Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Done and Dusted.

I blame all those scrappy trip around the world quilts that I saw at various times in 2013 for the birth of this quilt. They all looked so pretty but the idea of having to work out how to put one together hurt my head a lot so I decided to make a postage stamp quilt instead. The added bonus of clearing out the scrap bin a little added to the motivation factor. Plus, I hadn't made a quilt in ages that screamed "LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME " because of all the colour in it. 

So being the highly motivated individual I am, three test blocks got made in August last year then I promptly ignored this quilt until January. 

You were going to get a post about the process of making this quilt but I promised some of my quilty friends I wouldn't bag my own quilts this year and point out every little flaw, issue and mistake. So since I cant blab about all the bloody things that went wrong while I was putting this together , please take in the visual feast and perfection that is my Postage Stamp Quilt ...

I have the world's largest private collection of chenille and it's time to start using it the PS Quilt has a gorgeous chenille back. Warm and snuggly for winter use. (and I now have that much more space in my storage cupboard ) 

I decided on simple straight line quilting because that much colour and that many fabrics don't need anything else.  

1280 squares of 2 inch fabric and a finished size of 72 x 72 inches.

Dotty binding in a hot pink . I love dotty and stripey binding.  

I machined the binding on because this is going to be an every day quilt that gets a lot of abuse use. 

Oh who am I kidding?  I machined the binding on because I just wanted it finished...

Another WIP bites the dust .... I really am quite pleased with the over all look of this quilt but I'm happy to move on to something else. That something else would be the triangle quilt that's been lurking for an inordinate amount of time because bias edges in this house usually end up having their own little Mexican wave party while I'm sewing them together. Wish me luck. 

Linking up to Elizabeth’s Stitch in Time linky party. Come and play!
February Finishes

And this is another finish from my FAL Quarter 1 list which you can see here ...

P.S. I almost talked myself into starting something new this week ...I have some Bliss fabric that has started calling my name really loudly! But I put my big girl undies on and I will prevail over the triangle quilt before I give in!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

RIP Irving....And Snippets from My Week

My iron had a rather unfortunate accident this week where he pulled a Humpty Dumpty and fell off the washing machine.  Mr. P subsequently found out Irving had died when he went to iron his work shirt on Friday morning. Guess who went to work in a slightly crinkly shirt?

So it was off to buy a new iron this weekend. Mr. P was dragged along with a lot of eye rolling happening. There are a dizzying array of irons available and I'm quite the iron snob (which is ironic given I don't iron clothes) so finding one that I could bond with wasn't an easy task. Anyway, eventually I found my sole mate (pardon the pun) so meet Izzy who so far is proving herself to be a real workhorse. 

The sole plate on this will look pristine for about a week and then it'll look like I haven't cleaned it ...ever. Even when I have.

There was also a trip to the hardware store this weekend and it was my turn to eye roll at Bunnings while Mr. P got excited about all manner of shit I have no idea about. We were buying paint for the guest room which I will be slapping on walls next weekend while Mr. P is off enjoying 4 days of motor sport at the Clipsal 500.  

I had a doctors visit last week. I got the anti smoking lecture which I tried to divert a little by pointing out that I'm also quite fat. Apparently this didn't come as any big news to Dr. Ben and so with the focus (temporarily) off my potential lung cancer and onto my possible heart attack, this week has been full of salad and vegetables and fruit and non white bread and healthy lunches instead of steaks slathered in butter sauce, and pies and chips and takeaway asian and chicken packs for lunch.  I seriously feel like murdering people most of the time and all I can think about are Tim Tams and chips , and massive wheels of cheese.

I slipped on Wednesday night and "accidentally" inhaled some salt and vinegar chips when Mr. P was out at 8 Ball. Then I took a bag of chocolate sultanas to bed with me and hid the empty packet in my underwear drawer before Mr. P got home. I felt so dirty - but it felt so good. I was totally busted when Mr. P got home because apparently I was angelically asleep with chocolate around my mouth. 

