Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Blooms of a different sort

 It has been hot today (37°C/98°F), we are fortunate up here in the foothills as the temperature doesn't get as hot as it does down in the city (40°C/104°F).  Having a large quilt like the Museum Medallion draped over me didn't appeal very much so I opted to do a bit more work on my piece from the Anna Maria Horner workshop I did late last year.

I need to make up another flower and some leaves for the left hand side, finish stitching the bias down and I think that will be it, apart from the quilting of course.  Looking at the photo I may have been a bit premature with the embroidery and perhaps should have left it until after the quilting, we'll see how it works out.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Here & Now │ January 2017

koala flexing out on a hot day

In the middle of last year I severely limited my social media, blogging and reading blogs, and even though I had more time I found that I missed blogging and the interaction that I got from reading and commenting on blogs.  With the start of a new year I have decided to dip my toes into the blogging pool again.

One blog that I always enjoy reading is Pomegranate and Chintz and recently Meredithe linked up to Say Little Hen which is a lovely blog written by Sarah who has a monthly Link Up called Here and Now,  I think its a nice way to catch up on what is happening in mine and other peep's worlds and perhaps be inspired to try something new.

koala enjoying the late afternoon sun

so here is my Here & Now for January:

Loving // my new washing machine, it is so quiet compared to my old one.
Eating //  HoiSin Chicken Chops and Massaged Kale salad
Drinking //  Bundaberg Lemon, Lime and Bitters, so refreshing in the hot weather
Feeling //  happy that I went for a walk this morning while it was lovely and cool
Making //  my Museum Medallion quilt, the end is in sight.
Thinking // about getting my BAS done :(
Dreaming // of cooler weather, not happening this week but it will come

Sunday, 15 January 2017

It isn't a race ...

Even though I've been making good progress on the Museum Medallion quilt I have to remind myself that it isn't a race and I need to give myself a break from stitching every now and then to rest my hands.

I usually stitch away at night while watching TV and it has been great as I have a bad habit of dozing off while watching TV which irritates the Mister a little bit and if I'm stitching there is no dozing off so everyone is happy.

Since this photo was taken I have stitched on the remaining two border strips and have started on the last of the striped border strips.  The quilt is quite large now and it is proving difficult to get a decent photo but I will try and get a more recent one soon.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Eat your greens

Massaged Kale salad has been on high rotation in our household for a while now.  I think I could probably eat this every day of the week and not get tired of it.

there is about 8 cups of kale in the bowl

Dressing  (makes enough for several salads, keep in the refrigerator)

1/2 c apple cider vinegar   
1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium if you can get it)
6 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
6 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
Put the ingredients into a food processor and whiz till blended.  I find a stick blender works really well too.  The dressing is quite thick and I usually spoon out what I need into a separate bowl and thin with a spoonful or so of water before putting on my kale salad.  It is also nice used as a dip for raw vegetables.

8 cups of kale after a good massage, there is a bit of shrinkage

Salad (for one serving)

4 cups of washed, dried Kale, (I prefer organic kale)
1/2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp dried craisins, chopped finely
1 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 orange, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp dressing, thinned with 1 tbsp water

Strip the ribs from the kale and break into bite sized pieces, place into a large bowl, sprinkle over the olive oil and massage the kale (that's right massage the kale) using both hands (washed and clean hands of course), you can be quite vigorous with the massage :)  I usually massage the kale for about 3 minutes or so, it makes a big difference to the overall taste of the salad as it makes the kale more tender and less bitter, and another bonus your hands get quite moisturised from the olive oil.

Put the craisins and chopped orange on top of the kale, sprinkle over the dressing and mix in well, I usually use tongs for this part.  Transfer the mixture into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.  Enjoy

We often have this salad with roasted sweet potato in which case I sprinkle a little more dressing over.  Drained cannelini or butter beans are also nice with this salad, depending on your preference, you can put them on top of the salad or mix them through or even mix a bit of dressing through them before putting in the salad.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Slow Stitching in the Hot

Corner stars completed

We've just come off two days of daytime temperatures of over 40°C/104°F and night time temperatures of over 30°C/86°F, not too bad so long as you stay inside with the aircon and fans going. But it has been perfect weather for slow stitching, just as long as it is not a large piece of fabric as even with the aircon and fans it would not have been nice having a big piece of fabric draped over. me.   This morning the temperature had dropped down to a much cooler 19°C/66°F although it has risen by about another 10° through the day but that is much more pleasant than the previous two days.

the four border strips completed

 Now that the stars are finished, there is no more block piecing to be done which means I can get on with stitching the rest of the borders on,  another 12 hours stitching by my reckoning.

another view of the border strips

I think this quilt was started in January 2013 (or maybe December 2012) it has been a slow but enjoyable journey and I'm looking forward to the final stages of completing the top.  

