Monday, October 29, 2012

There's a moral to this story

This past weekend was full of great food and it was cooked by other people. I didn't cook a thing. Not even toast. That's my favourite kind of food. Stuff that magically appears with no effort on my part. In a previous life I think I was a Princess and people fetched and carried for me  and I didn't have to lift a finger. Somehow I've retained the memory of those wonderful times and I'm spending a lot of my current life pissed off that I have to do all of those things myself. 

On Sunday, we went to Cheesefest so not only did I eat my weight in cheese samples, I also managed to chug down some chips fried in duck fat (mmmm healthy) and a pork belly burger with caramelised apples and some funky (in a good way) BBQ sauce. I'm thinking I may try to recreate those burgers at home. It'd be a great meal to do for a crowd and it was delicious. 

We bought some cheese.  Oh how we bought cheese. I am a cheese-a-holic and if I ever turn into a serial killer and wind up on death row I'm going to ask for a cheese platter as my last meal. And since we have 43 blocks of cheese I'm all ready for guests so if you want to come over please feel free . Bring crackers. Cynthia, you're in charge of bringing wine. 


When I got home on Sunday , I felt the urge to bake. Cookies no less. The idea has been rattling round in my head for about a week and would simply not be silenced. That was my first mistake- listening to the voices in my head. I've been trolling Pinterest and the internet looking for inspiration. And I continued searching when I got home from Cheesefest yesterday. Because I was so full of cheese I needed something sweet. After two hours, I finally narrowed it down to Ginger Molasses Cookies or Chocolate Chip.

Then I decided I was feeling way too lazy to bake cookies. 

An hour later, in  a flash of motivation I decided it was now or never.   And I chose Cinnamon and Brown Butter Chocolate Chip.  I'd have those babies done in time for warm cookies for a late supper. That was the plan as it played out in my head. 

This is a slightly complicated recipe. First you have to brown the butter without burning it.  Then you have to cool it to room temperature. Then in another bowl you have to get some of the dry ingredients together. Then you have to add other stuff to the cooled butter and beat it until your arm falls off. Then with your other arm you have to add the dry ingredients. Finally you have to add the chocolate chips and stir them in by hand with a spoon. I used every bowl, measuring cup and spoon in my kitchen.

That's when I took a breather and decided to clean up a bit and turn the oven on to heat in preparation for the delight of baking my own cookies. So I flicked my eye over the recipe to see what temperature the oven had to be on, when out of the corner of my eye I saw this in the recipe. 

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours. 

I'm pretty sure I said WTF! out loud. And you all know how much I abhor swearing. I've heard of resting pastry and even refrigerating cookie dough but for 12 hours? Really? The dough didn't do anything but laze around in the bowl. If anyone deserved a 12 hour rest it was probably me, not that lazy arse cookie dough. But I was determined these cookies were going to be awesome and so I accepted I was just going to have to get up at the crack of dawn and bake those cookies before I went to work. Every time I deviate from a recipe I end up scraping stuff off my ceiling. 

That early am cookie baking? Didn't happen. I got distracted by a load of Bloggers Quilt Festival posts. I excel at finding things to distract myself. 

So when I got home tonight and told Mr. P it was too hot to cook dinner and that I hadn't even eaten lunch until 3pm so I wasn't all that hungry anyway I had totally forgotten I had 23 hour old cookie dough cooling its chips in my fridge. Until I opened the fridge at 7.00pm to get a drink and saw it sitting there looking at me with accusing eyes. By this stage I had 23 hours of my life and about 17.00 bucks in cookie ingredients invested in a finish.

I said WTF! And you all know how much I abhor swearing. And then I took the cooking dough out of the fridge and sat it on the bench to come to room temperature as the recipe called for (making the whole resting in the fridge for 23 hours kind of redundant if you ask me since it was at room temperature yesterday before I put it in the fridge) and then I rolled those cookies into balls and threw them in a 180C degree oven to torture them for 10-14 minutes.

These cookies are da bomb. Cinnamony and chocolatey and buttery deliciousness.  Mine are also the size of man hole covers, so I can eat three without feeling a shred of guilt. Run off and make them now. Just don't forget about the 12 hour compulsory rest after the first leg of the race. 

The moral of this story. Things are only ever effortless with food when someone else takes responsibility for it. ( I just sent Mr. P down to the shops to get my dinner - a pack of salt and vinegar chips) Lessons learned: Read the freaking recipe BEFORE you start cooking. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blogger's Quilt Festival October 2012

It's time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival hosted by Amy from Amy's Creative Side.   There's so much eye candy out there I go into sensory overload.

My name is Shay and I suffer from PCS. (Pattern Challenge Syndrome) I read instructions and they always looks like they're written in gibberish. So my usual modus operandi for quilting is that I eyeball a quilt I like and decide in my own head how it makes sense for me put it together. Then I cross my fingers, warn my husband that things are going to get scary so he can leave the house for a few hours, days,  weeks,  whatever , lay in a supply of endless swear words and jump in where angels fear to tread. 

But when I saw this pattern, I desperately wanted to make the quilt and I had no idea how it was done. So I realised I was going to have to suck it up and learn to read Cantonese, or Aramaic or whatever language it was written in because I was totally in love. And love can triumph over anything. Even language barriers. You can imagine my excitement when I discovered that the pattern for Merry Go Round was written in honest to goodness English. Bless you Sandy Klop.  You're my hero.

This quilt was full of firsts. First quilt from a pattern, first try at angled binding (I could have taught a few sailors some new swear words during that part of the process) and the first time I ever used Batik fabrics. Don't let anyone tell you they're grandma and horrible because they aren't.

