Monday, April 29, 2013

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

You may recall two weeks ago Claire threw down the gauntlet and challenged me to cook dinner from scratch for 7 straight nights.There seems to be a wild rumour out there in the ether that I'll do just about anything to avoid cooking dinner, aided no doubt by my own admission in the disclaimer section of my profile. 

Its not that I don’t like to cook – I’m as Nigella as the rest of you. Its just that by the time I get home from work most nights all my creativity has been sucked away by the events of the day and so  Mr. P gets sent out to forage for food at the local Maccas or Chinese takeaway. The hunter gatherer thing has been built into men’s DNA since time began so in reality I’m doing him a favour by providing ways for him to use his XY chromosomes. 

I like a good challenge and I was interested to see if I could pull off 7 nights of cooking in a row mainly so I could email Claire and say "in your face" ( in the nicest possible way of course ).

And while things started well and I did spend some of the week cooking stuff I hadn't done before I think Claire is going to be emailing me and saying "in your face" instead of the other way around.

From Left to Right - Leek and Feta Pie, Monster Sandwiches (which was Monday lunch actually but how cute are they?), fruit stack snack (and little P looking earnest - he was telling Grandpa how bloody awesome dessert was ) 
Chorizo casserole, salad , and ginger ice cream sandwiches with hot fudge sauce 
Steak and salad , home made gnocchi rolled with my own hands, and the finished product ...gnocchi with bacon, garlic cream sauce -definitely making that again 
It wasn't all beer and skittles and cooking all week though. I lost it a few nights and reverted to my old modus operandi to get my belly full.

Yes, I actually had chips for dinner one night , yes I actually sent Mr. P to the local chinese for salt and pepper scallops another night and yes Mr. P took me out for Greek food on Saturday night so I didn't have to cook. 
Ridiculous challenge. Nobody cooks every night. It's just not natural.

Well played Claire - well played. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Favourite Things Friday

Welcome to Friday people!

I'm not sure exactly where the last week has gone because it feels like about two days ago that I was sitting down to write my last Favourite Things Friday post. I've spent much of the week when I haven't been at work going through my wardrobe trying to find clothes that have some sort of wool or warm fibre content because all of a sudden it's cold outside. I think we may have cut out the middle man and skipped autumn and gone straight to winter. 

I'm off to do some clothes shopping tomorrow because I've fallen out of love with some of the winter clothes I've dragged out of various hiding places . I've been ruthless in the chucking out process and while there is no imminent danger than I'm going to be wandering round naked, ( I'm hearing sighs of relief from the peanut gallery) if I'm going to be forced to endure wearing multiple layers of clothes for the next 6 months I fully intend to do it with some semblance of style.  I'm thinking something like this might be in order. Tres chic !

Image credit 

Enough about fashion and on to my favourite thing for this Friday.

When I started FTF in September 2010  I had no idea that I'd still be doing it all this time later.  My thought was that it might make a great linky party for a year but it just seemed to take on a life of it's own and so it's continued. The whole point of the series has been to encourage people to take a moment out of their busy lives and think about something that has been a personal bright spot.  For me that's entailed really thinking each week about something that has made me laugh or smile or given me joy, which has been such a great way to finish off each week.  

I really enjoy seeing other people's favourite things each week. Some of the posts are about creative pursuits , some are about favourite people, places, or things, some people write about experiences they've had and some people share new acquisitions. Looking back, the sheer variety of posts has been staggering and so much fun to see. 

Blogging is all about keeping it fresh and knowing when to fold. And like a three day old home baked cookie I think FTF has gone a bit stale. I've thought about this a lot over the last few months and made the decision this week that its best to formally announce that today's Favourite Things will be the last linky party for the series. Every dog has it's day and it's time for FTF to slide gracefully into retirement. 

So my favourite thing for this week has been FTF itself, and the way people have embraced the idea, linked up week after week , commented on the posts and thrown themselves whole heartedly into the concept. Thank you for linking up and taking the time to share your favourite things.  I have really enjoyed hosting and seeing the things that other people love. I've ruthlessly stolen your ideas, gasped at your creativity and coveted some of your favourite things.  It's truly been a blast.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Favourite Things Friday

It's still Friday somewhere in the world... and since I'm late to my own party this week  I'm making this short and sweet!

