Saturday, June 30, 2012

This weeks giveaway is...

Petunia the pig.

This is the complete pattern and instructions for the Melly and Me stuffed animal toy.

This is brand new. If you would like to have this either follow me publicly or leave a comment. All names into the draw on Wednesday night.
Good Luck

My Son has his picture in the local newspaper

Eli - Top left
Eli has been in three local newspapers recently. Wow is that a record?
After Queens Birthday weekend his photo was in the Northern Outlook and the Kaiapoi Advocate for his leading of the Junior Kapa Haka group during the unveiling of a new carving in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the School.

Then this week he is in the Northern Outlook again for reading with Gerald - the Life Education caravan giraffe.
As it looked in the newspaper
Eli - Top left

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The perfect dinner for a cold winter's day

Tonight we are having a roast. This is a rare occasion in our household. A lot of this is thanks to Jess and Stephen, as we got a pile of leftover veges from their weekly vege pack.
So what you see is onion, home-grown garlic, butter-nut pumpkin, kumera (sweet potato for non NZers) and yams.

I also have beetroot cooking on the stove and that will be roasted with rock salt plus some potatoes par boiling. These will then be shaken in the pan to create a rough edge and then fan baked in a tiny bit of heated oil (this is Aaron's favourite potatoes and how I learnt to do them at the Cordon Bleu Cookery School).

All of this with a lovely leg of lamb. I might even make some home-made mint sauce.

Here is the meal on the table two hours later. Nope mint sauce was a step too far, but I did get gravy done.

Upcycling secondhand stools

My finished stools
Yesterday after work my sister and I had a couple of hours working hard recovering various stools. This is something I find really satisfying as they look so good when done.

My sister had never completed one before and was a bit nervous about doing it herself. Last year I had a lovely morning with Steff also doing this.
I was going to write a tutorial as we did this, but got so enthusiastic about getting stuck in and making the change that I forget to take photos of some major steps - so next time!

The material is oilcloth from Femme de Brocante, a Rangiora shop to die for. One of my favourites and always have amazing specials.

I would like your opinion though - Sometimes I think it is really neat to leave the industrial look of furniture to show it's heritage.
On the step stool do you think I should scrub it clean of paint etc to make it shiny and new or should I leave the smart top and the industrial look? Please do give me feedback on that.

Stool 1 - before

Stool 1 - finished. Note the matching material
Albie said he was the stool tester!

Stool 2 -start (finish in first photo)

My sisters stools - start

My sisters stools - first ever finished.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I have run out of compost

It has been a lovely winter day in Kaiapoi for a spot of gardening. I started setting the vegetable garden up for the winter about a month ago. As usual I have not finished. So I attempted to get it done today. BUT - I ran out of compost. So 2/3 of the garden has compost, sawdust, blood and bone and lime. The rest has some green crops growing and some just missed out completely.
Anyway, about a month ago I cleared out the glasshouse and let the chooks have a good rummage around for a couple of days. Then I composted, sawdusted, watered, etc. I thought it best to give it a bit of time to rest (read into that - I ran out of steam and got distracted by other things). So today I planted out the bok choy that I seeded a couple of months ago and some cauliflower and broccoli plants I had been nurturing for quite a while.

They should all be eaten by the time I need to think of spring and summer vege. Yummy. Last year the cauliflowers I grew in the glasshouse were enormous and the best I have ever had. So I have great expectations for this crop.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Recycling / Upcycling project - glamorous PJ's

When I was recently away at Hanmer Springs with friends they all had pretty PJ's. I was wearing some PJ's I had bought from the Op Shop for $4 a few years ago. Oh how I realised that I needed to upgrade my look. So when I got home I looked for flannel fabric online. Yes I could get some great stuff but at a great price, it would cost me more to make them than to buy a brand new pair at a normal store.

With that in the back of my mind when I was scavenging the Op Shop's I found a sort of nightshirt. It has birds and pink on a brown background. It was too split up the sides and too short to be decent to walk around the house in. But it was in exceptionally good condition and I could see that a few tweaks to it would make it look better. So for $4.50 I took it home.

But then I could not find material to match, until I was out in the garage looking at my material shop (that is what I call all my stash of fabric) and found a bit of leftover flannelette sheeting. I had used this sheet as the backing for one of my soft and cuddly kiddies quilts. Yes it was a perfect match for the pattern on my top and there was enough material left over.

So I chopped up an old pair of PJ bottoms (50 cents from the op shop) to use as a pattern. I cut it in half down the middle then leave one side sewn up so that I can use that as a guide to sew up my new bottoms and the other side I cut into pattern pieces. Cut them and sewed them. It only took about 1 1/2 hours in total to complete them. And I am so pleased with myself putting contrast piping around the bottom of the legs to make them look that they belong together. (Don't look too closely as one leg is definitely finished a whole lot better than the other leg). There I have it - a new set of PJ's to go to smart places in the winter in.

