Thursday, March 29, 2012

A recipe to share....

Because a couple of people asked here's the  Marshmallow shortcake recipe for you to try out for yourself.
This recipe comes from the well known (in New Zealand) and used "Edmonds cookbook" and  is easy and fun to make.

For the shortcake:

  • 125g (4oz) butter
  • 125g (4oz) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 egg
  • 225 (8 oz) flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Cream butter and sugar, add essence. Add egg, then sifted dry ingredients. Roll on to greaseproof paper (or baking paper) to about 1/4" thick. Place on a tray and bake 20-30 minutes at 180 C (350F).

For the marshmallow (the fun part:-)

  • 2 dessertspoons gelatin (powdered)
  • 1 cup Cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup icing sugar
Soften gelatin in cold water, add sugar and boil 8 minutes. Cool. Beat white of egg stiff, fold in sifted icing sugar, then slowly pour in cooled gelatin. Beat in electric mixer until white and thick (about 3 minutes). Spread on to shortcake immediately. Decorate with sprinkles or ice with chocolate icing.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I am...

Hand-quilting in the sun

  • enjoying some hand-quilting in the lovely autumn sun.
  • listening to the distant rumble of  V8's in our town due to this festival happening.
  • vacuuming up feathers left by our cats latest catch that they insist on sharing with us.
  • still enjoying having my menu planned each week.
  • trying out new photo editing sites like this one to replace the soon to be no longer Picnik.
  • Slowly getting a not so little gardening project completed that I've been wanting to do for maybe a couple of years now.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Staying focused...

I'm having a hard time staying focused on one project at the moment. I could start any number of projects floating around in my head but can't seem to start anything in particular. It feels a bit like writers block as I keep finding other things that have to be done right away. You know boring houseworky things like ironing, washing etc... I pulled the above fabrics together ready to start a quilt for my parents but can't decide whether I've got enough different fabrics for the slightly scrappy look I'm hoping for.  I have been looking for a layer cake of one of the fabric collections but after much searching on Etsy the only one I could find was twice the original price so I shall have to re-think my design again. Luckily I like a challenge like this :-)
 Here's another collection of fabrics that I pulled together for a simple girly quilt to make for my etsy shop. It is an eclectic mix of fabrics as they are not all from any particular designers collection but just nice soft pretty colours that look good together. I have a design in my head for this quilt, just need to start really or perhaps at least sketch the design down so I don't forget it.
And then there is always designs that I have found in magazines and books that I want to try some day... just need to pick some fabrics...
Then there are these little triangles left over from this quilt which are taunting me as they lay on my sewing table. I keep fiddling with them trying to come up with a design I like.  They were sitting happily in a wee basket next to other baskets of fabric but I just got the urge to have a play with them the other day.

 Then one afternoon last week when I probably could have been sewing I got the urge to make some marshmallow, mainly because I had forgotten to buy some at the supermarket the day before. We like marshmallows melting on our hot chocolates in our house and had run out after a couple of somewhat cooler days earlier in the week where hot chocolates were called for as part of the girls after school snack. 

So making marshmallows reminded  me of this marshmallow shortcake that my Mother used to make us  when we were kids so I had to make some. 

I did however knuckled down late yesterday afternoon and well into the evening to come up with a couple of designs for pillows using these fabrics and the pretty tea towels I bought recently. I have everything cut out and ready to sew....just need to stay focused and I might have something to show you :-) 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Farmers wife - weeks 2 & 3

Blocks 6 - 15 
So after promising myself that I would make 5 blocks per week I fell off the wagon at week 2 but have since been beavering away to complete 10 blocks to make up for it. I actually completed an extra one so am ahead now for next week. I'm not sure what happened on week 2 but other things seemed to get in the way of any sewing that week. It is quite a task to print out the templates, mount them on cardboard, cut them out, then decide on fabric choices, cut out fabric and sew. I wish I wasn't so indecisive when it comes to fabric choices for each block but I do tend to weigh each choice up rather than just going with my gut instinct. I'm working on that personality flaw :-)

Block 6 Big Dipper
Block 6 - Big Dipper - easy fabric choice here and easy to piece too.