Work has been one big busy-fest since I went back in February. I've felt like I've been chasing my tail and haven't caught it once. But its school holidays here at the moment, which means that things are a mildly less crazy and my favourite thing this week is the luxury of catch up time. Time to do all those things that have been lurking and weighing heavily on my conscience.

I started the day yesterday with a pile that looked like this

and by the end of the day I was  feeling very chuffed that I'd managed to get it down to this.

Is there anything more satisfying than working your way through a load of stuff and getting it off your list? Never mind that I have about 6 piles like that to get through before school holidays end. I can do it ! 

Sometimes it's the simple things that make our hearts sing. Feel free to link up and let me know what made your week too. 

P.S. I've been really slack about responding to emails lately. Thank you to each and every one of you for your lovely comments. My email inbox has reached the point where I have so many I'm just going to cut my losses and start again. Back to normal this week I promise!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Challenge

Yesterday was my monthly "Not the Farmers Wife " sewing group. I can't tell you how much I enjoy getting together with these girls. It's always a blast. Even if they do come up with cruel and unusual punishments (keep reading!) 

I was late, which is my usual MO on sewing days. I had a valid excuse because I was returning a lost dog to its owner before it got squished by traffic on the main road. Why is it a law of the universe that when you need your mobile phone its always dead? And by the way has anyone tried to find a public phone box lately? It took me ages. Finally the dog was restored to his rightful family and good deed done for the day I arrived at my destination.

We were missing a few groupies yesterday. For those of you that weren't present rest assured that I managed to talk enough in your absence so that you were barely missed (read: I totally monopolised the conversation for at least two hours bitching and whining) Thank you again Not the Farmers Wifers for listening to my tale of woe. 

Then we solved the mysteries of the universe and moved on to the conundrum of exactly how often I actually cook dinner.  The girls pretended to be horrified at my admission but I know they secretly wish they could work out how to eat takeaway or have someone else cook dinner 4 nights out of 7. In the end I was challenged to cook for 7 nights straight from scratch. I'm pretty sure that was Claire's idea because she looks like someone who enjoys a little kitchen torture.  I think Val was egging her on too. Challenge accepted. 

Denise(no blog) put on this spread of awesomeness for sweets. NTFW days may end up like kids birthday parties where we all subsequently try to out do each other in the dessert stakes. 

This is what I worked on yesterday. I had hoped to take the Beep Beep baby quilt to do the binding but alas the quilting isn't finished yet because Little P came for a visit on Thursday night and on Friday I was busy at the playground and duck feeding instead of sewing. 

My original idea was to make a full sized quilt out of red yoyos based on this picture which makes my heart sing every time I see it. Isn't it GORGEOUS?

Stupidly I've kept this photo and not the original source so if it's yours please let me know so I can give you proper credit via a link!
We all know a large sized quilt just isn't going to happen because I'd have to make about 430 yoyos to have a decent sized quilt. I don't have that kind of staying power or attention span and I'm fairly confident I'd still be making yoyos when they carted me off to the nursing home. A more realistic vision for my yoyo collection is that they'll become a mini quilt. 

The goal for today is to to finish the quilting on Beep Beep and get the binding on ready for hand sewing. I got overly ambitious with the back and now I'm pondering what to do with certain parts of the quilting so it doesn't impinge on my awesome design on the back. There's something to be said for thinking ahead when you get creative. Oh and I have to decide what I'm cooking for dinner tonight. And for the rest of the week .....I don't actually believe anyone cooks 7 nights out of 7- it sounds like some kind of urban myth.   

Friday, April 12, 2013

Favourite Things Friday

I'm going to preface this post by saying it isn't a joke. It's not April 1st and I'm not pulling your leg. Seriously. And I think this is going to sound like I'm standing on a soap box today and trying to convert people and I'm truly not. 

