Thursday, March 22, 2012

Breakfast time is very quiet

I never thought I would see the day when breakfast with two boys was quiet!! But it is the only meal at which they are allowed to read and so they make the most of it. But the concentration goes on the book and not on eating breakfast. I love it when kids suddenly "get" what the joy of reading is about, how to use it for quiet time, for escape, for expanding the imagination. Eli has just been getting confident to actually read and understand by himself and it is GREAT!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Don't make foolish statements

Last Thursday my patchwork and quilting buddies Sheryl, Paula, Kylie and Steff meet for our weekly sewing night. During the night I was started my series on how to use pre cut packs. I have started focusing on Jelly Rolls. I demonstrated how to make fast and easy double hourglass squares. I then said that it was so good and so easy that I might have a quilt top completed by this week. Oh foolish me!!! I have NEVER EVER made a patchwork top in a week. It is starting to look like I never will!!! I still have washing to do, bathroom to clean etc etc and our get together is tomorrow.
Morris insisted on staying on my sewing 
Here is a quick peek at what I am doing.
The pattern is taken from Cluck Cluck Sew (a blog that I follow). I do tackle the cutting a bit differently from her as I have worked out how to use my 6.5" square ruler instead of using the template she describes as needing. Makes it to be nice and fast for cutting. I am always on the lookout for faster, easier ways to do things.

This has a little bit of my upcycling, recycling ethos - the white fabric is a 100% cotton sheet bought from the Op Shop. It is one in very good condition and so easy to use.

Beginners quilt lesson - finally finished

Last year I taught a beginners patchwork class. I had made random sample blocks for each lesson. As the lessons went on we all realised that it would have been helpful to see the various patterns in the setting of a quilt. It has taken me a year to get the little cot quilt finished. All my students are now on at least their third or fourth quilts and we now have an evening a week that we get together. I have now starting looking at quilting techniques and patterns with them. You will see that later.
So the colours and highly patterned material are not what I would have put together if I had intended to make a quilt from scratch but this quilt will end up being given to an orphan at Hope Homes. 
Hope Homes International - Children's home in Eldoret, Kenya.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I have been at the power tools again

Yes I just can't resist them. Though I had to use our sander and it is really pathetic compared to Aaron's Dad's one. But I got there. I made a coat rack. I used the front of an old Rimu draw that had been smashed up and given to use by Aaron's Dad. (Bit of a waste of Rimu but as the rest of our stuff is Rimu it seemed appropriate).
A set of old EPNS spoons and forks that Anna gave me ages ago when moving to Cromwell. I used the same method as before. Sanding it all, smoothing the corners and then just oiling the wood.

I even polished the cutlery before putting it on (whilst thinking that really I should be polishing my own silver that we actually use.)

I do not think it as professional as the drawer I made but it is ok and makes me laugh. The boys thought it was really cool and Aaron was OK with it. So it does the job of picking up all the swimming bags etc off the laundry floor. They were bugging me so much that I just had to do something about it. At some stage we will get proper shelving in their but at the moment while it is all still unplastered etc this works.
Obviously working with builders etc is starting to rub off on me! Who would have thought!!!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fantastic Op Shop finds

Yesterday I had the best find for the best price ever!!! An amazing retro butlers tray. It was $3 and looked really scummy when I got it. But I have been wanting a butlers tray for years and the new price of $75 (upwards!) has seriously put me off. It has cleaned up so well it is much better condition than I thought.
This is so much better than anything I could have bought new.
Aaron has promised me breakfast in bed tomorrow with it. Hot croissant and coffee - YUM.

I also got this awesome shaped carafe. Last year I tried to alter the Lemoncello recipe I have, to use the abundance of fejoas up, and the resulting Fejoacello worked so well everyone loved it. So this year it is going into mass production and what better than to put it into awesomely shaped carafes.

Seed Collecting Time

rainbow beet, eating pea, bulb fennel, sweet pea, kurly kale
Yes it is autumn in the garden and I am either collecting the seed from the plants that I left in for that purpose (or bemoaning forgetting to leave a plant in and realising I will have to buy seed!!!), sewing green crops and generally not doing too much work but eating the harvest.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The ice cream recipe

My cousin Alison has asked for the recipe re the blog about making home made icecream. Note that this makes about 3 to 3.5 litres of ice cream.