Block 7 Birds in the air 
Hmmmm this is block 7 - Birds in the air - like this block design and my fabric choices but it did not go together well at all and am sort of  embarrassed to even put it up on my blog but I'm endeavouring to keep it real here by showing it. The problem I think is my seam allowance which was less than 1/4 inch by a smidgen and of course that made all the difference when piecing those tiny triangles. I think I will have to start again with fresh fabric pieces.

Block 8 Bouquet 
Block 8 - Bouquet - Love this block and it went together beautifully after adjusting my seam allowance.

Block 9 Box 
Block 9 - Box - Not sure about this block design, like it, but don't love it....

Block 10 Bowtie 
Block 10 - Bowtie - Easy block to put together and really like this one.

Block 11 Broken Dishes 
Block 11 - Broken dishes -  Once again went together well despite all those triangles. Thank goodness I had my seam allowance sorted.

Block 12 Broken sugar bowl 
Block 12 - Broken Sugar bowl - love the striped print in this block.
Block 13 Buckwheat 
Block 13 - Buckwheat - Really love how this block turned out.
Block 14 Butterfly at the crossroads 
Block 14 - Butterfly at the crossroads - Isn't this a great name for a block!

Block 15 Buzzards Roost
And finally Block 15 - Buzzard's Roost - Just love the shade of green in this print, actually really love that print.
So that's what I've been working on these past few days, a farmers wife marathon of sorts :-) Like most of the North Island we have been having lots of  rain this week and more to come I think which is good as it makes me want to sew. Today I have managed to fit in a run between showers and once this post is done I will be cutting out this weeks Farmers wife blocks and some fabrics I've pulled to go with those beautiful tea-towels I posted about here
How's you week coming along??

Monday, March 19, 2012

A surprise parcel !!!!

About 2 years ago or maybe a bit less I came across a blog called "Xue's Originals". I think actually Xue found me as she left a comment on my blog on a giveaway post and then I checked out her blog as you do. I'm pretty sure that's how our friendship started and we have been corresponding ever since. Xue, also known as 'Lily' lived in Tokyo at the time with her husband and 2 children but has since moved to Dubai. We have very much in common, and I think she is a very talented but modest artist. Last Friday I received the most amazing surprise package from her filled with all sorts of crafty goodness.
Surprise parcel of goodies 
The package was so full it had actually ripped slightly at the top but luckily everything remained intact. It was like a mini Christmas and I was quite overwhelmed with her generosity and could just imagine the fun she and her daughter had had, putting this all together just for us. To my girls delight they included stickers, window decals, pencils and fans to paint, especially for them. I left it all on our dining table and for the rest of the day kept admiring everything and smiling to myself when I thought of everything I had received.  

Surprise parcel of goodies 
This is the front of the package, beautifully decorated with her own handmade stamps along with stickers and tape.

Surprise parcel of goodies
Included in the package was this beautiful bag designed and made especially for me with a selection of pretty Japanese fabrics, machine embroidered with a variety of stitches and embellished with tags, buttons and charms. If you look at the charms above the tag can you see that it actually says "I love Sewing"!

Surprise parcel of goodies
The other side of the bag with more pretty fabrics and stitches, pretty little buttons and a tag that says "Sewing is my cuddly time".

Surprise parcel of goodies 
I just love this little handmade owl, it is only about 2 inches high and now keeps me company in my 'sewing attic' although I might have to share it with Caitlin ;-) Here it is sitting on a bag full of the prettiest handmade covered buttons. They will be put aside to adorn something pretty or I might be talked into making a hair tie or two for the girls.

Surprise parcel of goodies
And last but not least is some of the fabrics she included. All are from her stash which she bought with her from Tokyo to Dubai. I love them all but am very grateful that she generously shared some of her precious Echino prints with me. (The one with the birds :-)) Xue's most recent post is all about her sewing studio in her home in Dubai where she shares photos of her amazing stash of fabrics and sewing machine prettily decorated with cherry blossoms decals.  Xue I can't thank you enough!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Purple crafting and some recent purchases...

Purple swap for my partner
About a month ago I was contacted by Rebecca from BecIam asking whether I would be interested in taking part in a 'Purple swap' to raise awareness for Epilepsy. March the 26th is designated Purple day and we were asked to make anything purple for our partners and have it posted to reach them by this date. 
It is always hard in a swap trying to decide what your partner might like and what their tastes are but having the colour already chosen definitely made this swap easier and I enjoyed thinking up things to make. The pillow I made is pretty much the same as the green bubble cushion I made and posted about here. I'm not sure if my partner sews but I made a little birdie pincushion for her because they are nice as just a little ornament too and of course it was a great excuse to make another one :-) The little zippered pouch is loosely based on this tutorial but I boxed the bottom corners so it would sit on its own and used 2 fabrics for the outer.