At the beginning of the year I vowed not to make any resolutions. But I did make a decision to try to cook more meals using fresh, seasonal produce and to increase my fruit and vegie intake. You may find this surprising if you've been hanging out round here for a while because I think my apathy towards vegetables has been fairly well documented. 

Then I started to explore why I don't really love vegetables and the conclusion I came to was that most fruit and vegetables are pretty tasteless and bland. I havent had a peach in years that tastes like the peaches we had as kids (which incidentally was the last time I was really happy about eating vegetables) And then I started worrying about pesticides and insecticides from mass produced stuff and about all the stuff I've been putting in my mouth that's been kept in storage for months before it gets to my fridge. And then I started worrying about all the battery hens that live their miserable lives in cages so I can have eggs that aren't all that good anyway so I can save a couple of bucks and I seriously started to hate myself. 

So after I had freaked myself right out about contributing to the downfall of the poor chooks and had gotten really mad about the supermarkets selling us cruddy quality fruit and vegetables and making us pay top dollar I went in search of a small local greengrocer who sources as locally as possible (thinking about my carbon foot print here), who didn't use excess packaging if possible and who had a range of organic offerings too. 

And I found one about 10 minutes from my house and his prices are really good too. And this places  has signs up on all the produce telling you exactly where things come from. 

Not only are we eating a ton more fruit (I hadn't had an empty fruit bowl at the end of the week ever and often threw out questionable stuff at the end of the week ) but I'm buying things that I wouldn't have bought before like organic free range smoked dry cured bacon and the most awesome eggs I've ever tasted. That must be because they come from happy hens.

Doesn't that fruit bowl look fabulous? Those peaches are the last of the season so there wont be any more till next Summer which is exactly how it should be.  And those pears are new season pears and they are so delicious and juicy. I even bought some funky new fangled variety of potatoes last week because they are meant to be great for making your own gnocchi. 

So my favourite thing this week is discovering a new found like for eating healthy fresh stuff and looking up new recipes for vegetables. Seriously. Little Miss Sunshine - you can come and stay knowing you'll be fed green stuff while you're here. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Miscellaneous & Random

Sometimes you just have a load of random stuff that you have to share. Stuff that doesn't really fit anywhere else so you just chuck it all in one post. 

We went to a fundraising quiz for the Royal Society for the Blind on Friday night. Out of 15 tables we came 6th so not a totally disgraceful effort. Through the night they had pop quizzes and I won one of those. Sadly the question was about reality TV not some significant world event. Nice to know that my questionable TV viewing habits have finally paid dividends. And for my efforts I got this adorable guide dog puppy. There were real guide dogs there on the night and I had to keep telling Mr. P they hadn't been provided so he could play with them. 

Just a tip : If you drink wine at a quiz night your knowledge will diminish in direct proportion to the amount of wine consumed as the evening wears on.    On the up side - the importance of winning will decrease proportionately based on the amount of wine you drink as the evening wears on too. 

I finished the top for the baby quilt over the weekend. I'm piecing a back for this quilt so it's reversible and that's where some appliqué and trapunto is going to come into play.

The fabric line is "Peak Hour " by Kellie Wulfsohn. So cute for a baby boy. I love those big splashes of colour. The inspiration for the front came from here because I'm not clever enough to think of something so simple yet so pretty on my own. 

The final 8 shirt blocks are done. The last stitch in the 8th one was accompanied by the sound of trumpets and angels singing the chorus of "Hallelujah". I'm so glad to get to the end of these because I've been seeing 2.5 inch strips of old shirts in my sleep. Now I can go back to dreaming about how I'm married to John Cusack.  I'm quite excited about laying these blocks out and seeing how it all looks. 

I got a delivery of American food yesterday from US foods. I had to get my Hersheys syrup fix for the month and I've been wanting to try ranch dressing.   You guys have the coolest food. Cotton candy frosting! How you aren't all pinging off walls after breakfast over there has got me stumped. I ate 7 pieces of this stuff and was wide awake until after 1 am...WTF is in this stuff? It should be illegal. I'm planning on sending this home with Miss P next time she visits so she can deal with the fallout after Little P eats half the box. 

