Saturday, 13 June 2015

surprise!

I recently provided my family with an opportunity to extend their palate. Sometimes opportunities arise unintentionally (smoky, burnt flavours or exepected textures), but this one was planned.

Which actually means that I made a purchase in the freezer section of my favourite supermarket, Coles. Yes, you can see from the photo above that I 'cooked' chilli mussels.
Salmon on slow-roasted leeks, witlof and asparagus
Salmon on slow-roasted leeks, witlof and asparagus. www.homelife.com.au
I don't cook a lot of seafood for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is very expensive. Unlike fruit and vegetables, it is not easy to farm your own fish or mussels, so there isn't an alternative to buying it.
Mixed seafood salad
 Secondly, I am not very good at cooking seafood (probably because I haven't had much practice because of the first reason!).

Seafood imported from Asia will often be on sale, but I choose not to purchase seafood that is not from Australia or New Zealand. Fish and other seafood from Asian nations is not something that I am comfortable with. I'd rather eat a lead pencil.
Australian Sustainable Seafood guide fish
Sustainable Fish (photo from Perth Now)
So, when Australian blue mussels in tomato and chilli sauce were on sale at Coles (half price!) I took the opportunity to buy enough to provide my family with a culinary experience.

I thought it went quite well.

Even when I discovered this in one of my mussels.
This poor little crab was the size of my smallest finger nail. Eli was particularly taken with it. 'He' was washed, dried and taken for news at school the next day!

Have you ever had any surprises in your food?

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

twirly whirly {quilt top using 8 fat quarters}

 This quilt top is so easy and so FAST! The best part? It uses eight fat quarters.

Each block is 25.25" (64cm) square. The quilt top measures approximately 50.5" (128cm) square.

Now, pinwheels can be constructed in a variety of different ways. I didn't reinvent the wheel. Rather, I used a technique for super fast pinwheels from The Missouri Star Quilt Co and upsized the blocks to fat quarter size.
Print from Saffron Craig's Bees Please range
I chose four fat quarters from Saffron Craig's Bees Please range in two different prints (two FQ's of each) and four fat quarters of a pink fabric from my stash.
A quilt this size is perfect as a lap quilt or a large baby quilt.

Let me show you how I did it. It is so simple

Trim your fat quarters so that they are all the same size. I chose to cut mine into 19" squares.
Place two FQ's right sides together (I used a print and a plain. These two fabrics will make one pinwheel, so select fabrics that either contrast or complement each other). Using a 1/4" seam, sew all the way around the outside.
Cut the sewn fabric square diagonally from corner to corner. This will yield four triangles.
Open each triangle and press seams towards the darkest fabric (I chose to press seams towards the print). Make sure the iron is on the dry setting (steam can distort the fabric). You should now have four half square triangles.
Arrange into a pinwheel configuration. Sew the half square triangles together in pairs. Press seams before sewing the two pairs together.
 Make three more pinwheel blocks.
Sew them together and you have a lovely pinwheel quilt top.
So, if you have some fat quarters that have been hanging around for a while, consider turning them into a super sized pinwheel quilt.

I'd love to see photos if you do. I'm sure they'll be better than mine!!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

tea towel additions


My mum moved to an aged care facility two months ago. As a family it was not entirely easy to make the decision - in partnership with mum - to move her to a facility. Once the decision was made it was over a year before a room became available.
http://www.crownfurniture.com.au/uploads/projects/gallery/247.jpg
There is a lot of time consuming tasks involved with moving into an aged care facility! For the first four weeks I devoted every spare moment to those tasks and went to bed each night exhausted.

Mum is now settled and our family is very grateful for the lovely staff and beautiful place that is now her home. I consider it a great blessing that mum is living where she is; it is very close to my sister and I and we are able to visit daily. We are thankful to know that she is cared for every day.
http://resources3.news.com.au/images/2013/07/21/1226682/786095-aged-care.jpg
As my mum's health has declined, in particular her mobility, there are many things that I have learned about the ageing process. I have learned that it is difficult to grow older and to have a body that doesn't do what it was once able to do. I have learned that an individual's independence is important and losing it is more difficult that can be imagined. I have learned that children can brighten someone's day simply by being there. I have learned that when all is said and done, the gift of time is the most precious thing you can give to someone. A phone call or a visit means so much more than a tangible gift.

I like to think that my children have learned these things as well.

As my sister and I boxed up mum's belongings I came across mum's tea towels. You know how much I love tea towels!  I blogged about some beautiful additions to my collection here. I was delighted to find some linen tea towels that I remembered hanging on the handle of our oven when I was growing up. These are two that I particularly remember. Both would be over 30 years old - I remember spending some considerable time using them during dish duties!
I love linen tea towels and it brought me such joy to see them all flapping in the breeze on my clothes line.
Though they are worn and faded they are still wonderful at drying dishes!
Do you like tea towels? Do you display them or are you happy to use them?

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!
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