Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas gifts / 50th Anniversary gift / I-net connection

I haven't sewn anything since the middle of November, so the only projects I can show in this post are the Christmas gifts I made.

Purse for my dear "niece" Nina.
The front...

... and the back.
I've used different fat-quarters from my stash.

Two pair of pot holders for my dear friend Johnny.

I've made several tissue holders for friends, which is quite addictive! :)
Here are some of them... Can't remember how many I made...

Cute cats.

Tea bag totes. Very easy to make, and addictive too!

Sorry for the very poor quality of this photo.
A "wine-cow" for my dear friend Kari (no blog).
The "cow" is a cover for a 3-litres wine bag.
Click here for a better photo.

A sheep wall quilt for my dear friend Elisabeth (no blog).
Elisabeth collects everything sheep, and this is her 50th birthday gift.
I made the quilt at the end of 2008. Since I couldn't attend her birthday party in 2009, I finally presented it to her during my stay in Norway.
(Sorry for the poor quality).

My beloved "Nina" (sewing machine Bernina) is at service since the beginning of December.  I'm far from happy, because the guy at the service centre managed to break a small piece of the stitch plate when he tried to adjust something! (Don't ask me what he tried to adjust!) There has been a strange sound in the bobbin case area for quite some time, which disappears each time I oil the machine. The manual says the bobbin case should be oiled after each 80 000 stitches, but to make that strange sound disappear I have to oil every day I use the machine, which I find quite abnormal. I don't think he'll get a new stitch plate until middle of January, so I just have to be patient! :((


There's still no good news - or news at all - about our service provider Nomad - or "Yes-Mad" - as we have named it! Still no news how long Vista is going to be off-line. Still the same communiques. Impossible to get in touch with any at the customer service; just a sweet female voice telling all the operators are busy, so please send a sms..... How long are they going to fool their clients?! No one bothers to call you back! XP is the only operating system that is established at the moment, but still doesn't work properly. One may wonder if they have had a web attack or what the heck is going on.... It can't be upgrades taking that long?!
If the lack of information and Vista still not established over the weekend, we'll have to consider another service provider! Nomad should be aware of that they can't treat their clients as they have done over the last two - almost three weeks! I wonder how many have escaped to another service provider?! 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas/Winter Ornaments - Cross-stitched

If you have followed and read my blog for a year or so, you may remember I got into the cross-stitching bug again after xx-years - thanks to talented cross-stitcher's at NNC! When I did cross-stitching years ago, it was all about Aida (cross-stitching fabric). Not long ago, I was introduced to linen, which was new to me. Of course I couldn't resist trying it out! I fell in love with those darling ornaments from LHN (Little House Needleworks) and HE (Homespun Elegance) - as well as yummy hand dyed floss from Weeks Dye Works, Crescent Colours and The Gentle Art. etc.

The very first Christmas ornament I stitched, is "Santa Please Bring Me..." by HE.
It is stitched on Zweigart 28 count Cashel Linen, Vintage Country Cream.
Floss; DMC, Rainbow Gallery, Crescent and WDW.

"ABC Noel House" from HE.
Stitched on 30 count "Dolphin", over-dyed linen by WDW.
Floss; DMC, WDW and Sampler Threads.

"Snow Merry" by HE.
Stitched on 30 count Aztec Red over-dyed linen by WDW.
Floss; DMC, WDW and Sampler Threads.

These three ornaments were stitched at the end of 2009, but since I dreaded doing the finishing, they were not finished until end of this year (2010).

"Snow Much Joy" by HE.
Stitched on 30 count Mocha, by WDW (if I'm not mistaken).
Floss; DMC, WDW and Sampler Threads.

"Santa Flies But Once a Year" by HE.
Stitched on 28 count Natural Raw Linen.
Floss; DMC & WDW.

"Santa Arrives Tonight" by HE.
Stitched on 30 count Mocha by WDW (if I'm not mistaken).
Floss; DMC, WDW & Sampler Threads.

