Monday, 31 October 2011

Amelia giveaway @ Quilting by the River

Really, all my crafty friends need to check out Connie Kreskin's Quilting by the River blog because not only has she made the most adorable twister quilt using Amelia by Me & My Sister for Moda but she's also having a giveaway where you can win 8x Amelia FQ's and a Twister template!

You won't regret following her blog, either.. she's always posting beautiful things!


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Preparing for "Happy Pumpkin Day!"

My local shopping centre is running some Halloween themed kids' activities in the lead up to Halloween. Blossom, Bean and I headed down to the shopping centre to make some spider lollipops and look for Halloween pumpkins. 

Spider lollipops, check. I even made the kids wait until we got home before they devoured them so that they could show them to Daddy, and I'd planned to take a photo but they just couldn't wait that long! I turned around with my camera and they were already gone!

Halloween pumpkins @ supermarket #1 (Woolworths), fail. Apparently they'd only received 20 and another lady had come in and bought 15 of them. Supermarket #2 (Coles), fail. Oh dear.. not looking promising on the jack--o-lantern front. Perhaps some paper mache? No? Ok, let's try the Coles another 5 min down the road... Supermarket #3, WIN! Interestingly enough, both Woolies & Coles had pumpkins advertised for ~$4/kg.. but the Coles that we found the pumpkins at had them on sale for 69c/kg!! FTW!! At that price I figured I could afford to let the kids pick a pumpkin each as well as a couple for "Mummy & Daddy"... 4 pumpkins totalling ~11kg later I'd spent a grand total of $7.75! Had I found them at Supermarkets 1 or 2 I'd have been looking at $44 (or more precisely, only one pumpkin for the same price, because we definitely wouldn't have bought four!)

My husband's best friend (and the kids' favourite pseudo-uncle) came over to help out with some other stuff related to the house moving, and stayed for the "Carving of the pumpkins"...
Blossom "scooping out seeds"

Bean's jack-o-lantern design - the first cut.

First eye complete!

Uncle Bryden working on the mouth

Blossom's jack-o-lantern design, first eye complete!

Uncle Bryden working on the other mouth!

Finishing up the nose

Blossom's jack-o-lantern (no, it doesn't have ears, it was just a cool co-incidence!)

Uncle Bryden's new best friend (I don't know why he has pumpkin in his mouth)

Bean's jack-o-lantern 
Time to dim the lights and test them out!
Two more pumpkins to carve tomorrow, "Monster Donuts" to make at the shopping centre and some sewing & cutting I hope!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Another Giveaway!

Sunni from Love Affair with My Brother is having a giveaway! One of her lucky followers will win 4 charm packs of Etchings by 3 Sisters for Moda. You have to be a follower of her blog, so head on over and check her out! <3

Love Affair With My Brother...: Giveaway! Etchings

Baby GO! giveaway at The Pickledish Patch!

If you're keen to find out what all the hype is, you should "GO!" and check out the giveaway that Vicki is running on her blog The Pickledish Patch!

The Pickledish Patch: Go! Baby Giveaway…wooo hoooo!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Weekend Baking: Raisin bread & Choc chip bannocks

We ran out of bread yesterday, so instead of heading to the supermarket I whipped out my breadmaker and made a loaf of wholemeal bread (admittedly it was a packet mix - oh the shame!)..

Fresh out of the breadmaker!

But inspired by the aroma and joy of eating freshly baked bread, this morning I decided to make some raisin bread. I used the recipe from my breadmaker's recipe book, which I have made before. Sadly my pantry is in desperate need of re-stocking, so instead of putting in a combination of raisins, currants and sultanas I had to settle for just raisins. 

Clearly, it was a success as my husband dived right into it while it was still toasty warm. (I snapped a pic while he was buttering up - but I had to promise not to get him in the photo!)

I suggested to the kids (while the breadmaker was working its magic) that we should make some bannocks, but now that I was out of raisins, currants and sultanas (tomorrow must be grocery re-stock day!) AND maple syrup I had to improvise. What could I put in them instead of dried fruit that would be delightful without maple syrup? Chocolate chips, naturally! I also substituted vanilla extract for the cinnamon because I thought it would compliment the chocolate.