A friend of ours passed away Friday night after a valiant fight with cancer. Vale Mark- you were a true gentleman.  Rest well.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Favourite Things Friday

This week has flown by, aided no doubt by the extra day off on Monday. Time really does seem to pass much more quickly the older we get. When I was a kid Summer seemed to last FOREVER, and now it seems to be here and then gone in a matter of few weeks. The year between Christmas and the next one seemed to stretch endlessly. I feel like I've just managed Easter when I start thinking about Christmas again. Maybe it's our perception of time that changes or maybe we have more things that fill our lives . Whatever the reason I really do wish I could recapture the time when time moved more slowly.

Enough reminiscing from me and onto my favourite thing for this week. I mentioned a while back that I was going to focus on updating some of my home decor this year. My house doesn't need a lot of change but it does need some tweaking. "Finishing touches" if you like. The lounge room was first and you can see that here

I've been looking for the perfect piece of furniture to make my entry hall vision a reality. Sadly I'm one of those people that get an idea in my head and then cant shift it and will spend months looking for the right thing . And then if I cant find it I pass it on over to Mr. P to make it (no pressure hon!) 

I've had this hall table for about 15 years and while I love it, it was definitely time for a change. The duchess mirror sitting on top is a family piece, first owned by my Mum and for the last 8 or so years it's resided here because it goes so perfectly with the table.

I've wanted a love seat in the entry hall.  Because the entry hall is quite small (there's nothing very grand about our house) this was proving quite a challenge. Until recently when I spied one on ebay. It was perfect!

And there's nothing like a massively oversized clock as a feature piece to remind you you're running late either. Our framed wedding pictures have been relegated to another part of the house which was cause for consternation for my MIL who thought we were getting a divorce. 

Chuck some pretty french inspired cushions on it and you have a completely different look. 

My original idea for this seat was for ambience but both his Royal Orange-ness and Little P have commandeered what Little P has christened the "sitting chair" so it's getting actual use. Little P and I use it to have talks, soothe wounded feelings and kiss ouchies better and Moredecai thinks he's the king of the house and this is his throne.  

That's my favourite for this week. Feel free to link up one of your favourites too.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A Finish or Two

Naturally chocolate featured in the plan for this past weekend. Mr. P and I spent Thursday night and Friday with Miss P and Little P Easter egg hunt yielded a bounty of goodness and one very excited little boy. 

We had breakfast with Mr. P's family on Friday and in the presence of very good company I finished Superheroes 1. Finally. 

Excuse the cruddy photo. Its so overcast here today and I couldn't take this outside because the rubbish men are lurking round emptying bins and I'm still in my pyjamas. Without a bra. Very unattractive.

And then Friday afternoon we headed up to the river and spent some time with my parents for the rest of the long weekend. There was some retail therapy and plenty of sewing.

I made three needle books 

Briar Rose got finished on Saturday and I'm doing the happy dance because I really like it a lot.  

and on Sunday I indulged in some more retail therapy. It seems I'm on a roll with buying variegated threads but these were a bargain I couldn't resist at 20% off.  

I started the baby quilt (the one I was supposed to have finished in March- nothing like leaving it till the last day of the month to make a start !). All the fabrics are cut for the front and back and the top is almost done.  

Speaking of March goals, I may have finished two quilts in March (again - go me- I was starting to think I may not finish ANY quilts in 2013) but I kinda bombed on my actual goals for March. Hopeless! The chair is still mocking me, and I didn't get the top for Superheroes 2 finished although I did get the back done and surely that counts for something. I finished only 2/10 recycled shirt quilt blocks and the baby quilt didn't get finished either. Frankly making lists sucks, or I suck at finishing the things on my lists ! 

April Goals (I don't know why I bother ...seriously!) 

1)Finish the baby quilt , top, back, quilting and binding.
2)Final 8 blocks of the recycled shirt quilt 
3)Put the top together for the recycled shirt quilt
4)Finish superheroes 2 (top, quilting and binding )

I'm all about ignoring the chair for another month. It's not going to happen in April so I'm not going to pretend it is. Re-upholstering that chair terrifies me. 

I hope everyone had a peaceful and happy Easter and isn't suffering from chocolate overload.