Back of purple bubble/circle cushion/pillow
I did a simple 3 button enclosure on the back using 3 different purple fabrics.  I do hope my partner is pleased with her purple parcel when it arrives!
Early bird from Spotlight
On Tuesday I had a day out shopping in Tauranga mainly due to Spotlight having a 30% off everything in store sale. I really like going to the Tauranga Spotlight store too as it's still fairly new and tidy and just seems to have different stock to older stores. I was very pleased to spot this print in their quilting fabrics section by Andover Fabrics. Spotlight definitely seems to be stocking  better quality items recently. I have a few of  these prints from this 'Early bird' collection and have them all put aside to make a new quilt for my parents bed so finding this print at $12.95 per metre was a bonus.
pretty tea towels
A few doors up from Spotlight is a large kitchen store that had a window display of these beautiful prints made up in tea towels, aprons and oven gloves. I think they are way too pretty to be used as tea towels, don't you? They are 100% cotton and are almost decor weight.  I can't wait to create something with them and have already pulled out fabrics to coordinate!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Grandma's ice-cream recipe.....

 I thought I'd start this week off by sharing my favourite ice-cream recipe, seem those of you who are living in the northern hemisphere are heading into spring and we here in New Zealand are still trying to hang onto the 'summer that never was' :-) This is the ice-cream that my Mother made on a very regular basis when we were kids and as it is quite easy I used to make it for her sometimes after school while she was working. I call it "Grandma's ice-cream" because the recipe originally came from my Grandmother on my father's side. My Grandparents lived on a farm and sometimes after a visit there, we would come home with some fresh milk straight from the cow before the cream had been taken off. It was this milk that made the best ice-cream. So now when I make it I always substitute 1 cup of milk for 1 cup of cream. Now you may have noticed in the photos that there are pieces of biscuits/cookies in it... One of our favourite ice-cream flavours in our family is "Cookies and cream" so to this basic recipe we added one packet of  "Oreo cookies", crushed. We have also tried the traditional New Zealand flavour of Hokey Pokey which was pretty nice too :-)
Okay onto the recipe:

  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 heaped tablespoons full-cream milk powder
  • 3 cups milk (substitute 1 cup for cream)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin dissolved in 2 tablespoons of hot water
  • 1-2 teaspoons natural vanilla essence
Mix sugar and milk powder together in large bowl. Dissolve gelatin in water in a cup standing in a pot of simmering water stirring until clear. Slowly add milk/cream to sugar and milk powder and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add vanilla essence then the dissolved gelatin whisking all the time to ensure gelatin is completely dispersed and no lumps have formed. Pour into a lidded plastic or freezer proof container and freeze for one hour or until sides are just starting to freeze. Remove from freezer and pour into ice-cream maker and churn until thick and creamy. Now if you don't have an ice-cream maker you can use an electric mixer to beat until thick and creamy although you may have to repeat this process again to obtain the thick and creamy consistency.
Once the ice-cream is churned or beaten you may then add the crushed biscuits, crushed pieces of Hokey Pokey if desired. Semi-crushed berries such as raspberries or blueberries would also be a nice addition.

One of the benefits of making your own ice-cream I think is that you know what's in it therefore no hidden preservatives or additives. If you've been reading by blog for a wee while now you will know that just before Christmas I purchased a small ice-cream maker. I had resisted buying one for quite a few years as I had successfully made ice-cream without one using my Kenwood mixer but now that I have one I wonder why I waited so long. It was not that expensive and churns up deliciously creamy ice-cream without that not so nice 'icey consistency' that you can get making home-made ice-cream. So if you've hesitated on purchasing an ice-cream maker like I did, hesitate no more! They are worth it. Plus if you live in NZ and collect Flybuy points they have one available in their catalogue too.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Good things take time....

