Thursday, April 25, 2024

My Friend Carolyn's Birthday

Greetings lovely friends & readers

My friend Carolyn & I first met through our eldest sons Zane & Aaron.  Both boys were 5 at the time & soon turn 43 so it is a friendship that has spanned 38 years through all the trials & tribulations that life brings.  Carolyn moved away down the South Island for 10 years but now lives in the North Island though she is still 4 hours journey away.  We have kept in constant touch all those years & met up whenever the opportunity arose.  She is definately a                Lifetime Friend !

You can read about Carolyn's last special birthday when I flew South to celebrate with her in this post from 10 years ago!.    Another decade has passed & another special birthday was looming.  I wanted to make her a handmade gift but at our ages, it is very much about the practical gifts as we both have homes full of stuff treasures.

I was inspired by this apron print fabric I found in my stash as Carolyn sews beautiful vintage style aprons & sells in a trendy cafe in her small coastal township. 
 I sewed a length of the fabric to a new linen teatowel, then made her a matching coaster/hotmat scented with cloves.  The teatowels came as a pair so I wrapped the botanical one up with a new hand-knitted dishcloth & a scrubbie along with a lemon myrtle soap.  

Then I decided to make her one of the hanging handtowel dresses that I used to sell in my craft cottage.  You can read about an order I had once for 12 of them in * this post *  I love how this turned out & even tied it over the door handle of my own oven just to try it out.  These are so handy & are fully reversible.  I thought the apron print fabric went nicely with the sage green & I know Carolyn adores green ๐Ÿ’š

As she is an avid reader I wanted to make her a Bookmark that I'd seen somewhere on the world wide web.  It's a corner bookmark made from felt with a Liberty print hexie stitched to it ...  I lined mine with Liberty & some stiffening to give it a bit of body. I tried it out on my book & it worked perfectly. 
Carolyn had been away with her sister for 2 weeks so when she flew back to my area I organised to pick her up & take her on a mystery day out!

I drove us all the way out the other side of the city to visit Splashy.  This is a wonderful venue set in an old church can read about it * here *.  I decided we would do something creative firstly, so we both chose dishes & set about ceramic painting them.  Carolyn's is the flowery one & mine is the bunting one (I think I should mention here that I disliked mine immensely & wanted to paint over it all in black & start again but the lady didn't recommend this as it would show through once fired). Once painted the dishes get fired several times & I have arranged for them to be posted back to me so I'll share the photos when they arrive in a couple of weeks.
Then I drove us back through the city to visit the Hamilton Gardens..
We had a lovely lunch in the cafe here & then spent a good few hours walking around seeing all the different gardens.

The Italian Garden  ... one of my very favorites.  

I have not visited the gardens for 2 years - the last time was in * this post * when my stepson got married in the Italian Gardens.  Since then 3 new gardens have been opened & I was keen to check these out.

The Katherine Mansfied Garden.  This was wonderful - both of us thought the house was old & original but it is actually just a facade made to look VeRy realistic.  We had both tried peeping in the windows. 

The Egyptian Garden is also new ... some stunning features in this garden.

Surprisingly the Surrealist Garden just blew me away.  I could not stop looking at all the different topiary shapes that looked like they could just start moving any time soon. 

Everything was on a huge scale ... like being in a Giants garden.  

We both absolutely loved it all & very much enjoyed our outing.  We stopped at a little stall & ate icecreams, drank coffee & just meandered around.  These gardens are currently free entry but there will be a $20 entry fee bought in next year.  You can read about this * Here *

Carolyn took a selfie of us ... I have a tendency to chop heads off (!!)

I have had Grandsons here for the school holidays & also been over looking after Alec.  Upon my return a Happy Mail package was waiting for me.  Fiona has been diligently cleaning out her sewing room in recent months & came across this Tilda book she thought I might enjoy.  She posted it all the way across the Ditch to me & when I opened the first page all these mouthwatering Tilda fabrics just blew me away.  The kindness & generosity of fellow bloggers never ceases to amaze me.  Thank You So Very Much Fiona ๐Ÿ’—

It is Anzac Day here in New Zealand today & I have a lit a candle for my dear Dad who served in the Army & the Airforce, as well as The Mr's Dad who served in the Navy.  

It's a grey gloomy day here & I have made my very first Fridge Drawer Stew for the year, which smells amazing in the slow cooker.    I am also going to light the fire for the very first time this year.  The house feels like it needs warming right to its very bones & Pippi has been dropping hints to me for days now about the fire  ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thank you as always dear friends, for your visits here today,

Wishing you a wonderful rest-of-the-week ... remember to be kind to yourselves & to each other,

With much love & friendship to you all,


  1. Hi Julie, I was wondering if you have lit your fire yet. It's finally turned cooler here too, although when I was watching hubby play the last post at our local Anzac turn out the sun was out & it was warm! What a special life long friend you have in Carolyn, she's a treasure worthy of special times & treats. Hamilton garden is an amazing place, whenever I'm in the area I tend to bypass Hamilton, but perhaps it's worth another visit. Keep warm & cosy & enjoy your tasty dinner.

