last Sunday I finally decided to pluck up the courage to dress up for our work Christmas party (which was last night).  I bought a wig, and some fabric and tunic pattern, and started assembling it.  I did a bit more on Monday night, then put it to one side for the next night.  Of course then I found out about Erin passing away – when I came home I just didn’t have the heart to keep making my costume, then on Thursday afternoon the whole stress of the week got to me, and I had a mini melt-down … I just didn’t want to have to “persevere” and put on a brave face anymore, after such a stressful time at work – and I certainly didn’t want to have to smile at everyone at the Christmas party, so I made the decision not to go, or to just not dress up and just go for the dinner.

At 8pm Thursday, on the way home from work, I started thinking that perhaps I should get things ready ‘just in case’ I felt a bit brighter in the morning, as I was already starting to feel a little better, so did an emergency dash to Spotlight and Big W to pick up pantyhose and false eyelashes, a handbag and a different wig … and got my costume dress finished along with a necklace and earrings – at almost 1am I finally fell into bed … but I’m so glad I did do that …

Yesterday morning I felt so much brighter, and was actually starting to look forward to the evening’s festivities – we got dressed at work, and hit the streets in our get-up – staff that were still in the office were killing themselves laughing at our outfits.  We travelled in the lift with another colleague on our floor, and it was only at the bottom when we were walking out and she heard my voice, that she said “Oh my God, it’s YOU!!!” – that was a real highlight of the night, and definitely got the laughter happening to start off the night.

The function was at Harold Park Raceway, where we had a private suite overlooking the racetrack (harness racing).  I have to admit I don’t like horse racing, so I pretty much ignored the whole racing thing, but we had a load of fun.  I caught up with one of my dearest colleagues who was made redundant earlier in the  year, which was a highlight of the night for me, as I miss him dearly in the office, and it was great fun seeing everyone dressed up – the dress-up theme was the “decade of your birth” … mine being the 60’s.  Here are the “three stooges” from the night – Lisa (70’s Elvis), Katie (80’s rock chick), and myself (60’s Hairspray lookalike … not planned, that thought just came to my head as were driving to the function in the taxi!).

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And a close-up of those lashes!  I think those eyelashes were everyone’s highlight of the costume, I had so many comments LOL.

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Unfortunately we didn’t think to take a full-length photo.  We had to vote for the best costume of the night, and I was really shocked to find my costume had been voted the best!!  And everyone was super impressed that I’d made it all myself (um, including myself – I am personally amazed that I could remember how to follow the pattern instructions … maybe it really IS like riding a bike??).  I was given a lovely gift of a couple of bottles of Margaret River wine as my prize.  We also had other prizes drawn out, so that everyone came home with something, and I won another bottle of wine from that … good thing we’re alcoholics in this household haha.

Anyway, all-in-all I’m really really glad I went – I had a really good time, and aside from one moment of feeling a little sad when I was talking about going home for Christmas, which of course made me starting thinking of other home events, the evening was a real success and one that helped to put aside the crappy week … of course now I’m sporting a hangover this morning, but it was definitely worth it 🙂

Now I need to get all those chores done that I haven’t had the mental energy to tackle over the last couple of weeks … after I find the Panadol …

Great weekend & A bit of stitching for a change

I’ve been offline most of the week thanks to feeling really crappy again during the week – this week, though, I’m making an appointment for a CT Scan for my sinuses and having some allergy tests done, so fingers crossed we can finally work out why this stupid sinus infection is hanging around for so many months and making me feel like death warmed up!

Last weekend, though, was a lovely treat for the month – I went to the Hunter Valley in NSW with Alison, Amanda and Sue for a stitching weekend away. Amanda kindly came and picked me up on Friday afternoon and chauffeured me – it was a lovely change for me, as I’m always the one driving. We arrived at about 7pm and walked into ‘our’ house to be greeted with a roaring log fire and dinner being prepped by Alison and Sue – the weekend was starting out on a blissful note already! The rest of the weekend didn’t disappoint either, it was a fantastic weekend away where we managed to combine some stitching (yes, we actually did do some), chatting, shopping, wining and dining, and I even made my very first scissor fob sale … to a lady vintner at one of my favourite vineyards up there (her white port is to die for in my opinion!). All-in-all it was a really awesome weekend, and hopefully we can make this an annual event, ‘cos I’m signing up for next year already!! Here’s a photo of our accommodation and home for the weekend, along with my fantastic company for the weekend 😀

Hunter Valley accommodation

Hunter Valley stitchers

The week before the retreat I managed to finish a little ornie stiching, and got the following ornie finished – it was supposed to be for the Yahoo group CYOO challenge, but I got a bit cranky during the month and couldn’t be bothered posting a photo on the board (and for once didn’t even bother doing the JCS monthly challenge one). I still hope to stitch an ornie a month, I just probably won’t be posting it on the board.

