Saturday, January 28, 2012

Making Whoopie

You may recall that Sister of Pyjamas gave me some recipe books for Christmas. Baking books. Funny.

Rarely, if ever,  do I turn out anything that involves using flour and eggs and the term "folding" that ultimately looks like the picture in the book. I don't fold . I beat the crud out of things. For me , baking is like being a Gladiator. We fight to the death, and it's almost always the baked goods that lose.

One of my goals for 2012 is to work my way through one of those books and cook at least half the recipes. You'll notice I didn't add the word "successfully" to the goal. But somewhere inside my head that's what I'm aiming for. My mantra for 2012 is there is no such word as "cant". There must be an inner Julia Child or Nigella in me somewhere.

So, last week I girded my loins and made my first batch of  whoopie pies. Chocolate.  And according to my recipe book this is what they are supposed to look like.

And this is what most of mine looked like . Frisbees. Crunchy Frisbees. They were too flat. Aren't these things supposed to be  puffy like cake?

I took them to Claire's last Saturday and tried to feed them to my unsuspecting Farmers Wife Quilt group. Only Loz and I were brave enough to eat them. They did taste really good though once I'd put so much buttercream in them I could feel my arteries hardening every single time I took a bite.

Not  to be deterred by less than 100% success today I decided it was time to give them another go. Maybe mastering Whoopie Pies takes more than one try.  I settled on Jaffa Whoopie Pies because I had plenty of last weeks chocolate butter cream left over. On a side note I put just about everything in my freezer including leftover icing but I'm just not good at labelling stuff. I know what it is ..but nobody else does. It's made for some hilarious moments when someone pulls out chocolate icing thinking it's gravy.

Thankfully no piping was involved today . The recipe said I could just put tablespoon fulls on my biscuit trays. That saved me having to wipe cookie dough off my ceiling which is where some of it ended from last weeks great piping accident. I'm not very coordinated.

And lookee here...

Fooled you didn't I? This is what they are meant to look like. Mine didn't look anything like that. 

Mine were mutant sized. The size of baseballs. They had too much puff like cake. And my jaffas wouldn't crush properly because it's currently about 110F.  They just kind of melted into one another and I had to push them into the icing. 

While Mr. P was appreciative and made Mmmmm noises while munching on one, I  just can't shake the feeling that I'm Goldilocks. She was a fussy perfectionist cow too. Next week I'm hoping my whoopie pies will be just right. I may give the chocolate ones a  miss and move onto something else since chocolate  appears to be waging a personal vendetta against me. 

I immediately reverted to something I know I'm good at and I redeemed myself with the roast duck I did for dinner....sublime. 

PS. Don't tell Little P - his favourite animal in the "Old McDonald had a farm"song is the Duck. I'd hate for him to have to spend years in therapy. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Favourite Things Friday

This time next week I'm sure my post will hold some sort of lament about having to go back to work on the following Monday but today that's still  a whole week away. There 's still plenty of time for me to enjoy a plethora of favourite things. If you'd like to join in and share one of your Favourite Things, write your own post, link it up and leave a comment so I can skip on over to see what made your heart sing this week.

I'm counting on the fact that if you've hung around here for any length of time you wont be easily offended but I'm adding this disclaimer anyway. This post will contain some wanton but necessary profanity. There will be pictures of said profanity. Words I have never used before on my blog. Do not proceed further if you are likely to be upset. My delicate constitution can't cope with losing any more followers this week.

My favourite thing for this Friday came by way of the post office (as so many wonderful surprises do !)I was talking to Little Miss Sunshine recently about my dwindling fabric scraps in certain colours and she said she would send me some of those colours so I can continue with my quilting greatness for the Log Cabin quilt. I also got strict instructions that I was not to make the log cabin scrap quilt into a dog blanket using her scraps (Some people are so bossy !) I was thinking about it actually but since I'm about 65% of the way  through making blocks now, I have decided it's a people quilt because it's too pretty for dogs, especially since apparently dogs cant see colours like red and green.   If I decide to practice free motion quilting on the blocks and it all goes pear shaped I could change my mind again. It's a bit like Russian quilting roulette.