"The Merry Stitcher" by HE.
Stitched on 30 count Mocha by WDW (if not mistaken).
Floss; DMC, Crescent, Rainbow Gallery & Sampler Threads.

These are the ornaments I have done - and finally finished over the last year or so. I dreaded the finishing, but it wasn't that difficult after all! :) 
Do you believe I have ran out of cross-stitching projects?! Think twice! :)) Once addicted - always addicted! I have at least 12-14 patterns from different designers, which I haven't stitched yet. So hopefully I'll have some cross-stitching projects to show next year too.

NNC's Christmas Ornament Exchange 2010

Earlier this year I signed up for NNC's Christmas Ornament Swaps. The members of the group had the possibility to sign up for two different swaps; counted cross-stitching on linen, and all crafts. I signed up for both swaps, making four ornaments; two cross-stitching and two all-crafts. It was a secret partner swap, I knew only my partners. I was near to faint when "headmistress" MW (the organizer of the swaps)   picked Diane (no blog) in the US as one of my swap partners! Just thinking of how she was going to "scan" my poor stitches........... lol! Diane is a devoted cross-stitcher and does such neat work. Perhaps I shouldn't consider myself as newbie when it comes to cross-stitching, I did a lot in earlier years, but it was first recently I started stitching on linen - totally new to me. 
The parcel from Diane arrived sound & safe while I was in Norway. (Missed custom this time too!) Parcels from Diane are always full of surprises, and this one was no exception!
This is what Diane sent me;

a gorgeous cross-stitched house, fat-quarter, Rozanne's Glue-Baste-It, Ginger man potholder, 2 spools Superior thread and a Christmas card.

A close-up of the stunning cross-stitched Christmas house.

Isn't it wonderful? I just can't take my eyes of it! So lovely!
I LOVE the card! On the front page it says; "No animals were harmed during the making of this card"... Inside; "The photographer, however, is in serious but stable condition and may be able to leave the hospital by New Year's - Merry Christmas!" On the back; "Bad, Mr Cuddles! Very bad!" - and there are terrible scratches from the cat's claws! What a dangerous cat! 

My second partner for the cross-stitch swap, is Radha (no blog) in Malaysia. A couple of days before Christmas Eve, I received another big box that had to take the trip to the custom before it ended up in our mailbox. I'm always a bit anxious when parcels go through customs, but this time all items were neatly placed into the box again - just like it never had been opened. (Must have been a newbie - lol!) 
I became breathless when I opened the box, just take a look what was inside; 

a piece of gorgeous Malaysian batik (sorry it didn't turn out better on the photo, perhaps I'll take a new photo for another post), three other pieces of fabric, a piece of felt with cute cats, ribbon, pins, floss, calendar, two cute Santas, two cute teddies (to be sewn on clothes, not sure what they are called in English... 

A gorgeous Christmas ornament - isn't it lovely?!

OOOOH! I'm the lucky owner of Radha's famous hairpin lace scarf!!! Isn't it lovely?!
Don't ask me how she does it! :))

I go and hide in shame!!! I'm ashamed, because I sent almost nothing to Diane and Radha, and look what I received from them!

My cross-stitched ornament, bookmark and some postcards to Radha.

My cross-stitched ornament to Diane. There were also a bookmark and some postcards.
Both ornaments are from Little House Needleworks - "Red House in Winter" and "Snowy Pines" - stitched on 30 count linen. I love their designs, and I hope you do too, Radha & Diane! 

A huge THANK YOU to Diane & Radha for your gorgeous gifts! I'm overwhelmed!
And not to forget MW at NNC for organizing the swap - thank you MW!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas - again....


A very Merry Christmas to all of you,
from a hot & humid Mauritius.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Escaped frozen Europe / Frustration over no I-net connection

Dear friends, followers and readers!