On Wednesday I made a snap holiday decision for 2014. We're heading off to stay here. I've already booked our flights and accommodation ( and yes - we are staying in one of those darling little chalets on the water) 

 And we're going to sit by this pool and drink cocktails...I promise I won't mention it again until at least three months before we leave. 

And garden plans abound at Maison Pyjamas. Various parts of the lawn have been poisoned in preparation for garden beds to be dug so some plants can go in over the next month or so.  This is my dodgy kindergarten style plan because I'm a visually creative type. 

 I went and raided Sister of Pyjamas Hibiscus hedge for multiple cuttings today because I want to bring this front yard re-do in for pretty much nothing over the course of this year. I hear that's possible if you're savvy - what I know about gardening at this point could be engraved on the head of a pin so it looks like I'm going to be learning as I go. Tips will be most welcome starting with anyone who knows how to strike and keep hibiscus alive.

And for my last trick of the weekend, the Postage Stamp quilt is all quilted. Now I just have to find the mojo to get the binding done.

May the start of your week be kind to you ..I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cocktail Wednesday- Yes I know its Friday!

Yep-I’m late to my own cocktail party this week. On Wednesday night  I ended up providing support to a friend who was feeling rather ordinary and couldn’t front up to the cocktail party with me . (You know who you are – feeling unwell was your punishment for running off to Hawaii and having 9 days of fun in the sun without me, and then making me look at Waikiki beach on Facetime from your hotel window)

This week Little Miss Sunshine suggested we make Moose Milk. I was doubtful at first because where the hell was I going to find a moose to milk ? The only place I could think that might be possible was the zoo...and honestly I don't think they allow people to just front up and start playing with moose udders as part of the admission price. 

Thankfully, the need to find an actual moose was negated by finding out that the recipe for this cocktail substitutes vanilla ice cream for actual moose milk (Thank goodness, and I bet the Mooses of Australia breathed a sigh of relief too) and so the fun of choosing alcoholic accompaniments began. 

The original recipe is here  and calls for Kahlua, Rum and Irish Cream but the fun thing about this cocktail is you can substitute just about anything you like. This was my selection du jour. Kahlua, Chocolate Liqueur, and Butterscotch Schnapps. (and ice cream of course)

Do you like my shiny sink? My awesome cleaner has super sink cleaning powers and this thing blinds me every Thursday when I arrive home from work. I think she must sandblast it or something because I cant get it that shiny. Ever. 

Yet another recipe without any I made up my own as I went along. Equal nips of each alcohol component added to a generously large spoonful or four of good quality vanilla ice cream.  I also don't own an actual blender so I improvised and used my mini whizzy choppy thing (I'm sure that's not the technical name) and it worked just fine. A blender would have been better though because I could have made a bucket load of these at once which would have been just handy dandy with me. 

Totally delicious. Mr. P elected to have one with me (probably because we were in the middle of some intense discussions  about what a Pratt he is sometimes and he wanted to get that floaty "I'm not really listening to you" feeling you get from an alcohol high)TBH at that point he was lucky I didn't add some Ratsak to his cocktail ....don't judge me - you've all been there. 

The Verdict: Freaking delicious. 5/5 from me. Little Miss Sunshine assures me she has drunk bucket loads of these in her time and I may be following suit.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

I'm Being Stalked By Gingerbread

Winston Churchill was known for being a famous politician, and Mother Teresa for working towards world peace and helping others.   I think I'm forever going to be known as the chick who got her arse kicked by a gingerbread house. Thank goodness I have all of you to turn to for support to make me feel better and make me laugh. First, Cardy sent me a foam gingerbread house kit which completely negated any future risk of unstickable or imploding gingerbread.

A couple of weeks ago,  Little Miss Sunshine sent me a Gingerbread Christmas Tree Kit a couple of weeks ago in case gluing the foam ginger bread house together fails. Or because she wants to read about my failure with a gingerbread tree next. Whatever the reason , receiving it made me laugh. A lot. 

And now Jill has gotten in on the act by sending me a picture of a DIY gingerbread house that apparently even I can manage...

I'm starting to think I may never live this down...