JBW Designs-Joy Love Peace
“Joy, Love, Peace” by JBW Designs
stitched on 32ct natural Belfast linen
with WDW Garnet and GAST Dried Thyme

During the weekend retreat I managed to put a reasonable amount of stitching into Prairie Schooler’s 2005 Limited Edition Santa, and during this weekend I’ve been able to put the final stitches into it after having a marathon stitching session on Saturday. The only thing I changed is to leave out the “2005” which is stitched in Black Coffee Crescent Colours below each side of the green letter blocks, and added a couple of random snowflakes instead.

Prairie Schooler-Here Comes Santa Claus 1
“Here Comes Santa Claus 2005” by The Prairie Schooler
stitched on 28ct natural Cashel linen
with kit Crescent Colours threads

Prairie Schooler-Here Comes Santa Claus 2
I love how the snowflakes lift off of the fabric – hard to see in the photo

Prairie Schooler-Here Comes Santa Claus 3

Now I’m off to try to create my soon-to-be Etsy store, as I’ve also got a whole heap of scissor fobs to load up into the store.  I had another beading session yesterday while Katie and I watched Supernatural Season 4 on DVD (that was after we had a few hours out at Miranda shopping centre where we saw the latest Harry Potter movie).  I’ll do a separate post of the latest ones that I created yesterday, plus a couple of close-ups of my latest favourites …

Brunette…

This is a really bad photo of me, but shows the “new brunette do” … I’m still a bit in shock, although it is a bit softer/lighter after its first wash this morning (sorry, no photo today to compare) … I’m sure I’ll get used to it! 😀

Brunette 1

Brunette 2

I’m still feeling really under the weather, and started a dose of antibiotics this morning … feeling crappy accounts for the dark circles and general crappy look 😦

Back to sweltering Sydney

After a whirlwind trip back home to Auckland where I froze my buns off, it’s back to Sydney and the hottest day in the history of April since time began apparently … oh yay, LOL (sorry Zeb, I only got your email when I got home Sunday afternoon, so didn’t get chance to catch up – will definitely give you a holler the next time I come over, though, so we can arrange a meeting!).

It was really lovely to go home again and Dad was happy that I managed to clear out about 2 suitcases full of clothes to go to the Salvation Army plus about half a big wheelie bin full of soon-to-be-shredded papers.  Ah, I so love going home for a holiday haha.  The weather was shocking, so we didn’t get to go sightseeing at all around Auckland – and unfortunately the flights were really full out of Wellington, so at the 11th hour Mum and I cancelled our flights, as it had the potential to be an extremely costly trip … of course we forgot about Easter and school holiday traffic … doh!

I didn’t get too much stitching done, although I did stitch up my April Christmas ornie for the ornie Challenge … and I’ve since started the Acorn Needle Book by Periwinkle Promises, which is a kit I’ve had in my stash for way too many years now.  It’s been really fun doing every stitch except XS so far in this piece, although I’m a bit wary of the upcoming acorn cap completely made up of french knots {{shudder}}.

Prairie Schooler-Snowy Night
“Snowy Night” by The Prairie Schooler
from 2008 Just Cross Stitch Ornament issue
stitched on 32ct Merino hand-dyed linen by Countrystitch
with recommended DMC threads

Acorn Needle Book 1
“Acorn Needle Book” kit by Periwinkle Promises – first WIP photo

Acorn Needle Book 2
A bit of rice stitch, satin stitch, double holbein stitch, double back-stitch (or long-armed XS), and finished with a smidge of normal back stitch

Mum and I managed to catch up with my Auntie Trudy (who’s not actually an Aunt, but a family friend that I’ve grown up with in NZ), and it was lovely to see her again.  I came away being spoilt with a lovely blue scarf she knit for me, so I feel very special 🙂

The highlight of the trip (and our final night) was a visit to my fave family, the Smiths … Auntie Heather (again an extremely close family friend that I adore) has known me since I was six weeks old in the UK, and our two families have grown up together when we both emigrated to New Zealand.  There are only a few years difference between the age groups of myself and their two children, Tracey and Carl, and now they both have their own children and we have our own “Granny Smith” (she hates being called that!).  It turned out to be Danial’s birthday during our visit, so we were able to visit on Saturday afternoon/evening on his birthday – it was great fun!  Tracey and Glen live out in the country south of Auckland, and it was great to finally visit their property and play with all the animals.  The only ones I didn’t get to pet were the cows! 😉

Here are a number of photos from our visit – including some very special Easter bunnies, that were part of Danial’s birthday present.

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Danial, Bradley and Heather (with stickers on her forehead compliments of youngest grandchild Danial!)

Danial's birthday 3
Tracey hard at work in the kitchen preparing dinner

Danial's birthday 5
How many men does it take to put together a racing car set? Four, apparently! ;P

Danial's birthday 4
Maybe we should read the instructions, Grandad!

Danial's birthday 7
Easter bunnies country-style

Danial's birthday 8
Awwwww……. Somebunny loves ya Heather!