It has been way too long since my previous post. I escaped the freezing cold Norway / Europe before the airports closed due to snow. Norwegians can't help it but smile though; it rarely happens airports in Norway are closed due to snow! I thought - or better say hoped - my flight back to Mauritius was in time, but no. We boarded the plane bound for Paris in time, but got stuck at Gardermoen airport (Oslo) for two hours, before we were able to take off - due to snow storm (5 cm snow - big smile!) in Paris! I missed the flight to Mauritius, but "fortunate" the next flight that evening was almost five hours delayed so I was re-booked to that flight. The flight went well. There has been some positive changes at Plaisance airport, and going through immigration didn't cause any problems at all. Wearing a residence permit I didn't have to line up at any of the "tourist counters", instead I went to the "resident/work permit counter" where there were no queue at all. Wonderful! :)
I left Norway in -24C - landed at Plaisance with its +28C - what a thermal shock! It felt like walking in to a sauna - phew! 
I had a wonderful stay in wintry Norway. The last days of my stay provided -12C, clear, sunny sky - a real winter wonderland! I enjoyed walking in the cold, breathe the cold, fresh air, enjoy the landscape; trees covered in white etc. BUT, I must confess it feels wonderful being back in the tropics, where I don't have to dress in layers of warm winter clothes! After seven years in Mauritius, I guess I have lost the habit (already) of wearing winter clothes - lol. :)) 
I have more photos to share with you, but it has to wait.


"Thanks" to our service provider Nomad, we have been without I-net connection since Dec. 13th. According to them, they are upgrading the system for better service and faster connection. (It is allowed to hope!) Does it really take almost two weeks - or even more - to upgrade??? Are there other problems that is supposed to be a secret?! I don't know how many times we have called Nomad the last days - in vain! 

1) They don't pick up the phone.
2) ... "the connection will be established within the next hours"
3) ... "the connection will be established this afternoon"
4) Communiques; "the connection will be established within the next hours" 
5) ... "there will be a reduction on your next bill" (Hurray!!!) 

These are some of the answers we have got, either by a person who "accidentally" picked up the phone, or by several communiques. 

When it all started - Dec 12th or 13th - we were told they are upgrading and the connection will be established the next day - Tuesday 14th at 2 o'clock pm. How many days have gone by since then??? 
I think clients had been more understanding if Nomad had informed about the upgrades in advance and not told "stories" all the time! I know they informed about upgrading the modems - it has been printed on the bills - but as far as I know (perhaps I'm mistaken) there has not been any information about when the upgrades were going to take place! 
I don't know if I should say "by chance" we got to know from a poor soul at Nomad's customer service that XP is operative, but not Vista and Windows 7. 
There is something called "customer service" - and I URGE Nomad to work hard on establishing a proper customer service, which - according to me - does not work to any customers satisfaction as it is now! At Nomad's homepage it is written; 
1) "send sms to ...."
2) "send email to ...."
I don't know how many times we have sent emails or sms's, because they have not picked up the phone, but it has NEVER happened any at Nomad's so-called customer service has gotten back to us! In the end, we have had to take the phone call! Are they saving money???
I can't believe otherwise than there are many furious Nomad clients in the country these days. Some weeks ago Yashvin became a follower to my blog, and I have the pleasure to read his blog. Yashvin - thanks for following my blog - and thanks for sharing your frustration about Nomad - we relate to it! 

I can also mention Nomad's account department - another part of Nomad that doesn't work properly. We always pay bills before due date, but still; outstanding amount accumulates each month - how come??? The connection has been "chopped off" many times due to "lack of payment", which is darn annoying when we know we have paid; we know it is their fault, but still we have to make the call! We have called; "yes, we're going to look into it"...... etc. We have sent e-mails and sms's - no replies. Finally, after months, the latest bill show "no outstanding amount" - for how long...??

Per today, we have no idea - no information - how long Nomad's "upgrading" is going to take. Since XP is the only system that works right now, I have to use my "dinosaur-pc". The poor thing - the pc - is almost ten years old, but even if it is slow - at least it still works! :) 
I was going to post more photos from wintry and freezing cold Norway, but as long as Nomad is acting up I'll have to wait until I can use the laptop/Vista. 

