Monday, December 29, 2014


  Summer seems to have finally arrived in my part of the world and my garden is looking very lush and almost jungle like especially around my veggie patch. The potato plants are now too heavy to keep upright and are covered with flowers so freshly dug spuds will be on our menu in just a couple of weeks. The self seeded pumpkins have taken over the spaces in between a couple of the raised beds and if all the flowers turn into pumpkins I shall hopefully have enough to give away to friends and neighbours. 
 The tomato plants are laden with ripening tomatoes with more flowers still being produced. Looking forward to an abundant crop so I can make my own tomato sauce!
 Have just harvested my first crop of beetroot ever. 

 I grow strawberries every year and have previously bought new plants every 2 years which the 'experts' suggest you do. This year being on a limited budget I decided to ignore that expert advice and just take the runners off my old plants and re-plant them in as many pots as I could find along with a few mixed in with my raised herb garden. I used mostly purchased compost to plant them in and have fed them regularly with some strawberry food leftover from previous years. All that work of dividing and re-planting is now paying off as each plant is laden with fruit and every day there is a small handful of good sized berries ready to pick and eat :-)

 When the weathers good I often spend a couple of hours in my garden on a Sunday afternoon. Its a nice time to spend alone lost in my own thoughts although I'm often not quite on my own as Leo likes to follow me around resting in the shade where he can. 
And when its just too hot outside he puts himself to bed.....yes that would be my bed in exactly the spot where I sleep with his head resting on my pj's because I hadn't quite got around to making my bed that day....

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A little like Christmas....

 Our tree is up and decorated with some favourite decorations along with some handmade wreaths around the house. Our little street is looking like a disco with a few of the houses going slightly overboard with outdoor Christmas lights bringing a steady stream of cars crawling up our street.

 Somehow even though we are surrounded by festive Christmas lights and our house is suitably decorated we are somehow not feeling very festive this year. My eldest daughter Amelia commented that I hadn't done any Christmas baking like I normally do each year. So in an effort to make at least my daughters feel a little more festive, yesterday afternoon we decided to make some chocolate peppermint bark. It's an easy recipe to make just a bit of waiting time for each layer to set before adding the next. We started melting chocolate then realised we didn't have any candy canes. A quick trip to the supermarket revealed that they were all sold out so we decided to improvise and make do with what we did have and we came up with triple chocolate peppermint and pistachio bark.

 Not much of a recipe to share but here it is:
  1. Melt 200 gms white chocolate with 1/2 tsp peppermint essence and 20 gms kremelta (vegetable shortening) and spread onto base of a lined sponge roll tin. Place in freezer to set.
  2. Melt 200 gms milk chocolate with 1/2 tsp peppermint essence and 20 gms kremelta and spread onto set white chocolate layer then sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Place in freezer to set.
  3. Melt 100 gms dark chocolate with 1/4 tsp peppermint and 10 gms of kremelta and spread over second layer. Melt 100 gms white chocolate with 1/4 tsp peppermint essence and 10 gms of kremelta and place on dark chocolate then using a skewer marble the two layers together. Finally sprinkle with more chopped pistachios.

Another recipe I usually make each Christmas are these fresh ginger biscuits which I made this afternoon using a variety of Christmas themed cookie cutters. This recipe makes a lot so they are good for giving away ;-)
  • 375g softened butter
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • grated rind of 2 lemons or oranges
  • 3 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 tblsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4 ground cloves
  1. Beat butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the egg, grated rind and fresh ginger.
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture until well combined.
  3. Roll out the dough to 0.5mm thick and cut out shapes using various cookie cutters.
  4. Bake at 180C for 10-12 mins. Cool before storing in an airtight tin.

Monday, November 17, 2014

3 Retro chair makeovers...

 Earlier this year I inherited three of these retro 70's lounge chairs from my Mother who was moving to a smaller home. There were originally six of these chairs which were purchased to go in my parents shoe shop and then once that was sold three of them ended up in my parents home.
 That lovely faded yellow boucle` fabric which was once a  bright "70's" orange had to go and the wooden arm rests were in desperate need of some 'TLC'.
 And here they are, finally finished with 3 different but much more cheerful Scandinavian prints purchased at Andshine on Etsy.  
 The metal chair frames were given a fresh coat of blue/grey spray paint. Much nicer than their original dreary brown don't you think ;-)
 I'm really pleased with how the arm-rests turned out which I sanded back then applied 3 layers of polyurethane to bring out the lovely wood grain.
I like them all but this pretty butterfly print is my favourite and is designed and printed by an old Swedish fabric company called "Klippan", a family run business that was established back in 1879.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November in my garden.....

 Spring seems to be the most colourful time in my garden. The camellia's and azalea's have nearly finished flowering but my many rhododendrons are just starting. 

 This old fashioned lilac bush has been in my garden for a few years struggling to survive until last year I moved it to a sunnier spot in the front garden. This is the first time it has produced flowers.
For the past few weekends I've been working on my veggie garden...weeding, digging in compost and re-arranging my herb garden from one end to the other and I'm now pretty pleased with how its looking. I have potatoes planted in the right-hand end one, and in the left-hand end one is now my herb garden along with a few strawberry plants. The middle three have tomatoes, spring onions, lettuces, basil, beetroot, red onions, rhubarb and self-seeded pumpkin plants. In each of the pots in between the containers are more strawberry plants. Some of my tomatoes have flowers forming already and we have been eating freshly picked lettuce and herbs. It's feels so satisfying to pick and eat our own vegetables and herbs plus of course they taste so much better than the store bought veggies. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Upcycling ......

