Wednesday 30 March 2016

Cook the Books - March

Week 1:
I am so over baking for my family, though I think the hot weather at present is also contributing to this.  While trying to find a recipe that hopefully wouldn't melt in their lunchboxes, I came across a long forgotten book in my collection -  Superb Slices by Family Circle.  Sesame Apricot Slice didn't require chocolate, jam or icing, it is almost like a muesli slice, so it seemed to fit the bill for a lunchbox treat.

Also made was the Uncooked Chocolate Tart from Annabel Langbein's  Endless Summer Annual 2015.  By the third and final day of eating this, the filling was set really well.

Verdict: Not an overly sweet slice, definitely like a baked muesli bar like in texture, but yummy all the same.  The Scout, Miss B and Mr J were all very complimentary about the chocoate tart, and think I should use up the rest of the jar of chocolate hazelnut spread and make another one.   If I made the tart again - I would do it at least 24 hours before it was required, to give it a decent chance of setting.

Week 2: 
This week saw my Delicious board being used to source recipes.
  • The Beetroot and Carrot Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting had long been a recipe I wanted to try, now that I have finally started to use the grater attachment on my food processor, cakes like this are a lot more enjoyable to make.  The batter was quite pink when I put the cake tin in the oven, but it cooked out to be a beautiful golden colour and very moist cake.
Verdict:   The cake was a big hit with all the family, and will definitely be made again, possibly I would halve the amount of cream cheese used in the frosting, there was a good amount left over, and unfortunately I had to scrape the bowl clean.
Crisp and cool, this slaw was perfect with pork steaks on a hot evening.  The diced apple in it was a big hit with Mr J.  I guess you could make it with green cabbage, but I would keep this as a red cabbage recipe only.

Week 3
Two new recipes this week also.  First up Tikka Chicken  from A Free Range Life Summer Annual . We didn't bother about threading the chicken onto Kebab sticks and just barbecued the tenderloins. To accompany this I made a recipe, I clipped from a magazine some time ago - Golden Spiced Rice.

Verdict: Both definite make again dishes from all the family.

Week 4
Lentil Salad with Sultanas and Basil Roasted Tomatoes.  This is one of those recipes that I have clipped out of a magazine, goodness knows how long ago, and glued into a large notebook.  For once the pantry gods were smiling on me, and I had all the ingredients on hand.  I used the last of the tomatoes and basil  from my garden. I couldn't find golden sultanas in the supermarket, so just used regular ones.  We had it at room temperature with roast chicken
Verdict: A nice earthy and mildly spiced tasting salad. Even the males in the household said they would eat it again.   Cold leftovers were good for lunch  the next day too

April will no doubt see more autumnal flavours and ingredients being used in my recipes.  Is anyone else doing their own Cook The Books this year?

Monday 28 March 2016

Easter Weekending

  • potting up some cuttings of favourite succulents
  • winter vegetable seedlings have been planted.  This year I am growing perpetual spinach, celery and corn salad.  I have also planted some lettuce in the hope they will see me through to the end of autumn,
  •  Outlander - I have borrowed the first part of Season One.  Having read the series many years ago,  I am really enjoying it and am impressed so far, with how closely it follows the book.
  • a little sewing on Mum's quilt
  • slowly getting this  EPP cartwheel  pillow finished.  Four cartwheels completed, now to join them and add the edging triangles to square it off. 
  • Hot Cross Cookies from here
Hope you have all had a wonderful Easter weekend too.

Thursday 24 March 2016

Scrappy Sampler Quilt - Finished

Quilting with  Sulky Invisible Thread

Way back in May 2015, I made the announcement that I was making a Sampler Quilt of my own design.  Throughout the year, I posted photos of different blocks I was creating for it, sample layouts and eventually a completed quilt top.  Well, I can finally say that the the Scrappy Sampler quilt is now officially backed, quilted, bound, in other words, completed.

Measuring approximately 52" x 70 ", I backed it with an assortment of toning fabrics from my stash, including my treasured IKEA Britten Nummer and Martha Negley feather prints.  I figured they had to get used up sooner or later and I was really pleased I didn't have to buy any fabrics especially for this purpose,  It is quilted in organic, (read not very straight) lines, roughly 2" apart.  I made the decision to use Gutermann Sulky Invisible thread for the top quilting stitch, so that you couldn't see obvious stitches against the darker colours,  I got a lot of good information from this site , and found it stopped the thread from stretching and breaking if I placed it on the upright spool holder while quilting.