Advice to Nomad;
Tell your clients the TRUTH - don't try different stunts by lack of information!!! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stash shopping in Oslo

Bet you'll say; oh no, two posts in one day! :)) Today - finally - I have some time for blogging. You know how it is; visiting friends and all that doesn't leave much me-time - so that's why I do two posts in one day. Hope you don't mind?! :)

I was not supposed to buy anything during my stay here in Norway, but already I have excess luggage! Well, I'm exeggerating, of course I was supposed to do some shopping, but NOT stash shopping, because fabrics are very expensive here!
Those of you (Norwegians) who have visited Kathrine's Quiltestue surely know it is impossible to leave that shop without buying as much as a needle - ain't I right?? :)

Visiting Oslo - it is a "must" to visit this shop! 

Lovely, isn't it?!

Some of the fabrics...

I fell in love with the fabrics used in this quilt! Can you believe it; the fabrics were begging me to buy it - lol!
Here's what I bought;

I don't have any pattern in mind for these fabrics right now, but that shouldn't be too difficult!

I bought these fabrics too; 

These fabrics are for the Crabapple Hill pattern Over the River and through the woods. I don't remember when I bought the pattern, must be at least one year ago...

I don't know what to say.... If these kind of shops had been available in Mauritius, I'm afraid my wallet had been empty all the time! :))

More from the shop...

I stayed at my friend Elisabeth's (no blog) place in Oslo for some days when I visited Kathrine's Quiltestue.  I intended to do some more shopping that day, but with all the stash I bough it was too heavy to do more shopping! :)

I had a great time at Kathrine's Quiltestue. A big thank you to Kathrine (I think it was her) who helped me choose fabrics for the stitchery mentioned above!
I had a blast! :))

Having a blast.... Norway!
Yes, I'm currently in a freezing cold Southern Norway.
-10C / 14F - a little bit snow. -10C isn't that bad - when there's no wind - but add wind and it feels like -30C / -22F!!! Then it feels cold! And yes - coming from +28C / 83F - I am freezing! Not inside the house of course, but I do not like to venture out these days! Living in the tropics for 7 years, I have become such a coward when it comes to real winter. :) I even feel cold during the Mauritian "winter" too! :))

You may wonder what on earth I'm doing in Norway this time of the year.... Well, it's a kind of business trip I had to do; renewal of my passport, which is not an easy procedure living in a country where there's no Norwegian Embassy. Living in Mauritius, means that I either had to renew my passport at a Norwegian embassy - in my case; Maputo - Mozambique, or the nearest one in Antananarivo - Madagascar - or any other Norwegian embassies in the world - or at a police station in Norway.
Before April this year - I think it was - fingerprints were not required in Norwegian passports, which makes the process (living abroad) a bit more complicated. The Norwegian Consulate in Mauritius does not have the "green light" to issue passports and I doubt it ever will, because there are only a few Norwegians living on the island.

I love the 12-months summer so much that I had decided not to visit Norway during winter - but here I am!
When I still lived in Norway, I loved to travel and went abroad at least once a year. After I moved to Mauritius, I have settled - sort of - I don't have that urge to travel - lol! :)

I LOVE traveling by plane! Especially the Boeing 747! I love the take off's; the feeling of power from the engines, love to have a window seat to see how the wing works during take off and landing, the speed; approx 980km/609 miles/h, touch down at 200km/125miles/h. etc.  Amazing! It has always facinated me how such a "monster" takes off. :))

(Not my photo, it is from this link).

