Sunday, November 16, 2014

Again with the baby quilts

Ok, last post about these baby quilts. Promise.

So first, I made the one with the orange border. Interestingly, its the least good, I think, in many ways. I like that as I made more, I improved in my sewing and accuracy and such.
But I still like the colours & the fabrics. This one is destined for NZ, in the not too distant future.
Then in the middle, I made one from a pack of precuts. I don't remember what the precut pack was called, but it was Moda, and I bought it at The Needlewoman, a lovely quilt shop in central Hobart. I also bought that bright orange border fabric from the first quilt there. They are lovely, and tolerant of small clumsy children.
After discovering how much time precuts buy you, I sped through this one. I wanted to try quilting with a contrast thread, and also quilting a little more than I usually do (see a theme here?!) I think it came out fine - it looks a little wonky in the picture above as its been folded for a while, but its quite sweet in real life. You can see where my machine got serviced (if you really look), and it really shows how much of what I was struggling with earlier was my machine - the stitches are much more even post-service.


I love this fabric selection - its cute and bright and modern all in one.  This one is heading off to the UK in a month or two, fingers crossed!

And that, for the time being, is the end of the baby quilts.

Friday, November 14, 2014

More small quilts

So the baby quilt production line continues....
This was my third in this batch. The colour scheme is not my personal favourite, but somehow I had a small stash of pink and acqua fabrics, and it was clear that they weren't going to disappear any time soon unless I actually used them. So I bought two more fat quarters, and turned them into this:

The baby I have in mind for this one was born a few weeks early, but got home last week and so with perfect timing I finally bound it, and its ready to go in the mail.

This one got delayed as my trusty old (ancient?) sewing machine finally gave in. I took it to the repair place, and regretfully told the lady that I had never had it serviced (or actually even oiled or cleaned it much) in its 21 years of life, and she just smiled a patient smile and said they would call me. They did, and now my machine is back to its old self - well, even better than its most recent form of its old self.

Which made quilting this lots of fun. So I just kept going a bit more than usual.

 I decided early on that I'd try something new in each of these quilts. This one I wanted to do a pieced back (which I did) and to do more quilting than I usually do (which I also did). It turned out great (I think), and I'm really glad I tried both. I feel a bit nasty giving these lovely people a baby quilt with white backing, but you can't be too precious about these things :)

I love these quilts so much, that I took quite a few picture (noticed?) so I'll post the others in a separate post. I'm sure that's enough for any dedicated reader for today!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Yippy Skippy

This is Skippy. Well, half a skippy, really. Skippy is a lovely dress pattern from Make It Perfect, who is now local (ish) to me! I really liked the dress pattern when I saw it, and wanted to give a downloadable sewing pattern a try. I also knew I had some superfine merino jersey from NZ that would look great as this, but only enough for a top. So I tried to be good, and ran off to Spotlight to buy something with a similar stretch to make a wearable muslin. Turns out, I love my muslin - it is way more than wearable!
Its a dreadful photo (hey - check out my bathroom! Next time, tidy up before photo shoot...) but oddly far less dreadful than those my dearest husband took under duress. So that's what you get for now. If it helps, the fabric is a sort of marled grey-blue. Despite not having made a downloadable pattern before, and not having sewn any adult-sized clothing for a while, this was really easy, and has some lovely touches. The puffy sleeves are cute as, the cuffs on the sleeves and hem are a great proportion, and it just sits nicely. To be fair, there were a few things I would have changed, and will change for the final version - it could be a little longer (I made it exactly to the pattern, just without the skirt & pocket), and the neckband sits out a little thanks to the fabric. But generally its lovely. And it turns out that sewing all those small person clothes has taught me a thing or two :)
Fingers crossed for my merino version....
To make up for the ordinary photo, here is a kookaburra.....

I really didn't use any zoom to get this photo - he was just chilling out in a tree at child-eye height, very conveniently! Unfortunately, my rubbish camera wanted to focus on the sticks rather than the bird, but you get the idea.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Misty Mountain

We had a rainy weekend here, which made for some spectacular views on kunanyi/Mount Wellington (apologies for the poor quality phone pics)
 Junction cabin

 Like the faraway tree - the tops in the clouds

  The mountain was in bloom too, which is a beautiful but subtle affair. The whole place smelled incredible in the rain.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


One of my favourite Hobart things to do is visit the botanical gardens. This was one of my favourite things to do in Wellington and Oxford, too. The Hobart version is, I think, particularly good.
 There are ponds with ducks (watch out, its spring time, which means crazy duck business), bridges, water lillies and waterfalls.