After a self imposed fabric drought, a little bit of new fabric has found it's way to Maison Pyjamas over the last couple of weeks. Little Miss Sunshine was having mad de-stash and gifted this rather significant pile to me. Imagine, if you will, the pair of us on Facetime doing a fabric fashion show I could pick what I wanted from her de-stashing efforts. And why is it that I find that other people's stashes so much more exciting than my own? 

And this past weekend, Tara, Claire and Lorraine and I hit Tricia's Discount Fabrics and I bought these lovelies home with a specific purpose in mind. There is no better way to spend a Saturday than a fabric road trip with some of your besties. 

But before I can start any new projects I still have to clear a few more WIP's I finished the postage stamp top yesterday and have got it to the stage where it's all basted and ready for quilting...

I also have it on good authority that my Dresden quilt is on the frame and is being worked on by my quilting fairy. Is there some sort of rule about how many WIP's I can still have before it's acceptable to start something new? 

P.S. Ugh - Its Monday again. Already.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

What do You Think?

Right off the bat - let me say I'm not posting to inflame or create controversy but I was incensed at something I saw on a news report yesterday and I'm here to have a little rant and see what other people think. 

The story goes something like this. Sophia was turning 7 and her parents sent out invitations to a number of children to her Tie Dye birthday party. So far so good...I wouldn't have minded an invite to a party like that myself. 

One parent responded indicating her child would not be attending and provided a written explanation for her child's absence from the party. 

Image taken from who listed their source as Facebook

The background is that Sophia has two Dad's. Two parents who love her enough to throw her a tie dye party (Umm... tie dye party for 7 year olds - are these guys among the bravest parents you've ever heard of? ) Two parents who aren't influenced by meaningless gender roles and what is "appropriate" and invited a boy to their 7th daughters party. 

What burned my grits wasn't that this little girl has two Dad's. I couldn't care less about that.  Live and let live. I think love is wonderful no matter where you find it or who you find it with. What got my back up was the response by the other parent. Since when did it become OK to be an ill mannered witch?  A simple "No Thank You, Tommy is unable to attend" would have sufficed.

You know who I feel sorry for? Not Sophia. I feel sorry for Tommy who lives with a parent who has no basic manners and thinks its perfectly acceptable to be rude, without regard for the feelings of others. The right to your opinion does not override basic human decency.  You know what honey? Your child is going to be exposed to all sorts of differences out in the big wide world before he leaves your care and has to learn how to interact with people without being completely manner-less and bigoted. And I guess he's going to have to learn how to do that from someone other than you, because that's a obviously a skill you haven't learned yet. 

A Birthday Party RSVP for a 7 year old isn't the place to moralise about your lifestyle preferences. Pull your head in. 

What do other people think? Was her response over the top or perfectly acceptable? 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cocktail Wednesday

Beck suggested two cocktails this week, both with a Disney theme (Watch Sister of Pyjamas get all excited. She's going to Disney World in Florida in a mere three months and if she thinks they have actual dedicated Disney cocktails she'll just about pee her pants) One of the cocktails had amaretto in it , which I'm all for giving a big miss since it would prove fatal due to my deathly allergy to nuts but the other one had chocolate liqueur as an ingredient so I was pretty much on that like a seagull on a chip. 

So after work last night I went in search of Pomegranate Juice. And Chocolate Vodka. Which is kind of shocking really because with this kind of a booze stash you'd think I'd have just about everything. 

I had my doubts about finding Pomegranate Juice but lo and behold I found it at my local grocery store. Can you guess how many times Ive ever had the urge to drink pomegranate juice before? What I will tell you is that when I opened it up and took a sniff I thought it was unlikely I'd be tripping off to the shops to buy it again any time soon. 

Second Stop- Dan Murphys, completely confident that chocolate vodka would be a snap to find. Obviously chocolate vodka is another ingredient unheard of in Australia.  I figured why waste the trip some more alcohol. 

Not to be beaten by a living in an apparently chocolate vodka-less country  I decided to infuse my own.  I hedged my bets and did it two different ways. Chocolate syrup and vodka and actual chocolate and vodka. 

