Saturday, 2 May 2015

my new pouch {courtesy of anthea!}

My friend Anthea who blogs at Hibiscus Stitches  recently hosted a birthday giveaway. Isn't that nice? It was Anthea's birthday and she is giving gifts to others! Actually, as she missed the date of her birthday, Anthea decided to call it an un-birthday giveaway.

Well, I was one of the lucky recipients and received a very lovely parcel in the mail.
Anthea's pouch is absolutely beautiful. I adore it. I have decided that it will hold a hand sewing project (possibly a hexagon project -  I've not made anything with hexagons before), as it is the perfect size (not too big, not too small) and will make me look good. In fact, I think I could carry my pouch around without anything in it at all and impress my friends!
Would you believe that my retractable measuring literally just broke when lo and behold! Anthea sent me another one!
Inside. Yes, that's a pocket! And sewing treats!!
I love everything about Anthea's pouch, particularly the zipper end. My zipper ends never look this neat.
This a photo of some of the WA Bloggers that was taken (by Tracy) some months ago when we spent the morning together (at a couple of fabric stores and then lunch!). These girls are just lovely - I am delighted to have met them all in person and look forward to our next get together.

I'm not sure if I've posted a photo of myself before. Do you want to guess which one is me, or shall I tell you? I think I'll let you guess!
Anthea is fifth from the left.
Oh, and if you have a question about anything quilting or sewing related, just ask Julia. She will know the answer!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

snowball quilt kit {gift}

After seeing this post on Terry's blog I decided that I needed a snowball quilt. It was the perfect 2-for-1; use up lots of scraps while making a lovely quilt.

I chose this layout, as it used the greatest number of scraps in the layout.
Photo from Terry's Treasures blog post.
I don't particularly enjoy the cutting part of the quilting process (though I like it more than basting!), so I knew that if I wanted to ensure that I finished this project I should cut all my fabric first. That meant cutting close to 600 2.5" squares.

No problem. The excitement of a new project always overcomes any less enjoyable aspects of it. I was doing quite well about two weeks after I started cutting. And then cutting 2.5" squares of fabric became complete drudgery.
It was then that I decided that my friend would love one of these quilts too. And it was her birthday soon. So I switched my focus to cutting up squares for her. The timing was perfect, as my initial enthusiasm had started to wane totally gone. A new motivation got me back into gear and I finished cutting 590 2.5" squares from scraps and 45, 6" white-on-white squares two days before her birthday.

This is how I kept my sanity track.
My idea was to gift a snowball quilt 'kit'. I sewed up a sample 9 patch and a snowball blocks.
I popped the components in a box so that my friend could keep her kit contained until she was ready to begin.

The box was a tad small, but everything fitted in eventually.
What do you think? Do you like the idea of quilt kits where the fabric is pre cut? Or are you a bit crazy and love to spend hours cutting up fabric?

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

messenger bag for zoe {finally!}

Zoe is thrilled that I finally made a messenger bag for her.  I love the fabric Zoe chose for the flap. It is the second messenger bag I have made using this beautiful butterfly fabric (purchased from Spotlight in the decorator section). Of course, I used my own tutorial!

This is the cotton tape name tag that Zoe opted for on the handle. I love the use of the star! I use a regular ink pad when stamping these, ensuring that I press the tape well to set the ink before sewing them into the project they are made for.
This is number 6 on my finish along list for the first quarter of 2015.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side
I managed to fit in a few other bits and pieces this month. I completed my March bee block for my Beehive quilting bee. This is the Chainlink block. I like it! The Queen bee who is the recipient of this block is making a quilt for her daughter who is living on campus at university.
I also made a poodle 'costume' for a niece. The 'puff' and the ears are attached to a flexible, rubber headband (with 'teeth' - I get annoyed with head bands that continually slip off!). I also made cuffs for her wrists and ankles. The sherpa fleece I used is extremely snuggly; I'd be happy to wear a onsie made from it.
The weather is finally changing here. I have welcomed the cooler weather and look forward to some rain in the coming weeks!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

bee blocks and pay it forward

I know I have mentioned that I signed up for two quilting bees this year. This is the February block for the Bee Hive Swarm that I was allocated to. In this quilting bee the queen bee chooses from a selected list of blocks when it is her month to receive blocks from everyone else in the swarm.
This is the March block for the other quilting bee I am participating in. I have made these blocks once before for another bee a few years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed making them then and I thoroughly enjoyed making this one now.
I loved this block so much that I made one for myself as well!
In making this block you end up with some triangles after trimming. The queen bee that requested this block has a thing for half square triangles, so I sent them to her as well.
What's that lovely bright green background the blocks are on I hear you ask? Why that's my new chair!
We recently had a roadside collection and some neighbours were getting rid of some wooden chairs. The kids thought it was somewhat hilarious watching Zoe and I manouvre the chair into our people mover amongst all the school bags. Tim surprised me with a beautifully sanded and painted chair. I chose the colour (I nearly chose orange) and love it!
I have returned the dining chair I have been using for years back to it's rightful place and and now sew while sitting on my lovely green chair. I think I might make a cushion for it someday!

Now, just a follow up from my pay it forward post. Thank you to Terry and Wendy for volunteering to 'play'. I will be sending you something hand made during the next 12 months - when you least expect it!

