Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Daily Challenge

Chez Sunshine will probably never be the same.  We've implemented a series of challenges to keep this week even more interesting than usual. 

The first challenge was to see how fast we could eat the frog cakes that made the journey north with me. Bonus points were awarded for those that managed to keep them down....BP lost. She couldn't finish her frogs head and passed it on to me . Apparently the fact that I have been in training for this event since birth disqualified me from 1st place on the winners podium, meaning Little Miss Sunshine won by default. 

The second challenge we set was not eating the entire 1/2 kilo Haighs chocolate frog I brought up in one sitting . It's 48 hours since I arrived and we're all eyeing off the one square inch of chocolate we have left. Its all gone a little bit Lord of the Flies here. Nobody wants to be the one to finish it. I predict that level of politeness will last about another hour and then we'll all be wrestling one another to the ground, bitch slapping one another and hair pulling in an effort to determine a winner. I'm seeing a fight to the death for the last of the Haighs and I'm planning to win.

Yesterday we played "lets see who can survive on the least amount of sleep"(Marg won with a total of 4 hours into 60 minute snatches because she's a complete overachiever)which was closely followed by our third challenge of "who can go to bed earliest?". For anyone brought up in the Australia in the 60's, 70's or early 80's, we went to bed at about the same time as Fat Cat.

Last night we had the brilliant idea to set up a swear jar for today because we realized that we had only collectively used 12 words all day that we would be able to say comfortably in church, or in front of our grandmothers. It seemed like such a great idea at the time ...aided I'm sure by several alcoholic drinks that made it seem like the best idea ever. The rules were a dollar per swear. It's 15 hours in and so far we have collected enough for an overseas trip.  

The challenge for tomorrow will be to swear less than we did today....and to punch BP every time she says "Cray Cray "

Friday, January 18, 2013

Favourite Things Friday

It's Friday again which means its time to give some thought to your favourite things from this week.

Since Captain James Cook first set foot on Aussie soil in late Autumn he probably had no idea of exactly how hot it got here when he decided that Australia would be a good place to settle pasty white British people who had previously experienced very little sun. I also wonder if once the First Fleet arrived in late January 1788, in the full heat of Summer, if all they wanted to do was turn around and go home to old Blighty. Can you imagine those poor people in wool clothes and long dresses in our blistering heat? I suspect the only thing that stopped them going home was that most of them were convicts and didn't have a choice. Plus it took 8 months to get here by boat and that was the only way home again. 

I was born and bred in Australia, so I'm used to our weather.  Australian weather is half awesome because even though it gets cold in winter it never gets really cold like Northern Hemisphere winters. We don't have that extreme winter weather you poor suckers to the north get. All our extreme weather all gets stored up for our Summer.  

Summer to me means sleeping in the bath or on the bathroom floor as a kid because the majority of people didn't have ducted air conditioning in those days and bedrooms got really hot. Too hot to sleep in. Summer to me means salad and sliced meat for dinner or a BBQ because its simply too hot to turn on a kitchen appliance inside the house. Summer in my part of the world means dry heat , so when you walk outside all the air gets sucked out of your lungs and your skin turns into a real life shrinky dink. Summer to me is the bliss of dashing from an air-conditioned car to an air-conditioned house. Summer to me is hibernating for approximately three months with all the windows, doors and curtains closed while the weather does its annual thing.  I think I've been left with some genetic imprint from my British ancestors where my brain screams "It's too hot-make it stop". 

We've had days and days over the 100F mark in the last few weeks , and yesterday topped the mercury at 41C. Last week we had a delightful day of 45 C.  The government doesn't want us to know how hot it really gets and Fahrenheit sounds twice as hot so we use Celsius measurements here as if that somehow changes the temperature to something manageable and less like to bake your brain in your skull.       

So my favourite thing today is the fabulous temperature drop we've had overnight which means today is only going to be 27C/80F with a 10% chance of showers.  I woke to gentle breezes and light sun and the thought that I can actually be outside without risking being burned into a something crisp and crunchy within 3 minutes. It's not going to last so I'm going to enjoy it while I can. 

What's your favourite thing this week?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cutting ...of the Fabric Variety , not the Emo kind

I hit the mother load of cool T-shirts at the op shop on Saturday, after a very unsuccessful trip the previous weekend. The problem with not being a hoarder is that when I decide I want to make stuff out of recycled items (for example a T-shirt quilt-yes I really want to make one of those this year ) I usually don't have any of the very thing I need laying around. Coupled with the fact that Mr. P drops something on his front every single time he eats rendering every T-Shirt he owns in the "utterly disgusting" category by the time he has finished with it  and that means there is a distinct lack of old but useable T-shirts in this house. Mr. P also likes rude or weird sayings on his T-shirts and I cant see myself making a T-shirt quilt with sayings on them like "FBI- now give me all your drugs"  or "Man Whore ".