Total cost:
pj bottoms for pattern 0.50
pj top 4.50
piping 0.50 (remnant from Fabric Vision)
ribbon for waist 3.00 (from Blackwells in Kaiapoi)
elastic 0.10 ( I got a 20 metre roll at Stash Rehash this year)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stage one of bedroom done

Yes I have finished painting. In spite of the mishaps of yesterday (if you don't read Facebook - Aaron had tried to help and made a hash of it) all the paint layers are on and now just drying. I absolutely love it. Jakob has picked so well and when black curtains are up etc it will look fab.

I had learnt a few things from the painters at work. So this time I masked up all the edges, it was going to be so sharp in all the corners etc. What I did not take into account was that last time it was messy. So when I untaped the ceilings there was green, then wobbly bits of vivid blue and then the white stipple ceiling. Icky. So I had to undo all my professional edges and make them wobbly to cover all the existing blue. Ah well.   This is the first stage but at least Jakob can be back in this room tomorrow night. I have then got to move onto stage two - being curtains to match, quilt to make etc. So the next photo will be in a few weeks time when some of that has been achieved.

So now it is 9.55pm and the house is a mess as all my spare moments have been painting. Where do I start? kids lunches, vacuuming, folding the five loads of washing, getting the washing machine on.......... goodness it does not take long for things to get behind.

The giveaway winner is... Lusks

I had a bit of feedback re problems putting on comments. So I have taken off any restrictions as to who can access and comment and I have followed Pam from Kalamazoo in the USA advise to turn off the verification software at the end. Hopefully that will iron out any issues you may have had putting on comments.

So winging it's way to Scotland is the bag pattern and a couple of bits of material thrown in. I hope one day to see the finished article.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My thwarted surprise

Aaron was meant to be going away for work for three nights. We had a few weeks warning so the boys and I had been plotting and planning. To do a total revamp of Jakob's room. Out with vivid blue, the zoo curtains and the cream walls. In with a retro lime, grey (called concrete) and a white trim. Jakob also wants black curtains - the man at Resene's in Shirley was very impressed that Jakob had chosen such coordinating colours.

Anyway the story continues... The time then got reduced last week to just an overnight trip with a separate trip next week. Uh oh - but never mind now I will just have to paint till 10pm etc. So Aaron headed off at 7.30am and I dashed in to start the room. Moved the furniture, covered what was left, started puttying and sanding. Then at 9.30am I got the call!! The plane was fogged in, still might get a later flight. Oh panic stations*** - then another call at 10.30, no flight, coming home for dinner.
So what should have been an amazing surprise actually looked like this........
And I was going to make a quilt (well that is what I thought but doubt would get it done!!).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Scissor keeper and pin cushions

Since Tuesday I have been making this set in an aim to assist me to stop losing things. When I am doing craft activities I am always trying to find my pins, scissors, cutters, rulers etc. At home we are still trying to find our wedding negatives (I have tidied up sooo much of the house in my search that I am started to look organised!).

Anyway I keep seeing people on YouTube videos who have things around their neck with their scissors on. Years ago when I was in the Canterbury Embroiderers Guild we were always making scissor keepers. I never understood it as they never "kept" my scissors near me. They were generally little embroidered square attached by a cord to your scissors so that the location of your scissors were more obvious. Didn't work for me.

On Tuesday when we gathered for a quilting night I kept waylaying my scissors all the time, so cut some 2 1/2 inch strips and started to sew. I mean, how hard could it be?

Well it transpires that you have to think about a lot of things, like not sewing the loop up and finishing cos you feel so jolly smart, then realising there is no way to put your clip on to keep the scissors (prototype 1 in the bin). Finally got the hang of the scissor thing and I have been using mine ever since. How did I ever survive before that. It is soooooo handy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then onto the pin cushion. I have made a finger one - which since trying it I actually like as I only ever use 3-4 pins if I use pins at all. The wrist one is on prototype 3 as the first was too small, this one I feel is a bit too big and is velcroed onto the wrist strap. I think that I will sew it onto the strap. Also the elastic is a wee bit too fitting. But it all works for me and I am thrilled. I am going to make some more to iron out issues.

So I have always sold the snips (or given them away) and now I feel it has gone to the next level with the lanyard.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Clearing the craftroom - Giveaway

I am seriously clearing and tidying up the craftroom and my quilt shop (aka the garage) So instead of selling the excess I have decided to host some giveaways over the next few weeks. This weeks giveaway is ....

