Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ginger Crunch ....and more

It has been a while since I posted. I have started working fulltime for a while and that kinda takes up your time. Combined with a broken camera and looking at a screen for over 8 hours a day, the desire to blog reduces somewhat.

However, equipped with a new phone and better camera I hope to start again. First up. I made ginger crunch for the first time ever in my life. I wasn't sure that the boys would like it. It's not even cold and Eli has had two pieces. So a hit. The recipe book was found last weekend at the dump shop. The Holst's are such good cooks, so I knew the 50 cents would be worth it. If the ginger crunch is anything to go by then the whole book will be a hit.

We had a great time camping in Oamaru. The Victorian weekend is such an amazing thing. With lots for the boys to do too. The slide is massive and the other items in the playground are great. So a bit of penny farthing race watching, some shopping, lots of walking and a visit to the dump shop.. all made for a great holiday weekend.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Driftwood blouse

Well it has been a long time coming. Photos are not great as my camera is broken and only the selfie side works. Next time I will make this shirt a couple of inches longer. I cut it lower than the midline on the pattern but doesn't seem to be quite enough. However this material cost me $12 from The Fabric Store at The Tannery and I have heaps left over. A lovely cotton lawn. So great as a trial. I also used self binding but did not make it bias - next time it needs to be bias for the neckline.

I cut the driftwood blouse out about two months ago and parked it as it was just difficult. I love the patterns from Twig and Tale - the wool boots I make is another of their patterns. But this pattern is so large that when printed on a home printer all the A4 pages had to be taped together. When printing none of the notations ie "front", "back" etc print so trying to figure out what was what drove me nuts. Also the A4 pages had no numbering so working out how the pattern fitted took me all of one night. This put me off and the cut out material has sat in my sewing room for about two months.

It was a quick sew but somehow some of the pieces did not align well, even though I was anal about seam allowance etc. Thrilled to have finished it and will try again with my "better" material now that I have worked out the kinks in the sewing.

Spring is definitely heading into summer, the rhododendrons are just about finished and poppies, peonies and roses are starting to come out. These are some mutated poppies from my garden, they all just cross fertilised and now I am getting wonderful colour array.

Linking to these places

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Making Hard Candy - Acid Drops

When I was a teenager my mother found a recipe for old fashioned acid drops. This makes a hard boiled lolly (candy) that you have to pull and twist the old fashioned way when cooling them.
Eli and I made them but the Candy syrup is super hot to handle so when it came time to shape them, the rush is on. We all pitched in to get it cooled and rolled as it is easy for it to set and then you break shards off, which is not nice to suck.
We had a day in Christchurch wandering around the botanic gardens and took the opportunity to wander the city as well. We went to the Earthquake memorial, which was very moving. 
Stopping by the cathedral just shows how quickly nature takes over. 6 years on from the earthquake and the paving is gone and trees abound.

A few fun photos later. We recreated some of our wedding photos. Twenty years and a few kilos later does not make the poses very easy!!! In our wedding photo the cathedral spire shows, but the city is a very different place since then.

In town there is a space invaders game that you have to physically wrangle. Great fun. The screen is on the wall of the building and the boys are manipulating the game from this platform. I had a go and won my game too!!!.

Here is the acid drop recipe if you want it. I have no idea where my mother got it from.
2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Heat gently until sugar is dissolved then bring to a constant simmer. Do not boil hard. It took about 20 minutes to just start becoming a pale yellow colour. It should be sort of holding together.

Take pan off the heat and add:
3 drops lemon essence
Take great care and pour onto a well oiled slab. I oiled a roasting dish, other times I have used a oiled baking tray or an oiled stainless steel bench top will do. While it is hot it was easy to do it in a large back dish as it could not run away on me.

Keep moving the sticky mess from the outside into the middle, sort of like folding - do it with an ordinary metal eating knife. Sprinkle
2 teaspoons tartaric acid over and it will slowly mix in using this folding technique.

My mother's recipe says to roll it into rolls, cut with a knife and then roll into balls with your hand. But it took quite a while of folding before it was set enough to consider doing anything. Then we found just pulling a chunk off and folding it until it was cool or solid enough to put in balls worked for us. We chucked them onto a dish that was covered with about 1cm icing (confectioners) sugar.

