Last night was the Inaugural Aussie Hero Friend Dinner in Sydney at the Hornsby RSL.  It was a simple enough affair.  We had chosen the RSL as a venue as we needed somewhere close to accommodation and transport and, most importantly, we wanted to be able to sit and chat for as long as we could without feeling like we needed to vacate the table.  We had been too late to reserve a function room so we had to meet in the Bistro but the RSL was kind enough to set a long table for us and, without being asked, to they set the table with red and green napkins and Christmas Crackers.  That was very kind of them considering they don’t take reservations on a Saturday night.  

There were 20 of us in the end.

Please allow me to introduce you to 
Lyn and Tess

Terry, Caroline and Dasha 

Donna and Gail 

Rita and Michelle – I think Michelle and her husband Chris, deserves a special mention as they came up to Sydney especially for the dinner! WOW!  That was special!

Sharon and Del 
(Two of the Gumnuts) 

Penny and Karen (daughter and mother)
(Karen stitches with us at Penrith when she is not working and she says Penny funds the fabric)

We even had a good number of brave husbands who attended.

Del’s husband Don who is actually the Treasurer for AHQ and Martin, Lyn’s husband 

Rita’s husband, Lou, Michelle’s husband, Chris, and my husband, David

Dasha’s husband David and Donna’s husband, Alan

And because I know I have to show photos of everyone including me :-O
here I am with my husband – you do know I hate photos don’t you!

No, I did not make a speech.  At one point in the night I called everyone’s attention to tell them they had “volunteered” and I was asked to stand up so I obliged, but it didn’t last for long as the table was too long and the venue too noisy for me to speak to everyone at the same time so I ended up talking to each end of the table separately.  LOL.   But I had to have the obligatory photo taken apparently!  Thanks Caroline!

Here is what everyone “volunteered” for – Hee Hee. 

The Inaugural Sydney Aussie Hero Friend Dinner Challenge Block
I bet you thought you could come along to dinner tonight and just relax and enjoy yourself.  No sewing, quilting, pinning, basting, binding and so on.  Well you are right!  None of the above tonight but a challenge to be issued for when you get home.
By coming to the dinner you “volunteered” to be part of the first AHQ Challenge Block Quilt.  Afterall this group has a military bias and being “volunteered” is the norm once you sign up. 
You will find you have one piece of what a few of us have determined to be UGLY fabric.  It was donated to me in pieces – lots of it – and I am out to prove that it can be turned from an ugly duckling into a swan with the attention of some creative women.
The instructions are simple.  Please make one or more 12 ½inch (12 inch plus seam allowance) blocks using this ugly fabric plus any combination of red, white and blue fabrics.  Use as many other fabrics as you like, any pattern but please stick to masculine or gender neutral – no flowers allowed please.  This quilt will be for a man.
And one final requirement or hint –
Think Australia!
All blocks to be returned to me
PO Box 248
Cherrybrook,  NSW,  2126
1 Feb 2013
Extra ugly fabric can be supplied.
Are you up for the challenge?  Of course you are.  Let’s take an ugly duckling and turn it into something magnificient.
Thanks for being good sports!
I bet you can’t wait to see how these blocks turn out!  I can’t either!
(edit – Rita has already completed one block ladies!)

And just a warning to the others who attended.  I know there are other photos floating around and feel free to share them but I reserve the right to remove any I don’t like.  
After all I hate photos!  LOL

Want to see some ANZAC Pics?Click here and check out the latest issue of the Navy News.  Flip over to pages 14 and 15 and look who you can see.

or head over and check out this link to see loads of pictures of HMAS ANZAC and crew  – if you made a quilt for HMAS ANZAC there is a good name you will see some of our recipients.  Maybe you will see yours!

The other night Karen, in her Friend of the Day post gave us the following tip – 

Dental floss to pull your threads through to the back (faster than using easy thread needles)

There has been a lot of interest in it and some people wanted more information so here goes.

You need a needle with a larger eye to thread both end of the dental floss through to make a loop and then pull the thread through the loop and put the needle in and then out of your fabric and pull through

First thread your thread your bigger needle with the dental floss by threading both ends through leaving a loop

Run the end of the thread you want to end off through the loop of dental floss

Put your needle through between the layers of your quilt close to where the thread comes out and bring the needle out half an inch or so further away

Pull the needle until the thread is drawn back into the layers of the quilt and comes out again.

You can now cut the excess off 

Hope that helps.
A couple of thank you messages have come in over the weekend.
Dear Jan-Maree,
Thank you very much for your parcel.  The quilt is excellent and fits my single bunk bed perfectly.  The chocolates and other bits and pieces in the package were also a nice surprise.  I am yet to receive the laundry bag but as the postal system is sometimes unpredictable I’m sure it will arrive shortly.  A couple of the guys were around when I opened your parcel and it is almost like Christmas whenever we get mail over here and everyone is excited to see what is in a box when you open it, even if it’s not posted to you. 
You were kind enough to take the time to do something nice for a stranger so I thought I would let you know a little bit about myself.  I  a combat engineer on my second tour to Afghanistan.  My job over here mostly involves searching for bombs or anything that could harm the patrol or convoy and dealing with it before it can hurt anyone.  Back in Australia I am posted to Adelaide and have lived down there for about a year before being sent overseas again.  Originally I am from the XXXXXX in Queensland and use to enjoy surfing and playing football before being sent all over the place with the army. 
Once again thank you for your kind gesture and please can you send my gratitude to all those that were involved in the making of my quilt.
With thanks,

And this one is my current favourite.

Aussie Quilt Hero Makers,
I am currently serving with the 7RAR TG overseas.
Two of the members of my cell have received hero quilts and washing bags.
I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to you and your team for making the quilts and bags.
Both members were very excited to receive them and showed them around with great delight.
The effort you have put in has improved morale and made at at least 2 soldiers away from their families very happy.
Thank you.

I wrote back to this fellow and offered to send him a quilt and he said whilst he would love to receive a quilt and laundry bag himself it was more important to him that his troops were looked after!  Such is the caliber of many of the fine men we have over there!
I now have all their names and we will be taking care of all of them in the fullness of time.

One for Ruth.

I would really like to thanks Aussie Hero Quilts.  It is a wonderful organisation, as are the volunteers.  A special thanks to the quilter from Victoria for the quilt and laundry bag sent recently.  It is very appreciated and it lets us know that there are people back home who think about us over here.  It has started to snow near the mountains so it won’t be long until that reaches us so the quilt has already come in handy with the minus temperatures.
The laundry bag I am keeping for use at home!  Thanks again and keep doing what you are doing.

I really appreciate the fact that they obviously went to some effort to get this photo – thank you!
The handsome fellow on the right is the recipient in this case but the other handsome fellow on the left has also received a quilt in the past and sent in a photo.

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