Farmers wife sampler quilt along first 5 blocks
My first 5 Farmers Wife sampler blocks! These blocks take longer to cut out than sew up I think but I did enjoy the whole process of choosing just the right colour and print combinations to the actual sewing. I was a little concerned the larger prints wouldn't be suited to the smaller pieces as each block is only 6 1/2 inches square which makes for very small triangles and squares etc but I'm quite happy with them so far. I've decided that I will do 5 blocks each week which means this will take me about 4 months to complete. Good things take time you know :-)

Yo-yo's in progress
And this is my other slow project for this year which I started in the middle of last year with Penny's quilt along @ Sewtakeahike. I'm in no hurry to finish this project. So far I have done 414 and I think I might just go for the goal of 1000. Making yo-yo's is quite a nice quiet activity that I can take anywhere. I've even taken some to do at one of my Mothers hospital appointments where an elderly gentleman took great interest in what I was doing and what the end product was going to look like. 
I did a few on camp the other week and have been doing a few each night since, so slowly but surely I will get there and once again 'good things take time'.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Something pleasant to come back to....

When I arrived home from camp I had a lovely parcel from Heather Bailey's shop waiting for me which softened the prospect of the 3 loads of washing that was also awaiting my attention not to mention that the housework fairy hadn't been around while I was away. 
Anyway a week or so beforehand I had ordered some laminated cotton to make a new swim bag for Catilin to take to school. I let her choose the fabric design and then thought I should make the most of the postage cost and order some more Nicey Jane prints to add to my collection that will be put to good use in my Farmers Wife sampler quilt.

So earlier this week I whipped up Caitlin's new swim bag fairly quickly except I got stuck a little with the buttonholes for the drawstring to go through. I've done heaps of buttonholes before of course but not since I've had my new machine. I read and re-read the instructions and was still stumped until I finally figured out the 'buttonhole lever' that they were referring to was on the machine not the buttonhole foot! Duh!

 I lined the bag with some pale blue toweling that I had leftover from a previous project, to soak up the moisture from a wet towel and swimsuit and to make it a bit more sturdier. The recipient is pleased with it but I don't think she will get much more use out of it until next summer as it certainly feels like autumn has arrived this week.
And I have also finally gotten around to printing out some templates for the first 10 blocks of the Farmers wife sampler quilt. I am feeling quite eager to start this quilt and use some of those pretty Nicey Jane fabrics. This Saturday promises to be wet, windy and wild so the perfect day for hunkering down in my Sewing Attic and working on these blocks. I love a good storm, don't you? :-)
For my inspiration mosaic this week I've put together a few of my favorite FWS blocks from the flickr group here.
Farmers Wife Sampler inspiration

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Getting organised....

One simple and  practical idea that we (the Mothers) all liked at camp last week was that although we cooked all the meals everyday the menu was all planned for us along with all the required food stocked in the pantry/fridges/freezers. We all thought wouldn't that feel great to be so organised like this at home. So on Sunday morning I took 2 recipe books off my shelf, sat in the sun on our deck and wrote out a menu for this week along with a grocery shopping list.  As you can see in the above photo I have a wee 'library' of recipe books collected over the years. I have 2 recipe journals to write down recipe's in and one journal specifically for storing those recipes ripped out of magazines. The added benefit of writing out a menu each week is that I will actually use recipes from each book rather than them gathering dust. I love trying out new recipes hence my large collection of books. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there that has recipe books that are seldom used though. Oh and to be completely honest here that shelf does not house all my recipe book collection. I have another 1/2 dozen recipe books on another shelf, because they are just too big to fit up there with the others and also not forgetting my small collection of "Donna Hay" magazines which I have stopped buying now.

 It really does take that pressure off throughout the day knowing exactly what's for dinner. Narrowing it down to 2 books each week makes it easier to choose 6 recipes for dinner, lunch ideas for the girls and my weekly baking. In case you're wondering my husband does actually cook and is a good cook. When his workload is not so demanding he cooks a few times a week but at the moment it's down to a roast on Saturday night. 
My girls are also enjoying having the menu on the fridge and knowing what's for dinner each night. No more "What's for dinner?" questions although 2 of the meals this week have stretched to do 2 nights which led to disappointed cries of "What about Thursday's 'Pork patties with fresh plum sauce'?? I like it when a meal lasts 2 nights though as it gives me a night off cooking :-)
So is anyone else this organised when it comes to family meals? Do you have a large collection of recipe books but only use a couple of favourite books?

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