  2. Always such a lovely post Julie , I also have long time friendships that were made by our daughters friendship .
    Looks like you both had a lovely time , Hugs June.

  3. Such a lovely day with your friend. Beautiful gifts and those gardens look stunning. Happy mail too. xx

  4. So lovely to read of yours and Carolyn's friendship, Julie, through the years. Friendships that grow richer with every year are special. The gifts you gifted her are lovely. The Hamilton Gardens look amazing. So much to look at. The fire here is crackling away... 'tis getting chilly.

  5. What an amazing post Julie...Lovely to read about Carolyn, and
    your long standing friendship with her..and the photos are also
    amazing, and have out so well, love the 'miniature' wheelbarrow..!
    And, it's good to have good friends, l have many friends, though
    l tend to call them acquaintances...never really had a close friend
    as such...though my daughter l consider to be one...HeHe! Please
    don't tell her...! :)

    The Italian garden looks lovely to...But! But! The Sicilian ones are
    even better...HeHe! but then l'm bias...Bless! :)
    Most certainly check out all the previous posts...brings back
    memories...and all your posts are all well worth viewing several
    times Julie...! Bless! get on, just got back from town, lots to see to...and l
    can see Fudge out the window, he'll be wanting his morning
    saucer of milk..and l bought some sprats on the market, so he
    can enjoy a few of them to...Bless him...! :).

  6. Sounds like a great day you had with your friend, lovely gifts you made her Julie, the garden look awesome, will be a pity when they start charging to enter, its a bit chilly over here today , I put the heater on for a little bit tonight. Lovely happy mail from Fiona, cant wait to see what you do with the book and fabric.

  7. Happy birthday to Carolyn! what a lovely day out you gave her and the gifts you made are beautiful (and useful). Betty

  8. Hi lovely Julie! Wow! What a fun birthday for your friend! YOU are such a kind soul! I BET Pippi needs a fire. Our fur babies live for warmth, don't they? You always make the most gorgeous stuff, friend! xoPom Pom

  9. What an amazing garden to spend quality fun time with your bestie. It is amazing. I am sure she loved her birthday gift all hand made by you. If Miss Pip and Blackie were with you in 2016, and still now, they must not be too young. You're turning up the heat and we are trying to turn ours down. Had a couple warm days, but this morn the bird baths had 1/4 inch of ice. My mini orange iris are Blooming! The bleeding hearts starting. So I see progress every day. Lynn and Precious XX

  10. Friends like that need to be cherished, don't they? My friend of many years now lives in Canada but when we get together or even speak on the phone, it's like we just saw each other yesterday. I am sure your best friend loved her gifts and the time you spent together. Considering it is nearly May, we are still lighting our fire in the evenings - it has been a very wet and dull Spring here in the UK so far. Those gardens look amazing - thank you for sharing your visit.
    Best wishes

  11. Replies
    1. You are so right Kim - they are extra special. xx

  12. kiwimeskreations has left a new comment on your post "My Friend Carolyn's Birthday":

    What a precious friendship you have there with Carolyn, and beautiful gifts that you have made for her. I love that you 'friend-napped' for the day and had a ball together - there is nothing better! The heat pump was on here again this evening, but I did get a walk in this morning, and an hour of gardening done this afternoon... the washing did not get dry through, so had to finish it off in the drier

  13. New Comment from Janice at Jabblog ......

    What a lovely time you had with your lifelong friend.
    I'm sure you could spend a week at Hamilton Gardens and still not see it all - what a splendid place.
    We still have our fire alight - it's quite nippy in the mornings and evenings.

  14. Wonderful lifelong friend, very special and loved. Looked a wonderful outing you had Julie and beautiful gifts. What you come up with in the gift line is amazing and generous and sure are treasured. Yes it's fire time, good time to snuggle down and hand stitch, knit, dry some painted legs that you may have prepared! always love seeing your cloth dolls with painted feet/legs drying upside down in a container by the fire with your furry friends on guard time. Not a nice day today, time to do some stitching and maybe watch a podcast or two on the tele.

  15. Julie, such lovely gifts and a very special friend. I am so glad that the two of you got to spend some time together.

    God bless.

  16. I think you are the most "thoughtful" gift giver ever, Julie. Your gifts are considered, made with love, and chosen to suit the receiver. You're amazing!!

  17. Special friends are such treasures. What a lovely day you spent together. Beautiful gifts too. I love those dishes you painted. We are always our worst critics. Happy mail indeed from dear Fiona. Such a beautiful photo of your dear Father.
    Michelle xx

  18. What a wonderful Outing you both had & a nice surprise that you organised on your friends behalf. Good friends are so special. Sarah in USA xx

    1. Thank you so much Sarah ... we did indeed have a wonderful outing together. xx

  19. What a lovely day you both had.... and lots of lovely makes to see..... xx

  20. What a fabulous mystery day out you had with Carolyn. The Hamilton Gardens look wonderful. I love that apron fabric you used. Have fun playing with those Tilda fabrics! xx


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