Tuesday 31 December 2013

Goodbye 2013

I know I told you that I would post on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays but you get an extra one today as it is New Year's Eve but also as I have some photos to share and a little bit of news.  Firstly though, a wrap up of how we have gone this year.  The final total for 2013!

1355 quilts and 2366 laundry bags for 2013.  

2373 quilts and 3732 laundry bags in total.

Awesome effort everyone!

I received these photos yesterday - it has started to snow in Kabul! Doesn't the snow make everything look that little bit prettier!
Pity about all the slush and ice and cold that goes with it!

And finally for news.  The third edition of Australian Patchwork and Stitching featuring Aussie Heroes is about to hit the stands.  This is the cover so you can find it.

And this is the article.  Looks great doesn't it!

Well, all the very best of wishes to you all for the New Year.

I am in the process of changing over to an upgraded laptop.  Wish me luck peoples.  I will have a post for you tomorrow night and after that it all depends how quickly the changeover can be done given this is the New Year week.

Till next time.................keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  JMxx

Monday 30 December 2013

Treats from Tenambit

Got time for another quilt story?  Sure you do!  This is the story of a quilt made by the students of the Tenambit Public School Year 5/6 Class.

Back in May ChristieLeigh wrote to me and the conversation went like this….

A teacher at my childrens’ primary school approached me about teaching her class to quilt and asked 'but what could they do?'   Immediately this cause came to mind.  Would there be any issues if the students were to make an Aussie Hero Quilt??   I imagine they would want to write about their quilt in the school newsletter and mention the cause.  Would that be an issue?  I wanted to get your thoughts on this before I have a meeting with the teacher tomorrow.

My response was

Hi ChristieLeigh,
Basically, GO FOR IT.  I love it when kids and schools get involved. I have already had two quilts made by a group of school students with their teacher and they went down a treat. Just warn them that they might not get a reply though I will do my best to get them one.  Careful selection of the recipient may aid that. JMxx

Then in June I heard some more…

Just wanted to update you.  10metres of fabric purchased.   160+ 3 1/2" squares cut.  A bazillion to go this weekend.
The kids are so excited.  I told them that on Monday they will have their own snaplock bag with squares of fabric to start playing with and they started to cheer and clap.  Even the boys, so enthusiasm is High!!

How awesome is that!  I had to wait till November to hear some more.

Hi Jan-Maree,
I am still working with the class on their quilt.  Fingers crossed its gets done by next week! It’s a slow process with 30 kids and all these end of year functions and ceremonies.   
I have set up camp at the school and am sharing a room with our learning support teacher and today while I was sewing the year one kids next door started singing the song 'I am, you are, we are......Australian'.  Gave me goosebumps instantly
I hope we will be able to report our project to you next Fri (fingers crossed)

Then at the beginning of December…

Hi Jan-Maree,
The students are getting very excited as 1 quilt has been sent off to be long arm quilter and the other should be completed tomorrow to be quilted by the same quilter.  That will leave just the binding to be done...... I’m so happy  the students get to see this project through by the end of the school term :)...(although cutting it rather fine)   

I have 'camped' up the school for the past week and a half all day, every day to ensure they see it completed before the end of the year :)

WOW ChristieLeigh – that is above and beyond the call of duty!

Then this

Goodmorning  Jan-Maree,
I am not sure how long the longarmer will take BUT she is the school pastor’s wife.  He has been keeping an eye on the project and said he can't imagine her leaving it to ‘sit’ once she sees it.  It was by happy accident that we have her quilting them for us.  One day Pastor Tim popped his head in and wanted to know what was happening as it looked exciting.  He then offered his wife’s services to us!!  He has asked a lot of questions that I hope I answered well but referred him to your blog.

The teacher is having the class write the letters as a ‘writing exercise’ Thursday.

Another week later…..

