Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Sight seeing in Switzerland

August already? How did that happen? Both our kids are spending some time with us here in Switzerland over the summer. As it happened, they are both moving from Asia to Europe this year too. My daughter finished the school year in Beijing and will start her new job in Milan, Italy next week. My son quit his job in Singapore as well and is now looking at two job opportunities; one in London and one in Zurich. Guess which one I want him to take ;)? On the other hand London would be a cool place for a young person to live and work and for us to visit. In any case, it's lovely to have the whole family on the same continent again.

Since the weather has been beautiful and it's been quite hot (too hot for my taste) we took the opportunity to go on a few day trips.

This is Gruyere, a small medieval village with its historical castle dating back to the 13th century.

View from the castle over the manicured garden

It was blessedly cool in the castle with its thick walls. 

As you might have guessed, Gruyere is also where the famous Gruyere cheese is made and although it was hot, we had to have an authentic Gruyere cheese fondue.

On another day we went up to Kandersteg from where we took a cable car up to Oeschinensee and a leisurely hike brought us to this wonderful little mountain lake. The fresh air up there was just heaven.

On the way back, we stopped at the Blausee (meaning blue lake) and it's easy to see why it's called that

and the obligatory selfie ;)! 

We also spent a lovely day in our cute capital city Bern. It was another scorcher of a day and lots of swimmers came down the Aare River. Unfortunately I didn't catch any on my camera. 

a cold drink under a sun umbrella in front of the Parliament Building. 

It was indeed a gorgeous day, but I still think Bern is the most beautiful in winter covered in snow. Oh boy, I can't wait!

And surprise, surprise, I even did a bit of sewing. 

Block 3, 4 and 5 for the Aunts' Quilt are now finally completed. Just one more of the big blocks to finish and then I can get going with the side triangles. I know I'm hopelessly behind the "official schedule" but I'll get there as I'm still enjoying this project a lot. 

I've been very lucky as I've won a give away by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts fame, sponsored by the Fat Quarter Shop. These lovely boxes of Aurifloss arrived on my doorsteps

and a look inside - can't wait to try them out. 

That's it for today. I hope you have survived the heat or the cold, depending on where you are.

Vreni x

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

....and I'm back

After being in Switzerland for almost three month now, we are starting to find our feet again. It was rather strange at the beginning and somehow I couldn't quite believe that we were here to stay. We unpacked two containers and most boxes are empty, although not everything has found its place yet. It was truly a mammoth job!  At the moment I'm in the process of "fine tuning"  my sewing room and once again I'm overwhelmed with all the fabrics I have collected over the years. I have almost sleepless nights wondering what to do with my stash, especially those fabrics I've fallen "out of love" with. Luckily I just heard that a group at church get together to make quilts for charity and I have now sorted out two big basket to give to them. I'm so happy to have made room in my cupboards but also in my head, if you know what I mean.

I miss Singapore and ''my old life" but what I miss most are my friends and my quilting groups.  Of course we miss our lovely view from our old home too, although our new view isn't to be sniffed at either, especially on a beautiful Spring day like this: 

So many things to readjust to. After many years of having helpers in the house I struggle to keep on top of my chores. I don't mind cooking, but cleaning floors and bathroom, not to mention ironing!! Blimey, how do people do it??  I find it a real challenge, so getting a cleaning lady was of the highest priority. Otherwise how would I ever find time to quilt???

Talking about quilting, I have hardly touched any sewing since we arrived as frankly, I neither had the time nor was I in the mood for it.  But I jumped  at the chance to do a two day workshop with Sue Spargo a few weeks ago. The class had been booked out a year in advance but somehow there was suddenly a space available

We learned how to appliqué with wool and how to embellish with different embroidery stitches and I really enjoyed Sue's class but also the company of local quilters. This is the sewing kit we worked on; the finished one is Sue's and on the right is the beginning of mine.

 And some close ups of my first embroidery attempts:

 Now I just have to remember all the different stitches so I can finish it. In any case, I bought Sue's great little book "Creative Stitching" with lots of diagrams and photos of 50 different stitches.

Of course I also had to buy a few pieces of wool and some wool thread so I can practice some more. Aren't these colours just glowing? The wool fabrics are hand dyed by Sue and her family. 

I'll be back soon with hopefully some news of actual sewing.

Enjoy the rest of this week.

Vreni xx

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

SMS Giveaway Day

As I'm still not quite finished unpacking and organising our new home, I'll make this short and sweet.

I have a small box of fabrics to give away. 

If you are interested, please leave a comment and if you are a follower (old and new) you get to leave a second one. The draw will take place on Monday, 11th of May. The winner will be announced by edit to this blog post and also by email, so make sure I have your contact details.

Click on the button below to see lots more fabulous giveaways.