They were yum!!! It might be our home made Christmas present this year.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Scraps make another cushion

About seven weeks ago I thought that I should whip up a cushion and use the last of the scraps I had which were already cut in strips. I follow a blog by Tiina called Tilkunviilaaja. She is in Scandinavia - I am hoping she will leave a comment as I cannot remember the country. However we met via an International swap in the quilting world. Anyway, I digress. She was doing uneven lopsided blocks for one of the many bags she makes and it inspired me to do another cushion using that technique.
It should have been a quick job. But I got very bogged down in my study as I have had to do two assignments in formats that I had never used before. When I am a bit stressed I get very demotivated in the craft area as everything just seems like work. So instead of an overnight finish and a post on my blog, it has taken me seven weeks. Finished now and residing in the school library. My current assignment is the last for this semester and then I have another cushion inner to cover and some gardening to get on with.

Linking to these places and crazy mum quilts.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Gorgeous embroidery heart

When I was away at my quilting retreat I was lucky to be given a free project. Jane Van Keulen from Stash Palace goes to the same retreat. She gave us all a wee kit to make a gorgeous Christmas ornament (or just a beautiful thing to put on a door nob or whatever). She is the most amazing embroiderer and uses a lot of wool, which she dyes. This is wool and velvet. I managed to get it finished while I was at retreat and then fished through all my bits and started another one. It is so good having a quick project to finish. I thought it was a good travelling project.
I did all my wool blanket dying at Jane's place. She is so inspiring. Linking up to these places.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Man Bag

 Last year I made Eli a man bag (which is just a plan cross body bag) which he uses a lot when we travel. But all his electronics go in it and I did not do any padding at all. That has worried me and I have been thinking of an upgrade ever since. So this time I made a bag with a bit more pizzazz. But me being me, a bit gung ho, I just looked at Eli's old one and guessed.

As I was away when I was making it I could not refer back and I made it a bit too long. However there is batting in all layers and so much better for electronics. It is also lined with Diary of a wimpy kid fabric and has proper backpack webbing and clasps for all the closures and straps.
I do now need to make another one as Jakob took this one. Fair play, as I had not made him a bag before and he was using an old swimming bag.

Linking to these places.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wherefore art thou quilt?

I finally finished a quilt and it disappeared. Only to be found on a certain young boys bed! He is Mr Snaffoo. Everytime I make something he wants it. Which is a fabulous recognition of the love and value he places on items people make.
upcycling for craft
Voila here it is in all the unmade bed glory. It seems that one of Eli's love languages is to do things for him. Make special food, make his bed (cause he hates doing it). He is also like me, a doer and maker of things, so he appreciates all effort. I started this quilt a couple of years ago, for the big king bed in the caravan. The quilt we had there was just a bit too small. All the quilts have been made using my ethos of recycling again. They are all PJ's from the Op Shop (Charity Shop). Things like "fill a bag for $5" or 50 cent racks. 

I have made a lot of PJ quilts for us and to give away, some for the charity - Hope Homes International - that I support. But also for nieces and nephews. They are warm, fluffly, wash well and don't matter if they get dirty. Quilting cottons in NZ cost so much, especially the good flannel, so this is my way of keeping it cheap and yet having a lovely product.

This is really big - the bed it is on is a queen but it goes up over the pillow and over the end of the bed. I quilt everything myself and once this was finally finished last year at my quilting retreat, I parked it. I did not see how I would be able to get it under my domestic machine.

So this year when I was on retreat again, I tackled it. Pinned it out while watching rugby, basted it well and then just did stipple quilting. That is the quilting I am best at and and don't need to think about, which I thought was a plan as I wanted to concentrate on getting it through the machine. It turns out all that procrastination was for naught. It took time, but was not as much of a trial as I anticipated.

Thrilled it is done for the next camping season.
Linking to these places.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Oh I love this.
Last night I made Panforte with almonds, roasted hazelnuts and cashews. It is so so delicious. 
I had never really understood the deal with Panforte. When I was recovering from my heart surgery my sister came to help for a week. While she was here Aaron and I took her to a new coffee shop in town - the Mediterranean Food Company in Rangiora . I had to walk lots to recover but time not distance wise. So we would do a short walk, stop for coffee and then a short walk back.