I was lucky to get a flight to Paris - Oslo.
Since I haven't travelled to/from Mauritius since I settled there, I'm impressed (a little bit - don't have too good experiences from immigration) by the improvements through check-in and custom at Plaisance (Airport Mauritius).
The weather condition over the African continent was perfect that day, so we landed at Charles De Gaulle in Paris before scedule. I had a day-flight, which I don't like that much - quite boring. By that I mean traveling during the night makes it easier to sleep. Yes, I don't have any problems sleeping while traveling! :)
Flights from Mauritius to CDG/Paris take approx 12 hours. I had transit in Paris - to Oslo - and had to go through two security checks; passport and hand luggage check points. I'm not very happy about some of the rules; liquid not allowed! I bought two 50cl bottles of water at Plaisance, but was forced to throw the one I had left at that hand luggage check point! I didn't feel for having the small bottle of red wine I got on the plane, so I decided to bring it - but NO! Had to throw it too! Not even allowed to buy alcohol at Plaisance because I had a connectiong flight!! :(( OK - lesson learnt!!! Not that I HAD to buy alcohol, but it had been nice to bring a bottle of delicious rum (local made) to my friend. (Idiotic rules, if you ask me!)
CDG/Paris is one of the biggest airports in the world - if I'm not mistaken. I had to go from terminal E to F by shuttle bus and it took ages. Flight to Oslo was on scedule, and we landed at Gardermoen/Oslo on time - after approx 2 hours.
BRRRRRR!!!! -8C / 17.6F - SNOW!!! It was a shock! Leaving sunny Mauritius in +28C / 83F - it felt so darn cold!!!!!
I've stayed here for a couple of weeks now - soon going back to my tropical paradise.
Norwegian winter IS beautiful, no doubt about that, but I do prefer 12-months summer!

It's WINTER - and I haven't forgotten where I'm coming from! :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our garden

I didn't intend blogging today, because I don't have anything crafty to show. I haven't been lazy though; I've done quite a lot, but it is top secret - until Christmas! :)

I was looking at some photos taken in our garden over the past 2-3 weeks and thought I'd share some of the beauties with you.

Clerodendrum thomsonae - Bleeding Heart vine.

Callistemom citrinus - Bottlebrush tree

Nerium Oleander - Laurier Blanc

The amazing Bougainvillea - one tree with at least three different colors.

One of our Passion Fruit trees.

Alpinia zerumbet - Fleur de mon ame/Shell ginger
Not a very good close-up, but if you click here you'll get some better images.


"Pistache Malgache".
We don't know any other name on this tree. I've searched the net without success. Searching for "Pistache Malgache" gives groundnuts......, but this is a tree nut. It's a tall tree with stunning flowers. When the big nut is ready, it "explodes" into 4 - or is it six (?) parts, and the eatable nuts inside are spread everywhere. There are about 16-20 nuts inside one huge nut.
I thought I had photos of the flowers or an open nut, but can't find any.
If there's any of you who knows this tree, please let me know.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Deepavali (Divali) 2010

Deepavali - or Divali as it is called in Mauritius - was celebrated November 5th this year. It is a public holiday and is celebrated by Hindus all over the world. In India the celebration goes on for 5 days. Divali never falls on the same day each year, it depends on the position of the moon (lunar calendar). You can read more about the history of Divali by clicking on the link above.

It is also called the "festival of lights" - or "good over evil".

In earlier years only clay lamps were used to light up around and inside the homes, but nowadays many people decorate their houses with electric lights, which reminds me of the American decorated houses for Christmas. There are some stunning decorated houses in this area, and as late as 9 - 10 o'clock in the evening the road next to us was jam packed with cars. We're living on a slope with stunning view over the town, so not so strange people come here for the view.

The original clay lamps. These are a bit bigger than the usual smaller ones. I prefer these, because they burn longer and is easier to handle.

Who has said clay lamps have to look boring? Nowadays these lamps are painted and decorated nicely. Last year I painted a few lamps just to give it a try, and I did a few more this year.
These are first sanded, then painted. I have used some leftover decoupage from many years back (while still living in Norway). Several layers with sealer and then a layer of glossy spray.