Look at that oaty, chocolatey goodness!


This isn't the best photo, but I didn't get a chance to take any more -
the kids ate them as fast as I could cook them!
Chocolate chip bannocks, huge success. The choc chips were all warm and melty in your mouth, and they were perfect on their own - no maple syrup, no butter, nothing else required! Bean declared them the 'best ever', which is high praise from my picky eater! I guess nothing can beat chocolate.




Saturday, 22 October 2011

Poppies, parcels and progress..

It's been a pretty crazy week, but honestly I won't bore you with the details! Instead I'll share with you some photos that I took of flowers in my mother-in-law's garden, my order that arrived from Quiltjane, and some of the progress that I made on my Harry Potter quilt and my Christmas table runner..
 My mother-in-law used to have a garden filled with these beautiful pink mop-head poppies. When my husband and I were first dating I used to love going to their house when the poppies were out because they were just gorgeous and divine and beautiful. When we moved up into the hills 4 years ago my MIL gave me some of her poppy seedlings to plant in my garden. Every single one was plain red single layer poppies. Infact, every single poppy either of us has grown in the last 4 years has been red. We figured that the poppies must have reverted or something because my MIL had never had red poppies. And I was sad because I thought I'd never again see those beautiful pink mop-head poppies... and then on Wednesday, what did I see???? There was one little pink poppy amongst the red! Oh happy day!

 That doesn't mean that I don't like the red ones though, don't get me wrong.. there's just something kinda special about those pink ones, you know?
 And Cosmos.. I love cosmos. A couple of years ago I had them flowering profusely in my garden in shades of pink.. light, dark, in between! This year my winter grasses have taken over my garden and I've given up hope of anything being visible in there. But one, single plant has also come up in my MIL's garden.. doesn't it just look cheerful? I know I have some seeds saved somewhere.. when we move in I might scatter some more seeds and see what happens!

 My package from Quiltjane's Want it, Need it, Quilt! store came yesterday! Woohoo! Look at all that fabricy goodness. I must say that I was surprised by how much MORE I loved Kate Spain's Good Fortune in real life than I did online! I think I'll be buying more of that once I lift my fabric buying moratorium. I also can't wait to play with my Grace layer cake.... I think I have the perfect pattern picked out.
And isn't Jane a sweetie? She sent me a teeny tiny 2.5" square baby charm pack of Antique Fair. I love it!
 When I finally got around to doing some "real work" I cut some tumbler blocks out of my black backing fabric and then cut them in half so I can put them at either end of my tumbler rows. This way they will square up nicely and it will be easier to do the horizontal sashing. Unfortunately my MIL broke her ironing board(!!!) so I can't press my seams until Monday (Well, I suppose that's not strictly true, but it's a good excuse to move onto another part of my project!).
All my rows chained together (when I added the 1/2 tumblers to each end)

 And while I was chain piecing, I finished stage 1 of the Christmas table runner piecing..
I was clearing out the kids drawers the other day, putting aside all the clothes they've outgrown to keep or send to Good Sammy's (thrift shop).. but at the last minute I pulled out all the flannelette pyjamas. I think I might upcycle them into a snuggle rug. Maybe even try out a rag quilt. If I unpick all the seams I can then send them through my Accuquilt GO! and turn them into squares and half square triangles. I just loved my babies toddling around in their flannel pjs, and if I turn them into a quilt they can be used for sleepovers etc and I can enjoy them all over again. Is that a crazy idea?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Moda Pre-cut Fabric Binge