During this process I actually spilled some precious vodka on my counter top and totally resisted the urge to suck it up with straw(so proud of myself)...but mopping it up with a sponge hurt a teeny tiny bit. I wouldn't cry over spilt milk but vodka is a horse of an entirely different colour. 

You know the old adage "You learn something new every day"? Last night I learned that Chocolate Liqueur and Dark Creme De Cacao are not in fact, the same thing. And I had one of them but not the one I needed. At that point I gave up and called it a night. It was 400 degrees in the shade here yesterday and I just didn't want to go back out to DM's and get the chocolate liqueur. And I didn't want the staff at Dan Murphy's looking at me like I was only there two hours ago and had probably drunk the three bottles I'd already brought home.

At 8.20pm, I rallied, decided I'm not a quitter and went back to Dan's. And yes I changed my top and scuttled in wearing glasses (and a false nose) hoping I wasn't recognised from my earlier trip. 

I had to wing the measurements and make up my own. I went with 45mls (1.5 oz) of chocolate infused vodka, 30 mls of chocolate liqueur (1 oz) and a pomegranate top up. I want to know why you Americans make it hard by sticking with imperial measurements - Do you just like being different? I'm genuinely curious.

Styling this week provided by the addition of a white kit kat chaser and some artfully scattered chocolate covered sultanas...

Proportionally speaking, I think I got this one woefully incorrect. I never thought I'd type this sentence -but it was way too chocolatey with a bitter back taste from the pomegranate juice. I'm not convinced it would be any better with more juice either.

To get the taste out of my mouth I followed up with a Southern Comfort chaser and because I'm currently hormonal (which always makes me the Cadbury Kid) this put me to sleep quite nicely on the lounge until 5 am this morning....

So this one wasn't  a fave for me, but you live and learn right?

P.S. Does anyone want 440 mls ( 0.774 pints) of leftover pomegranate juice?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Mrs. DeWitt

Long Story -Lots of pictures ! 

Once upon a time I decided it would be a good idea to rescue a vintage or antique quilt top that needed some love to bring it back to it's former glory. I'm not sure where these insane ideas come from, but once they've popped into my head they rarely leave, and often become almost obsessive thoughts, until I've acted on them. 

The problem with this particular brainwave though, is that in Australia it's very rare to see old quilts in op or thrift shops or on eBay, which was where I imagined I might find one.  I had to broaden my search a little and look in the US , which would appear to be the mecca for cutter tops, orphan blocks, vintage and antique quilt tops and quilts that need some TLC. You guys over there are so lucky.

After many months of searching I found an unfinished vintage Martha Washington Flower Garden quilt top that I fell in love with, and duly paid what I considered to be an arm and a leg for it (can you really put a price on such exquisite hand piecing and history though?) and had it shipped over. The danger with doing this is that sometimes when you buy a quilt top virtually sight unseen you run the danger of the quilt top not being square, or having undesirable polyester fabrics tucked in there or being imperfect in some other way which means finishing it can be a bit of a pain in the arse. Ask me how I know this....

This quilt was started in the 1930's or 1940's by a lady named Fontella Holmes DeWitt in Iowa US. Mrs. DeWitt was born in 1905 in Winterset, Iowa (which is also the birthplace of John Wayne) and passed away on Christmas Day 1985. I'm assuming that this quilt lurked around in an attic somewhere for the next  20 odd years while someone thought about finishing it. Her hand work on this quilt is absolutely exquisite and she was obviously very skilled at paper piecing. I wonder why she didn't finish this. I wonder if she got totally fed up with hand sewing hexagons.

The plan was to finish the white borders on the edges ( never mind that at that point I had no idea how to paper piece hexies) and then turn this into a useable work of art. This was a huge quilt at almost 80 by 90 inches and I had visions of me hand sewing minute little one inch hexagons like some pioneer woman and actually being serene and happy about it. 

It lobbed at Maison Pyjamas via the grace of USPS and Australia Post. It was gorgeous. It was perfectly square. The hand sewing of all those teeny tiny hexies was perfect. Angels sang and trumpets heralded it's arrival. 