Friday, 6 March 2015

what is that smell?
That would be the kale chips. I'm glad I made these while the kids were at school. I am certain they wouldn't have ventured near them otherwise. The smell of these during cooking was...not inviting!
Photo from Tastefully Julie. My photo was nowhere near as nice as this one.
I have seen kale chip recipes around for a long time. Acquaintances have spoken of them. I have walked past bunches of kale at my fruit and veg shop. Yet it is only today that I thought I would try to make some. It's a great day to be trying something new. The floor needs vacuuming (and mopping), there is laundry to be done (well, there is always laundry to be done), dinner is half a quarter made (fried rice made from the leftover rice from last night's dinner. It's the plan of what to make for dinner that is most important. Plus, I made some jelly. Jelly makes whatever I cook for dinner a "good dinner Mum".), not to mention everything else on my daily list that I'm not going to take the time to mention. You know what it's like.

So, a quick Google session for kale chip recipes and I'm off! I should probably mention that I went to my fruit and veg shop this morning and bought a bunch of kale. I finally acted on my kale curiosity.

I'll let you know how the chips turned out at the end of this post. In the meantime, whether they turned out or not, this is what I did.

Preheat oven to 140 degrees Celcius (fan forced. This is 300 F). Wash the kale.
Strip off the curly bits - kale is extremely curly - and tear them into large sections. Place in a salad spinner and whizz the kale around until it is dry.
Put about a tablespoon (you know, a decent 'blop') of extra virgin olive oil in a mixing bowl with some salt.

Put the dry kale bits into the olive oil and salt mix. Toss until the kale looks coated.

Spread out onto a lined baking tray and place in the oven for 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let the chips cool on the tray for 5 minutes before eating.
How did they turn out? Beautifully! Light and crispy (almost paper - the texture reminds me of toasted nori), without a hint of the boiled-cabbage-wrinkle-up-your-nose-smell that was present during the cooking process (although I clearly didn't air the house out enough before the kids came home from school. As soon as they stepped inside they asked me what I had been cooking to produce such an awful smell.).
My top tips: Use your extractor fan and go easy on the salt (I used a bit too much; a generous pinch per tray is plenty. Or none at all.).

Did the kids like it? One out of four gave it the thumbs up. But in fairness to the kale, I used too much salt. Next time I'll leave out the salt entirely.

Well, now that I have conquered the cooking of kale, perhaps I should try growing it?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

what are these?

Can you guess what these are?
No, not frisbees. Yes, they are edible. Here's another clue.
These are not my creations, though they were made in the kitchen. This is a photo of Jed adding some more 'bits' with royal icing.
I order my disposable icing bags from ebay. Not surprisingly they come from China. It was exciting watching Jed trying to read the Chinese characters written on the outside of each icing bag. I look forward to hearing Jed speak fluent Mandarin one day!
Whilst you may be correct in guessing that these are giant biscuits, they are even more than that. 
They are representations of cells. The round one is an animal cell and the square one is a plant cell. Of course! I can hear you say.
 These enormous biscuits - the recipe is by Bridget Edwards and can be found HERE - were transported to Jed's Science classroom this morning. Part of Jed's assignment required that the cell organelles (or parts of the cell) be presented in some way. The actual assignment sheet provided some suggestions, including making large biscuits.  Now, I would like to think that Jed decided upon biscuits to combine his scholastic ability with his baking skills. However, the reality is that he knows how good these biscuits taste and how appreciative his friends would be if they could be eaten after Science!
 Jed not only has a good knowledge of cell organelles but will also be very appreciative of all decorated biscuits from now on!

And the best part? I have biscuit dough left over. Yay!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

quilting bees

The block I chose to be made by everyone in the bee.
After a great experience participating in a quilting bee in 2013 I decided it was time to go again.

I was so keen that I signed up for two. And signed up a friend for one as well!
One of the quilting bees I am participating in is being hosted by Angie at GnomeAngel and Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts. It is called The Bee Hive Quilting Bee. More on that later when I've actually sewn this month's block! It will look something like this:
Star Plus quilt block
Star Plus paper pieced block. Photo from Kristy at Quiet Play.
I have, however, completed this month's block for the Quilt Club Australia Bee #1. And it was not fun! There aren't a lot of patterns or projects that I have sewn that I have not enjoyed, but this was one of them. One of the aspects of participating in a bee that I like is sewing blocks that I wouldn't otherwise attempt or am interested in. From that point of view it was a good experience.
This block is called Interlocking Seasons and the tutorial we were asked to follow is found at The Parfait Cafe. We were also asked to use soft chocolate brown for the background, a soft pastel grey green for the inner ring and soft pastel pinky corals for the outer rings. These are not my colours at all, so it took me a while to audition fabrics. I really felt the responsibility of making something for someone else!
I found this block very fiddly and, truth be told, I don't like it. I prefer blocks that are more proportionate in their fiddliness-to-finished-outcome ratio. I do, however, think these blocks will make a lovely quilt.

So that makes this a great bee block because the Queen Bee doesn't have to make a whole quilt top of fiddly blocks! So clever. I'm on the hunt for the perfect bee block. Any suggestions? I'm considering a block that I have designed myself. What do you think? Shall I give you a sneak preview?
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