Friday, December 30, 2011

Money well spent

It is fair to say I have a lot of cookbooks, food magazines and recipe clippings.  It is also fair to say that most of them are in pristine condition - or at least read but not used.  However there is one that is comes off the shelf constantly or at least once a month.  This is a book that I picked up as I was about to leave a second hand book shop years ago and I think it is the best $8 I have ever spent (closely matched by the USD9 spent on my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from Walmart).  This is the Julie Stafford's Muffin Book.  Julie Stafford wrote a very popular series of books called "A Taste of Life" that contained healthy recipes that she developed as a result of her husband being diagnosed with cancer in 1980.  The muffin book contains a huge variety of sweet and savoury muffins; the savoury ones don't appeal to me but the sweet variety are great, with most containing fruit.  The common theme in all the recipes is the use of apple juice concentrate in place of sugar and grape seed oil instead of butter.  All the sweet muffins include eggs, but there is an option to use either whites or whole eggs.  The Lemon and Blueberry recipe, pictured above, is one of my favourites.  They freeze well, are tasty and quick to make as well as being relatively healthy.  Win win I say.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Day

The first Christmas Day lunch at the new STLT HQ was fairly quiet with some lucky family members spending time in Hawaii.  So it was just Stos and myself,  L & D, Mum and Dad and three dogs.  Lunch was non traditional starting with Buffalo Wings, followed by Stos's perfect pork cooked on the BBQ accompanied by scalloped potatoes, roasted baby carrots, roasted pumpkin salad with spinach, walnuts and feta and baked tomato, onion, zucchini and beans.  Following on for dessert was pavlova with berries and Christmas pudding with custard.  After that came almond bread, shortbread and Christmas cake - whew!  We always like to have an after lunch activity on Christmas Day - watch a movie, take dogs for a walk or simply have a snooze - but this year was a bit different; we gave the dogs a bath.  Evil Eve was in desperate need for a bath and it was easier to wash her in our outdoor laundry sink.  And while Stos was at it, he decided that P & K could have a bath as well - much to their disgust.  Dog washing complete, we then spoke to cousins in Sydney, a sister in Hawaii and a brother in Savannah, the latter interrupted by the noise from the hailstorm that hit Melbourne during the afternoon.  The noise in a tin house with a tin roof was so loud that we couldn't hear ourselves think.  But there was no damage, just a mini river across the backyard from the ensuing downpour.  But by tomorrow the temperature will start to head north, with 36C predicted for New Year's Day.  The vagaries of Melbourne weather!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The extent of my Christmas baking

A lot of people go quite crazy at Christmas with baking - American blogs/podcasts talk about making all sorts of Christmas cookies and my sister-in-law goes into a biscuit baking frenzy at this time of the year.  In the case of the latter, that's OK as we usually end up with a lovely tin of assorted biscuits, including a Tassie specialty called Kiss Biscuits (but not this year and we are not happy!).  As for me, I don't feel an overwhelming urge to bake for weeks in advance and turnout vast quantities of anything, but I do make a few lots of almond bread.  This started over 20 years ago when our neighbour in Footscray gave us some almond bread for Christmas.  I loved it so much that I had to have a go at making it myself.  I originally used a recipe from the Women's Weekly cookery card series but over time I have adapted it somewhat.  I like to give it to people bagged in cellophane and ribbon as a Christmas gift, but always have to keep plenty for my family, who get cranky if they don't have some on Christmas day.  The best thing about almond bread is that it looks impressive, is almost universally loved (allergy sufferers excluded), yet it is so easy to make.  This is the recipe I use, based on the Australian Women's Weekly Recipe:

3 egg whites
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup plain flour - sifted
1/2 cup self raising flour - sifted
125g whole almonds with skin on or use half almonds with the other half made up of pistachios or roasted hazelnuts.  The pistachios give a lovely pale green outline but use whatever makes you happy.  If you really like glace fruit, use a half quantity in place of half of the nuts - the result looks pretty but I don't like glace fruit enough to bother.

