Thursday 30 March 2017

Cook the Books - March

Week One:  Baking was required for the lunchboxes, this was a recipe my sister sent me - Milo Slice.  A very quick easy slice to prepare and cook, and as a bonus it didn't need icing - not that I have anything against icing, it just meant it was quicker and easier to prepare.

Verdict: Not overly sweet, you don't really taste the milo at all, chewy and crunchy - yes this will be made again, hopefully by one of the kids.

Week Two:  A recipe from a a website download,( though now I've lost the link) I thought I'd try for Miss B who is doing her Sugar free month (by this we basically mean no added sugar) - Banana Oat Bliss Balls - very quick and simple to make, all the ingredients were pantry staples.  A little sticky when rolling, but I think all bliss balls are.

Verdict:  They're nice, I didn't feel the need to eat more than one, however Miss B has been enjoying them as a sweet treat, and would make them again.

Week Three: After most of the month having rushed meals, and not always with everyone present, I decided that we were going to have a leisurely sit down at the table as a whole family and have a nice Dinner on Saturday night.  I had a Pork leg roast in the freezer, which was duly hauled out, skinned by the The Scout and plonked into the crockpot to make a slow cooked Tex Mex Pulled Pork.  The recipe is from Annabel Langbein's Winter  Goodness Annual, I had to adapt slightly as I didn't have a jar of chipotle peppers in adobo Sauce, so I used chopped capsicum and chipotle sauce.  The house smelt divine while this was cooking.  Half the cooked pork was frozen away and the remainder used for Pork and Black Bean Enchiladas - the recipe also from the same book.

Verdict:  Definitely a make again, nice to have some of the meat cooked and frozen ready for another meal too.  I just need to find chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for next time I make the recipe.

Week Four:  With half of the family suffering from autumnal colds, I thought a hearty one pot meal was called for.  Baked Risotto with Chorizo and Cherry Tomatoes. Containing onion,  garlic, chicken stock -  all the good things for colds, this is an old recipe from the Australian Woman's Weekly  dated 2009, that had been clipped and stuck into one of my notebooks.

Verdict:  Everyone liked this and as a bonus there was just enough left for me to take to work for lunch the next day.  Unfortunately it didn't prevent me from catching the cold germs!!

April brings Easter, a birthday and school holidays.  Hopefully yummy baking too.

Please feel free to link any Cook the Book endeavours in the linky below, I would love to see what new recipes you have been trying.

Sunday 26 March 2017


I've been a little miserable with a cold all weekend, I have managed to do a little sewing, and work on my Bird Dance project, as well as lots of  reading, and spending time on the computer.
  • Some gorgeous little 3" blocks for my medallion quilt - though I am not sure if I will use the flower blocks in it, at this point I am thinking the pale silvery background is now to light and bright.
  • Border one is completed on my Midnight in the Tulip Garden Medallion
  • starting my 15th bird - halfway there now.
  • Lots of lovely applique and embroidery inspiration here, (I am so lucky Auckland Libraries has such a fabulous craft section) I am wondering whether the botanical applique patterns would transfer easily enough to be done in felt rather that silks,
I'm currently reading  Summary Justice by John Fairfax, a British legal thriller that I am enjoying immensely, and for a change of pace Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier set in 1800's America in the Cherokee nation.

This article caught my eye and made me think -  and yes I am probably one of the mediocre

Also planning  something new, and hopefully exciting with Linda from Kokaquilts, the big reveal will be April 1.

Have a fabulous week!!

Thursday 23 March 2017

Hexis and Pom-poms

Sometime last year my sister sent me a couple of hundred 2.5" squares of scrap Amy Butler fabrics, leftover from quilts she had made.  As soon as I saw these fabrics, I knew  I wanted to make her a pillow similar to my AMH hexi pillow for her birthday.  Now that it is finally her birthday, and she has opened her gift,  I can show it off.

 Lots of lovely jewel toned 1" hexis were stitched together and bordered with a white solid.  I love how this framed them and really let the colours glow.  I drew overlapping circles over the whole pillow top.  The hexis have been quilted in a variegated reddish/orange Sue Spargo thread and the white in a matching perle 8.

I had intended to use an Amy Butler fabric for the binding, however while trawling the aisles of Spotlight one day, I came across this orange pom-pom trim and thought it would be perfect to highlight the quilting and add a little whimsical fun and POP (she has an aqua blue chair in her sewing room, that I envisage this pillow living on.) to her pillow.

This was rather challenging to attach, I hand basted it on first, and curved the corners of the pillow, so the pom-poms didn't all bunch up.  My walking foot still didn't like sewing this much, after one broken needle, I swapped over to a denim needle. The back is a basic envelope enclosure in an Amy Butler fabric too.

I love how this has turned out, and think it plays very nicely with my AMH pillow, so there may be another one in my future one day.  I  have, however, decided that only very special people will be worthy of pom-poms.

