Well, first and foremost let me say a very big 
Happy New Year!
I cannot believe where we have come in the last 12 months.
To see how far we have come in one year go this is the post from 1 Jan 2012 and have a laugh!!!   As many people have said to me, from little things big things come!

Tess from South Australia made the suggestion that I do some historical posts – i.e. look back over what we have done in the past and given that we have a lot of members who have joined in recent months that is probably a good idea.  So, standby to receive.  

2013 is going to be a big, big year.  
I feel it in my bones, though that could just be my arthritis!
I have lots of plans but I know that lots will happen that I am not planning for as well.  

A New Frontier
I wasn’t planning to expand into another operation but I received an email just over a month ago from a Warrant Officer who had seen these, saw what we were doing and asked if it were possible for the contingent he was part of to be included.  Once I learned more about the conditions under which this wonderful group of around 20 people lived and worked I knew I had to say yes.

Watch this space as I have received a wealth of information and photos from this group and  am in the process of putting a post together for you that will leave you in no doubt also that we should be supporting them.

Continuing on in the theme of what is to come this year I met with the Chaplain for the ship that is currently on its way to take over from HMAS ANZAC chasing pirates and keeping the seas free in the Middle East.  We will do things slightly differently with HMAS TOOWOOMBA.  This time we will take requests for laundry bags and there will be no quota for quilts.  We will start a waiting list and just work out way through it.  I never made a big thing of it on the blog but in the end we sent over 75 quilts and well over a 100 laundry bag to HMAS ANZAC without a struggle and without having to say no to anyone else anywhere on Op Slipper and I expect we can do the same.  I expect to hear from the chaplain in the next few days or so, and we will start the ball rolling.

Penrith Sewing Day
Penrith Sewing Days are back starting at 10am on Sunday the 13th.  Please let me know if you are planning to come so I can keep an eye on the numbers.  We do not have unlimited space so I need to make sure that everyone can fit and I need to bring enough to keep you all occupied!  And I will!  I have plans!  

AHQ 2012 Challenge Block
Now that Christmas is over and the New Year is almost apon us I thought I would remind those of you who attended the dinner in Sydney about your Challenge Blocks!  I have received blocks from three of you.  No photos till the Reveal Day on 4 February.  Please have all blocks to me by 1 Feb.  Anyone else who wants to join in Caroline is all ready to go with fabric to send out – please send her a stamped self addressed envelope so she can forward the fabric and instructions to you ASAP – email me or Caroline  ca***********@gm***.com for her address.

The last for the Year
Can’t finish off the year without showing you the last of the quilts and laundry bags to hit the road for 2012

YAY!  I am loving having more sewing time.  This gorgeous selection of fabrics was a bunch of samples donated by XLN – thanks guys!  Love those colours!  And what do you do when you put one kangaroo on sideways?  Simple – add three more and noone will know -well, now you know, but you aren’t going to tell anyone are you?

Just had to show you the backing – out of my stash and couldn’t have been more perfect. Can’t wait till this one arrives!

Melissa managed to squeeze in just a few more laundry bags!

And Beth sent of this gorgeous pink quilt

Julie Ann managed a couple more laundry bags and I was amazed to see that I had sent her two names with the same initials – at first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me!

Rita managed one more quilt and laundry bag too.

Hopefully this shot is good enough for you to see that all the navy blocks feature embroideries!

And a laundry bag to match of course

Roberta send off this gorgeous quilt.  I really love the wavy quilting.  So perfect for this theme. 

Terry brings up the rear with a great quilt – might have to copy this pattern and 

a bunch of laundry bags.

including one featuring Pigs!   Wonder who this is going to!

Change that – Liz scraped in with five more laundry bags!  Just had to have the last word!  LOL

957 quilts and 1379 laundry bags to Year’s end!! 

And now to some reason to really celebrate this year   – the thank you messages that we all love to read.  These two young ladies made a pact to keep their parcels from Nancy till Christmas Day – such will power!

Good evening Jan-Maree, I opened my quilt on Christmas day and it was beautiful. Thank you so much. I immediately put it on my bed as it is quite cold here now. Much appreciated.   Hope you had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. Kind regards 

Good Morning Jan-Maree, I would just like to thank you and your organisation for such a precious gift. I will treasure it always. It was great to open it up on Christmas Day. Everyone remarked about the quilt.

Carolynne waited ages till we could get the address for this fellow so that she could send her red and green quilt to a Rabbitoes fan (NSW football team if you don’t know).  Finally the address was passed and the quilt received.  This is the message and photo received by the lady who finally got us the address.

now i know why you wanted my address! Thanks for that mate, it’s even the right colours!!!!

Hi Caroline,

I just wanted to thank you for the lovely surprise package from you!

I received your laundry bag just before xmas and it has been bringing joy to my washing days ever since.

Thank you so much for taking the time to make it and put the package together.

I hope you had a great xmas and I wish you all the best for the new year.