Heat oven to 180C/350F.  Beat egg whites until stiff and beat in the castor sugar until dissolved.  Gradually add the flour and stir in the nuts.  Transfer into a greased bar tin (I use a tin 8.5cm wide and long and cook for approximately 40 minutes.  Allow to go completely cold and leave over night.  Slice into very thin slices (I get Stos to do this with a serrated knife) then lay out on baking sheets and dry out in a slow oven (150C/300F).  I find that about half an hour does it in my oven and the thinner bits dry out more quickly.  The slices should be dry, but still pale in colour.  Well that's the theory - I always find I have a few brown bits but they still taste good.  Once cold, serve with coffee and stand back and accept the compliments, or package as gifts.  The recipients will think you are a genius - if only they knew!

This recipe doubles quite well although the froth of 6 egg whites starts climbing up the beaters in the first stage of the recipe.  And if you hate waste like I do, the left over 6 egg yokes are the perfect quantity for the base of home made ice-cream.  Or use for proper egg custard for the Christmas pudding.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What's cooking?

I think I have said before that MasterChef is not my thing.  While it's not nasty like other reality television shows, I hate the exaggerated suspense of the elimination and judging and the staginess of the whole process.  After living with the Landlady last year, who was a bit of a fan, Stos got hooked on it and will frequently call me in to look at a dish he thinks I will like and I have to make sure that I don't get sucked into the culinary vortex.  So when he bought home a copy of Julie Goodwin's cookbook "Our Family Table", I wasn't all that interested.  But having had a flick through, it has a curious appeal, not unlike a CWA cookbook.  There's nothing scary in there and I love the way she has written the book as tribute to her family and friends by sharing their recipes and associated stories.  The chapter on baking is probably my favourite; packed with tasty biscuits and cakes, including one entitled "Never Fail" cake.  If that's not a Nanna recipe, I'll be damned!  What really caught my eye was the passionfruit shortbread - a combination of two of my favourite things in life.  The urge to make it finally overcame me and last night I baked the disc of golden shortbread (well, a bit brown around the edges) and made the passionfruit butter that will sandwich wedges of it together.  It's looks good but one change that I would make is to flatten the shortbread into a larger tin than the recommended 20cm springform pan.  For a lovely big piece of plain shortbread, the thickness is fine but when sliced and wedged together with filling, well even I would have to say it's a bit much.  However passionfruit butter looked amazing, so I really wanted to use it.

My solution was to cut the biscuit into wedges, then cut in half again across the width and fill.  Verdict - the right size; not the best shortbread I have made but tasty enough and the passionfruit buttercream was heavenly.  Put it this way, I took some in to the Day Job to share and my colleagues  didn't complain!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Unashamed advertising

I'm not a great one for entering competitions.  But this one was worth creating a Facebook identity (avoided to date)  in order to "Like" the two businesses sponsoring the giveaway, writing a specific blog post covering the competition and putting a banner up in order to win a Naughty Shorts frock and a pair of clogs from  Lotta from Stockholm.  Since reading about Bec from Naughty Shorts in Frankie Magazine earlier this year, I have bought two of her dresses and I love, love, love them.  Her size 8 fits me perfectly and her vintage fabric range is just divine.  So there is not much I wouldn't do to get two extra entries in her giveaway.

This is a picture of my latest purchase which is going to be my favourite frock this summer:

Our Creative Space

The Wonky Star throw is finally coming together.  Despite the fact that hand quilting is a very slow process for me (probably because I am not using the right technique), I am really happy with the effect on the reverse side:

It's quite tricky getting the stitches even and I do spend a lot of time pulling stitches out and looking at the reverse side as that is where the real effect of the hand quilting is supposed to be seen.  Maybe if I used the "rocking" technique it would make my life easier.  Perhaps there is something to be said for machine quilting.