 Feeling pretty pleased to have some finishes this week to show everyone. The painted stool took a lot longer than I anticipated but now it is finally finished I am very happy with how it's turned out. It took a good couple of days to sand off the original dirty off-white paint to reveal yet another layer of an ugly wood dark stain. Forgot to photograph some before shots but they were both in well need of a freshen-up :-)

Once it was stripped back bare I applied 2 coats of undercoat then 3 coats of each colour of top coat. Each triangle had to be taped up with painters tape to get those nice clean straight edges so that slowed the process down a lot but so worth the extra time and effort. Then to protect all that painting from wear and tear I applied 3 coats of polyurethane. 

And this stool has been waiting very patiently for its makeover since I bought it way back in January. I just couldn't find/decide on the perfect fabric. The fabric I have used is a Scandinavian print produced by Swedish textile company "Klippan" who only use top quality natural fibres and incidentally use New Zealand lambswool for their blankets. This particular print is 50% cotton & 50% linen and was purchased from "Andshine" on Etsy 

 Just love the way piping gives such a professional look to an item.

And this is what is keeping my hands busy at night. I think I'm nearly 2/3 finished.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Work in progress....

 Working with these yummy colours today on my one of my current projects. I know, I just can't get away from the 'blue/green' combo but they looked good together on the "Pinterest" photo that inspired this paint effect :-) I picked them out yesterday down at my local Bunnings shop where I have to say the staff there are very helpful and friendly and don't make me feel like I have know idea what I'm talking about. 
This stool is just one of my current 'work in progress' projects that I seem to be multi-tasking on at present. I have chairs that are awaiting fabric, chairs that are awaiting new foam for the seats and another 2 stools that are awaiting fabric to arrive. It doesn't go with my personality to have so many projects half done as I generally like to finish a project completely and move on but I'm learning to be flexible :-)

My painting assistant taking a break from playing with my brushes and trying to drink the water that is meant for cleaning the brushes....

Monday, September 1, 2014

Inspired by spring......

 While it is officially the first day of spring here, the wild, wet and cold weather is not feeling very spring-like. I did manage to pick a few spring flowering blooms from my garden late this afternoon during a small break from the constant rain. 

 This pretty Scandinavian fabric arrived late last week just in time for some spring inspired sewing. It's going to help brighten up a couple 70's lounge chairs I have been working on lately and maybe a cushion or two as well.... 
In between sanding and applying polyurethane to a couple of pieces of furniture last week I did manage to cut and sew these 3 aprons for a lady at church, finishing them off on Saturday night just in time to give them to her on Sunday morning. They are to be sold at a stall to raise funds for the local 'Parkinson's' group

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Modern baby quilts in the making....

Creativity seems to be flowing from within me this past week. I've managed to whip up 3 cot sized modern baby quilts in just 4 days and that includes pulling out the perfect groupings of fabrics together, often the part that takes me way too long. Each quilt has either one or two Valorie Wells fabrics in them which was my starting point in coordinating the perfect mix of colours and patterns. I love this improvisational style of piecing, its like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle and is a great way to make favourite prints stand out.
My inspiration fabric for this blue/green quilt top was the large scale butterfly print on a white background which started a bit of a butterfly theme happening. I've had the two smaller butterfly prints for quite some time in the "waiting for the perfect project" pile :-)
 I think this one is my favourite...I love the large scale birds from Valorie's Nest fabric line and also the line of red butterflies through the centre. 
This was the first quilt top to be put together with the large scale butterfly print in a blue colourway as the starting point. I like the fun retro feel this collection of prints has given this quilt top. Now I have a few evenings of relaxing hand-quilting in front of me....
My constant companion Leo having a little rest in between his crazy kitten antics. Thankfully he has fully recovered from a bad infestation of worms and is now his normal full of energy bouncing ball of fluff. A couple of weeks ago he was skin and bone looking very sad and helpless :-(

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The season to come....

 After enduring a few rather too cold days this past week today's milder temperature was most welcome and I felt compelled to take a break from my sewing and housework to walk around my winter garden and take a few photos of what is in flower at the moment. Due to a mischievous kitten waking me up early on Sunday morning I had time before church to pick some Daphne, Erlicheer daffodils and Violets to fill our home with their sweet fragrance for the rest of the week.
 These girls are starting to earn their keep this week too... they must have heard me threaten to replace them a few times lately. Store brought eggs are so inferior once you've had your own free-range ones. 
And these two A4 size art supply/journalling folders are what I've produced from my sewing attic this week. I was hoping to list them in my Etsy shop tonight but I'm not happy with how the colours have turned out in the numerous photos I took this afternoon. The colours are really washed out especially with the lighter one on top in the above photo. Will have to try again tomorrow...
 Disappointing photos aside I am happy with how they have turned out. LOVE these vibrant batik fabrics.
There are 3 large A4 sized pockets to hold sketching pads, an ipad or similar sized tablet along with individual pen pockets and a couple of  smaller pockets too. 
Lets hope this milder clear sunny weather lasts throughout the weekend at least. Surely spring must just be around the corner :-)

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