So I've spent a lot of yesterday cutting those shirts into useable shapes for the far off day when I have enough T-shirts to transform them into a whole quilt. Considering all the cutting I did it doesn't really seem to be that big a pile.  

And then because I'm a glutton for punishment , I went back to hacking up all the shirts I bought last week and started turning them into quilt blocks. 8 blocks done and only 41 to go. 

It wasnt all cutting fabric this weekend I actually finished something -my first finish for 2013 -and only 13 days into the year. Doing the virtual happy dance because I'm too lazy to get my bum off this chair. I wonder how long this motivated streak will last?

Take a plain bathrobe. 

Cut into your extensive chenille stash.

Appliqué like a crazy lady for a few hours. 

And you'll end up with a one of a kind robe.  Total cost : $8.00 bucks and items pilfered from your own stash.  It went home with Miss P . I really really wanted to keep it ....

I have to cram enough work into the next 5 days to feel entitled to have a couple of weeks off. I have  a plane trip coming up next Monday that's going to take me to a place where I'm probably going to be led astray. I'm looking at you Little Miss Sunshine. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Favourite Things Friday

Favourite Things Friday is back for 2013 and I'd love for you to link up and share one of your favourite things. 

I'd been wanting a grown up girl mixer forever but at upwards of $400 for something decent it just wasn't on the "must buy" agenda. However for Christmas Mr. P and I decided to treat ourselves. (I think this was more for me than him as he is yet to use it. I've been hogging it incessantly since it arrived home ) So after much research and phoning around playing retailers off against each other to get the best price, this gem has come to live at my house and after 25 years of using a hand mixer you better believe it's getting a workout. I think I've been using it every second day. I'm completely in love with this thing. Plus everyone knows that red makes things go faster and bake better.

I love that I can program it and walk away and that it beeps to let me know when to come back and give it some more loving. And that I don't have to hold it to mix stuff until I feel like my arm is going to fall off. I never really understood the idea of creaming butter and sugar properly until I didn't have to do anything but chuck butter and sugar in the bowl and walk away to make myself a cup of coffee. 

The very first thing I mixed up in it was a Tim Tam cake. You can get the recipe here if you're interested in making some awesomeness because lo and behold it turned out perfectly. I can only assume my mixer has been blessed with  magical powers because perfect rarely happens in this house when it comes to baking.

And then Little P helped me make cupcakes. And they were edible too! That's cake frosting on his forehead not some hideous Frankenstein scar. And that's icing on his upper lip- not a moustache. And that's his tongue poking out -not a hideous growth. 

By this stage I had a completely new outlook on baking . I truly think this mixer is magical. Everything I whip up in it seems to work out.

Rainbow cupcakes 

Fancy cupcakes 

Lemon Meringue icecream (that hole on the far side is because Miss P and Mr P couldn't wait for me to take a picture before they started eating it )

Cynthia's cinnamon coffee cake (which looked mildly leprous in the pan because I doubled the topping amount  but trust me - it tasted divine ) 

Mini cheesecakes 

If I don't start finding some savoury recipes that can be whipped up in this thing my arse is going to end up the size of Texas. 

So that's my favourite thing this week. An appliance. 20 years ago if you'd told me I'd be in love with a kitchen appliance I would have called you nuts.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

To Dream the Impossible Dream

There hasn't been a whole load of craftiness or sewing going on here for a while. In December work took up a lot of time, and then Christmas hit and then New Year. The past 4 days Miss P and Little P have been staying with us which means plans of getting some of the things on my list done after work have been put on the back burner. 

I decided to set myself some monthly goals and to be public about them to hold myself accountable. If I don't out myself I'm pretty sure I'll get nothing done this year. I'm looking forward to taking some holidays towards the end of this month and I'm planning several days of nothing but sewing which is my idea of bliss.

Here are the goals I set for myself for January. 

1)Finish hexies for hexie flower garden quilt.

I started these hexies in October 2011 and I've been picking them up and putting them down ever since. The stumbling block at the moment is the thought that I'm going to have to pick out all those dastardly bits of paper before I can move on with this project. I have three more hexies to complete and honestly it's time they were done. 

2)Beg, Steal or Buy 10 thrifted shirts for shirt quilt project

I was inspired by this post that P did about a quilt she made from old shirts recently and since I don't have any original thoughts of my own I decided I needed to make a shirt quilt too. I made Mr. P go through his wardrobe and give me shirts that hadn't seen the light of day since the Bee Gees were in the Top 40. Thankfully that man never throws anything out. And then I went out and bought some extra shirts so this goal is pretty much achieved already. I've had a fine time this week hacking shirts to pieces with my rotary cutter in preparation for an onslaught of sewing. I will admit I got side tracked by the idea of a T-shirt quilt as well at this point so I'm collecting old T-shirts now too (and resisting running out to buy a ton of those so I can start another quilt because my track record of finishes of late has been pretty appalling) 

3)Make 10 shirt blocks 

Since I had a pile of hacked up shirts I figured I may as well start making blocks. If I do 10 blocks a month I could pretty much have this quilt wrapped up by June which would suit giving it as a present to someone I know who is having a birthday in July. I think so far I've managed to blitz 2 half blocks, so I'm 10% of the way there! I think this is the kind of quilt that I'm not going to know how it's really going to look until I have very single block finished and laid out. It's going to be kind of tragic if I hate it. 