For more creative stuff, head over here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oh Beehave

izaLayout of the Small Plates quilt by AndreaAMM
Layout of the Small Plates quilt, a photo by AndreaAMM on Flickr.
I have been a bit slack with the blocks that some of the lovely lades from the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild made for our "Oh Beehave" quilting bee. I asked them to make me blocks to construct Elizabeth Harman's Small Plates quilt from her gorgeous book "The Practical Guide to Patchwork". However I gave out mainly print borders and squares so when I was asked to take a picture of the project as part of the wrap up, I had to whip up some of the white bordered squares to alternate with the print blocks but still don't have enough to put together one of the two quilts I am making. So while this layout is a bit rough and not the right size as yet, I am thrilled with the combination of  happy colours from a very eclectic mix of fabrics. But before doing any more work on this, I must get back to work on the Wonky Stars throw; currently on hold due to a nasty cold.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Twinkle, twinkle

Basting the Wonky Star throw by AndreaAMM

As pleased as I am with my revsible Wonky Stars throw, it turned out to be a beast to baste.  I knew it would be challenging to line up an identically sized top and back but I did not think it would be that hard.  I spent a good three hours trying to get it right at the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild Sit and Sew Evening (in my case Stand and Baste) but all I did was pin it together and undo it four times. On the Sunday I decided I  needed to anchor four seam joins and go from there rather than try to line up the edges (yes Rachel, I should have taken your advice the first time around!).  So it is done now and the red outline  quilting is under way, but it's a slow process and there is no way it will be finished for the birthday next weekend.  But then again, it's no fun getting all your presents at once, is it?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Our Creative Space

After lots of hard work, the top and back of my reversable Wonky Star throw are done!  I finished the black side last night but haven't taken a picture of this yet.  Doing my first real pieced quilt has been an experience and I have come to a few conclusions:
- No one could ever make a living out of making quilts - well, your average sewer at least.  Not only are supplies relatively expensive but the charge for the labour component would be astromonical. It's not just the sewing but the cutting of fabric, trimming and pressing the blocks (and, in my case, the unpicking and rework) takes an awfully long time.  And there's the basting, quilting and binding to go.
- Cutting fabric perfectly straight, let alone sewing the perfect quarter inch seam is really hard.  In fact, impossible!
- Despite the above this has been a lot of fun and theraputic.

I hope to baste and start quilting on Friday night.  There is going to have to be a lot of quilting done between now and 10 December to meet the deadline.  Sounds like a good excuse to get out the "Downtown Abbey" DVDs.

For more creative spaces, head over here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Op shop gold

You know it has been a good day when you hit the op shop and see exactly what you have been looking for right in front of you.  Even better when it is only $3.00 for a newish copy.

Haruki Murakami is my find of the year after I was given "A Wild Sheep Chase" for my birthday.  What would you think if you knew that the book you were going to read included a girl with whom sex was am amazing when she uncovered her ears and a man who lived in a sheep costume?  If anyone else other than R & R had given me this book, I don't think I'd have bothered with it.  It took me two attempts to read but once I got going, I couldn't put it down.  My next Murakami, "Kafka on the Shore", was even better.  The strange thing about these books is that the weird stuff that happens during the course of the story seems completely normal.  I'm not even sure how to describe it - "magical realism" a la Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabelle Allende initally springs to mind, Murakami is in another category again. 

For the princely sum of $3.00, I'm really looking forward to my next trip into Murakami's strange and compelling world.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Creative Space

Wonky star quilt blocks by AndreaAMM
Wonky star quilt blocks, a photo by AndreaAMM on Flickr.
All the madness of the day job is officially over today. Well, the half yearly madness is at an end. Now I have to get through things that have been put on hold over the last 8 weeks. Sigh.
But the upside is that I get my evenings and weekends back so will now have  more time for projects. This one has a deadline for early December as a birthday gift. I mentioned a few weeks ago to Stos that I would make a gift by this date and his question was "Do you have time?" Quite reasonable, in the circumstances but it has turned into an unintended challenge that has spurred me on to squeeze in some sewing at a time of year that involves lots of late nights and weekend work. 
Two of the blocks are shown above.  This is going to be a Wonky Star throw, inspired by Rachel's Wonky Star blocks for the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild "Oh Beehave" swap. You can see Rachel's fabulous finished product over here. She had a irregular sized blocks arranged as a reversible quilt in red/cream and cream/red with the quilting around the stars showing through on the lighter side.    My plan is to have 12.5 in blocks, with star blocks interspesed with plain squares, set out alternately on the reverse side so a blank block will have a quilted star pattern from the work on the other side. I'll do the quilting in red so that it show both on the black and white blocks.  I hope to get a lot more done on this over the next few days and I'm dying to see if it looks like my vision.  If so, I'm not sure I will be able to give it away.
For more creative spaces, head over here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Moving on up