 There are mass plantings, of course. The ranunculi were spectacular, but earlier in spring the tulips were pretty good too. I'm happy to say that there are just a few of these, but well concentrated to give you a fantastic surprise. There is also a wonderfully large tree section - an oak grove, a pinetum, and various Australian bits and bobs. Right by the toilets is a fantastic collection of warratahs. And although we didn't go this weekend, I happen to know that the restaurant does an excellent cake and coffee for elevenses.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Random Hobartness

This is the best vanilla slice ever created. It was absolutely spectacular to look at, and even better to eat. It came with a lovely coffee. It was so good that I had to bribe my 3 year old not to eat my share. The magicians at Little Missy Patisserie made it - and a stack of other delicious delights.

This is the bottle of bubbles I bought to celebrate getting a job. Its just a few hours of a job (actually, a few hours of two jobs), but enough to keep me happy. The bubbles are a local drop (Tasmania local, not Hobart local), and delicious as ever - love you, Jansz NV. (PS - I don't usually store bubbles with my kids lunchboxes, but it gives you a sense of the everyday chaos. I think I thought I'd crop that photo, but I kinda like it).

This is your average Hobart day. Hah! I wish....but there have been quite a few of these, and they are gorgeous. We've spent a bit of time here at Cornelian Bay - it has an excellent playground, a little beach, free barbeques that are usually very clean, and an excellent kiosk with icecream and fish & chips. There's a restaurant too, but so far we're still enjoying the outside parts of it.

This is a terrible photo of a Hobart icon. I remember being taken to visit the Cat & Fiddle Arcade as a child, and thinking it was brilliant. Its a fantastic mechanised clock, that on the hour performs a version of Hey Diddle Diddle. The cow jumps over the moon, the dish and the spoon appear from behind the cat's fiddle, and he saws his way merrily through the tune. Its all over much quicker than I remember, and my 3 year old didn't seem overly impressed, but I loved its retro glory (even if the arcade shopping itself is a bit of a turn off). Long live the Cat & Fiddle!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Baby Quilt A

Baby quilt A is finished and ready to be shipped off. It is (unusually for me) made well ahead of any of the imminent baby's arrival, so for the meantime it hangs on the back of my sewing chair and looks cheery. The longer it stays there, the more I think I need to quilt in the large orange borders. But what?

The back is plain lemony-yellow (an old cot quilt - yay for scraps), and looks less lumpy than in the picture - I think that's something about the way I folded it over. The binding is ok - should really have been a brighter blue I think, but I had oooooodles of this blue-grey bias binding, for some reason, so I used some up. And its ok - I really don't think the baby will notice.

So, 3 babies on the way. One quilt made, the next one already pieced (except for a border, which I'm currently musing over). I'll see if this baby quilt madness is out of my system by then, I'm thinking maybe this hat might be in order...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A little culture around here

There is something about not working, and having one child in school and the other the kind of child that (quite often) will entertain himself for a few hours with 4 lego blocks that is conducive to thought. I've had several thoughts recently that have actually turned into actions, which is fairly unusual for me (I typically have many, many thoughts and very few actions). One of these has been yoghurt.

I'm at the supermarket, and I see an EasyYo machine (really, its just a fancy thermos). It cost less than $20AUD and I'd just put about $10 of yoghurt tubs in my trolly, so it was a no brainer. You buy little sachets to make the yoghurt with, and I diligently made a sachet, and it was nice. But kinda sweet, and I didn't really feel like I was making it - I was just adding water and shaking and leaving. Which is great, if that's what you want, but I didn't. Also, it seemed odd to make yoghurt from powdered stuff when I really wanted more control over what was in it, and cheaper production given how much we eat. So, after a few minutes on Google, I gave it a go.

Its miraculous. Every time, I get thick, creamy, yummy yoghurt. Stick some topping on it, and the kids love it. Stick some sprinkles on that, and they go beserk. The other day, my eldest had yoghurt with strawberry & caramel topping and sprinkles. Blergh. Given there is only 2 tablespoons of sugar per litre of yoghurt, I'm happy to add a little topping every now and then, but it goes down just as well with fruit puree or berry coulis or passionfruit or honey.