Because a pile of seemingly Grandma Batik strips managed to morph into this.

I love finding the perfect backing on sale for 4 bucks a metre. 

 I picked something soft and curvy for the quilting as a contrast to all those angles and sent it out to my quilting fairy so she could really make it shine.  By the time I got to the quilting stage I was packing death that if I touched it with my machine I'd ruin it forever.  The quilting fairy used rainbow coloured variegated thread to match the colours in the quilt.  

This is my most favourite quilt ever.... 

Vital Stats:
Quilt Name: Merry Go Round 
Size:  74 inches by 80 inches 
Quilting: By Sharon Parkinson at Patchwork on Parade 
Special Techniques: Angled binding, AND I used a pattern! 
Best Category :Favorite ROYGBIV Quilt

A huge shout out to Amy for hosting and to everyone who is stopping by from BQF. Its lovely to have you visit. Please feel free to have a sticky beak around while you're here. I'm off to take a squizz at what everyone else is showing off !

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I got it all going on over here (finally)

I finally brushed the cobwebs off my sewing machine this past weekend. It had been so long since I'd touched it that I was afraid I'd forgotten how it worked. 

I have been promising to sew the wings onto this fairy costume for about 6 weeks . It took all of three minutes and I did it this weekend.

Flurry finally got finished. Another WIP bites the dust! And I have yet to make a Christmas type quilt that I adore. Maybe it's time to give up?

I'm 6 hexies away from having enough to finally assemble this into a  quilt top, so I went virtual shopping on Sunday and bought some fabric for the blocks these are going to be appliqu├ęd onto. Yes - I'm taking the easy way out. If I have to do a bajillion more hexies by hand around all of these I'm going to tear my hair out.  A couple of other things not related to this project may have slipped into my cart at the same time. That seems to happen to me a lot.

We acquired a smaller kennel recently (for free  which is always my favourite kind of acquisition!) that I thought would be a great replacement for the manky cat baskets we had out the back and so I cut a chair cushion in half and sewed it shut and voila! instant cat cushion. I love projects that take 10 minutes.  Too bad the cats don't really like their new home...Mordecai in particular has been looking at me with voodoo eyes ever since his cat basket disappeared. 

And I worked on my Briar Rose quilt. I started this one in August at a sewing workshop and I'm hoping to get the top finished by the end of the month.  I'm a lot further on than this picture shows, so the goal of a finished quilt top is actually looking like a serious reality. It's actually prettier in person than my crap photography would have you believe. 

I haven't shown my Farmers Wife quilt progress for ages and that's basically because there hasn't been any progress. It's been sitting in it's plastic tub mocking me. I'm calling it . The blocks are about to make the coolest pot holders ever. Stay tuned to be amazed. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mrs Green Thumbs

You may wonder where I've been and what I've been doing in my absence. I have been doing ...wait for it..gardening. When you've all stopped laughing hysterically (I'm pointing at YOU Little Miss Sunshine ) I'll show you some pictures. You see, while we were away Mr. P commented how lovely the gardens were at a couple of places we stayed. Neither of us actually like gardening and since we live on a large block we've kind of our garden go back to nature and said that "one day we'll do something with our garden".  I have a black thumb and I wanted to make sure the things I've been haphazardly planting round here were going to pull through before I committed to an entire garden do over. 

I decided that " one day " was this Spring and so I've been madly pulling weeds (which is pretty much the whole garden actually) and working out which bits I need to napalm with Roundup so I can start to have a garden that doesn't look like the deepest darkest parts of the Congo. I'm going to be buying Roundup in 44 gallon drums. It'd be easier to get a crop duster in to do a fly over. Seriously.  And getting my garden to a state where its actually fit to show in it's entirety will take years. But someone said that a  journey of 1000 miles starts with the first step and if I don't start this now I could very well be dead before it even gets close to completion. So I've weeded and pruned and transplanted and watered and fertilised this last couple of weekends and now I can actually show you pieces of my garden that don't look completely feral. 

My rosemary has survived. The basil turned up its toes though. 

 These agapanthus have survived 18 months of neglect. I finally fertilised them and stripped all the dead bits off last weekend. Now I just have to get Lola to stop thinking this bed is her own personal digging patch. Right after I get the cats to stop thinking my leek planter is a toilet. 

Last time I had a ficus I killed it within a month. This one has survived at least 6 and has been under planted with lilies which have also miraculously come back looking healthy and like they might actually make it. 

One of our big achievements-  This garden bed is new and has hydrangeas all along it. Once they're big and bushy its going to look gorgeous. And that retaining wall is new too and looks fantastic as you come up the driveway.  

This is our front veranda. I'm not all that keen on the quilt on the miners couch but I have some fabric coming that's going to be perfect for a purpose made quilt for that spot. I plan on doing some snoozing out here at some point in the not too distant future. 

My potted hydrangeas which I've kept alive for over 4 years and grew from  dead looking sticks. I am the hydrangea whisperer...

I bought a curry plant today to replace the massacred basil.  Mr. P asked what you do with a curry plant. DUH!

And this is the next project. This is going to be my new vegetable patch. Any vegie growing tips anyone? 

Lastly in all the madness that happened in the week or so before we went away I forgot to show off one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. The wonderful Cynthia at Home Matters 1st sent me one of my favourite things in the world- Pyjamas. But not ordinary every day pyjamas. I got personalised pyjamas that make me feel like a rock  star every time I wear them...see that crown? That's from my blog header ! Are these not the most fabulous pyjamas you've ever seen? 

Sewing happened for the first time in a long time this weekend, and I'll be back to show off the fruits of my labours sometime this week. I even finished something!