Lounge rug by AndreaAMM 
I haven't posted on developments at STLT HQ for a while as there really hasn't been much to report other than the garden is slowly growing and we are progressively putting up more pictures.  But this week, we've acquired two rugs which make a huge difference to the respective rooms. This is the lounge room rug in situ. I had thought about rugs periodically but decided against buying any as there are two spotty girls around here who will just lay on them. But after seeing some inexpensive rugs in a catalogue, I suggested that Stos might have a look at a specific design for the man cave. In doing so, he noticed this one and thought it would go well in the lounge room.   I'm quite impressed with his choice;  I wouldn't have bought it as it really isn't my thing. But in this room it works really well with the furniture, the floor and also picks up the neutral tone of the blinds (the background is more beige that it appears).  And I was right about the dogs; as soon as Miss K saw the new addition, she decided to make herself comfortable on it. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Our Creative Space

Last weekend I finished the last block for the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild "Oh Beehave"quilt block swap. Kirsty gave use a huge amount of fabric in mainly reds and aquas, with splashes of grey, The instructions were fairly broad and scrappy was the order of the day. As she sent so much fabric, I offered to do two blocks. I was happy with both, but after looking at the pics, wish I had done one slightly differently. Of the two, this is my favourite.
Kirsty's block no. 2 by AndreaAMM

I wish I hadn't put the pale strip through the middle of this block and have told Kirsty that I would be very happy for her to change it if she doesn't like it.

Kirsty's block no. 1 by AndreaAMMI have really enjoyed my first block swap. At times it was a bit stressful, particularly before we moved back home and I had nowhere to sew. So I was running late with my projects which is very bad Bee form. But since we have been back in the house, things have been on track. But my greatest concern is the fear of mucking up someone's carefully chosen fabrics or producing something they don't like. I think you just have to trust your instinct, and if in doubt, make a practice block. 

I'm looking forward to the next Bee and am already planning my project.

For more creative spaces, head over here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

That's what friends are for

Stos has a milestone birthday coming up on Wednesday.  He is not interested in celebrating with a party or a dinner so I have organised a number of small gatherings with friends.  Most have been social serendipity i.e a dinner at a very favoured restaurant with one group of friends;  a lunch date with another couple expanded to include other people from the same circle.  In one way, a party would have been much easier to organise and I would have felt entirely justified getting caterers in.  But , the group by group thing has been fun and is going to continue for another week or so.

The first "do" was Saturday night - dinner at Lau's Family Kitchen with the Triple Rs.  We just love Lau's; great food, great service and great environment.  It ticks all the boxes.  The night started with glasses of Piper Heidsieck before heading off for the usual delicious meal.  Stos was totally spoiled with lovely gifts and a birthday "Mystery Box" from the floral R.  Then yesterday was a lunch for 13 of our oldest (as in longest standing) friends.  The weather was ideal for an afternoon out on the the deck and we soaked up the sun, ate, drank and caught up.  It was a very special afternoon.  And all of this is before his birthday!
Delicious chocolate Brownies from
Nigella Lawson's "Express"

Sunday, September 18, 2011

KISS principles

After a heavy week at the day job, contemplating inappropriate development plans for our neighbourhood, and some other curve balls that life throws you, it has been nice to have a simple weekend doing mundane, but satisfying things:
- we've cooked up a storm.  Meals for the rest of the week are largely sorted and I've made Ants Nest Cake and Lemon Chicken from this great book lent to me by George.
Two Asian Kitchens

- we went to see this film.  It was complex, the cast is a real Who's Who of Australia's top actors, but I think I have to overcome my fear of reading Patrick White and get into the book because I don't know if the film covered all of its nuances.  I really thought there was something missing:  while I understood the attitudes of the children towards their mother, I did not get a sense of why Elizabeth acted the way shed did towards them.  And what was the symbolism of the last scene?  Will the book provide the answers?  I'll just have to add this to the list.  And as a side comment, if anyone can guess (without looking on IMDB) who Helen Morse plays, I'll go He!
- tidied up the garden, noticed new things growing and enjoyed the spring sunshine.
- got lots of unconditional love from these gorgeous girls.