Hi JM,
Here is one completed quilt.  I will take another picture later today of the quilt with all the students who contributed so you have a nice pic for your blog.....this is a preliminary pic to show you 1 is complete and hopefully gain a recipient's address!!
Remember there are two quilts the same (but different ) But the other is taking longer at the longarmers and will still need to be bound and labelled.
The teacher and I chose a wonky star block as we felt it would create 'floating sea of stars' in the quilt and each student made a square containing their personal wonky star so in the end they could see their personal star that individually represented them.  It became their place to 'shine' within the quilt.  This project became quite representational to the students. Although it started out as a life skills exercise, it became much more.  After talking to them over sewing I think it taught them about the unknown “stars” who are out there “shining” for them.

Don't you love that analogy of the "shining stars", both the students and the Heroes. 

Finally the email I was waiting for, and the photo!

Hi Jan-Maree,

Just wanted to let you know this is in today’s mail..



And here is the result and honestly, I am not sure which is more gorgeous....the quilt or the quilters.

Well done Class 5/6M from Tenambit Public School, 
or as they say in the Navy BZ!!

Till next time.............keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  JMxx

Friday 27 December 2013

Weekly Dispatches 27 Dec

Greetings all.  

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  One of our most thoughtful recipients, called Bill, (and yes he gave me permission to share his first name) was kind enough to send me an email describing Christmas at Al Minhad Air Base.  How generous of him  So here are his pictures.

There was quite a line up for the mess at lunch, and a great spread it was too.  Check out the gingerbread house!  

Who knew Santa's sleigh is pulled by camels in the Middle East.  Guess it stands to reason considering he uses white boomers in Australia.    

 Bill went for the turkey, and ham, potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower, all covered in gravy.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Bill.  Much appreciated

Where to now that Tarin Kot has closed down??

I have had a few questions lately asking where our quilts will be sent now that we are home from Afghanistan. The  truth is that Tarin Kot has been closed down but we still have people on the ground in Kandahar, Kabul, Dubai and elsewhere in the Middle East.  In addition we have regular deployments of warships on patrol in the Middle East and we also have defence members on United Nations Peacekeeping Missions, most notably in South Sudan and the Sinai region of Egypt.  None of these deployments look like diminishing for the time being and when they do I will let you know.  I have some other avenues I am looking at as well but it is premature to mention them here.  Suffice to say that there will be no problem finding homes for Aussie Hero Quilts as far as I can see.  

Weekly Dispatches 

I am pleased to say that even though this is the Christmas week we still managed to get a few parcels in the mail, not many, but even a few is pretty good for Christmas week.  

8 quilts this week and 4 laundry bags.  

1347 quilts and 2364 laundry bags for 2013.  

2365 quilts and 3730 laundry bags in total.

Our sweet 16 year old Amy made this awesome laundry bag.



Jenny and Gale

Judy C

check out the back of Judy's quilt - she dyes her own fabric.

Julie C

Karen B made this quilt top and Joan quilted it.  

Lisa B created this awesome quilt.  

Check out the embroideries.

Lisa also made this quilt.

Stephanie D

Sue N (SA)

Well, that is all for this week.  
Have a lovely weekend everyone and I will be back on Monday.
With all the parties at this time of the year, if you are on the roads, please drive carefully and take care.

Till next time........................keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  JMxx

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Chritsmas Eve............

Our friends on HMAS Melbourne will be spending it together, at sea this year.  Their chefs will be slaving away to fix them a fine feast of roasts, seafood and yummy deserts and I am sure there will be presents to open and maybe some skype calls home to loved ones and friends.  

They have shown their appreciation for what we do by sending some new photos showing their quilts and laundry bags and most importantly their lovely smiles.

To all of you on Melbourne, and to all of your families at home, all of us here at Aussie Hero Quilts wish you all the best for Christmas Day.  Thank you for what you do, and for the sacrifices you make, to keep Australia the great country she is.

Wishing you fair winds and following seas

And most importantly, and for all our deployed troops, wherever you are,

may you have good food, good company, and good comms back home and to one and all

Merry Christmas!!

Finally to all the wonderful people who sew for and support Aussie Heroes throughout the year, you have been wonderful, encouraging and supportive and I appreciate each and every one of you.