Please pass on some cuddles for Hunni too : )

Kind regards,

For Julie Ann.

Please accept my sincere thanks for the time, effort and care that you have obviously placed in making the ‘Hero Laundry Bag’ I received recently.
                It is already in use and its distinctive look will mean no more lost items of clothing. The snacks and goodies you also provided were most welcome and are
                occupying a place on my office work station….diminishing as the hours pass.

                I have e-mailed a photograph of the laundry bag (and extras) to my wife and our three teenage daughters in Brisbane to show her the support the troops receive
from ‘strangers’ across Australia. It has reaffirmed in my mind that ‘ Home is People… Not Just a Place’.

                My sincere thanks and the best wishes to you and your family over the festive season and for the best of health and happiness for 2013.

Hello Julie Ann,
I would like to thank u so much for making me a laundry bag, I actually needed one, all of the other boys are jealous of it, it looks great!
 I am a high risk searcher, which means me and my team search with metal detector for bombs in the road, which funnily enough I enjoy. This is my second tour to Afghanistan doing the same job.
I have attached a few photos for you, one of me and my team. 
Much regards,

Hi Julie Ann,
Thanks so much for your amazing laundry bag.  It is so beautiful and my initials make it even better.  Thanks for the goodies also.  I had already received my quilt from Kalgoorlie.  They really do help us here, it is very cold and they are lovely and snuggly.  There is snow on all the mountains around us and it should be snowing on the ground here by Christmas.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful Chrissy and New Year and holidays.
Many thanks for your hard work.

For Kylie from her recipient’s partner

I had contact with XXXX on Christmas day and he said he was thrilled to receive the quilt 🙂 

He said he loved it and it was amazing!Thank you so much! I hope to get a picture of XXXX with the quilt 🙂
Judy C

‘I would just like to thank you for the laundry bag, not only is it pretty and practical, it shows your support to the troops and I thank you deeply for that.’…

Good Morning Stephanie,
Letting you know that the fabulous quilt and laundry bag you sewed for me have arrived! 
Spending so much time creating something so beautiful for someone you don’t know is really appreciated!  One thing I am hoping to do when I return from deployment is to buy a sewing machine and learn how to sew properly.  I don’t think I will be able to come up with anything as elaborate as a quilt to start with, but I will see how I go!
It is getting very very cold here, the puddles are starting to freeze, and hopefully we will get some snow soon!  I spend most of my time working outside, and yesterday was the coldest day we have had yet, despite wearing a balaclava and my jacket pulled up over my face, I couldn’t feel my face.
I hope you and your family had a great Christmas, we had a good Aussie Christmas lunch at the mess, and I even got some pavlova – a bit of a must have in my family for Christmas and Boxing Day lunches!
Thanks again,
And now this is a special one.  Earlier this year we sent around 30 quilts to the Special Ops Task Group without knowing who they were going to specifically.   We are not able to do that any more though I would in a heart beat if I had a contact (HINT HINT!!!)  We never heard who most of the quilts ended up with but I was told that they went to those that were doing a good job or those that were injured.

That was until I received this email late last night – and it just made my week!!!

My fiancée is currently serving in Afghanistan.. About 2 months ago, he was injured and shrapnel ended up in his knee.. It was only a minor injury but it scared me to death when I got the  call! It’s a 7 month deployment and he was able to come last month for a 10 day holiday. During this time, he showed me the quilt which was given to him when he was injured..

I just wanted to send this email to thank you kind people for this.. It’s so easy to forget just how much everyone else is also affected by our boys serving overseas. It’s one of the most treasured pieces in our house as it comes with such a story.. As I wait the final weeks for his return, I sleep with the quilt in our bed – just a reminder of how appreciative others are for what our boys do..

If you could kindly pass our thanks on to everyone involved in your organisation.

Thank you again:)

With love,

I wrote back and asked if it would be possible to see a pic of the quilt so that I could track down the quilter and pass on the message specifically to her. Here is the response

Oh of course I can! Attached is a photo of the quilt 🙂 you kind ladies are exactly the reason why our boys love our country so much that they go away and fight for it.. And that’s exactly the conversation XXXXX and I had when he showed me the quilt..
He said this is why he’s a soldier, to protect a country that is full of such good people.. I can’t wait till we have children and I bet there is a fight over who has “daddy’s special quilt” on their beds!
Thanks again for giving us something to treasure..

Yep, it made my eyes go watery!  and yep,, I was able to work out that this is one of Hilary’s quilts.  Some days you just know you are doing something matters!

A sweet way to end the very last post for our very first year of being!  Happy New Year everyone.  No matter what you are planning for tonight please be safe and make sure you are fit and well to come back and join us in the fun next year!  We need all of you – those here who sew, those who support those that we sew for and OF COURSE our wonderful Aussie Heroes!
I am sure that 2013 is going to be a great year!
See you in the New Year!

Till next year………….keep spreading the word and Happy New Year