And that's what it's all about.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Opportunity knocks

I've said before that I'm not a great op shopper.  I generally have a flick through the linen, have a look at the books and have general scout around before leaving.  But my local op shop provides the odd gem, apart of being a pretty good source of contemporary and classic novels.  This is my latest find:

But gentle reader, do not be deterred by the rather dull looking cover.  Inside are wonderful colour plates and chapters that will guide you through each facet of your life, from "When you build" to "The art of letter writing". 

And to get those pesky teenagers off your hands, there is a section on "Careers for the Adolescent."  Did you know that "Although open to either sex, hairdressing allied with beauty culture is particularly suited to young women with dextrous fingers, a definite flair for hair-styling and a pleasant and tactful personality".   I am curious to learn that the ideal weight for my height and age is 11 stone (more than 2 stone over what I weigh and am perfectly happy with) and I now know that "To describe a woman as a wonderful hostess is the highest compliment that can be paid for it means the the person so described has a capacity for taking pains; that she has tact and charm and a genuine interest in other people". 

I don't know when this book was published but it looks to be the 1950's.  It is pure gold!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Holidays in the sun

It's been a bit quiet over here for a while.  The lead up to a holiday is always exhausting and the day job was very hectic as it was, let alone preparing to head off for two weeks of sun and relaxation.  So STLT HQ was largely deserted, even before we went away.  But finally the day came and we headed off to Broome.  I heard only good things about the place when talking about this much awaited break and I'm happy to say that I can only say good things about it as well.  What's not to like about a place that is 31C each day, has 15C nights, lovely beaches to lay on and a laid back environment.  We were there in peak season together with loads of other people seeking some sun, yet never felt like the place was full of tourists.  It was a great place to relax but offered lots of opportunities to do things, such as marvellous day trips to Cape Leveque, Windana Gorge and Tunnel Creek.  I ticked all the boxes on things that I was told to do - sunset camel ride on Cable Beach, a visit to the famous outdoor theatre, a trip to the pearl farm and so on.  I will definitely be going back.  On the way home, we spent three fabulous days with D & S in Perth.  This was jam packed with activity starting with a Coonawarra wine tasting on arriving in Perth then time spent in the Avon Valley, wandering around King's Park and brunch at Cottesloe Beach.  Total bliss!
Windana Gorge
The beautiful colours of the Kinberkeys

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our Creative Space

It's been a long time between blog posts. Since the last update, we've had a lovely holiday in Broome and Perth; possibly the best restful holiday that we have had in a long time.   I can't believe it is only 2 and a half weeks ago that we got back; it's like a very distant memory. While we were away, my new nephew arrived and as soon as I got home, I had to finish the binding on his quilt in time to give it to his very proud parents when we first met him. I'm so happy with the quilt; it is the first one that I have ever completed, I love the panda fabric which is a vintage Sanderson curtain from Retro Age Vintage Fabrics and the spot is from Lecien Colour Basics range that I picked up at Darn Cheap Fabrics . And I'm also very happy with my nephew Ethan. He is too cute for words. 

For more creative sorts, head over here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Crowded House

Another weekend has completely flown by.  We've had family houseguests here for the last four days and as we owed some cousins an invite to the house, I thought that it would be a good idea to get the family together on this weekend.  Which meant 13 for dinner.  Fortunately, the meals area is big enough to cope, we have a couple of tables and enough chairs that we didn't have to raid the outdoor furniture.  Food wasn't too tricky - a slow cooker chicken and chickpea "tagine", Moroccan vegetable stew, lamb shoulder roasted in the barbeque and baked tomatoes and beetroot.  For dessert, Nigella came to the rescue with her Anglo-Italian trifle.  I think it needs a little tweaking (cutting down on the marscapone and limoncello) but it is a quick and impressive dish that serves 12 - 14, depending on how greedy they are. 