So here's how I make yoghurt in my EasyYo!
  • Bring 900ml of milk to the boil, then turn it off. Once its cool enough to go in the fridge, chill it. You need to bring the milk to the boil to do something to the proteins (don't ask me what, but if you don't then it doesn't turn into yoghurt, it turns into nasty slop). But you also need to chill it so the temperature is right in the machine.
  • Tip your milk into the EasyYo container. Add 1/4c of your previous yoghurt (or any yoghurt really), 1/2c milk powder (or more - the milk powder makes the yoghurt thicker), and 2 - 3 tablespoons sugar. None is a bit sharp for us, 4 is too sweet. 2-3 makes something I can sweeten for the kids or use in cooking (although if I'm deliberately making it for cooking I'll use less). Shake it all up in the container.  Fill up your EasyYo with boiling water as it says, chuck your container in and seal it up.
  • I think our best yoghurt is when I leave it for 8-9 hours. It is fine left up to 12 hours, but tastes stronger. Once its finished, put the whole container in the fridge and leave it - ideally for a day. It needs to set in the container - its much creamier and thicker if you do.
You could easily do this with another set up - the EasyYo just keeps it at the right temperature for the right period of time with no fuss.  I'm guestimating a little, but with the cost of milk here (I can get full cream at $3 for 2 litres), a litre of yoghurt is costing me around $1.75, I think, a little more for skim milk, and then whatever else I put on top.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Sunshine, orange quilts and rainbows....

Isn't it strange how it happens? No babies for ages, then suddenly all your friends are pregnant. 

So this is the start of some baby-crafting, to be shipped off to wee new humans in the next few months. Yes, that orange border is very bright. Yes, its not the most original nor complex quilt top anyone has ever dreamed up. But I do love how the animals seem to peep out at you. And its now quilted and looking quite nice - just the dreaded binding to do. The top is mostly scraps and hoarded fat quarters, which are nice to use up (and scrap wadding too!). The orange in the binding is from The Needlewoman, a beautiful shop on Liverpool Street, Hobart, which doesn't seem to have a website but is a delightful place to visit if you like fabric at all. Unfortunately I had F with me, so spent much of my time talking about looking rather than touching, and not crawling around on the floor busting up their displays, but it was still lovely (and they were very understanding and helpful).

Yesterday was fathers day, and we had a lovely one. It appears that when you are 5, Fathers Day ranks up there with the big annual celebrations. We had multiple handmade gifts, songs, special breakfasts, cake and special puddings. Mmm. My favourite was a rendition of B-I-N-G-O but with words altered to include D-A-D-D-Y. And to make room for all that deliciousness, an afternoon walk for me and F, and a run for B & S. It was a spectacular afternoon - that's Hobart city below, looking pretty gorgeous.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A little behind the times

I believe I've said this many times before on this blog, but one of the best things about moving house in winter is finding out whats in the garden come spring.


Behold, a wee banksia rose. Its on a very un-wee bush on our deck. In about 3 more days, the bush is going to be smothered with these tiny, delicate, lemon flowers. There are also fruit tree blossoms, who knows what sort yet - definitely apple (first flowers out today!) and maybe a stonefruit. Its definitely spring. Its sunny and warm and there is blossom and magnolias in bloom, and its clearly spring.

 Thus, I cast on a jumper. Hmmm. To be honest, given my current knitting rates of completion, I'm pretty safe that this won't be done until next winter.