Anyway, I digress....

I opened the parcel to find this pile of deliciousness

But a couple of extra surprises were hidden in the folds of the fabric that made me laugh out loud. It's very cool when one of your friends knows you so well.  No cute butterfly stamps here. 

I've spent the better part of three days contemplating how I could get away with taking those to work and using them and I don't think I'm going to risk it. I have started stamping all our bills with the WTF one and returning them unpaid back to the senders.... you know Little Miss Sunshine  isn't all that ladylike either. I've outed her . The carefully crafted image she has worked hard to present to you all has been shattered.

Looks like my work here is done. Have a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Regular Programming Will Resume Soon

It's like I wandered off to make a coffee last week and just never made it back. It's been a mad house here. Miss P and Little P have been in residence and there just hasn't been time for blogging. Or cleaning the house, or hanging out the washing or even scratching myself. I don't know how anyone with kids ever manages to get to the computer to read emails let alone maintain a blog!   

And if I'm being  honest, it was part of my plan for my holidays to not spend all of it on the computer/blogging so I think we can say that's been successful too. Before I went on holidays I'd lost my blogging mojo and thought a bit of a break might be in order. I apologise for all the unread blog posts and ignored emails but sometimes a gal just has to shake things up a bit and change her routine to get back in the saddle. I usually spend a huge amount of time blogging, commenting and replying to emails and I just needed a break (wow - do I sound whiny!)

There hasn't been a lot of progress on my own sewing and quilting projects this past week. Miss P announced she wanted to learn how to make baby bibs so she could sell them to people on the Facebook Young Mum's group that she is a co-owner of. It's taken me about a week to get over the shock of her announcement (Miss P wants to sew ?) and we've been busy buying and choosing fabric, cutting out backs and fronts, and sewing bibs. She has orders for about 15 bibs already and is full of other ideas about things she could make and sell and we've been tossing round the idea of a market stall at the end of the year as well as some other products she could make for sale. I finished my last contribution yesterday to the bib cause (the rest is up to her - lets see how serious she is !) and I'm ready to get back to doing some of my own stuff. I have floor cushions calling my name as well as the modified log cabin blocks for my scrap quilt. 

I'm bibbed out. 
In other news, my ex father in law passed away early this week so I'll be off to his funeral tomorrow with Miss P. Without going into a lot of detail, the relationships my ex in laws have with the people closest to them tend to be very complicated. My ex husband hasn't spoken to his own parents in over 17 years. I doubt he'll be attending the funeral but if he does it will be an emotional day and there could be fireworks since he hasn't seen Miss P since she was 4 years old. I'll be the one holding it all together for every one else and sweeping up the tarnished reputations and handing out the tissues if he does make an appearance.  

Favourite Things Friday will be back tomorrow and normal blogging activity will resume from then. I'm going to spend some of my Australia Day eating lamb burgers and checking out what's been going on in my prolonged absence. If I get really organised I may even bang out some lamingtons. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Favourite Things Friday

I've had a terrific week . But my favourite thing for this week isn't that I finally got round to mopping my floors or cleaning out my guest room or  feeding ducks or taking little P to the beach for a swim (He rode the dodgem cars for the first time with his grandpa- it was hilarious-Little P was driving ) This week my favourite thing is a good furniture makeover.

I love to take something and make it over. There's something infinitely satisfying about taking an old piece of furniture and making it into something that means it'll get used for more years to come. Old furniture is generally built to last and I think it's a huge shame to send it to the tip. Another plus for re- finishing furniture is that it's generally a lot cheaper than going out and buying a piece of mass produced furniture. And you end up with something completely unique. I've spent hours looking in second hand stores and on Ebay for the "perfect" piece because I've had a vision of something that would be "perfect" for a particular space in my house. 

