Saturday, December 31, 2011

Not Sorbetto Top #2

Well actually this Not Sorbetto (also known as Simplicity 2938) is number 3, but number 2 hasn't even been worn yet as it goes with a new skirt, also never worn. I will wait until I go back to work to show those off, perhaps.

Simplicity 2938 aka Not Sorbetto

When I left my old job in August, my team gave me a gift voucher to use at Addicted to Fabric, my local quilt store. I thought I'd use it to get some more Lotta Jansdotter fabric to add to my collection, but it turned out they weren't getting that in until 2012, and I had only 3 days to use the voucher before it expired.

Instead I headed towards one of my favourite voiles which I had lusted after for a little while - Anna Maria Horner's "Little Folks" range in a design called Pastry Stripe, colour Toast. I wasn't sure the deep curry powder colour would suit me at the time, but it seems it does. 

Better than those terrible blonde streaks in my hair do, anyway.

Simplicity 2938 aka Not Sorbetto

It's very comfortable and cool to wear, especially on the day these photos were taken which was hot and humid with a wicked sea spray coming in from the waves.

It was also a perfect top later on that day when we took a brisk stroll to Point Cartwright and got stuck in a storm of wind, sand and stickiness. And two drops of rain.

Point Cartwright Reserve

Point Cartwright Reserve

The weather was much better half an hour later at Caloundra, where I sat on a sand dune at Dicky Beach and refused to move until I was promised ice cream.

Dicky Beach, Caloundra

I really wanted to write a post commemorating the end of 2011 - a year which for me was truly horrible, but also very wonderful. But in my mind the post started getting a little too personal, so I've decided to keep my thoughts to myself.

I'm thankful to be alive - so thankful. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be a better person. I'm thankful for the opportunity to travel and to work. And I'm thankful for the creativity that flows like blood in my veins.

And you all know that I think new year's resolutions are a crock, so we'll leave it there.

Happy new year, everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Hugo's quilt

My nephew Hugo turned 5 in May this year, and months prior to that I'd promised him that we would come to his birthday party. I'm not too sure who was more excited - him or me. Plane tickets were booked and I decided to make him his own special "big boy" quilt. I found the perfect fabric when I was at Sew It Together in Sydney in March - a Michael Miller panel featuring retro methods of transport. Given Hugo loves trains so much, I knew I was onto a good thing.

Unfortunately I got really sick for a few months and the quiltmaking got a bit rushed as I was worried I wouldn't finish it in time for his birthday. I pieced the whole quilt in a couple of afternoons. The "blocks" in the panel weren't even so I decided to sew a log cabin frame around each block, and then trim them to the same size. I used black and red polka dot fabrics for the frames. For the little blocks, I joined them together into one big block using black homespun.

New quilt

 Once the borders were on, I pin basted it on the living room floor. I remember thinking how insane I was doing this - I had labrynthitis from the painkillers I was on, and my stomach hurt like nothing else on earth. A couple of days later this happened. 


I had major surgery a week later - a couple of days before Hugo's birthday - and there was no way I was going to make the party as I was still in hospital. Probably just as well - the quilt hadn't been quilted yet.

A few months later my stomach muscles were strong enough for me to wrestle with a quilt through a sewing machine so I finished the quilting and bound it. 

Hugo's quilt

The day before we left for Queensland for Christmas I attached a label to Hugo's Quilt. I always use a board backed with sandpaper to make it easier to write on the fabric. I drafted the label first with erasable fabric pencil before going over it with a fabric pen and setting it with an iron.

Hugo's quilt

Then I appliqued the label to the back of the quilt.

Hugo's quilt

Hugo's quilt

Hugo's quilt

I found the backing fabrics at my local quilt shop. I knew they'd look great, but I didn't realise (not being much of a selvage reader) that the fabric was actually in the same range as the panel.

Hugo's quilt

I gave the quilt to Hugo on Christmas Day after he'd received all his Christmas presents, and he loved it. I'm glad I didn't go for anything too baby-like for his quilt as he's getting a bit old for that now. Even though he'll still always be my little boy!

The kids have been using the quilt in their new teepee (I have photographic evidence!) I love seeing quilts being used - sat on, stepped on, slept under. That's why I make them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sand in between toes

We are going home tonight and I'm not sure I'm overly happy about that. No more zinc cream, no more sand in between my toes, no more salt on my skin and in my hair.