Random parts of the quilt have been hand quilted with Sue Spargo Eleganza Perle 8 in a  silver grey colourway.  Again nothing to obvious, but done to highlight certain blocks and add more texture to this quilt.  The binding is a shot stripe from Kaffe Fasset.  There are a few faults, and the perfect points police should definitely not look to carefully or closely at some blocks.  However, overall I am happy with this quilt. considering it was an experiment for me in:
  • making a quilt without a plan or pattern
  • trying out different blocks
  • improv piecing to fit them all together
Would I make another quilt like this?  Maybe one day, but in the meantime I am going to enjoy this one and celebrate the fact is is finished.

Sunday 20 March 2016


Things that made me happy this weekend:
  • hand stitching down the binding on my quilt
  • reading 84 Charing Cross Road, first published in 1970, this is a just a totally charming read that I would thoroughly recommend. ( I might have to see if I can find  a copy of the movie too)
  • pears in a bowl - I just love the combination of the turquoise and green together
  • a morning walk along the reserve, not many people out, a warm breeze and beautiful water views.
  • honey bees on my flowering sedum.  After the Varroa mite invasion a few years ago, I hadn't seen any honey bees in my garden, so these are a welcome sight.  They have also enjoyed my oregano plant which flowered this year too.
  • doing a little more hand quilting on the scrappy sampler quilt
What have you enjoyed this weekend?

Thursday 17 March 2016

Secret Sewing

This pile of prettiness is destined to be a quilt for my Mum.  She has a special birthday coming up this year, so my sister and I had the brilliant idea of making her a quilt - one side each.   We will see how brilliant this idea is as we finish our quilt tops - she may end up with two quilts yet.

Mum picked the large floral (Philip Jacobs Tree Peony)  on the bottom as her main fabric, so from my stash I have pulled a few co-ordinating fabrics. A pattern has been chosen, and six blocks have been completed, however as the rest of the quilt is to be a surprise, this is all I can reveal of it until the big day.  So rest assured, even if there are not a lot of sewing pictures on the blog, there is plenty of secret sewing happening.

Sunday 13 March 2016


  • Binding - multi coloured shot stripes from Kaffe Fasset, so pleased with my seam/stripe  aligning, now just the hand sewing down of it to do on my Scrappy Sampler quilt.
  • Reading:  My Name is Resolute by Nancy Turner.  A  novel, which I really enjoyed, set in America during the mid  to late 1700's. 
Have a fabulous week.

Thursday 10 March 2016

It's the Small Things in Life

Image from here

While listening to the radio on the way home from work yesterday, they were talking about the results of poll on "What makes people feel happiest."

Believe it or not most of the results were little things, with sleeping in a freshly made bed topping the poll.  It made me wonder what would be on my list, so in no particular order, here are some things that make me happy.
  • clean sheets
  • a nice glass of chardonnay
  • a clean  and tidy house when all my family is away
  • fresh flowers
  • a nice meal with my family
  • finishing a good book, and knowing the author has more written
  • hearing my children and husband laugh
  • going for a walk on the beach
  • fun with friends and family
  • when my sewing goes right
  • smelling woodsmoke on a cool winter evening
  • getting proper mail - ie: not bills or special offers from companies
  • eating a meal I haven't had to prepare
  • the smell of fresh sun dried washing
What are some of the things that make you happy?

Sunday 6 March 2016


  • Reading: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.  Even if you don't read any thing else this year, this book should be read.  An absolutely charming story, interspersed with letters between the characters and references to books.  One of my favourite reads this year.
  • Baking: well unbaking really, an uncooked chocolate tart - a new recipe too, for my Cook the Books challenge.  I am not sure if I would make this again, the filling didn't seem to set properly, even though it had been in the fridge for at least 7 hours, and I do have to admit, that my inner Gordon Ramsay came out as I was trying to serve this up last night.  It is very rich and we may all end up sick of eating it,before it is finished.  Recipe from Annabel Langbein's Summer Annual 2015.
  • Hexi-making:  Because I can't be bothered quilting or sewing anything large at present, making little tiny Liberty hexis is always fun.
  • Shopping: no photos yet, but I have finally  purchased some new glasses, I have had to invest in progressive lenses, a sign I'm getting older.
  • Garden Pickings: more zinnias and a few cosmos, also my last cucumbers, lots of chillies and some capsicum
Hoping you have all had a great weekend too.