One such hunt was the tale of the kitchen dresser. I'd given up finding something that looked like this after months of searching when BAM - there she was in all her (former ) glory.

A coat (or 5 ) of paint and this is what she looks like now. 

Or you can take a table and a set of chairs you bought second hand for under 80 bucks 

And spend 40 bucks and spend some time and elbow grease to make them look like this 

Take a 50 year old desk and strip and paint and glue the crap out of it 

to breathe this kind of life into it 

On the downside I have a really small house, so I have to be selective about what I bring home. I had a couple more brilliant ideas recently and yesterday this piece of potential lusciousness found a home at  Maison Pyjamas.

That fabric is truly truly hideous.But look at some of the details and past it's current hideous state and pretend its re-covered in something wonderful.

I'm already auditioning other colour palettes.

I must admit to some trepidation with this project . Firstly I have to find the perfect fabric. Then I have to  google myself blind to get a ton of tips about how to recover something of this magnitude without completely ruining it. But I'm up for the challenge. There's always profanity to let off the accumulated steam. Stay tuned. And with another "brilliant " idea fermenting in my brain it looks like I'm going to be one busy chickee over the next couple of weeks. 

If anything has particularly thrilled your heart this week feel free to shout it from the rooftops and link it on up to this post so we can get excited with you. Have a brilliant Friday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

15 Minutes with Kate

I'm joining in on Kate's 15 minutes linky party again this week to report back on my progress. You can join in too . Just pop on over and pay Kate a visit at Life in Pieces for all the details!

I realised on Monday my holidays are half over and I haven't really done all that much in the sewing department so I decided to see if I could focus. And while not everything on my list from last week got ticked off  I'm pretty happy with the results.

Aside from finishing my Merry Go round quilt (thankyou so much for your comments about my quilt - I feel very humbled by your kind words ) I also  started and finished some other projects this week.

The zebra cushion became a pair . These are for Miss P who is positively potty about zebra anything.

The Christmas bunting is done . This would have been far more newsworthy if I had pulled off a finish BEFORE Christmas but I'm telling myself the late finish means I'm amazingly organised for Christmas 2012. I'll be pulling out that old chestnut again when I finally finish my Flurry quilt. 

You know how I said I was going to try to take more interesting photographs this year . Above was one of my attempts. A photographer I am not. Bunting is incredibly hard to photograph.

Four more rainbow scrap blocks got added to the pile.

I came to the realisation that The Love Heart Applique quilt was NEVER going to be a quilt so I started making  it into a cushion instead. It's backed in white chenille  (have I mentioned lately how much I love chenille ?) so it's perfect for snuggling up to . It's a gift for a friend so I'm valiantly trying not to get too attached to it.

And I cut hexies for a rainbow scrap cushion I'm going to start this week. Im loving playing with my scraps. Colour makes me happy. 

My Goals for this week
Pay some attention to my hourglass blocks
Finish 4 more blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Quilt 
Start sewing hexies together for the scrappy cushion 
Give one of the roadkill rescue footstools a makeover 
Pyjamas for Brooke 
Survive Babysitting Little P (the terrible two's have hit hard !) 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Life is A Merry Go Round

My first quilt finish for 2012 is  done. Merry Go Round got the final stitches in the binding this afternoon.

I don't usually blow my own trumpet . In fact I'm often self critical and deprecating. That being said I am completely , utterly and hopelessly in love with this quilt. I'd go so far as to say it's my most favourite of all the quilts I've ever made. It's close to perfect. 

My original vision was for this quilt to be done in 30's repros. But then I saw the Tonga Hard candy line I ordered that as well as the repros. The second the fabrics  arrived it was no contest. 

From the fabric to the quilting (Thanks Sharon - you did an utterly fabulous job !) I LOVE it. My cruddy pictures don't show this well but it's quilted in variegated thread the same colour as the fabrics. 