Danial's birthday 9
The Dragon having a bunny cuddle

Danial's birthday 6
And this bundle of fun I just couldn’t wait to have a cuddle with, I love him to death … poor Dodge got so excited that he kindly peed on my leg … I think that means he likes me! haha – he’s such a soppy soft dog you’ve gotta love him!  This is him begging me to come outside to play with him – I kept leaning out the window to give him a pat! 😀

Danial's birthday 1
And to finish off, here’s the birthday boy with his icecream cake – with Dad (Glen), and the Dragon (Mum)

Now it’s back to the heat of Sydney, and I’m over it already after 48 hours!!  Will summer never end??  Bring on those cooler autumn days with blue skies … keep your pelting rain and humidity!  Oh well, at least I can laze around at home over the next few days indoors … inbetween going to gym sessions each day this week … I’ve finally joined a gym to get my fat A into shape and feel a bit healthier.  Going to the chiropractor all these months has been wonderful, and I’m ready to make a healthy change – going to the gym will hopefully help me reach that goal … I just need to get back into the routine of going regularly before work!

Anyway, I’d better skedaddle and put some laundry washing in while it’s still daylight and the laundry nazis don’t chase me out (we have to be out by 8pm sharp!) … can’t guarantee there’ll be a stitching finish any time soon, as I want to put a few hours into Mirabilia’s Winter Queen (thanks to me joining a UFO challenge group) and also get some decent stitching time into Nicki’s Quaker RR 😀

Look forward to catching up on your blogs over the next few days as well … ah, the joy of still being on holiday!! 😀

Lisa’s final farewell dinner

Katie and I put on a final farewell dinner for Lisa last night, and it was absolutely wonderful if I say so myself!  We’d discussed having crayfish months ago (aka Rock Lobster), and I said I’d treat us for the final meal … yesterday morning I took a trip out to the Sydney Fish Markets for the first time (and fell in love with them while I was there – I think I’ll be going there once a month to buy fresh fish!), and cried at the price tag, then cried again as they got yanked out of the tank and put into a bag with their litte tails still flapping … yikes …

Anyway, the shop put them out of their misery and sliced them into halves for me, and I picked up a fresh whole snapper to keep them company, along with a couple of tuna steaks.  I will definitely be living on bread and jam for the month of February (or at least until next payday) ‘cos the bank balance was emptied out hmmm, but a promise is a promise.  Katie made Pannecotta for dessert (which I’ve never had before) – oh boy it was scrummy!

We took some photos of the evening’s menus, so thought I’d share it (sorry Mum, I know you’re sitting there as green as a shamrock with jealousy! haha).

First of all we take some fresh crafish/rock lobster, and slice them in half…

Farewell Dinner 1

Then we sprinkle with cayenne pepper and a dash of sea salt, and baste with a marinade made from garlic, oil, lemon juice and brandy.  Eventually, after a couple of extra bastings during cooking, they’ll come out looking like this…

Farewell Dinner 2

Add a bit of potato slice bake (which unfortunatey looks like it’s mashed in this photo!), and add a basic tossed salad, and you have a scrummy meal that will have you sighing with satisfaction for hours afterwards.  Katie was ooh’ing and ahh’ing for ages, saying her taste buds were in ecstasy as every element of the meal was amazing – thanks Katie, that’s a huge compliment 🙂

Farewell Dinner 3

We had great fun at the end all trying to get into the crayfish legs for that final little fleshy morsel hiding in there – lots of giggles and cursing abounded LOL.  We even cleared and set the dining table for dinner … it was lovely eating all together … it’s only taken us 12 months to use it! LOL.

Farewell Dinner 4

Afterwards Katie was sent into the kitchen to finish off the preparations of her Pannecotta desserts – and this is the result … how beautiful do they look?  And they tasted just as beautiful! 🙂

Farewell Dinner 5

We ended the night by finishing off my Christmas present of chocolate port … just enough left in the bottle to half fill three glasses for the Three Musketeers … and here’s Katie’s self-portrait of us all at the end of the meal while we were sampling our ports.

Farewell Dinner 6

All in all a really wonderful night – we’re going to miss my flatmate Lisa a LOT … both at work and at home.  She will definitely be missed, bless her.

We were supposed to all be going to Manly for lunch today with other friends of Lisa’s for their farewell lunch, but I’ve woken up with my throat being worse, and heading to my chest, so I’ve decided to sit here with a mug of Lemsip and have pulled out of the festivities.  I figure it’s probably wiser for me to have a day sat around home vegetating than being a social butterfly and sharing my bugs further.  Never mind, I still have wonderful memories from last night to keep me warm and cosy today … I might even get some more stitching done! 😀

Merry Christmas everyone!

Just a really quick drive-by as a head off to work …

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

Here’s hoping that 2009 brings you peace, joy and happiness, and everything your hearts desire. 

Thank you for your continued friendship and support throughout 2008, even though I don’t post/comment as often as I used to. 

I look forward to catching up with you all in the New Year.

Anne-Xmas-2008

Love,