Thursday, July 28, 2011

The final stage.....

Crochet blanket neraly finished.

Yes the crochet squares are all finished (all 199 of them!) and I have finally started sewing them all together.  Caitlin and I laid them out yesterday afternoon according to the pattern diagram. You are actually looking at what my lounge room floor looks like right now. My original idea was to lay them all out fiddle around with the right mix of colours, take a photo or two then gather them back up so I could vacuum the floor today. However when I started sewing them together I realised it wasn't going to take as long as I thought and it's so much easier to have them laid out than having to refer to a photo for the correct layout. Plus they are really brightening up the room! Hopefully a full reveal soon!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Works of art.....

In between trying to keep warm, get washing dry this is what the girls and I have been working on. After seeing Leslie's modern barn quilt canvas I was inspired to create one myself and then realised it would be a great holiday activity for the girls as well. Leslie directed me to the original instructions here. Thanks Leslie! I really enjoyed messing with the paints and creating all the colours from the limited paints we had on hand plus it was great to work on something creative but in a different medium to what I normally work with. Next time I might tackle something wonky like Leslie's!

Another bonus with these paintings was that the canvas's at our local book/stationary store are 1/2 price at the moment so Caitlin ended up doing 3 and Amelia has another couple of ideas for 2 more when she gets back from her stay with her Grandparents. You can see more inspiration here on the flickr group.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My new toy!

If you've been reading my blog for a while now you may remember that back in December /January my sewing machine that I've had for 20 years (yes that makes me feel old!) broke down. I was devastated and lost without my trusty sewing machine but thankfully my repair man came through and managed to fix it with glue and screws. Ever since I have worried about what I would do if  it couldn't have been fixed as there is no way I could afford to replace it with a similar machine. 
A few weeks ago I was in the local sewing shop in Thames waiting to be served and I spotted the above machine with a sign on it saying "Second hand, just been serviced, $350".  It is a  Janome 'Quilters Campanion' 6260, looks brand new and was too good a bargain to be left behind!  It has 60 built in decorative stitches and comes with a perspex extension table. While it isn't my dream sewing machine it is going to make the perfect back-up machine if my trusty Elna is ever non-repairable. My Elna was a top of the line model back when I purchased it with 155 built in stitches plus 4 cassettes each holding a further 48 stitches but the Janome has some lovely modern features that I love plus I can do free motion quilting on the Janome which my Elna can no longer do in its delicate state. 

I love the built-in storage on the top and the handy stitch guide!

I picked it up this last Monday after the store owner gave me a wee demo on all its cool features like the needle threader, the slide control for sewing speed (great for beginner sewers like my girls), the straight stitch that automatically reverses at each end, to name a few. It also comes with a walking foot for quilting and a handy 1/4 inch foot for patchwork seams. 

I have yet to have a play on it yet as its school holidays here and we have been keeping busy with:
  • sleepovers
  • playing on our new Wii
  • using up our free passes to Rainbows End
  • shopping for shoes, clothes and books
  • reading new books
  • visiting Grandparents
  • cooking, baking and eating
In between I have finished my crochet squares and are now just fixing up the squares I did at the beginning when I had no clue as to how to crochet :). Hopefully today I will find the time to have a little play with my new toy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The light at the end of the tunnel

Crochet squares
I have about 50 more of these little babies to go so I'm on a bit of a crochet marathon these last and next few days. So close to finishing now that I just want it done! It's been a year since I started and it was always meant to be a slow project to pick up when I had little pockets of time. Now I'm eager to see it finished so we can use it as its just a little nippy around here at the moment plus I'm keen to get going on my yo-yo project.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sweet treats...

I have a recipe file that is bursting with recipe's ripped or cut out of newspapers and magazines as I come across them but I don't often actually try all of them out. This recipe for the above tarts is one that I've had for far too long and had never made but its always catches my eye when I see the title "Mt Manganui tarts". Mt Manganui is a town just a bit further down the east coast from our town,Whangamata, and why these tarts are named after this town I have no idea. I finally decided to try them out yesterday afternoon, my excuse being that they would make a nice lunchbox treat or afternoon tea treat for the girls. I am happy to say they are delicious! They are made up of a sweet pastry tart bottom filled with orange custard topped with a almond scented topping.  Yum! 

Here's the recipe for you to try:

You will need;
16 ready made sweet tart cases

Custard: 3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour

125 grams butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon almond essence
To make custard: 
Bring milk to the boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and orange rind. Beat egg yolk and sugar together with flour. Reheat milk and slowly whisk in egg mixture. Continue whisking until the custard is thick. Remove from heat. Cover top with baking paper and refrigerate until cold.
To make topping:
Melt butter in a saucepan. Mix in sugar. Cool and beat in egg. Sift over flour and baking powder. Combine gently with almond essence.