Melly and Me bag pattern - Hopscotch.

This has never been used. I have unzipped it and looked at the instructions but am just not going to make it.
So put a comment on my blog and make sure I know how to contact you and this could be yours, to keep or give away yourself.
This will be drawn in the evening on Wednesday and then could be winging it's way to you.

Upcycling - using second hand sheets

Last night I got on the finishing streak of upcycling various second hand sheets that I obtained from the Op Shop for $2-3 each.
I have been making duvet covers for our single beds as we just don't have enough in the winter when washing does not always dry. I like to use plain sheeting and am a big fan of natural materials, so it has to be 100% cotton and generally white. Then we don't need a top sheet to the bed as the cover operates as a duvet cover and sheet. Makes it easy for the boys to make in the morning and we don't get the whole - sheet down at their feet - scenario.
I made two white duvet covers last week and last night I made a purple one for Eli. It is his favourite colour.
By mistake I deleted the photo of the main finished duvet cover (and it is in the wash now).

Instructions; - sew four straight seams to make a duvet (takes 30mins max)

1. Get two single sheets or one double / queen (so that there are two layers and lay them on the floor. Make sure that the nice stitched top end of the sheets are both at the same end and if you have a wrong and right side then put them right sides together. As this means the bottom of your duvet is already made and thick enough to take either domes or buttons as closure.

two top ends of the sheet which will become bottom end of the duvet. All ready for buttons or domes.     
2. Lay an existing correct fitting duvet cover over these two layers. Put the bottom of the duvet in line with the top of the sheets and one side of the duvet in line with one of the sides of the sheet. This way you only need to cut to fit down one side (allow 3cm seam allowance) and along the end of the duvet.

3. Stitch both sides together starting at what will be the bottom of the duvet (that nicely finished top of the sheet. Then stitch along the top seam. This will make sure if you have cut it a bit wonky you can correct it, but the bottom opening of the duvet will still look professional as the seams will match.

4. Turn the duvet through so that the seams are all on the inside. Then iron those seams. Go back to the sewing machine and start on one side and sew to the top - sew with the side of the machine foot running in line along the edge of the duvet - , turn and sew along the top, turn and sew down the other side. This is called a french seam and means that you do not need to zig zag or get your overlocker out as it seals the original seam inside itself. It also gives a really good finish to the duvet making the edges always look sharp.

The finished look of the french seam
5. Close the bottom two edges of the duvet whatever way you prefer. Make buttonholes on one side and sew on buttons or use domes.

One finished duvet.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pre Dinner Pirate Show

Last night, while waiting for the roast to rest, we were regaled with a pre dinner pirate show by the boys.
Introducing Elijah Schulz as Captain Burabaz and Jakob Schulz as Mumtan. (those were my lines and then I was instructed to sit in the audience)

We had a fine display of swordsmanship, lots of swashbuckling, a treasure ship commandeered and a great finale. Unfortunately they also killed the audience several times.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baked cheesecake

Last night at 9pm I started making these miniature baked cheesecakes. I used lime and lemons to flavour it as I find that cuts through the dense fat of the cream cheese. Only I then had to stay up till about 10.30pm waiting for them to finish the cooking part.

I love baked cheesecake and I am going to be with the girls for a quilting session tonight, so this will be our sweet treat. As you can see from other blog posts I often use the baked cheesecake with other flavours - the last few tries were blackcurrants and redcurrants from the garden. Click here to see - I was impressed with them when I made them!

Anyone have any answers on the biscuit base for cheesecakes? I used 50% more butter in my base than the recipe (an Alison Holst recipe I have adapted) but the base still crumbles apart. At least the base is not the rock hard, can't get a spoon near it, kind. Tips anyone?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Feijoa and Ginger Jam

I am in the kitchen making Feijoa and Ginger Jam. This is my own recipe that I developed as I could not find one in any of my recipe books etc. Doing reading from some Victorian cook books and the Earnest Adams cookbook I realised that Feijoa's really have no setting agent due to them being low in acid (though apparently quite high in pectin). So using "pectin" or jam sugar but wont help this to set, what will is some acid. I use the juice of a lemon and a bit of tartaric acid for this;

Feijoa Jam

1 kg of Feijoa pulp - some years I use a potato peeler to peel them but this year I just scooped the flesh out using a spoon.
900g sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2  tsp tartaric acid
75g chopped up crystallised ginger

Clean your jars and lids and put them into the oven at 100oC to sterilise while the jam is being made.
Put all ingredients into a pot on very low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up and have the jam at a rolling boil. Stir occasionally. When it has reached setting point (I put a dish in the freezer , once cold I put a tablespoon of jam on the dish. If you can run your finger through and the jam stays separated it is ready). Cooking time tends to be around 20 minutes. Put into jars and place lids on immediately.