As we had a guest with lactose intolerance, I thought I'd make a flourless orange and almond cake, however it got overcooked (OK, burnt).  But with a trim, and instructions to the guests to cut off any additional carbon, it was tasty.  It just didn't look like it should have. 

We had a great night catching up with everyone and look forward to doing it again.  At someone else's place!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A hazy shade of winter

I hate winter.  This is a well known fact in our household.  Unfortunately for Stos, I feel obliged to remind him of this every year.  I loathe the cold (except when I go skiing) and moan about that I am sick of being cold, starting around May.  But I was greatly cheered up by the sunny weather this weekend and this beautiful sunset:

I keep reminding myself that after winter solstice summer is on its way.  And that makes me very happy.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Our Creative Space

Frogdancer's block by AndreaAMM
Back to the MMQG "Oh Beehave" block swap. This one is the July block for Frogdancer and involved learning another new technique; quilt as you go. Basically we sewed the fabric to the batting and added on quarter inch quilting lines were sewn on on to each component and this was quite time consuming, particularly since my quarter inch foot isn't symetrical so I couldn't pivot and sew the other way after finishing one line. I'm curious to see how the back will be added and how it will be joined without having bulky seams.

What I enjoyed about this month's challenge was constructing a block out of colours that I wouldn't have thought to use but really loving the way that they came together and the end result.  I had to add some fabric and the hardest part of this was looking for something to buy that I knew would work with the rest of the block and not succumbing to something that I loved on an individual basis. A good lesson in combining colours outside my comfort zone.

For more creativity, go to
this spot.

Monday, July 18, 2011


On Saturday July 2nd, a lovely lady left us after a long life and on Friday 8 July, we said goodbye to her and laid her to rest with her beloved Herb.  This was my Great Aunt Jean who was an important part of our family's life, particularly my mother's.  Her funeral was an opportunity to celebrate her life and also Uncle Herb's.  My uncle died suddenly and unexpectedly 28 years ago and being in a state of shock, celebration was the last thing on our collective family's mind. 

For many people, the term “Great Aunt or Uncle” may mean elderly relatives that you visit dutifully every so often for tea, biscuits and a nice chat.  For me, having no Aunts, Uncles or first cousins, the term “Great” meant ‘terrific”.  I am fortunate in that my memories of Auntie Jean and Uncle Herb are associated with celebrations, fun and the beach.  In particular we loved our visits to Carrum where we would head out the back gate to the beach and swim in all kinds of weather.  Afterwards, we would race back to the house for something to eat and before setting off for the long drive home, Auntie Jean would whip up a batch of delicious scones. We enjoyed all sorts of occasions together and I have the feeling that I might have had my first sip of champagne to celebrate R and K’s engagement.  I certainly remember having oysters for the first time and champagne at J’s wedding, which was again celebrated by a beach. 

Auntie Jean was very special to Mum and she saw a lot of her when she was young, being my grandmother’s only surviving sister.  Grandma and Auntie Jean were close and I remember the support that she provided Grandma during Uncle Bill’s final illness.  Uncle Herb was always the genial host at family gatherings and I remember him gently teasing Mum about being her “illegal guardian”, calling her “Marmee” and referring to my unborn brother as “Sebastian”.  He was like a father figure to Mum, having lost her own at a young age, and this realationship extended to him giving her away at her wedding.  Although he was not there for my wedding, Auntie Jean made our day special by lending me the diamond earrings to make up my set of old, new, borrowed and blue. 