They often had Panforte and one day they had two, a spice one and a chocolate one. We bought one of each to try. Oh, we fell in love with the spiced version. So my sister came home, searched the net for recipes, then made some. It was just as fantastic. This is the first time I made it and I love it.

I have not put the recipe here as I don't know whose she used and I would want to attribute it. But just search the internet and you will find heaps. Annabel Langbein has a pretty good one that uses chocolate instead of butter and more fruit than nuts. Mine uses more nuts than fruit.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


When I was on my quilting retreat recently I wanted to try some new blocks. But then I don't want a lot of random blocks hanging around so I have decided that the best way to use them is turn them into cushions. The block is a Missouri Start Quilt Company block called Pecking Order. I watched this video to learn how to do it.
This cushion I have given to the school library. They have a gorgeous library pit for reading and relaxing but it needs some jazzing up. So I have been giving them new cushions as I try new blocks. 

This cushion cover has a  grey based front with Kaffe Fassett material and the back is the below photo. Totally reversed with the bright material being the background. 
My friend from England - Kris, sent me this material one time and I had not used it. I love it and am going to make more of both colourways. I have decided to send her this cushion cover as a thank you.

I have also been using the opportunity to practise some new quilting. I have been scouring pinterest. I love love the leaves and a more dense set of quilting on the grey. Then on the bright side I used a pattern that I saw demonstrated on "The midnight quilter". Love the online videos of hers. I thought the flower motif in abundance suited the Kaffe Fassett - more is more - philosophy.

On a final note - my goodness this is my 800th blog post!
Linking to these places.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Another charity quilt completed

I have just returned from my annual quilting retreat. So blessed to have been able to go as I had actually cancelled my space this year due. But in the end I only missed out on one night and day away. The first thing I did was bind and finish this quilt for Hope Homes International.
The picture was taken on the deck outside the sewing room. It was a good cold, windy winter day.
Linking to these places and crazy mum quilts.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A big birthday

 We had two birthdays in the same week. Mine was the big 50 with Eli being 12. Eli had an awesome day Kart racing with the boys.
Future racing drivers. Not sure about all the posing they did, but hey!
For the big 50 celebration the family went back to Mt Cook and stayed at the Hermitage. Gorgeous destination and we raced ahead of a huge winter storm. Rained like crazy for one day and then snow and white out.
Walking in white out conditions was fantastic. We managed a 5km walk without getting lost. Though the track markers (which are a metre tall) only had about 3 inches poking out of the ground.

 Then we stayed another day due to roads being closed all over the country. That day was spectacular. Sunny and stunning views.

The Twig and Tale tie back boots were used heaps in our hotel room and made us feel cosy as we looked out the window.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Finished to give away

This afternoon I got to the Post Shop just before it was closing. The photo is quite dark but I love the purple boots I made for my Mother. The day I did the dyeing of wool blankets I then drove on to their place. My Mother chose the colour she wanted for boots, the inside lining is actually material she gave me years ago when she was clearing out her stash. So I thought it great to put that in. 

The cushion is going to our school library. I gave them three others that used the scraps like this, but had black with white dot background. The Librarian came to see me especially to say thanks and my son said the kids were fighting over them. So I washed and pressed this cover, got a inner from the Op Shop (Charity Shop). 

I have started my study and getting stressed about the load and what I have committed too. So to be able to do some craft to de stress and cushions are good little projects to get finished and feel that I have achieved.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Poncho - Upcycled from woolen blanket

When I dyed all the woolen blankets I specifically did some for my niece. I had talked to her about whether she would wear a poncho or not. She said she would but not pink or purple. Preferably something dark. So I dyed four pieces in brown.

I was going to just turn the neck over so it had a pointed end to look like a kerchief. But lots of people are wearing funnel necks at the moment and so I used the trimmings to make a fully lined funnel neck. Dunedin is cold so she can use it almost like a hood too. All seams are stitched flat down but the bottom is just blanket stitched in dark brown wool.

I am loving wearing it!! It is snowing today, though keeps melting in between the snow showers. Serious cold and this makes you toasty warm.

Linking to these places and crazy mum quilts.

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....