Saturday 18 March 2017

A Small City Sampler Quilt - Finished

Woohoo I have my first quilt finish for 2017.  My #100days100blocks Tula Pink City Sampler quilt of which I gave up on after 45 blocks has been turned into a completed quilt.

Earlier this year I turned the blocks into a quilt top with a gorgeous rich blue shot cotton from Spotlight. Because this quilt is being gifted to Cecily, a family friend who is rather ill, I figured the quilt may get a little more washing,  so opted to use a polyester batting to make it easier for her with its weight when wet and for drying speed.  I used Soft & Bright which is made by the same manufacturers Warm & Natural cotton batting.  I have to admit I was a wee bit apprehensive about using polyester batting after my last experience, but this stuff is fabulous to use.  I backed the quilt with a purple floral vintage cotton sheet - one of her favourite colours.

Some machine quilting was done around the border of the quilt to hold it's shape and around the sampler cross, however I wanted a quilt that was soft, snuggly and lightweight for her, not stiff with lots of quilting, I decided to tie the rest of it after reading this post from kokaquilts.  I used black DMC perle 8  and tied on the corner of each sampler block then at 6" intervals on the blue.  I am delighted with how soft and drapey the quilt has turned out, and how easy it was to tie it.

Binding was made from Amy Butler's Tropi Canna fabric a fortuitous find in my stash , which delights me with it's vibrant colours that pick up so much from the quilt centre.  The quilt finishes at approximately 60" square, so I think just perfect for snuggling under on a day when you don't really want to get off the sofa.

This is now being packaged up and sent to my Mum, so she can deliver it to Cecily.

Thursday 16 March 2017

Works in Progress

A day at home today saw me determined to finish quilting my City Sampler quilt.  After a couple of quick tutorials, the hand tying commenced, I found this rather quick and easy and so much less stressful on my shoulders than machine quilting, subsequently it is now ready for binding.

However, before binding can start, the sewing room needs to be cleaned up, so of course this means you find other WIPs that need finishing:
  • Sea glass Sampler quilt - this now needs to be turned into a quilt top.  It won't be a large quilt more of a lap quilt for Miss B.
  • Bird Dance - 12 blocks down, 18 to go plus the borders, this is meant to be done by the end of June - not liking my chances here.
  • Liberty Bloomsbury Quilt - this is in fact in a usable state, however it still needs the hand quilting to be finished.  Luckily the evenings are getting cooler which makes it a much more pleasant task.
No doubt other new projects will catch my eye, but I am going to try and be good and finish these before starting anything else large.

Friday 10 March 2017

Here & Now

Loving //my garden -  flowering vireyas, the fuschias from Mum's 70th that I planted outside, and my paint brush lily  that is just starting to appear

Eating //Yummy food not cooked by me - The Scout and i are going away for the weekend, such a treat.

Drinking //Bubbly - currently chilling to take away with us.

Feeling //a little worried about the second bout of extremely heavy rain we are meant to get, hoping my garage, office and sewing room don't flood.  However the gardens have loved it, the sunrise was absolutely spectacular, and that old saying "red in the morning" was absolutely true on Wednesday.

Making //more stitches and unpicking them on two new birds

Thinking // about using these beautiful fabrics in my medallion quilt

Dreaming //that Miss B and Mr J's bedrooms are miraculously clean and tidy.

Linking up to Here & Now at Say Little Hen

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Bird Dance - A Progress Report

My birds to date

Some of Janine's birds

My sister Janine and I are currently just over two months into our Bird Dance project.  To date, she has completed  about 20 birds and I have almost completed 12.  We are both enjoying learning new stitches, trying out fun fabric/felt/thread colour combinations and the joy of hand sewing.  Of course during this process we are frequently finding we don't have the correct coloured threads, so a little stash enhancement is occurring too. 

We thought it would be interesting to see some of the same birds we have completed, together, but made to our own tastes. (Hover the cursor over each picture to see what bird belongs to who)  Some of the birds we have changed or omitted stitches that the pattern said to do. Some of the patterns we have found show a certain type of stitch but then don't instruct you to do it, or tell you do do a different one when the picture shows something else, so we feel quite happy adding our own touches to these.  My sister is also a lot more adventurous with her stitches, if I think it's too hard I change it.

At this point I imagine my sister will have all 30 birds completed by the end of March, while I'm still plodding along.  I really need to get organised and find our next felt project for a July start.

Friday 3 March 2017

Scenes from my Week

  • Sometimes it's worth having to get up early - love seeing the sun rise.
  • Is there such a thing as too much drizzle stitch?  This embellishment is meant to be a lot sparser than what I have done - however I love the effect of overcrowding, even though it uses up an awful lot of thread. (hoping to do a post showing my sister's birds and my birds from the Bird Dance  project later this month).
  • My sedums are flowering, (which usually hints at autumn) and the bumble bees are loving them.  There is a hive hidden on the golf course behind us, which I suspect is where these ones come from.
  • Some more hexis from The New Hexagon book.
  • I'm having trouble putting this book down, I really enjoyed Orphan X the first in the series, this one is very good too so far.
Wishing you all a fabulous weekend.