This jam comes out more like an English conserve as I do not mash the fruit or cook it so long that it pulps.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Make a gorgeous cushion from a shirt

I have just finished making a lovely cushion from a second hand linen shirt. I bought the shirt for $2 specifically to do this. The inner is a Fairydown feather inner - 16x20inches.

Here is how I did it:

1.Get a cushion inner the size you want. Have a shirt in the material, colour and style you want. Make sure it is a button through shirt not a pull on.
measure shirt for cutting
After cutting
2. Place the cushion on the well ironed shirt (buttoned up) and cut out around (so that you are cutting two layers at the same time) - don't forget to allow for seams. Or measure your cushion size, add seam allowance and then cut that out of the shirt

3. Sew the top seam only so that the material becomes a oblong.

4. Add all the embellishments that you want. Sew them along the full length of the material and then it will cover both sides of the finished cushion.

Back - with a perfect opening 

5. Fold the trimmed material in half along current seam line - right sides together. Sew around the other three sides. Then unbutton the buttons, turn inside out and press. Viola your finished cushion. With a perfect opening, professional button holes all matching up - without having to do the hard work yourself.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

So thick and still snowing

up to the top of the gumboots
Goodness the snow is like I have never seen before. It is still snowing - now been snowing for 8 hours and no sign of let up. Thick , still and beautiful. The kids have great up to now to the point that I have been able to get half way through my annual H&S review. Goodness knows how long I will have four kids - I very much doubt my sisters plane will get in from Rarotonga tonight.
We have all been back out in the snow several times but Albie finds it too cold. My daft boys are out in t-shirts having snow fight. They have no sense!!! (but do come in when it is getting too cold for them).
I have never seen snow settle on a clothesline!
trying to show how big the flakes are

50mm of snow in my rain gauge and still snowing!!!

Well the snow is just get bigger and thicker as the day goes on. We have just been out catching flakes trying to get the biggest. So far the biggest is about 5cm across. I have never seen snow so thick.

There is 50mm of rain and snow in my rain gauge and still it is coming. We have had some fun outside though Albie was incredibly unimpressed when he got hit in the face by a snowball that Jakob threw.

Since then we occasionally pop outside but generally are occupied doing other things. Albie has been into the guns and swords with Jakob. Montana-Rose and Eli have been crafty.
Whether Anna and Mark will get to fly into CHCH from their holiday in Rarotonga will remain to be seen.

Monday, June 4, 2012

My little box of treasure

My mother in law gave me this treasure tin on Friday night. I could not for the life of me work out what it was. Then I opened it. Oh glorious glorious buttons. Amazing old ones, all sorts of styles and sizes. What a fantastic gift. There is a story to this. When they moved house (just a couple of months ago as their old house literally fell to bits in the Christchurch earthquakes) they cleared all their bits and pieces. And that included her sewing things and her buttons. I shrieked when I found out. I went through the rubbish bin outside (I mean how desperate was I!!!) and managed to retrieve some, but for the main all her buttons etc had gone to the tip. Oh how I groaned.

Anyway she was out with her tramping group on Wednesday and one of those ladies was permanently moving to Wellington. She too was having a clean out and lamenting that there was no one to give all these collected and useful things to. My mother in law quickly piped up that she had a very willing recipient in mind. And it was me.. oh lucky me... I just love getting treasure like this.

In the kitchen making Feijoa Alcohol!!

Last year I had a glut of Feijoa's from our lovely tree. After preserving, making jam and all those industrious things I had little ones left over. Now I make Lemoncello a lot. It was from a class I did once with Ruth Pretty out at Michael le Richards house in Governors Bay.
So I played around a bit and yes Feijoacello is fantastic!!! Straight on ice, or ice with dry lemonaide or if you want something really alcoholic then with a dry sparkling wine as a top up.
In winter or in summer this gives you a heavenly taste of the feijoa season to come.

To make Feijoacello - my recipe

300 - 500g feijoas
Juice of 1 lemon
3 cups water
4 cups sugar
700ml Vodka ( I use 40% proof but you can use the cheap 20% only keep it in the fridge after making)

Wash the feijoa's and if small cut in half, if larger cut into 3. Put all ingredients into a bowl and stir for the sugar to dissolve. Muddle the fejoa's (that is get a cup or rolling pin or something to give them a bit of a bash). This bruises the skin and releases more of that feijoa flavour. Cover in plastic wrap or put the bowl into a plastic bag and leave on the bench for 48 hours. Strain and put into sterilised containers.


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....