Other clear memories of the good times we had are R’s birthday parties at Melbourne Zoo, barbeques around the pool at North Balwyn, Auntie Jean’s trifle, a week spent at Carrum over school holidays, the family visiting the new born K in hospital and our mass family christening.  The only dark time was the terrible shock of Uncle Herb’s sudden and untimely death and the devastating effect on our family, particularly my mother.
While time moved on and Auntie Jean’s health deteriorated, visits were still special.  These included a family Christmas at our last house and Auntie Jean’s 80th birthday celebration (although I think I remember her not being impressed about turning 80).  Until the last year or so, I know Auntie Jean recognised Stos and I when we saw her and with J and R, we usually tried to get out of the nursing home for a coffee or lunch.  If the offer of a glass of French champagne was made, she would spark up immediately, which always raised a laugh.  More recently I remember visiting with R, having been told on the way there that J had given instructions that we had to do Auntie Jean’s hair as she had missed the hairdresser's visit that week.  With Stos heating up the rollers, R and I exercised our non-existent hairdressing skills on a very patient and tolerant Auntie Jean, until she was rescued by a staff member who knew how to put rollers in the right way around.  We still haven't told J that the presentable hairstyle was courtesy of Y.
I will miss my lovely Aunt but can look back and remember the good times.  I am lucky that there were a lot of them.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our Creative Space

After months of procrastinating, I had to get on with it and cut up fabric for my month in the "Oh Beehave" MMQG quilt block swap.  The reason - Marg is going on a lovely sailing holiday and won't be back for a while, so wanted her fabric before she left.  But my revised month is not that far away (August) so the fabric has to go out by 15 July anyway.

I've decided that preparing to make a quilt is like painting - the preparation is a drag but the doing is OK.  Cutting up the fabric takes quite a long time but once you get going it's not too bad.  Not like preparing for painting at all, come to think of it.  Next job is to divide it up amongst the other girls.  This will hopefully become two quilts for the single beds in one of the spare rooms.

I just hope this stack of fabric (with some white as a neutral) all look good sewn together.

To see what other clever folks are up to, head over here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Birthday Boy

You know those times when the trickle of milestone birthdays becomes a flood?  Well, it's one of those years.  Two big birthday celebrations a week apart - last week a family member, this week a friend's - with Stos's next milestone due in the next few months.  But no celebration, he tells me.

Anyway, this was a fun night out with old friends.  Who like a dress up.  Fortunately the birthday boy obliged by telling guests to wear what they would have worn to the Royal Wedding if they had been asked.  There were the predicatable long frocks and tiaras but honourable mentions go to the gent in ecclesiastic robes and our friend C who donned the outfit that she wore to the birthday boy's wedding MANY years ago.  She gets extra points because it still fits.

 We sang, danced and did some silly things.  As usual.  A great time was had by all.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teddy Bear's picnic

We have a new resident in the house.  He's not here for a long time, but we hope it is a good time.  Meet Marty:
Marty is a gift for my new niece or nephew due in September.  If I can bring myself to part with him. He is a fully jointed, handmade mohair bear created by lovely Jess of Teddy Bears Wednesday.  I think he will be a very good first friend for the new arrival.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brothers in Arms

I'm not sure what happened to this Queen's Birthday long weekend.  It has literally zoomed by.  But it has been fabulous;  full of family and good times.  The NY STLT fan is out here for a fleeting visit and one of his (many) friends organised a bus trip to a wine region north of the city on Saturday.  We were looking forward to going because it was not only a chance to see G, but also his mates who we have got to know quite well over the years and only see on his trips back to Aus.  They are a very entertaining bunch which makes the mass get togethers a lot of fun.  Surprisingly, the weather was beautiful and quite warm once out in the sun on what we had expected to be a chilly winter's day; perfect for a trip to the country.  We tasted wine, had a delicious lunch, caught up with old friends, looked at lovely scenery, met some fun new people and sang songs on the way home (but I never want to hear "Only Girl in the World" ever again). 
We miss our NY fan.  But he hasn't finished with the Big Apple quite yet.  The distance makes the infrequent times that we catch up even more special.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sitting around