To the binding which caused me so much grief on Saturday and led to an almost tear fuelled breakdown with some very sailor like swearing....

I love the back and I think it's very "me"

In all it's glory.

This one is staying here to be loved and used by me ! I love every single stitch in it. 

In other news I went on a fabric buying kick a couple of weeks ago and this parcel of yumminess arrived today from Fabricworm.

Pinks and Greys 

Im loving chocolate and blue at the moment. 

And check out this "scrap " pack. Scraps ! They're huge and look at how beautiful they are. And only $13.50 for all of this. Amazing!

I also may or may not have done a run to Spotlight today where further fabric buying may or may not have occurred....but I'm just going to absorb that into my stash and pretend it never happened. I can't resist a sale. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Recipe Wars

Something I haven't blogged about to date is that my sister and I are have been engaged in an ugly standoff since Christmas.  I am usually not the type of person who airs dirty laundry in public but this is just too big to keep to myself and we're all friends here right? 

I know you're imagining some deep dark family scandal. Like the revelation my sister was adopted at birth and I've known all these years and didn't say anything. Some of you probably ran and got your popcorn already and are settled down waiting for full disclosure.  So here it is : Our standoff is over trading recipes. 

SOP served an awesome potato salad on Christmas night and I asked for the recipe. Past experience dictates that I should have stood over her with a stick until she gave it to me there and then but I'm a trusting soul.  Sharing is not her middle name. Case in point : I have been begging for her scone recipe for YEARS and she steadfastly refused to give it to me. She just used to smile enigmatically and say she couldn't give it out.  It had gotten to the point where the thought of her taking that scone recipe to the grave was keeping me awake at night. She eventually confessed last July after 20 years of baking the best scones ever, that she uses the CWA box scone mix you buy at the store.  

Then on Boxing Day I served up that awesome galette I snaffled from Mrs. X who shall remain nameless (for reasons that will be come apparent as you read this sorry tale) and my sister asked me for the recipe. Now it isn't that I don't trust her and it isn't like she's promised to swap recipes with me before and they've never materialised (cough cough) so this time  I told her I'd happily give her the galette recipe just as soon as the potato salad recipe hit my Inbox. And for good measure I told her I'd throw in my cinnamon bun pancake recipe for free because I'm a loving sister and I'm not precious about sharing my recipes.

It's been three weeks since Christmas and I've got nothing and I've been hankering for that potato salad because it really is THAT good. Like Veruca Salt "I Want It Now !". I'm starting to wonder if my sister is waiting for potatoes to become extinct as part of some dastardly plot to ensure she continues to have world domination of the Best.Potato.Salad.Ever.

SOP keeps asking me for the galette recipe and I keep telling her she can have it just as soon as I have that potato salad recipe in my hot little hand because up until this point I've been using that awesome galette recipe as my insurance. I've even taken my plight to Facebook as a way of shaming her into sending me the recipe.  And still nothing. (Insert your own visual here of me sitting round tapping my foot , looking at my watch and doing nothing besides waiting, waiting, waiting for a bloody potato salad recipe......)

Then today I remembered that Google is the font of all knowledge.  Google knows everyone's secrets and isn't hoity toity about blurting them out. So accordingly I googled . And look what I found.

So, guess what we had for dinner tonight....

A mature and loving sister would hand over that galette recipe to her sister now for free wouldn't she ? Even though her sister didn't come through with her promised recipe. 

I'm still thinking about it. But the potato salad was awesome. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Favourite Things Friday

Late to my own linky party this week!  I confess I forgot what day it was. That happens when you don't have a point of reference like going to work Monday to Friday. 

This week, I've been thinking about what I want to achieve this year. I don't do New Year resolutions. Bitter experience has taught me that if I resolve to eat better, or lose weight or be a better person or whatever - it just doesn't happen. But making some goals for a little direction and to make sure I'm getting the most of out life seems to work much better for me. 

