Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pickle School

I have a new hobby! I went to pickle and jam school a couple of weeks ago and now have a new obsession! 'Cause I need a new obsession! I had the best time and we made green pawpaw chutney, mandarin jam, tomato relish and preserved lemons. It's all been eaten except for the preserved lemons which has to sit and think about itself for another fortnight.  But I haven't been idle. I've since made........

Orange and Apricot Marmalade, and
Lemon Butter, and
Raspberry Jam, and
the best tomato sauce in the whole world (or any other big place!). But what would it all be, without.....

a nice warm loaf of homemade wholemeal bread?? The flavours of them all are so far removed from store bought stuff and all taste divine. I've got a few more recipes I want to try and I haven't quite worked out how to tell when the jam is ready. The jam and marmalade above are way overcooked and you need a crow bar to get them out of the jar. My mother says she spread the orange and apricot on pikelets. Now, there's a woman you wouldn't mess with! I was flat out spreading it on cold toast.

Other culinary delights from the kitchen today include a carrot and orange cake, curried vegetable and lentil soup and savoury glazed meatloaf (that just went ding!). I haven't made a meatloaf before and am not sure how well it will go down with Bill the Builder. He has a horror of 'strange' food and I sense meatloaf will classify. He demanded that I quit putting weird sh*t in his food after he discovered a bean in his salad, but that's another story.

I haven't been idle in the sewing room either. Weeellll.....I have a little bit but I've finished the top of Teddy Tea Party. What a slog that was but I'm really pleased with it, especially the mitred corners, thanks to Lynda's tutorials.
That little black body belongs to the gorgeous Belvedere, my sweet boy who I love dearly, but who I shall dong on the head with a heavy spanner if he swings off the end of this again. This quilt will be for Charlotte, my eldest niece. They are all coming down from Townsville for Christmas this year so I need to get it finished before then. It could happen.

I've also done my Sylvia's Bridal Sampler homework from last week. I have tried and tried to upload the photo and it just will not do it. Have no idea why because I took all these photos at the one time and have saved them all in the same place.

I'm off to cheese school next Saturday and am really looking forward to that as well. What a top weekend it has been!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Motoring along nicely!

Happy Valentine's Day! Now on to the good stuff. Clearly, lists work for me. I think I must be bordering on being a Virgo. I've always loved a good list and my February Focus list is coming along nicely. I've finished another block for Teddy's Tea Party.........
and Churn Dash (block 20) for Farmers Wife Sampler......
which is good because I've also started doing Catalicious by Bronwyn Hayes even though I've really got no business doing that, given my list of UFOs and other projects. I love Bronwyn's work and I love cats. What can I say?
Speaking of cats, I have finally sewn the binding on a cat quilt I started 11 years ago! Yes, I know. Now sewing the binding down has been added to my list and that will mean I only have 32 UFOs!! And speaking of gorgeous critters, these beauties popped in yesterday. How beautiful are they??
The gorgeous Jack

and the mischievous Miss Holly.
It was such a joy to see them. They were on their way back with the caravan after spending the weekend at Pottsville. Jack said he'd been walking, riding his bike, playing his computer games and a whole lot of other things. Holly said she'd been shopping.

I've yanked out another UFO - Vintage Valentine - and have added that to my list. I've done five of the smaller blocks and the large central block so seven smaller blocks to do. I'm aiming to have it finished by 8 May in time for my gorgeous daughter's 40th birthday. It's doable. It's on the list. Also on the list for this week is the two smaller blocks for TTP, two more FWS blocks and the SBS block of the moment, Friendship Star. Oh, and the cat quilt binding. I'll get there. I also think I should get a medal or a prize (preferably cash) because I am using stash on nearly everything. I am SUCH a thrifty quilter!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February Focus

I decided, since I have the attention span of a gnat, to make February my "Focus" month. Focus on what projects I've got going on and focus on getting them finished. The main one is Teddy Tea Party, which was supposed to be for my niece for Christmas. Still, I never did specify which particular Christmas so it could still happen.  Here is Block F.
It will be a pretty little quilt and I was fortunate enough to get some cup and saucer border from Jenny in Bundaberg. For some reason, I am finding all the blanket stitching extremely boring. Not sure why. I usually love to blanket stitch.
This is block 18 of Farmers Wife Sampler and is called A Century of Progress. I unpicked this block and resewed it about 7 times. This is as close as I could get to having the centre points all match up. Not sure what I did wrong. The two halves are terrific.......until I sew them together and then it all goes pear shaped.

This is block 19 Chequerboard. Looks simple but wasn't without issues for me either!

And this is our next Sylvia's Bridal Sampler block, Dutchman's Puzzle. It went together reasonably well. Getting quite the little stack of blocks out in the sewing room now. Will certainly be interesting putting them together. Sizes are variable!

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Good Wife!

That would be me! Because yesterday, I ironed!! Yep. You heard right.  Ironing for me is not just a quick half hour here and there. It is a major project, with the emphasis on major. It involves trashy movies, bottles of bubbles, a take over of the lounge and generally, life as everyone knows it goes on hold. I drag baskets and racks and cords and tables out into the lounge room, close all the windows and put on the fans and aircon (don't want to over heat - still 5,000 degrees here) mix up my special starch brew, pour the bubbles and load up the trashy TV. That of itself wears me out! But it is now done till next time.
Ingredients for special brew starch. Bill the Builder always freaks out because I use his Grey Goose vodka. He is such a drama queen. He runs around, bellowing "not the Goose! Not the Goose." He is a goose!
Finished till next time! A stack of 4,000 giant shirts with long sleeves, 2,000 table cloths, 6,000 pillow cases, 4,000 tea towels, 5,000 place mats, 10,000 napkins, 80,000 giant t-shirts and a heap of giant trousers! No wonder I'm snookered!!  Then, I have to wash the floor with hot water and vinegar to get the starch off the tiled floor so that Bill the Builder doesn't come skidding through and break his neck. I try to iron at least three times a year but sometimes I don't get to it that often.
Bill the Builder was a complete toad less than loving yesterday morning so bought me this lovely bunch of flowers to score points redeem himself because he realized that his life was in danger he hadn't been a nice boy. It worked! They are so cheery!