We've gone a bit quiet on house updates because, other than putting up some of our pictures, we haven't done much other than gradually plant up the garden.  And after being told that I couldn't have a beautiful Arts and Crafts sideboard because it won't fit into the house, I'd given up on buying more furniture.  However there is one spot for stuff to go; under the kitchen bench.  I actually hate the concept of the "breakfast bar".  We eat at the table.  But I do like people talking to me while I cook, dish up etc and am quite amenable to them having a seat close by, so we thought that some stools without backs that fit neatly under the edge of the kitchen bench would work nicely.  We spotted some lab stools on the Grandfather's Axe but by the time we got around to looking at them, they had been sold.  But look what we found at Know Your Product!
All we know is that they are Scandinavian, possible 70's and they have nice joinery (even I can see that).  And there was a sale on all current stock so even better!  The vinyl seats are a bit ordinary but I'm thinking of getting them recovered in the bark cloth shown on the stool on the right.  Bought from lovely Retro Age Vintage Fabrics.  This is a match made in heaven - combining stuff from two of my favourite shops.  Now I think that we really are at our furniture limit.  But I'm still trying to work out if a sideboard would look good in a bathroom.....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our Creative Space

I am feeling quitely smug that all my "Oh Beehave" blocks are up to date.  Last weekend at the MMQG retreat, I finished Shirley's Mondrian block and popped it in the post on Monday:
This is a deceptive block.  A wolf in sheep's clothing.  I thought I could get away with making it up as I went along, but a bit of planning would have been useful.  This spontaneous approach resulted in running out of the black borders, however once more was received, order was restored.  I was relieved to hear that other, more experienced quilters ran into strife with this one.

For other crafty bibs and bobs, head over here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Our creative space

Yet more MMQG "Oh Beehave" blocks.  This is the June block for Helene and I am going to give it to her at the inaugural MMQG craft retreat this weekend. It is really pretty and easier than some of the blocks we have had recently.

 I think I would rather hand blocks to the recipient in person after Rachel's blocks went missing in the mail.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Baby it's cold outside

We spent the weekend with Stos's family to celebrate birthdays.  But one of the birthday boys couldn't be with us and we missed him.  But overall we had a good time and did lots of lovely things together including:

  • Had a delicious lunch with good company in a picturesque location.
  • Went on a ghost tour.  Despite a corny stunt at the end, it was fun.
  • Ate lots of homemade and local treats.
  • Went to a local market and bought treasures and delicious berry jams
  • Found fabulous furniture that I was not allowed to bring home because we don't have room (but I'm working on this one)
The weekend was a lot of fun and we plan on another visit soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


It has been a bit dull at STLT HQ this week (lots of work and cold weather) but things brightened up considerably when this lovely creature arrived in the mail:

This is Henrietta, who is a gift from Kelli, my partner in the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild pincushion swap.  I adore tortoises and she is decked out in my favourite colours.  Now that she has been photographed, she is going straight to the study to take pride of place on top of the sewing cabinet.  Thanks Kelli!

The pincushion below is what I made for Clair as part of the same swap. This is made from autumny vintage fabrics sourced from Retro Age Vintage fabrics.

I'm looking forward to the next swap and am hoping that the output is a doll quilt as I'm in need of some wall hangings for our vacant wall spaces.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Creative Space

Yet more MMQG bee blocks, this time for Marg.  I was a bit scared of the task set - to incorporate flying geese, squares and half square triangles but was provided with a set of good tutorials that would produce a block of the required structure and size.  Naturally, I picked the what I thought was the easiest but it only had three fabrics and I had to try and fit in five.  So I adapted the tutorial for the final block, having done a practice version in red, and instead of a single centre square, pieced a four patch square to squeeze in the other two fabrics.  But all of those seams were a challenge both for me and Grandma's jolly Janome.  This has been posted back and I hope Marg likes it.  Assuming it arrives safely, unlike Rachel's blocks!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gonna make you a star

On my last "creative space", I was doing a lot of thinking but not a lot of doing.  That changed over the course of the following weekend and I finished off Rachel's wonky stars for the "Oh Beehave" quilting bee. I was quite happy with how these turned out.

 I did get off to a poor start with these.  Initially I had misjudged the sizes of the pieces required for the blocks and ran out of fabric.  I got more from Rachel but as a result was running a bit late in sending the blocks out. But it seems like my bad luck has continued.  I posted them nearly two weeks ago but hadn't heard from Rachel via the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild forum that she had received them.  Maybe she didn't like them?  So late last week, I sent her an e-mail to ask if they had arrived and they hadn't!  She was going to see if her flatmates hadn't passed on some mail, but as she still hasn't posted pictures on the forum , it's not sounding good.