Place pastry cases on an oven tray. Divide custard among tart cases and spread topping mixture over custard.  Bake at 190 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Also you can view all my recipes on my new "Recipe" page tab just below my header. Tutorials tab coming soon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Little signs of promise in my mid- winter garden...

A shy pale green hellebore flower that usually have their heads bowed too much for photos....

A daffodil bud promising that spring is not far off...

Another Camellia shrub starting to bloom....

A young Daphne bush showing delicate white buds....

and finally some sweet smelling 'Early cheer'.

Linking up today with Amy's Bloggers Garden Tour.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Two Sidewalk Satchel's

For the past couple of weeks I have been teaching my youngest daughter Caitlin and her friend Tayarni the basics of sewing. I thought the best way to keep their enthusiasm going was to choose something to sew that they really wanted and would get a lot of  use out of so a bag was agreed upon. Last year I bought Anna Marie Horner's pattern for her "Sidewalk Satchel" but had never gotten around to making it for myself. I had shown the girls a few patterns which they thought were 'okay' but it was a definite 'yes' when they saw this pattern.  
Tayarni (left) and Caitlin(right)
We did a quick little photo shoot yesterday after school and as you can see from the above photos they were trying really hard not to laugh but....... not succeeding. They enjoyed every step of making this bag right from choosing the fabrics from my stash to cutting out and ironing on the interfacing and finally putting all the 'pieces'  together to create the actual bag. Tayarni's bag is the gathered version made from some lightweight denim and a selection of some pretty blue floral scraps for the lining, pockets, flap closure and also the outer side piece. 
Inside are two pockets, one large and one small plus a little label  saying "Made by.....

Included in the pattern is a sculpted rolled flower to decorate the tab which has a magnetic snap closure.

Caitlin chose a selection of purples for her bag. The lighter floral piece used for the bottom/side is one I have had for a few years and was given to me from one of Caitlin's great Aunts. I always like it when I can incorporate some fabrics like this that have a special meaning or a little history to them, into an item I am making.

For the outer fabric Caitlin chose a floral needle corduroy that was leftover from a dress I had made her when she was much younger, and her flower is made from a leftover piece from my bridesmaid dresses:)

I think the girls did really well putting these bags together and certainly have gained some sewing confidence to do more sewing.  Did I mention they are just 11 years old ! 

Monday, July 4, 2011


Yes finally I'm on the smallest sized square, which means I'm on the home stretch to finishing my first crochet blanket which just happens to be my first ever crochet project. I guess I like to challenge myself when it come to trying new skills. It's been a year since I started this crochet project and although I've had a few mini breaks I have enjoyed every minute of making these squares and can't recommend it enough as a great take anywhere portable project.

And this pretty wreath is something else I've been working on these last few days. I managed to add the last few finishing touches to it today.You might remember I showed a sneek peek of it on Friday. When I started designing my Bliss quilt I wanted to also design some coordinating bedroom decor items with a similar theme as well as the same fabrics and this is one of the ideas I came up with. I'm really loving how it turned out.

For the hanging ribbon I just hand stitched some white ric-rac to some narrow red ribbon with some perle cotton. As I've mentioned before I just love adding ric-rac to items.

The pinwheels are 3 inches across and are topped with some pretty buttons. Buttons are another favourite addition that I like to use.

Another photo to share because the weather gods were smiling today and I got some great shots making it hard to choose the best ones.

Listed in my shop today here :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

My brooch has arrived!

I have been patiently waiting for my brooch to arrive for the Brooch Swap that Susie from Flowerpress organised back in May and finally today there was a package waiting in my letterbox from Tasmania, Australia. As you can see it was beautifully wrapped in shiny red paper and tied with the makers own ribbon and there was not one package but TWO.

Here's what I received, a beautiful round black and white brooch AND matching earrings. I feel so lucky to have been paired with Katie from WhatKatiedidnext. She has an online shop here where you can find more brooches, hair accessories, earrings and pendants. You can also check out her facebook page here. Go on over and check out her cleverness. Trust me you won't be disappointed :)
Thanks Susie for organising this fun swap!

Been busy just you know doing stuff like....

...reading Jodi Picoult's books, a slight addiction here as this is my 4th one in about 2 months....

...I finished making this pillow last week and today has been the first day that the weather has been good enough to take photos. I've always wanted to make a bolster pillow and I love how this one turned out. It is made from 4 leftover blocks and yoyo's from my Bliss quilt and can be purchased here

And here's a sneek peek of another wee project I'm working on with some more Bliss fabric:)

And I've finally bought myself one of these Clover yoyo makers. Yes I've been doing it the old fashioned way in the past but I'm sure this will make, making yoyo's quicker and more enjoyable especially when I start this quilt along.
I have also been kept busy with teaching my youngest daughter Caitlin and her friend how to sew. They have been working hard on a rather ambitious project for beginner sewers but when they are both finished I shall share what they have produced.
I don't know why it is when people ask me what I have been doing that I can often never think of exactly what I have been working on. My mind seems to go blank somehow....

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