But I have sunkissed skin and a relaxed state of mind to remind me where my heart really belongs - in between the coffee rocks of Alex and the Maroochy river. Up on the Headland with the wind in my hair. And down by the breakwater during a storm with the sand blasting my legs.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Saltwater girl

We headed to Cotton Tree this morning, inside the mouth of the Maroochy River. I finally got to feel the cool saltwater on my skin. It felt so good.

Back at the Headland, the surf is still huge and the surfers as passionate as ever about catching a good wave.

Today I am wearing my new Not Sorbetto top. And I'm thinking about an afternoon swim down at Cotton Tree. I need more saltwater on my skin.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hearts open, beach closed

We're in Queensland for Christmas. A wonderful day was had yesterday with our immediate family, which includes my sister-in-law's parents. Last night we came back to the beach and slept to the sounds of a big surf and noisy geckos.

I haven't slept so well in weeks.

Today we are confined to the pool. A cyclone and a king tide combined to hide the beach and the rockpools at Alex. In 35 years of staying here I've never seen it look like this.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24

I'm looking forward to the rattle of tiles later tonight when Santa lands on the roof. Mind the solar hot water system, Santa!

Merry Christmas to one and all. I have a lot to be grateful for this year, and I'll be giving thanks all day.

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23

Oh, we're getting so, so close to the big day!

Candy canes

Last night I broke one of my molars on a candy cane. Candy canes have been henceforth banned from my house. Luckily for me it was a tooth that already had a death sentence after a dodgy root canal 16 years ago. It's been patched up for Christmas and will be extracted in the new year. Something to really look forward to! Ha!

They were delicious candy canes though. Very fruity. But teeth-killers, yes.

Christmas tunes

Today I want to talk about Christmas tunes. I love to sing and play music, and I also love having Christmas songs on the stereo while I'm wrapping, baking or otherwise pottering. A few years ago I invested in a 3 CD of set of golden oldies. I absolutely love these CDs and they're on high rotation at my place. Nobody croons a tune like Dean Martin, in my opinion!

Christmas tunes

Of course in this Glee-lovin' household we can't go past a Glee Christmas album or two. Gets ya dancin'.

Christmas tunes

And based on a recommendation on Twitter, I picked up the She & Him Christmas album today at my local record store. It is so very good. I've been a long-time fan of She & Him, but to have this Christmas album of theirs on the stereo at the moment is the fondant on my Christmas cake! The brandy in my custard!

The star on my tree!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22

For several years I've tried to keep to a theme for how I wrap Christmas gifts. Most years have involved brown paper and a variety of different ties - ripped Christmas fabric, gardening jute (in green! Of course!) or plain-old kitchen twine with a fancy vintage tag added.

Usually the Mister protests at my rather austere wrapping, especially when it comes to wrapping gifts for little kids who don't understand frugal sensibilities and spartan view points. So I leave the kid's wrapping paper up to him.

This year I embraced red and white as my colour themes, and so the search was on for some nice, inexpensive white glossy paper. Which is apparently impossible. I had my eye on easel paper that comes in rolls, but what Officeworks provided me was something much, much better.

Christmas wrapping

Flip chart paper. Yes. 50 sheets for $14. I have probably used about 3 sheets in total so far. Combined with some manilla mailing tags (also from Officeworks) and red and white baker's twine, I'm set for Christmas wrapping.

Christmas wrapping

Add in to the equation the cutest rubber stamp ever. Krafty Kuka showed me her reindeer stamp and I fell in love with it. Then she got me one of my own. Isn't she nice? I think so.

Christmas wrapping

The Mister found some cool Koala wrapping for the kids.

Christmas wrapping

It's a little tree, but it has a lot of heart.

Christmas tree

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21

Despite my best intentions to try to blog for the advent blog-a-long almost every day, my day job has been so busy I've been left a tired mess each night who can barely rustle up dinner, let alone another Christmas cake and a blog post.

And now I have some kind of flu thing and am off work, so have all the time in the world to blog! Ha!

Christmassy treats swap

I've been wanting to tell you about the outcome of the Christmassy treat swap which was held last week.These are the little Christmas cakes from the other day that I made for the swap, all pretty wrapped in tissue paper I'd stamped with a cute leaping reindeer, and tied up with baker's twine.

Christmassy treats swap

There were seven friends in all, and we all shared an amazing supper together to the point of explosion. Quiches, trash dip, tartlets, lemon curd pie, and a Danish almond creamy dessert which was so good. Oh my. And then at the end of the night when we didn't think we'd be able to move anymore, let alone look at food, we put all our treats on the table, and swapped.

Christmassy treats swap

Christmassy treats swap

There were ginger biscuits, rocky road, brownies, spritz and salted caramel. Danish treats and caramel almonds.