Its a lovely pattern - Flowing Lines by Veera Välimäki ; they are Ravelry links. The yarn is (as almost always at the moment), Cascade 220. I bought it at a fabulous yarn shop here in Hobart called the Stash Cupboard, which is delightful and potentially debt-inducing.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Recently my mum came to visit, replete with lemons. So I made a big jar of preserved lemons, a big jar of lemon curd (my most successful yet! So delicious). And some lemon slice. Now, I've never had much success with anything other than lemon cake - usually its all too eggy for my liking. Lemon delicious, lemon pudding, all of those. But I thought I'd give this one a try and I'm so glad -its scrumptious (although the kids won't eat it, so I've overindulged a little, I'm afraid).
If you have a surfeit of lemons, then I'd highly recommend it - its crispy on the bottom, soft and fluffy on top, and a lemon curd-y filling in between. And its super easy.
First, whiz up 100g plain flour, 35g icing sugar and 75g unsalted butter in an electric whizzer thing. It should look like dusty, fine breadcrumbs. Press it into a square tin (mine is 18cm), that you've lined with two strips of baking paper going crosswise that are quite long, so you can use the ends to lift the slice out of the tin. When you press it in, it'll seem like a disaster - it doesn't adhere at all. Don't fear - plonk it in the over at 180C for 12 - 15 minutes.
While that's happening, put 3 eggs, 275g caster sugar, and the grated zest of a lemon (I used  a very big lemon because apparently that's the only sort mum grows) in a bowl and mix with an electric beater or mixer. It'll go lovely and fluffy - start to pour in 150ml of lemon juice while you keep mixing. Watch out - it gets pretty liquid and splattery. Add in 50g plain flour (I just mixed it in with the beaters on low, it was a little messy but not too bad).
Tip this mix onto your base, plonk it back into the oven for 45 minutes (or less, in my case) until the top is set and a little crusty on the edges. Leave it to cool.
This is a nightmare to cut - the gooey lemon sticks to the knife. I'm sure if you were patient, you could rinse your knife each time, but if you're like me just hack away. The recipe has a photo with a slice of fig on the top of each piece. This is probably because as soon as you touch the top, the 'skin' (for want of a better word) adheres to your finger, leaving a hole. Personally, I don't care, and it'll keep better without fresh fruit on it.
Probably best eaten in the first day or two, but I've kept it in the fridge for a few days now and its fine (although better if you can plan ahead enough to take a piece out an hour or so before afternoon tea time so its not so cold).
Sorry, terrible photo. My food styling skills are abysmal. But you get the idea - goes well with a cup of tea.
 Gratuitous wattle picture, just because its yellow too. Seems like little signs of spring on the way!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


On the weekend, we took a drive to the Tasman Pensinsula. Its a very beautiful and rugged part of the Tasmanian coast - home to Port Arthur, one of the key convict settlements in Australia. We didn't go there, but stuck to the Neck (the little bit of land joining the peninsula to the mainland).
Tesselated pavement. You can see that the rock has formed very orderly squares. There was a great sign to explain how this happened (something to do with the rock, and geological movement, and salt crystals), but it was just spectacular. There were heaps of rockpools and we all had a great time exploring. The diversity of seaweed was amazing, from giant kelp to delicate sea lettuce.

During lunch I watched the cloud cycle around the top of this hill. Its not even particularly high, yet the cloud stayed there the whole day, just moving anticlockwise around the top

 Fossil Bay, near the blowhole (which wasn't up to much, unfortunately).

 The Devil's kitchen, which was our last stop and a suitably awe inspiring end to our little outing. You can't really tell how steep and deep it really was - I was too scared to hang my camera out over the fence much further!

B kept commenting that it felt like a mini-holiday - it definitely smelled like the coast and felt like we were on holiday. I haven't been to this area since I was in my teens (probably early teens I think). It wasn't at all what I remembered - sometimes much more dramatic and beautiful, sometimes smaller and less impressive.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Height of fashion

One loss in moving countries is houseplants. Just when you have grown them from cheap, tiny pots to lush, green monsters, you have to get rid of them and start again. Turns out that house plants (plants in general) are quite expensive in Australia, but I eventually found a punnet of six ferns at a garden centre for a reasonable price. Some have gone into pots for the less sunny rooms (one side of the house, with the bedrooms on it, gets no direct sunlight at all so its great for ferns and cyclamen and such). One got used for a terrarium experiment!
I'm sure you've seen these just about everywhere by now. I've always loved them, but thought they were a bit tricky. But then I kept seeing them, and came across a big jar at the op shop ($1.25! Thanks Salvos!) and took the plunge. I did some reading, then disregarded pretty much everything and decided it was pretty much just a big see through pot. The blue stones are a bit odd, but the only small bags of stones (less than 10 kg) at the garden centre were coloured, so in they went. Turns out, they kind of match some of the other stuff on the mantelpiece. The mantelpiece is probably the wrong place for it (too warm and dry thanks to the heater), however aesthetics are currently winning over pragmatics.

 It somehow has a vintage feel that seems to go with the period of the house (1940/50s), and I'm pretty happy with it. I'll keep you posted if it survives...