500ml cream
8 egg whites
3/4C castor sugar
1 tsp Heilala vanilla - pure vanilla bean paste (bought at raewood fresh)
   (if you do not have this you can use 2tsp of real vanilla essence but the bean paste is way better)

Give the egg whites a beat until stiff and holding together. Slowly add the caster sugar as though you are making a meringue or pavlova.
In a seperate bowl whip the cream. Add the vanilla and beat to mix through. (if you beat the vanilla into the egg white it will affect them)

Mix the two together. Put into containers to freeze. Yes - no churning, no fussing needed and it is delicious even a few weeks later.

If you want to do a flavour just use some homemade jam. Beat 2 T of jam into the cream before putting with the egg whites and then swirl another 6-8 T jam into the finished mixture to leave a pattern and threads of the fruit. (home made raspberry jam works really well)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Fresh Strawberries - Mixed Berry Jam

As the weather is so grotty I knew that the rain would start making the Strawberries go to mush. Yes we have fresh strawberries in the garden!!! I have always grown sucessful strawberries and so far we are on our second cropping with more flowers coming on. The only problem is that my third crops never ripen as it gets too cold.
Anyway, I picked about 250g of strawberries and was stuck with what to do with that amount. We had Strawberries and Meringues just last week. So I thought that I would put together a mixed berry jam as the first lot I made in the height of the soft fruit season was all finished. Gosh it was good. I still have a lot of fruit frozen to deal with "some other time", so that time is now.

In a pot goes on low heat
250g frozen blackcurrants
250g frozen redcurrants
250g frozen blackberries
500g frozen raspberries

Put a lid on and let the fruit soften and thaw, the juices should start running. I then added
1/2c water
250g chopped fresh strawberries and brought it all to a simmer.

Into the pot goes 1400g sugar and stir until well dissolved. Let simmer for 5 minutes, add the juice of 1 lemon and let simmer for another 5 minutes (the longer cooking time is for the currants). Take it off the heat and stir for 5 minutes, leave for 5 minutes and stir for another 2-3 minutes. (What this does is ensure that the fruit evenly distributes through the jar when setting - prevents the jams where you get the fruit rising to the top)

Put into clean sterilised jars and put lids on securely.

There was a little left over that I put in the fridge. I then made a batch of raspberry jam using the same utensils - saves me washing. By the time that was done we needed to try it all. A batch of pikelets later with the taste testers declaring it scrummy!!!!

Making a recycled Eco friendly laundry bucket

Today being such ghastly weather I am tackling a pile of things that should have been done months ago.
The first on the list was getting a bucket to use for soaking clothes etc in the laundry.
This bucket is very sturdy with a metal handle which has a wooden holding piece where you pick it up. So comfortable and easy to use. It is an old 10 litre paint pail.It was covered in a cream coloured paint inside and out from the messy painters.

first...clean it up
first - put it outside in the rain. This made the outside labeling easy to come off and starting working on releasing the paint from the plastic of the bucket.
second...add water
second - put it in the laundry tub and use the grey water coming off the wash cycle of the washing machine. This lifts the paint and the last bits do with a brush. Don't forget to clear out the drain as you do this.
Third - fill the bucket with the clean water coming from the rinse cycle. Put in your soaking aid. Put  in the clothes and you have a fantastically strong laundry bucket.
third - use it.

Why is it Eco?

  • No extra water was used cleaning this up to use for a new purpose.
  • It has not had to go into the landfill
  • I have not bought a cheap bucket from a new shop that will break the handle and perish or snap in the first few months of use.
So good for the environment and very good for my wallet.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Damaged Quince Treet

Our Quince tree always fruits so heavily that the branches bend down each year with their load. But today with the wind they could bear it no longer and we lost about 1/4 of the tree. It has also put another main branch at risk so it will have to be severely pruned this winter.
Still lots of fruit on it but I hate to see the garden damaged.

Great Secondhand Shop finds

The Duvet Cover

The down inner.
I was thrilled with what I found at an Op Shop in Rangiora today. A brand new duvet cover. I normally only do 100% cotton for bedding but this is a good brand and high thread count. I am a white freak when it comes to sheeting too!! Then a 95%down duvet. Wow - no marks, no stains and looks like it may not have been used. The inner which I have been using as a duvet for Eli since he moved to a big bed is an old feather sleeping back that I unpicked, turned a side around and made it oblong with straight sides. It has worn and I have been patching it as feather puff from nowhere. But now I wont have to!!

A gorgeous break in Rarotonga

Woo hoo, A holiday with no kids for 11 days. Bliss, relaxing and warm! BTW it was an early 20th wedding anniversary present to ourselves....