The weekend wasn't a total write off. I did three more blocks of my Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt. I am really enjoying doing this one and like reading the letters that go with it. I had started following an online group but got behind so just started at block one and am working my way numerically through the book.
This is block 15 Buzzard's Roost. I was really careful with it (the second time I made it) and have got the half square triangles marginally better but they are still not right. This block is wobbly but not as bad as it looks here.
Block 16 Calico Puzzle
Block 17 Cats and Mice
I've got quite a few of the blocks done now. Not sure how I'm going to 'tidy' them up when I come to put it together because the blocks are on point. Oh well. No doubt it will come to me!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Where's the baby?

Waiting for the gorgeous one to turn up. He's late so any minute now, daughter and sweet one will come screaming up the driveway in a shower of dust and small sparks.

Finished Ducks and Ducklings for SBS yesterday. Note to self - learn how to sew up half square triangles. I've never quite mastered the art of that and it shows! Then I sticky taped my design wall to the back glass doors (not much in the way of walls in u-beaut sewing room. As soon as Bill the Builder sees a wall, he whacks a window in it) and put on all my SBS blocks so far.
It needs some more pink in it, I think.  Looks like today is going to be a bit cooler. Thank goodness for that. It has been 5,000 degrees here the last few days. That's hot!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy Australia Day!

What a terrific day we had yesterday! Perfect weather, excellent food and dodgy loving family. Prawns with excellent dipping sauce (made by me, of course), lamb chops (and not just for the girls), snags, lamingtons, pavlova and what Aussie Day celebrations would be complete without these rissoles?? (made by son).
After lunch and a swim in the pool, it was time for the Grand Master (me) to assess and approve all the thongs for the thong throwing competition. Sadly, one pair of thongs had to be disallowed due to the aerodynamic build on the heel which would clearly have given the owner an advantage. Since I was in charge, I was able to allow the owner to borrow an approved thong for throwing, although there was some objections raised by other participants. They were ignored.
The dogs thought the whole thing had been organized for their benefit and one of the thongs met with an untimely end in the jaws of an amazingly stupid a very quick boxer dog. Again, objections were raised but subsequently ignored. What a terrific day we had and what a terrific country we live in. I know that many Australians are having a really tough time of it at the moment, but all in all, we enjoy freedom, democracy and safety in this country. In spite of the bad times, we are very fortunate.

Won't be any more work done on Sylvia's Bridal Sampler for a day or two. Babysitting duties start shortly but here are some more that I've recently finished. The first one is Friendship Quilt.

and this next one is Courthouse Steps. The colours look like they won't fit in but I have quite a few other blocks and they do all go together. The colours in this block are pinker than they appear here. I am doing the quilt in similar colours to the book, but substituting purple for brown. I will put all my blocks onto my design wall to see if how they are working together and post a photo but only if it looks good soon.
This next one is Weathervane, and again, looks like it won't fit it probably won't. but it will be fine. Again, those pieces are pinker than they look. Orange sends me into a frenzy so I tend not to use it.
Next new project is Floral Bouquet from a jelly roll book as soon as all participants can finally make a decision on what fabric to use. Hope everyone is enjoying their day!

Sun safe and totally gorgeous!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's a long time between drinks, Barbie!

Well, after a long absence, here I am again! And what a time it has been....
Our wonderful children and their spouses organized a surprise 40th wedding anniversary party for us. We had absolutely no idea! And what a fabulous night it was. Lynda and John came up from Wollongong, even though Lynda had come up for a visit only three weeks earlier. The kids even rounded up my bridesmaids, who flew down from Townsville, as well as Bill's best man.
It was a truly fabulous night and we had a wonderful time. Check the gorgeous ruby earrings that Bill gave me to celebrate. I love them and he gave me the matching pendant for Christmas.
Don't what was happening there, but Lynda was amused. I'm trying to protect the grandbaby so it obviously wasn't good! Lynda, John and the bridesmaids all came back to our place and stayed for a few days. Just wonderful! Soon after, it was Christmas - another fabulous few days.
Here is Hannes in his elf costume. He looked totally hilarious in it and really played the part. All the grandbabies came over to decorate the tree and a good time was had by all.

What a wonderful December we had!  The New Year is well underway and I have to thank Lynda for motivating me (again!). We've restarted the Sylvia's Bridal Sampler Blocks and have already made quite a little stash.
This block has the perculiar name of 54-40 or Fight and it came together fairly well for me.
and this is Anvil. For some reason, the sample in the book was made with a central square but Lynda and I decided that this wasn't the essence of the block and we settled for foundation piecing.
and this is Album 2. They're not quite as wonky as they look and I'm really pleased with them so far. Even the dreaded Tennessee which I had a go at and it turned out! I couldn't believe it. I was ready to hurl myself off a cliff seek professional help blow up the sewing room  give up on doing that particular block and decided to give it one more try. Was so chuffed when it turned out. Here it is.
And now it's Australia Day tomorrow. Off out to our son's place for prawns, lamingtons, lamb chops, snags and a swim.  Need to go and wrap the prizes for the thong throwing competition. Actually, I expect to win because I have a pair of sparkly thongs; first pair I have had since I've been a grown up! Hope everyone has a wonderful day.