The truth is - I bumbled my way through most of  2011 with little or no direction. In fact for the last half of the year I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth and just taking things one day at a time. Most unlike me , I didn't have a grand plan or goals beyond surviving week to week. 

But this year I'm feeling ready to conquer the world and so some goals are in order. And then Thea came up with the  brilliant plan to list her goals for this year and get people to join in and report back so my favourite thing this week has been making a list of things I want to do. Here it is : 

1) Eat out once a month and keep the budget for the year under 300 bucks 
2) Do something social at least once a fortnight -if I don't make this goal I'll  never leave home 
3)Go to the movies at least 6 times this year
4)Watch an entire series of something on DVD
5)Go see a live show/theatre at least 3 times in 2012.
6)Make a quilt using greys
7) At least half the birthday gifts I give have to be handmade or thrifted 
8) Make February a frugal month 
9) Have two weekends away this year 
10) Crack FM quilting 
11) Finish 10 quilts this year including 2 quilts using scraps 
12)Start knitting a blanket
13)Cook a new main meal recipe once a fortnight
14) Work my way through at least half of one of the baking cookbooks SOP gave me for Christmas 
15) Practice taking better photographs 
16) Start planning a big holiday 
17) Buy 52 individual items worth a buck each -stolen from Thea - I love this idea 
18) Buy fruit and vegies from the Farmers Market at least 6 times 
19)Teach my Mother in law how to hand piece hexagons
20) Secret goal - to do with quilting but it involves putting myself out there a little more than I have in the past 
21) Participate in at least one swap and one quiltalong online 
22) Finish my Farmers Wife Quilt by the end of the Year 
23) Go to a Basketball Game 
24) Attend at least two festivals 
25) Let the little things go 
26) Practice random acts of kindness
27) Get a professional manicure 
28) Have a pamper day with a friend 
29) Spend time quilting with my Mum 
30) Make fresh bread and foccacia at least a dozen times this year 
31) Update the front veranda 
32) Reupholster something to give it a new lease of life 

I'm sure I'll think of more as the year goes along but I think that's a good start. I just want to be present in my own life a little bit more rather than going with the flow. 

Does anyone else have any goals for this year they want to share? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

15 Minutes with Kate

There hasn't been a huge amount of sewing going on round here since I'm currently playing "Let's do the annual Pyjamas house cleanout". That involves going through every single room in the house and taking everything out of cupboards, drawers and wardrobes and freecycling or chucking out things we don't need. I get to ask myself burning questions such as "Why am I keeping plumbing hoses for a washing machine I haven't had since 2001?" and "Holy Cow how can one person have so much underwear?".

But occasionally a gal needs to take a break from organising and when that urge hits I head for the sewing room. I spent some of Sunday cleaning out my scrap bins. There was some real crap in there. I got really serious and went through every single scrap and "retired" a lot of stuff I am never going to use. Ugly stuff. And now I have about half the scraps I used to have but it's all use-able.

Playing with my scraps inspired me . There has been a lot of scrappy talk in the Blogishphere lately and so I jumped on the bandwagon and started making blocks for a quilt. Because goodness knows I dont have enough unfinished quilts lurking round here that I could be working on. I need another project. 

 I made a couple of cards from scraps while I was at it. 

Remember the zebra cushion that pissed me off beyond belief a week ago? I dragged that out of the rubbish bin and finished it. My first finish for 2012 ! Now it needs a mate because it looks lonely. 

 I made some more selvage blocks . 

And since I've been fairly slow in the sewing department lately I should probably make some goals for this week so I'm aiming to :

Work on the binding for the Merry Go Round Quilt 
Finish Christmas Bunting 
Finish another Zebra Cushion 
Make another 20 selvage blocks 

I'm linking up to Kate's 15 minutes challenge this week. Pop on over and have a look at what other participants have been up to. Thanks for hosting Kate!

May the Craft be with you.