I hope your preparations for the big day were completed in good time; the decorations hung, the presents bought and wrapped, and the food prepared and stored waiting for the big day tomorrow.  Or maybe you celebrate tonight, and I am sure some of you have special days spread out all around Christmas.  Whatever you are doing, or have done for Christmas this year, I hope you have someone special to spend it with.

From my family to yours, a very Merry Christmas.


Monday 23 December 2013

Just two sleeps.......

..........till Christmas.

Tonight I have messages for those who are deployed from those who sew for them. 
For me Christmas is about spending time with those who are most special to me but, by virtue of the fact that I have immersed myself in Aussie Heroes, I can't help but be conscious that there are so many who will not be home with their family and friends because they have a duty to perform......for us.  

I hope these messages let you know that there are lots of people back here who appreciate your service and your sacrifice and that of your family and loved ones.  

Hey Guys,
Merry Christmas to all, stay safe and well. We are proud of every one of you.
Cheers, Keryn

Bless you, love you, keep safe this Christmas. My thoughts are with you now and always.
Warmest greetings sent your way, to wish you well on Christmas day, Keep safe now and always.

To all our troops, whether away or home, thank you for all that you.  I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Safe New Year.
Hugs to you all and your families
Naomi Vela

To all our wonderful Aussie Heroes 
Thinking of you all celebrating Christmas away from your families and friends.
We wish you all a safe and blessed Christmas and that 2014 brings only good news.
We thank you and your families for making this huge sacrifice of being apart at such a special time. Our prayers are with you all.
Will raise a toast of gratitude and safekeeping to our service men and women on Christmas Day.
Best wishes
Jim and Jill Mather and family.

As you spend this festive time on deployment your family and friends will be holding you close in their thoughts and prayers. Just know that they are not the only ones back here in OZ who will be thinking of you and praying that you stay safe and enjoy the festivities.

  Everyone in the AHQ circle has you in their hearts over this Christmas season and wants the very best for you and yours, now and in the years to come. 

You do marvellous work in vey difficult circumstances for which we are all grateful. 
Thank you! 

God bless each and everyone of you today and always - Laurel from Sydney 

I would like to say a very Merry Christmas to all the deployed servicemen and women who are unable to spend this Christmas with their families and loved ones.
Please know that we are all thinking of you and wishing you good cheer.
We support you and what you do as part of the Australian Defence Force. Please be safe and I will pray that you will all be home soon.  
Caz (Deputy Nut) 

Christmas Cheers
I’m never sure what to say, or how to say it, so I’ll do the best I can.
Sometimes Thank You never seems to be enough when you guys sacrifice so much & dedicate your lives to keeping Australia & other countries safe, for helping other people to get back on their feet when times are tough.
You risk your life for people you have never met just to keep us safe.
You go without so we do not.
I hope you all have an enjoyable Christmas even though you are away from your loved ones & that you will soon be reunited with your families.
 May you all have safe  & Merry Christmas.
Thinking of you & sending love

I wish all our troops a wonderful Christmas and New Year and a big thank you for the work you are doing, and have done, in the Middle East since 2001.    Thinking of you as you are apart from your families, partners and children over Christmas and may you be reunited with them soon.  Take care and God bless.   Liz J.

We live in a lucky country helped in no small part by our Defence Force Personnel. We will raise our glass to toast all our ADF (including our son) on Christmas Day to say Thank You.
Joan & Robin in Sydney.
Hi to all our Service Men and Women, currently serving overseas.
Just dropping in from Tasmania, to say how proud I am of you all, for your commitment to serving your Country.
You are serving in a dangerous zone of the world, so that we can continue to enjoy the peace that we have in this lucky country.
I recently travelled to USA and saw a little notice that said, “the land of the free, because of the brave”.
I believe this can also be applied to Australia.
Stay safe,

Hi to you all "over there" This year has been a great experience for me meeting many of you via aussieheroquilts. My own daughter was there last year  and I know she would rather have been home BUT as you have given your all to our wonderful country Christmas will be a very happy time for you in our hearts. None of you will ever be forgotten for the great Aussie spirit shown to other cultures and people and you will be very much appreciated even when you are home at last "not long now". So please have a very very happy Christmas and we look forward to you all being home soon Thankyou all for your service Su 


To all our service men and women, wishing you all a safe and merry festive season .
Thankyou for what you all do, being away from all your family and friends at this time of year is very hard but hopefully you will be back home soon.
Cheers an AHQuilter

THE O’L BAGS & A DAG from Heritage Lodge

We would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas & a happy, healthy and safe New Year. 