Incase I hadn't spent enough on fabric recently, I've been pondering some of the pre-cuts in Quiltjane's online store for about 3 weeks. After much thought and money juggling I reached the conclusion that I *really needed* the following items:
2x Ruby Charm Packs, Bonnie & Camille for Moda
I plan to use these to make the super easy Charm Quilt mentioned in my last post. I just love the cheery combination of blues and reds.
Buttercup Layer Cake, Fig Tree & Co for Moda
This is the layer cake that started it all. It was on sale for $25! And it was the LAST ONE. I don't know what I'll do with it yet, but I just HAD TO HAVE IT. I love this range. I also love Fig Tree & Co's Butterscotch & Roses and Strawberry Fields ranges too.
Rouenneries Deux Charm Pack, French General for Moda
I fell in love with this range after seeing someone blog about a candle mat or a table centre or something done in this range.. but for the life of me I cannot remember where it was. Does anyone know the post I'm talking about? It was a semi-tutorial (divide into light & dark tones, cut strips, cut wedges, sew into a circle, add scallops to the outer edge & fussy cut cream circle motif for centre..) Please help me!! I know a charm pack isn't big enough, but I wish I'd bookmarked the post now.
Grace Layer Cake, 3 Sisters for Moda
I love the greens, reds and roses in this range. I'm not sure if I want to do something Christmassy or just something pretty to grace (haha) my afternoon tea table.. if I can ever find that pattern (mentioned just above) I might do that with this fabric.
Good Fortune Charm Pack, Kate Spain for Moda
I nearly went with this fabric for the Charm Square Quilt instead of Ruby, but I thought that I might make myself a bag or a table runner with this instead. I love the cool colours.

But now I need to declare a moratorium on fabric purchasing for a while. No more fabric until I have completed project items with the fabric I already have (and am waiting to receive). Seriously.

Super Easy Charm Square Quilt

I was looking at charm packs online and thought I'd go hunting for a pattern that would give me an idea of what I could do with a charm pack and how many I'd need when I came across this Charm Square Quilt pattern from Snippets of a Quilter. It only takes 2 charm packs to make, and while it looks fancy and complicated is super simple! Now all I need are 2 charm packs.. what a pity, means I'll just have to buy some more fabric ;) I'm currently tossing up between Ruby, by Bonnie & Camille for Moda or Good Fortune bby Kate Spain for Moda... it's so hard to choose just one!
Charm Square Quilt from Snippets of a Quilter
It would also be easy to adapt for the Accuquilt GO! as you could cut your own "charm squares" using either the 5" square on the Value die or the Go! 5" square die.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Weekend Baking: Pecan Pie

Every week I look forward to reading Lisa & Sarah's "Weekend Baking" posts on their blog A Spoonful of Sugar. Most of the time my baking is done through the week, so I've never felt that I qualified to participate in their weekend baking party... but yesterday (Sunday) I made Pecan Pie!

Last Christmas I made some Caramel Pecan Tarts from a recipe in Better Homes & Gardens' Christmas booklet. They were lovely, but a bit more effort (and fattening - white chocolate in the pastry!) than I was planning to put in.. so I hunted for the recipe that one of my aunts passed on to me recently and made that instead. I used a pre-made sweet flan/pie shell to save time (I was also making muesli bars and hot chocolate for the kids). 

There was slightly more filling than the pie shell could handle, so I cut some (also frozen - how lazy am I?) shortcrust pastry to fit a couple of smaller tartlet molds. I tried to be thrifty and not waste pastry by putting lids on the tartlets. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!! Pecan pies are clearly open topped for a good reason.. they rise so much during baking (which sinks back down when cooling) that if you put a lid on them they just bubble over. And make a mess everywhere. Next time I will just use the extra pastry to make some jam tarts for the kids instead!


Meanwhile, the pecan pie was absolutely smashing topped with a scoop of caramel toffee crunch icecream. And perfectly timed as a dessert for an impromptu BBQ dinner with friends.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Harry Potter Tumbler Quilt & Christmas Table Runner Update

I finally finished cutting out all my tumbler blocks with Flo, my Accuquilt GO! (Not that it took a long time to do the cutting - that was a breeze! It was finding the time to retreat into my bat cave to sew!) And even better than finishing the cutting, I finally worked out how I was going to lay it all out.. well, the tumbler section anyway! The tumblers will be sashed with the material that will also be used for the backing, and then there will be a plain border around the tumblers and then something along the lines of the split drunkard's path stars as another border/section, and finally the Hedwig Owls will be incorporated into the corners of the quilt. I'm still tossing up whether to put them on point, or have them squared with their bodies pointing in.. I guess we'll see how it all pans out..
My tumbler blocks laid out (wadding is underneath)
 Yesterday was the monthly meetup for my local quilting friendship group, so I packed up Flo the GO!, the fabric for the sashing, my Christmas table runner fabric and my 2.5" strip die. My goal was to  cut the rest of my strips for the tumbler sashing and all the 2.5" squares for my Christmas table runner  (see post here)... I achieved both of those goals as well as doing another couple of informal demo's on the Accuquilt GO! (This time I wasn't really prepared for a demo, having only taken my strip die but no one seemed to mind... infact one lady even asked me if I offered a cutting service because she wants some drunkard's path blocks cut!)
My 1.25" strips (folded - they're not really that short!)