I'll be back soon, I promise. In the meantime, good luck everyone.Cheers
Vreni x

This give away is now closed

The winner of the box of fabrics is comment number 83
which is by Sherry in Washington State, USA

Congratulations Sherry, I will contact you by email for your address.
Thanks everybody for playing along.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Big changes are afoot!

After living aboard for almost 30 years we have decided that the time has come to move back to Switzerland. I can't say that it was an easy decision, but with both our mothers old and my mum very frail, we feel it's where we should be. I'm vacillating between being exited and having panic attacks.   It certainly will be a challenge as I have lived more of less half of my life away from Switzerland, first in Australia and then in various Asian countries. I was a young woman of 30 with a baby in tow when we left "home" and this year I'm going to be..... well, I'll let you do the math. I'm not quite ready yet to write that number ;)! I feel like I have to reinvent myself as being an "expat" has somewhat become my identity and belonging nowhere and anywhere has given me a strange sense of freedom.

But we can't leave Asia "cold turkey".  We are trying to buy a little holiday house in Bali (or villa as they grandly call it) but like everything else in Indonesia there are a few hoops which need to be jumped through first.  But I'm sure we'll succeed  in the and and no doubt it will provide a welcome escape during the long and often dreary winters in Switzerland and I hope it will be a place where we can welcome family and friends.

Of course I'm going to miss my friends, especially my quilting buddies and we will certainly miss living the "easy" life in Singapore. And I've been trying to soak up this wonderful view we've been enjoying for the last five years.

I've been preparing some appliqué work as I won't have my sewing machine for a while.

The second corner on my Auntie Green

and a couple more blocks for My Aunt's Quilt 

 And this is the finished second block. 

All the corner and side blocks are prepared too and I'm taking a stash of fabric with me in my suit case to carry on when I have time. 

Tomorrow bright and early the moving company will be here to start packing up our belongings. I still have to prepare my suitcase for the next six weeks or so as that's how long it will take for the container to reach Switzerland. In the meantime we will be staying in my mum's house, which we will start to clear and prepare for sale. As you can imagine, it will be a busy time.

Vreni xx

Sunday, 8 February 2015

My quilts are back!

Last week I picked up my quilts I had sent to the Philippines (through a local quilt shop)  to be hand quilted.  

Both quilts are heavily quilted and I'm pleased how they turned out. I would never have the patience not the stamina for something like this. Because both quilts were hand or English paper pieced I felt they deserved to be hand quilted. 

I'm happy to have two tops done but there are still about eight more waiting in line! Oh well, a quilters work is never done!
Vreni xx

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Aunt's Quilt update

I'm quite behind with my appliqué blocks; to tell you the truth, I've only completed the first block. But I have decided to make all the pieced blocks in one go and here they are.

I have also made blocks for a charity quilt the "Shanghai quilters alumni" are putting together. We were all members of the Shanghai quilt group at one time or another.  Some lovely ladies in the US will collect all the blocks and put them together and another lovely lady with a longarm machine is going to quilt it.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend.
Vreni xx

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Burmese Days

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a good start into the new year. Our Christmas was low key as it was just the four of us. We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange afterwards (as we do in Switzerland) and on Christmas day we went to our favorite hotel for brunch. On Boxing Day we left early for the airport to fly to Burma, or Myanmar as it's called now . What a beautiful country and people. After many years of brutal military dictatorship it looks like there are at long last some democratic reforms, although opinions differ whether the transition to democracy is really underway. I guess time will tell.

I will just let the pictures tell the story:

The famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, which  is undergoing substantial renovations at the moment, hence the covers and scaffolding  

 Bagan - a truly magical place -  located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. It is home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world with many dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. 

 and at sun set

I love visiting fresh produce markets

and couldn't resist buying a big bag full of dried chilies.

 Traditional arts and crafts:
tapestry with gold threads and semi precious stones

 Hotel pool with ancient temples in the background  

Sun set on the Irrawaddy River

Another golden temple

Manaday, Kuthodaw Pagoda

U Bein bridge,
the iconic teak wood bridge, the oldest and longest in the world  

Next we visit Amarapura, an 18th century capital city, to see the monks lining up to receive their food and gifts from donors at the Mahagandhayon Monastery. Monks only eat twice a day, lunch being the last meal of the day. 

From Mandalay we flew to the Inle Lake and enjoyed being taken on several tours in one of those narrow motor boats.

Fishermen "ballet" 

 Houses on stilts

Kids coming home from school, on boats of course

floating gardens, where tomatoes, bitter gourds, flowers and more grow

rickety stairways and walkways, not so easy to navigate for people like us (or me I should say)

Visits to the hill tribes 

 We had a few amazing days on and around the lake and I would probably say, that it was the best part of our holiday. 

The last night we spend at the iconic Strand Hotel in Yangon colonial life as its finest.

I congratulate you if you are still reading, but it was hard to choose only a few pictures out of the 600 we took.

Happy weekend.
Vreni xx