Christmassy treats swap

There were jars of homemade vanilla essence and jars of cherry jam.

Christmassy treats swap

And at the end of it all, I took home a massive box of treats which we are trying to enjoy in moderation (and failing). I'm saving the cherry jam for my toast on Christmas morning.

Christmassy treats swap

It was such a great idea by our hostess to have a swap like this. We get to try all kinds of things we wouldn't normally have the opportunity to, and spend a lovely evening in each other's company. You can't beat it!

I've joined Car's Advent blog-a-long. Check out the other blog-a-longers!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 13

Christmassy Treat Swap

A friend is soon holding her second annual Christmassy Treats swap.

Christmassy Treat Swap

We make enough treats to swap with six other people, and share a meal together. Such a wonderful night we had last year. I am getting so excited! (The treats are mostly organised, but what should I make for the meal?)

I've joined Car's Advent blog-a-long. Check out the other blog-a-longers!

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12

I've been making Christmas fruit cakes. Lots and lots of cakes. Two for family, two for friends, one for the cleaning lady, one for us ... and then there are also eight miniature Christmas cakes for a Christmas swap, and a couple of people in my team.

Luckily it's an easy recipe. The hardest part is having a hot oven in a hot kitchen on a hot day, but December hasn't been hot yet so it's all good.

Making mini Christmas cakes

For the little cakes, I divided a batch by four. Four little tins.

Making mini Christmas cakes

Into the oven.

Making mini Christmas cakes

And then out again, ready for giving away.

Making mini Christmas cakes

Michelle's Christmas Fruit Cake

1 cup sugar
440 g tin crushed pineapple, with a few tablespoons extra water swirled around the tin and put in the saucepan
500 mixed fruit
1 teaspn bicarb soda
1 teaspn mixed spice
125 g butter
not quite 1 cup plain flour
not quite 1 cup SR flour
3 tablespns cocoa powder
2 eggs

Place sugar, pineapple (and extra water), fruit, bicarb, mixed spice and butter in saucepan. Gently bring to boil while melting butter, stirring often. Boil for 3 minutes. Let cool.

Sift flours and cocoa together, add eggs and cooled fruit mix and stir till combined.

Spoon into greased and lined 8 inch round tin (I used a spring form tin)

Place in 175-180 degree oven for 60 minutes. Lower temp to 150 and bake for another 15 - 30 mins. Cake is cooked when skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin for 20 minutes, then turn onto cooling rack.

If you are going to make mini cakes, this recipe makes four of them. They take a little less time to cook (baked 4 at a time), but just play it by ear. The skewer should be almost clean by the time you turn down to 150 degrees.

I've joined Car's Advent blog-a-long. Check out the other blog-a-longers!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Summer Paisley tea dress

On Friday I had a day off work, so I went crazy with the cutting board on the dining room table and cut out three dresses and three tops, all based on the Not Sorbetto pattern.*

This morning I woke up really early and couldn't get back to sleep. Then I discovered there was no Sunday paper to read. So I went into the sewing room to mess around with some of the cut-out fabrics from Friday.

A few hours later I had made myself a new dress to wear to the Brown Owls Christmas breakup this afternoon.

Summer paisley tea dress

Someone needs to weed the side courtyard, and I suspect that someone is me.

Summer paisley tea dress

The fabric is some Kokka Trefle linen/cotton I bought at Calico and Ivy in Sydney in March, when I was there for Sew It Together. I thought I'd only bought enough for a top, but it turned out I had enough for a dress. So a floaty tea dress is became.

Summer paisley tea dress

I didn't make it as fitted as the White Flowers tea dress. Part of me wanted it to be a summery dress I could pop on at the end of a hot day, and not be too embarassed to go to the shops wearing it. And part of me wanted it to be good enough to wear, with a belt, out to dinner at a friend's house, or to a cafe.

So it's not that fitted, and that's OK. It's actually stretched a lot especially in the neck, in the making of it. Even with stay-stitching. I still have to wash and dry it, and it might get popped in the dryer to shrink it a little. But I'm really happy with it, even if the fabric has the potential to, as my mum says, become a bit of a dishrag.

Summer paisley tea dress

I am prouder of this zipper than I should be. But the fact I had a perfectly matching zipper in the stash meant I could be a little cheeky with showing it on the outside of the dress.

* Yes, all based on  Simplicity 2938. Risky? Stupid more like it. I fear I will hate this pattern by the time I've finished with it ... but it fits so well!