Chrissie greetings to our far away Aussies.  Christmas holidays in our Australian culture bring to mind lazy summer days, beach picnics, BBQs and lots of yummy food with the family.  We all hope that everyone will experience some of this warmth and comfort, even while far away.  For those of you who are working on foreign soil or at sea, we hope you can gather with your mates and create an away-from-home family to stand in for the people at home. Be encouraged that you are not forgotten, most of you have family who will be thinking of you and many glasses will be raised in your name. Distance does not lesson appreciation or respect and you will have bus loads of that as many Australians, former work mates, old friends, acquaintances and complete strangers will include you in their thoughts and prayers over this season of love and togetherness.  
Blessings, Janine C

Christmas greeting to all our troops serving overseas.  God Bless you all at Christmas and throughout 2014.  Grateful and sincere thanks for all your hard slog on our behalf.  
Tom & Alice Handley, Waroona, Western Australia.

You are perhaps feeling lonely because it is Christmas and you are so far away from home.  
But no one should ever feel alone when serving one's country.

Please take comfort in knowing that you are in our thoughts and prayers each day.

We appreciate the sacrifice you are making especially at this time of the year.

Remember that you will soon be home again with your family and friends.

Sending you our love, gratitude and admiration and wishing you a Merry Christmas xxxxx

Wishing you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and 
best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and safe 2014.
A big thank you from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my family.
We appreciate the sacrifice you are making every day, especially on your deployment being away from your loved
ones and your friends.
We live in the best country in the world and it’s all thanks to all of our servicemen and women.
Best wishes and safe return to Australia.
From Kaylee Healy and family of Tweed Heads. 

Hi,troops of Australia hope you have a Merry Christmas,and I hope you like the quilts.
My name is Liam and I am 8 years old,and I am laying on my grandmothers dog Max.
Hope you win the war.
That email is from my grandson, there is a story that sort of goes with his message about a boy and his dog.
Max belongs to Liam's mother, but he stays with me.  When max was a pup two kids tormented him to the point that he didn't like little kids.  Liam would go up to the back door and talk to Max, but Max would bark at him.  About 12 months ago  we decided to let Max in the house to see how he would react to Liam.  We had nothing to worry about - there was an instant bond between them.  Max loves Liam to bits.  Liam can do anything with Max and he sits there and takes it.  Now we can cannot get them apart.

To all our Defence people where ever you are in the world,  I would like to wish all a very special Christmas and a safe New Year.
Helping out with Aussie Heros has been a real pleasure this year.   I have met a lot of interesting people and when I tell them what I want the fabrics and tea towels (for laundry bags) for they become very interested and want to know more so I tell them what I can.
There is one lady, Mary, in her late seventies, she gave me 5 tea towels to make into bags,and I made her a promise to take them show her before I send them off.
I think the best thing is reading the amazing messages that come thru on the the Aussie Hero blog site from the troops who have received quilts or laundry bags.  Its wonderful.

We wish you all the very best for Christmas and a safe return to your family. Katherine,Bronwyn,and Liam 

Seasons greetings to our Deployed Hero's.Wishing each and every one a safe and heathy 1214 and speedy return to your loved ones.Cheers from a devoted Aussie Hero Quilter.
Bev Coates Victoria .

Warm wishes to all those "Aussie Heroes" away from their loved ones and friends. We  want you to know that there are people unknown to you who are thinking of you this Xmas holiday season. We are very proud of you!