My table runner squares
 Another lady was also very impressed to see how quickly I was able to cut all the 2.5" square blocks - she hand cut 400ish 2.5" blocks only a week or two ago and it took her significantly longer!

I also spent some time sorting through fabric.. the quilting group put out all the donated fabric they'd received in the hopes that people would take some home for charity quilts. I found quite a bit of fabric that I think I can do something with.. once the Harry Potter quilt is finished, of course!

So when I came home I was rather eager to get those tumblers sashed, and here is how things finished up:
I still have to do the horizontal sashing, but I was thinking that perhaps I should cut some tumblers out of the sashing fabric, and then cut them in half to square up the tumbler section so that it's easier to add borders. Once I'm finished I'm considering writing up a tutorial on how to sash tumblers incase anyone is interested? Only because there doesn't seem to be much information about sashing tumblers floating around on the web as far as I can tell..

And then, even though it was REALLY late (nearly midnight!) I had to quickly sew some of my squares together just so that I felt like I'd made some actual progress on my table runner..

Then finally it was time to drive home and go to bed!

Telline, Patchwork Fair & the end of holidays...

I can hear you thinking "What on earth are Telline?" (pronounced Te-lean-ay) Well, they're little shellfish that live in the sand at the beach - very easy to find if you know what you're looking for - and they taste delightful simply sauteed in a little garlic & olive oil! (And I'm sure also cooked in a multitude of other ways..) They're one of the things that I LOVE to go digging for when I'm on holidays.. it used to be something that my Nonno (grandfather) used to take us to do, but he's not able to make it down to the beach anymore so it's even nicer to be able to bring some home for him..

I think this is the first time that Blossom & Bean have really been able to join in successfully and they went crazy for it! They wanted to go down EVERY DAY! We only ended up going "Telline-ing" twice, but the second time was so successful that we had enough to leave some for my Aunt & cousins as well as bring some home to share with my brother & sister (and us of course!).
Our 2nd day haul - we'd already eaten the first lot!
 One of the really special things about going "Telline-ing" with the kids was being able to tangibly demonstrate to them the whole ocean to table experience, including the sustainability side of things (eg. "grading" the Telline & returning the small ones so they can grow bigger for "next time").. it's nice to be able to show them that not all food comes from the supermarket!
Up close and personal - aren't they cute?
On Sunday (which was also the day we were heading home) I managed to sneak in a (kid-free!) trip to the local Patchwork & Craft Fair.. rather brilliant timing, I must say! I went with the intention to NOT SPEND ANY MORE MONEY, and incredibly I managed to stick to my resolution. Sadly, I must say that I'm regretting my self control now because I really, really want one of the adorable cupcake pincushions..

Here are some of the things that caught my eye:
Hand beaded Christening dress & bonnet (~$250!)

Embroidered singlet with tulle tutu (~$14) - how easy would that be!
Quilts on display
 

The local quilting guild ran an "Ugly Fabric Challenge" where members were give a fat quarter of "ugly" fabric and had to turn it into something beautiful. The only requirement was to use atleast half the piece of fabric. Ugly has never been so beautiful! All of the entries were fabulous, and you never would have guessed that they all used the same piece of fabric in the designs..
The local quilt guild "Ugly Fabric Challenge" fabric

Ugly Fabric Challenge entries

More Ugly Fabric Challenge entries

And even more Ugly Fabric Challenge entries

Pincushions


The cupcake pincushion that I wish I'd bought

Isn't this table centre gorgeous? It's made up of fussy cut equilateral triangles.

Incase you can't tell, that's a cruise ship in the distance. Le sigh.
On the day we leave, a cruise ship docks on a day trip. What a way to remind me that while my holiday is over, someone else is enjoying my dream vacation.. one day it will be me on that cruise ship!
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