4) Make an appliquéd bathrobe for Miss P 

In my op shop travels on the weekend I spied a white bathrobe. It was wonderfully fluffy. On the down side, the idea of picking out Archie's name was a bit of a pain but for 8 bucks I figured I could handle it. In the end Miss P got that job because she was sitting round doing nothing much and after all I'm going to be using my skills to gussy up this bathrobe into something girly and pretty for her. She spent some time going through a portion of my fabric stash that I've been saving for just such an occasion and now I just have to get up the guts to start cutting and appliquéing. By the way, Archie's bathrobe had an identical partner on the rack with a girls name on it. I wonder if they got divorced? 

5) Superheros quilt 

I've been collecting super hero fabric for the last few months to make a quilt. One of the ladies I work with has a 6 year old son and she has been very generous with passing his clothes/toys on to Miss P for Little P. I think that young man deserves to be rewarded for sharing and since he's super hero mad a quilt made from those fabrics seemed like a great idea. Ideally I want to start and finish this simple quilt before the end of the month. Lofty goals  since I cant recall the last time I got a quilt done that fast from start to finish. 

6) Make a “door” for Little P’s tent.
Little P is completely in love with his circus tent but he mentioned that it didn't have a door and asked me (very politely ) if I could arrange one. I guess he was worried about burglars. It went on the list for this month and I'm pleased to say it's done. 

Stay tuned to see if I get this all done or if I fail miserably and crawl back here to make a pile of excuses. 

PS. I've been the queen of slack lately at answering emails. I'm so sorry. I think the kind thing for me to do is hit delete and start over. 

Friday, January 04, 2013

2012 -The Year That Was

Since we have officially farewelled 2012 and are firmly entrenched in the new year I've been reflecting on the last twelve months. And while I certainly didn't keep up the cracking pace of 2011 in terms of quilt making I'm still happy with my finishes for 2012. 

My favourite quilt for the year was definitely the Merry Go Round quilt. 

6 of the 11 projects I made got gifted and I went through my cupboards at some point and gave away another three quilts that I hadn't used because there are a finite number of places you can use quilts as decorative throws and I'd reached my limit. Besides,  I'd much rather know my quilts were getting some use than sitting in my quilt cupboard.

I did a few other projects too. I'm too lazy to put all of them in a mosaic so here are a select few. 

I think my word for 2012 was either "relax" or "balance" because I seemed to do a lot less of everything last year. Less sewing, less quilt making, less blogging. More relaxing, more chilling out and a bit more sanity than the last couple of years. I liked finding that balance. 

It was the year that Mordecai used up all of his 9 lives in the great cat kidney failure incident and wound up eating cat food that costs more per kilo than fillet steak. 2013 is going to be the year where he starts eating the cheaper version of kidney friendly cat food which still costs as much as chicken breast fillets. So far he has managed to avoid the stuff in his bowl for 5 days. I have no idea where he's eating but he must be eating somewhere else because the bowl is still full and he doesn't look any thinner. I will emerge from this battle victorious. Yes- I'm pitting my wits against a cat ...and bragging about it. 

This little nephew and his girlfriend got engaged while on holiday in Bali. And last week they bought a house. 

This little nephew moved out of home to live with his girlfriend. 

My little sister did the happy dance because she's about to have her house back for the first time in about 25 years. 

Miss P made it to 21 and celebrated big time. Mr. P and I celebrated because it's great when your kid makes it to adulthood relatively unscathed. 

My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and my Dad only had to go to hospital twice in 2012.  For those of you that are new here my Dad spent 2011 attention seeking his way into hospital for every single significant family event including his own 70th birthday, my birthday, my Mum's birthday, and my sisters birthday.  

Mr. P and I made it overseas, spending two glorious weeks in Hawaii. We lived on burgers and cheese fries. I came home with Oreo envy. Mainland USA it's your turn next year. Anyone who doesn't want a visit from us while we're there should make plans to move now and leave no forwarding address. 

And I finally got up the guts to put myself out there and wrote a tutorial that was featured on Totally Tutorials.

Christmas went off without a hitch. Ok, it was slightly hitchy but we all survived.   

So as for 2013? I don't do resolutions.  I know they don't work for me because  I'm still a chain smoking, slightly over weight, non vegetable eating, carb and protein loving mid aged frump. My goal for this year is simply to have as much fun as possible. And finish my WIP's. And to finally nail free motion quilting. So bring it on. 

P.S. After a four month hiatus I'm bringing back Favourite Things Friday from next week. I hope you'll drop by and play along with me. It's a fabulous way to slide into the weekend.