Thursday, 5 January 2017

In December last year I went to the Anna Maria Horner workshop that was at Hettie's Patch in Adelaide.  Two days of pure bliss, sewing (and not sewing) with no husbandly interruptions, no having to stop and make lunch, morning or afternoon tea.  Anna Maria was very friendly and approachable and made everyone feel special, thank you to Lorraine for bringing Anna Maria to Adelaide.

Anna Maria showed us all her quilts and left them out for us to pore (and paw) over for the two days.

We all worked on a Modern Corsage piece.  I had prepared a pieced background before the workshop using some flying geese from another project that had been stalled for a while.  This gave me a bit of a head start in adding the flower elements to my piece, so by the end of the two days I had a piece that was almost ready to applique.  If you follow me on IG you will have seen some of the in progress photos.

I've decided to attempt some machine applique on this, so it is a bit of a work in progress, I've worked out the stitch lengths and widths, and while it isn't quite as nice as hand applique it is quicker, and it would be nice to get this piece finished.

Cody has laid claim to this quilt, that look on his face says it all "MINE, just try and make me get off"

Monday, 2 January 2017

Spiderweb Hexagon

I started making the blocks for this quilt earlier this year and put it aside because of time constraints.  The Christmas break seemed the perfect time for some slow machine stitching, while listening to a non quilting podcast  - Chat 10 Looks 3 which I found very entertaining, although non Australian listeners might be a bit baffled with some of it.

I finished the quilt top late yesterday afternoon, and am really pleased with how it has turned out, I had a rough layout diagram but that went out the window as it meant piecing some more diamonds which I did not want to do.  I ended up filling in the top and bottom with the same fabric that I used for the fan blades.  I have the batting and the backing fabric so I just have to sandwich up the quilt ready for quilting, whenever that happens.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Croissants - Day Two

Continuing on the croissant making journey - I put the butter between two sheets of plastic  and beat it well with my rolling pin, the aim is to get a roughly square shaped piece of butter, while keeping the butter cool but malleable.

The dough is rolled out and the square of beaten out butter is placed on one end, making sure to leave a gap at the edges, then the dough is folded twice, turned, rolled out and folded again.

After the second rolling and folding, the dough is left to rest for 45 minutes or so, if it is a hot day this will need to be done in the fridge.  I left mine on the bench for 30 minutes and put it in the fridge for the last 15.

I have always had problems with the butter oozing out of the croissants while baking and I suspected it was because of the flour to butter ratio, so after a bit of googling I decided to reduce the amount of butter by half.   Success, there was no seepage whatsoever, and I think this was the most successful croissant bake ever.  The recipe that I used was essentially the same as this recipe.

 After a three hour rise and a brush with egg wash, they are ready to bake.

 Fresh from the oven, but they must be left for 10 minutes to cool before eating :(

 I made four Pain au Chocolat as well, the Mister was quite happy about that.

I also used French butter for the first time and I wonder if that had something to do with it, it is marked with 82% butterfat.  So I googled some more and came across this article where it mentions that a higher fat content raises the butter melting point, which would definitely be helpful when making croissants.  I know that some Australian butters have water added and this will also have an effect on how the dough behaves, next time I will try a no added water Australian butter to see if I can get the same result.

Making croissants isn't too difficult, give it a go.

This Julia Child video is a good one to watch and there are lots of helpful hints as well.

This website  has quite comprehensive explanations and plenty of pictures, I might try this recipe next time.

Saturday, 31 December 2016


- of similar things or occurrences, appearing or happening at irregular intervals in time.

 Which pretty much sums up my blogging for 2016 and I suppose my quilting too.

On the spur of the moment I decided that today I would make croissants, I'm using a recipe which is in the book: From Julia Child's Kitchen, I've used this recipe before and even though I've had varying degrees of success the results have always been edible. 

Ingredients for croissant making: flour, salt, sugar, yeast, milk, water and oil

There is a fair amount of idle time when making bread, and croissants are no exception as this recipe has two rises before you can even incorporate the butter, all 225g/8 oz of it, into the dough.  Not to worry though as the second rise can be done overnight in the fridge and then continued on with tomorrow. 

 mix until the dough forms,

the dough is then tipped out on the bench and flipped around with the scraper,


before being dropped into a container and left to rise (about 3 hours)

almost there, and then the dough will be turned out, patted out into a 30cm/1 foot rectangle, folded in three (like a business letter) then placed into a bowl, popped into the fridge and left until tomorrow morning, in the meantime I can get on with finishing this quilt.