Saturday 31 January 2009

Pink or blue? I wonder ...

A friend is expecting a baby very soon. In an attempt to be on time with a gift, I am covering my options, & preparing one in pink & one in blue!

Friday 30 January 2009

How cool is this, Dear Jane?

If you have a Flickr account, you might like to have a play with PictoBrowser. It turned my Dear Jane set into a cool slideshow instantly. Click on the PictoBrowser button at the lower right hand corner of my slideshow if you'd like to try it. Otherwise, these are my Dear Jane blocks to date.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Chookyblue comes to town

The ever cheerful & enthusiastic Chookyblue popped in for a visit last week. Being the terrible influence that she is, she had talked me into visiting Hatched & Patched before I could blink! Here is just a sample of the temptation which greeted us at Anni Downs' beautiful shop:
Luscious 'Ava Rose' fabrics by Tanya Whelan greeted us at the front door ...
... followed closely by a new, 'quick & easy quilt' design by Anni made up in Ava Rose fabrics. This pattern quickly made it to my bag of purchases.
There were beautiful samples from Anni's newest book, 'The World as it Should Be' ...
... including the delightful 'A Peaceful Life' quilt, ideal for farm boys, old or young.
This book managed to jump into my bag too!
And there was general gorgeousness every which way: The 'Mill Flower Quilt' ...
... needlepunch from 'Simple Pleasures' ...
and stitcheries, also from 'Simple Pleasures' ...
... sweet 'Making Tea' wallhanging ...
... 'My Heart My Home' quilt ...
... and cute little felt Christmas baubles.
There was also a beautiful version of Natalie Lymer's 'Truly Scrumptious' quilt.
But this is the quilt that stopped me in my tracks on this visit:
An astonishing foundation-pieced beauty by Chris Jurd. I stood staring & admiring this quilt for ages. Very impressive! Thanks Chooky for a great day. My bank account is so much the poorer thanks to you!

Monday 26 January 2009

Favourite recipes for surviving a hot, hot, hot Aussie summer #2

A very happy (and probably hot!) Australia Day to all. For us, it was spent enjoying a lavish brunch & some tennis with friends, interspersed with long & excited recounts of Jelena Dokic's win in the Australian Open last night. Here is the second of my recipe discoveries for the summer, sure to cool you down nicely! 
White chocolate, raspberry & almond ice-cream cake
150g blanched almonds
Store-bought sponge cake
2 litres good quality vanilla ice-cream, softened
300g frozen raspberries
100g white chocolate, chopped coarsely
Spread almonds in a baking tray. Bake in 200 degrees Celsius oven for 5 minutes until golden. Cool & chop coarsely.
Line a cake pan (I used a 20 x 20 cm square pan) with plastic cling wrap.
Combine softened ice-cream, almonds & chocolate in a bowl & stir through. Stir frozen raspberries through mixture gently. Transfer mixture to cake pan. Press down firmly & smooth surface.
Cut sponge cake into 1.5 cm slices & cover top of ice-cream mixture. Cover with cling film & freeze until firm (at least six hours).
Turn onto serving platter. Top with extra berries and/or melted white chocolate. Slice to serve.

Friday 23 January 2009

Now this just makes me feel happy!

Fabrics washed & ready for action!

Thursday 22 January 2009

Souvenir shopping?

I am slowly unpacking from our travelling about, and am unearthing little bits of shopping. Who needs postcards or teaspoons when you can buy fabric & sewing treasures! These lovely fabrics were purchased in Corowa & Echuca, both wonderful country towns on the Murray River between New South Wales & Victoria. I was very excited to find the 'Follow Your Imagination' fabric by Prints Charming - I have seen fantastic things made from this print. And there is some Sis Boom & some Robyn Pandolph in that little stash too! And a few more pieces to add to my Dear Jane stash. You may remember when I started Dear Jane, that it would be made entirely from my existing stash? As if that was ever going to happen!
I visited a favourite quilting shop in Berry, and was very self-controlled, leaving with the smallest of parcels. I had been told, more than once, that the only thread to use for needleturn applique on my Dear Jane quilt is pure silk. Expensive? Yep! The beige colour will be used for light fabrics, the grey for darks. Also, a little packet of 'the only needles for needleturn'! Hoping to try these out soon.
And also from Echuca, some very cute buttons to be used for who knows what, and a divine black velvet buckle.
Now aren't you glad I didn't buy postcards?! And the crazy thing is, I will remember where each one of these things was purchased, & the little towns we visited. So perhaps they are souvenirs after all!

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Favourite recipes for surviving a hot, hot, hot Aussie summer #1

With the temperature soaring to 43 degrees celsius (109 degrees fahrenheit) at the farm on some days, we quickly went looking for some new recipes to cool us down. And with strawberries still hanging on in the garden, we came up with this surprisingly simple & delicious treat:
Strawberry Sorbet
500g strawberries, washed & hulled
500mL water
220g sugar
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
1 egg white
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan, over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to boil, lower heat & simmer for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Blend strawberries & lemon juice to a smooth puree. Combine with sugar syrup mixture & freeze overnight. Transfer sorbet to a food processor & blend with egg white until light & fluffy. Return sorbet to freezer. Makes almost 2 litres of sorbet.

Monday 19 January 2009

Holiday roundup continued ...

Christmas for us was spent on the South Coast of New South Wales with my husband's family, always a fun & noisy time as his family grows larger each year! And always an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful beaches around Jervis Bay.
We saw the New Year in back at the farm, catching up with lots of friends & reacquainting ourselves with our garden:
Many hours were spent knocking (I mean caressing!) the garden back into shape after weeks of neglect.
And there was just the smallest amount of quilting crammed in amongst the busy-ness.
The first days of January heralded the start of our annual swimming lessons ...
... which came in handy when the newly installed stock troughs required testing!
We couldn't have squeezed any more into our holidays if we'd tried! Now, onto preparing the family for a new school year, and perhaps organising some serious stitching time for me!

Saturday 17 January 2009

Summer holiday roundup ...

We have had the busiest, but most fun-filled summer holidays, which I will attempt to summarise into one post. Wish me luck!
It all started in early December with the most gorgeous wedding in Wagga Wagga (my old stomping ground & where I was married) - very special! This was followed by a camping holiday on the Murray River in Victoria ... ... a beautiful part of Australia, stirring strong childhood memories for me of growing up on river properties. A highlight was a river cruise on an original paddle-steamer at Echuca. And need I say sampling the regional produce was a highlight? Oooooh, and the coffee shops?
And then there were gardens to see ... ... and golf to be played! And all this before Christmas! I have given up on squeezing this all into one post, so this will have to be 'Summer Holiday roundup ... to be continued'! Back soon.

Saturday 10 January 2009

Back from cyber wilderness

A very happy New Year to everyone! Apologies for my absence. We have been backwards & forwards to the farm, where there is no internet connection. Just popping in to say a quick hello & let you know I am still in the land of the living! I hope you have had special times with family & friends over the festive break. Thought I'd share my favourite Christmas gift with you:
A gorgeous 'Aviary' layer cake by 3 Sisters ... ... and a layer cake pattern book by Heather Mulder Peterson of Anka's Treasures. Ooooh, noice! This gift was from my husband's family, & expertly chosen by my lovely sister-in-law. I am thinking I will make the layer cake up using the 'Vintage Diamonds' pattern from the book. Should be very soft & antique-y. Or perhaps this lovely, lovely thing?! The pattern for this quilt is free on the Moda site, here. And so another year of fabric love, creating, scheming & dreaming begins!
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