Sue & Vince Flemming and Family

The tree is decorated and presents piled under it. Christmas wall hangings and decorations are spread throughout the house. The kitchen has been redolent with the smell of spices and cooking for mince pies, slices and puddings. We are ready for our family on Christmas Day!

But, what about YOU? Where are you? What are you doing? Definitely not celebrating like us but here in the safety of Australia. You sacrifice so much to bring peace and safety to other lands and cultures. Your loved ones have an empty chair at all those important occasions – births, weddings, birthdays, school concerts, etc. But, they support you with love.
We think of you, not just at Christmas, but every day that you are away. We thank you and your supportive families.
Take care and come home safely.
Jeann Clark

As our children have now reached late teens, our Christmas has changed and evolved, so much that this Christmas will be rather quiet. We will have breakfast with our children and my mother in law and as my parents live out of Brisbane, we will have lunch on Friday with my niece and nephew.
This year, Christmas will arrive in the New Year for me, as I will be travelling to Sydney and spending some time with Jan-Maree and her family. Then we have the opportunity to meet one of my first recipients that I made a very special quilt for who was posted with the UN. These people hold a very special place in my heart now and without becoming immersed in Aussie Hero’s, I would have never had the chance to have meet them.
I would like to wish all of you who are spending Christmas away from those who hold a special place in your heart a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with love, laughter and smiles. Please stay safe and know that I thank each one of you for your service and dedication.
Love and Hugs


What does Christmas offer for our men and women over there?

In Kabul  I am told....

The aussies have organised a BBQ lunch with turkey and ham. There will be Christmas puddings and mince pies as well. One of the members aunite has backed an old fashioned Christmas cake to share amongst all.
It will be a little gathering on our verandah outside where we will cook the BBQ, we will decorate the area and also do a secret Santa...  I know that in the morning most of us will choose to skype our families and see everyone at home opening the pressies etc.

And we will all be missing OZ but hopefully seeing some snow! 

And in Dubai

On Christmas Eve the elves will get together and decorate the dining/recreation areas in a Christmas theme, there will be a raffle, a Christmas movie and of course,
Carols and Chapel Service

On Christmas Day there will be a Christmas Day Service and then a visit from Santa followed by Christmas Lunch, trivia games and nibbles and a BBQ for dinner and maybe a Volley ball game.
Of course there has to be a Boxing Day Cricket Match (of course).  

There will be a belated Christmas for those on duty Christmas Day
There will also be Musical entertainment (those musically inclined will jam)

It looks like the spirit of Christmas will be alive and well there but there is always work to support our troops.


As for my message.....

How will you celebrate Christmas this year?
Will you be in the midst of those you hold dear?
Will you listen to carols, will you set your table
With the prettiest plates, just as nice as you are able?
Will you travel to Grandma’s, or visit a friend
Will you accept the invite someone else did send?
Have you bought all the presents, are they wrapped ‘neath the tree
In bright paper and ribbons so pretty to see?
Is your big meal of the day dinner or lunch
Do you do both, and all day you will munch?
Do you have roast turkey, or chicken, or maybe some prawns
Does the amount to be done see you up with the dawn?

Well can you please do me a favour where ever you are
And remember our troops serving both near and far.
Those in the Army, the Navy and the Air Force
Must not forget Defence civilians, of course.
Though all of them are where they need to be
To serve our great country, that means you and me,
They can’t be at home with the ones they love most
But are in foreign lands with a different host.
They might have a Barbie, seafood or roast on a spit
And if they are lucky the ration of beer will be quite a hit.
They might have presents sent by family and friends
And probably care packages the Aussie public sends
But it won’t be the same as they would like it to be;
At home with their loved ones and family.

So please when you sit at your table this year
With those that you love and hold most dear
Spare a thought, raise your glass, remember some way
Our great Aussie Heroes who we should thank every day
For doing their duty and serving us all
So our nation is safe and we can stand tall.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of “youse”

But especially to you wearing DPCUs!

PS. I have kept a little something up my sleeve for tomorrow night......
See you then!