And then I hung it in a cupboard and there it stayed for 4 or 5 years while I contemplated trying to find cream fabric to match, and the agony of hand sewing 400-500 teeny tiny hexies to finish it off. Occasionally I'd take it out and stroke it lovingly and reassure that poor unfinished top that one day it would be a finished functioning quilt and that we'd be together forever. 

Sometimes inspiration hits you like a bolt of lightning. While I was on holidays, I pulled that quilt top out for it's annual foray into actual light and out of nowhere I decided the time was right to finish it. I consulted with QuiltyGal at lunch that very day and came up with a plan of attack. 

I laid it out to see if it had ripples...and then I basted it with about 500 pins. I used a wool batting with a higher loft than I usually use and I really enjoyed working with it. No lint at all!

I started quilting. And kept quilting for a very long time. It took 5 spools of bobbin thread to get through this baby, because I quilted it very very closely together with a serpentine stitch. I have to say there were points where this was not fun to get it all through my machine. 

Then oh horror of horrors I squared the quilt up and cut all those pretty points off to bring this quilt down to 70 x 80 inches square. 

I picked a plain fabric that was as close as I could get to the original cream hexagons and started binding.

And finally on Sunday night I put the last stitch in and she was finished, approximately 70 years after she was started. I'd venture a guess that this is one of the worlds oldest WIP's.

More gratuitous fabric shots. Aren't they pretty?

Quilt front

And the back ...I love how this looks!

The whole quilt...I'm so happy with this finish. I'm prouder of this than anything else I've ever made. I like to think that somewhere Mrs. De Witt knows that her beautiful work is finally going to be used the way she hoped it would be all those years ago. And it was a no brainer to name this quilt in her honour. 

Linking up to A Stitch In Time Finishes Linky party for February over at Elizabeth's too!

February Finishes

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Cocktail Wednesday

I went back to work this week and by 10 am Monday that wonderful holiday feeling was a distant memory. The only thing that got me through was the thought of a mid week cocktail (OK, I'm being slightly dramatic for additional effect but just go with me here...) 

After a couple of weeks where other people have insisted on putting vegetables and actual fruit juice in their cocktail choices I've decided to go back to basics. This weeks cocktail has three ingredients and only one of them belongs on the healthy eating pyramid. You can even make that ingredient less healthy like I did- I went wild and crazy and used full cream milk because I like to live dangerously. 

So here are the makings of a Brown Cow from Hell and here's what you're going to need. How easy does that look? 

Sadly I couldn't procure an actual cow to go along with my ingredient wrap up picture. I was forced to improvise with the next best thing and that was one of Little P's puppets ...which was just as well since I would have had a hard time lifting a full sized cow onto my kitchen bench. The added bonus of using the puppet was that I didn't have to clean up any cow pats afterwards. 

Splash two or three ounces (that's 60-90mls for us metric people ) of Kahlua into a glass or cocktail shaker and add about 150-200 mls of milk (that's about 3/4- 1 cup for you imperial people). The recipe calls for 3-5 squirts of chocolate syrup which isn't a metric or imperial measurement from any country as far as I know and is actually what I call a subjective measurement (otherwise known as "do what you like" ) and since I love chocolate syrup I just kept squirting until I was in danger of emptying the bottle.  

Shake or stir until all the chocolate syrup is incorporated into the drink. And then if you're like me and used a cocktail shaker you can add a squirt of extra chocolate syrup to the bottom of your glass before you pour the rest of the cocktail in there. Can you ever have enough chocolate syrup in a cocktail- I think not. Then I classed it up a bit more by adding offset the fact I used a pint glass instead of the suggested Collins glass. 

The danger here people, is that it seriously tastes like you're drinking an awesome milk shake and it would be pretty easy to go for round 2 (and three and four)by which stage you might blissfully go to sleep and not wake up till morning and have to write your post before work instead of the night before. That is not a personal confession - its just free advice for y'all in the interests of maintaining responsible drinking.  

This was a 5/5 for me....anything that tastes like a milkshake , doesn't contain vegetables or fruit , lets me squirt as much chocolate syrup as I like and gives me the opportunity to use a hand puppet is a winner in my book...