Another of my "art" lamps - lol - burning outside the entrance. Perhaps you don't know how it burns? Cut a suitable piece of wick, then add cooking oil and light the wick with a matchstick - so simple! :))

There's no Divali without tons of (sickening) Indian sweets! OM Gosh - I have eaten too much and most probably gained some grams too!
A couple of weeks before Divali I told DH I won't make any of these sweets! But even if we don't celebrate Divali the BIG way as most others, it has become a tradition for us too.
We didn't make a lot, but enough to distribute to the nearest family and a neighbor. Divali is about distributing sweets to family, friends and neighbors, and it can easily become too much! MIL next door can't eat too many sweets, so what she got ended up our side! I don't exaggerate when saying we got more than 1 kilo of sweets!

Here you can see what we made.
In front left (dark brown) is gulab jamun - one of the sweetest of Indian sweets, but so yummy! After frying the balls in oil, the balls are soaked in sugar syrup. In front right is besan laddoos, made of chickpea flour (besan). The half-moons are gato patate - the dough made of sweet potatoes, filled with a mix of freshly grated coconut and sugar, fried in oil. To the left - in the pan - is a healthier choice; date squares; chopped dates mixed with melted butter, crushed sweet biscuits and chopped peanuts.

You may wonder what is in the little bowl? It is offerings to the dead ancestors, and has to be offered before tasting the sweets.
I didn't know that is important, so I did taste the sweets before the offering....

Once quilter - always quilter - isn't it?
After the candle lights burnt down, the different colors of the lights made a stunning pattern and mixes of colors in the tray. The darkest color is dark blue, then it turns to turquoise and light green...
I have decided to make a quilt using these colors - hopefully I'll get these colors from the Moda Marbles collection. It won't be this year though, but it is great to have some planned projects next year too!

I made this tablecloth approx 4 years ago - one of my first quilts. I was a newbie at that time and haven't used batting; only the top and the backing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Marion's Quilt FINISHED!

I couldn't believe I've not posted for more than two weeks! We always have some excuses for not doing what we intend to do, don't we? I don't have many excuses; I've been extremely busy, in addition to a very slow PC/Internet connection. I find it very demotivating when I'm not able to read blogs etc properly; photos don't load, impossible to watch videos/demo's etc. I googled speed tests, and out of 185 countries, Mauritius is #178!!! Hurray! Almost at the bottom; 0.56 Mb/s download speed and 0.16 Mb/s (#180 on the list) upload speed - compared to #1 on the list, South Korea; 36.03 Mb/s and 20.38 Mb/s!
I have to add to it that Blogger isn't the worst, I seldom have problems loading photos for my posts. E-mails are the worst, especially Yahoo! I hate spending valuable time on slow Internet connection - I'd rather do crafting!
Dear crafty blogging buddies, I hope you understand it is not always easy for me - due to that darn Internet connection - to read and comment on your blogs. Usually I can read the posts, but don't see the photos. At times it's impossible to make a comment too. Months ago the service provider notified the modems will be upgraded, but didn't say when or if that will have anything to say on the speed - at least let us hope!

Sidetracked! I was going to tell about a few finishes I have done over the last two weeks.
First of all - here's Marion's quilt - finished! :) This is a gift to my dear friend Johnny's mother. I've used polyester batting (don't get wool or cotton batting here), and the backing is gray flannel. Very comfy.

My intention was to give these two place mats as a Christmas gift for my friend Elisabeth (no blog) in Norway, but decided against it. It is a gift though, but not for Christmas.
Elisabeth collects everything sheep, so I thought a couple of cute lambs will make her happy! :) One of the lambs is fishing, the other one working in the garden. I have also added the letter "E" - as you can see - for Elisabeth.

Another attempt on FMQ (Free Motion Quilting). I've used Superior's King Tut variegated quilting thread. This time I tried some circles. I have to practise much more, that is what it is all about. As a newbie, it didn't turn out that bad - I think?! :)
It should be possible to click on the photos, to see better the FMQ.

I've finished some other projects too, which can't be shown now. :)