Sunday, December 19, 2010

Baking and sewing

After a brilliant start to summer the rain has settled in so what better time is there to bake? This is my mother-in-law's variation on a coconut chocolate slice. It's one of those very simple melt the butter and add the dry ingredients recipes. It was one of her morning tea staples back in the day when she baked for the shearing gang when they worked on the family farm. It has become a family favourite and my mother-in-law called it Ross's Special after one of the shearers who loved it so much.
Here's the recipe so you might get to love it too.
125 gms of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 crushed Weet Bix
2 tbsp cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix dry ingredients together. Melt the butter, add vanilla and stir into the dry ingredients with a fork. The mixture is fairly dry. Tip into a tin* lined with baking paper and press the mixture down to fit the pan. Bake at 180 C (350 F) for about 15 mins. Ice with chocolate icing while it's still hot. Leave to cool before cutting into bars or squares.
*I use a square tin 19cm x 19cm.

Last week - when it was sunny - I finished these napkins. I'm especially proud of the mitred corners.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The gift of the gift tag

I'm loving making cards. These martial arts gift tags are the outcome of my latest adventure with spray glue. Only problem is: can you give gift tags as a gift?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tea towel project #1

This tea towel was a gift and too nice to use to dry dishes. Immediately on receiving it I decided it would make a great apron. Three years later ...

This is such a quick and easy project as the tea towel is already hemmed. Using an old apron as a template, I simply cut the top corners diagonally to form a bib, hemmed the cut edges and attached the ties that I made from calico.

However, unless you're really tiny you do need a larger than average tea towel. This one was a generous 53cm x 72cm from the Edward and Son artists' fair - on again this year on Saturday, December 11.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A little boy needs a warm sweater for a cold English winter.

I just finished knitting this chunky sweater for my nephew's baby son. It's been a while in the making but I'm pleased with the result. I love knitting cable patterns. It's a bit like magic how they turn out.
The pattern is from an old knitting book by Shepherd yarns and I used a machine washable wool.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Treasures from the library book sale

Our library has a book sale twice a year and there are indeed treasures to be found. With Xmas coming up, I was looking specifically for books with images I could use to make cards and gift tags.

The cards I made are quite small (11.5 cm x 7 cm) but I had some old tracing paper see-through envelopes that were the perfect size to match. Once I decided how I wanted the cards to look, they were quite easy to make - cut out picture, glue onto card, trim and round the corners.
  • I recently bought a corner punch so the cards had to have rounded corners.
  • I also used aerosol spray glue for the first time and it is the best thing ever.
I think I'll keep some of the cards for myself and gift some as notecard sets.

These pages are from 'Wild flowers of Britain' - also from the library book sale - but I can't bring myself to cut the pages. The photographs are just too fascinating and too beautiful.

Not that 'Looking after cage birds' isn't also a nice book ...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Happy Movember!

Sadly the drips are lingering in the developmental phase - forever. I still have a few design issues to sort out.
But, because it's November, and I love this guy's moustache, I'm going to share one of my experiments with you. Enjoy Movember.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Pink food,

pink champagne,

pink blossoms!

We had our own little hanami last weekend under our blossom trees. They are in full bloom - laden with pink blossoms - and looking beautiful and amazingly like a magic garden.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Things that lurk



Cherry blossom

Although the weather is still a bit wintry, it feels as if spring is lurking. Blossoms and other spring flowers are out.

And we have (what I assume is) an escaped pet rabbit lurking in our street. He is so cute. Every now and then you see him hopping across the road or grazing in a neighbour's garden. Someone must've taken pity on him as I got a "rabbit found" notice complete with photo in my mail box. But he remains unclaimed. Or, at least, uncaptured. I think, in spite of any danger from cars or dogs, he's having the time of his life.

I'm afraid this photo is not of The Actual Rabbit.
But he looks a lot like this. Whenever I see him I never have my camera.

And I'm delighted to report that several of my slugs are now clinging to good fridges since a few blog lurkers made themselves know. It feels good to share my stuff. Thanks!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A little bit of goddess

A friend gave me a jar of her homemade marmalade recently and it was The-best-marmalade-I-have-ever-eaten. As you can't have too much of a good thing (and I have loads of grapefruit kindly given to me by a neighbour from his tree) I decided to make some of my own using her recipe. Turns out she uses Nigella Lawson's Pink Grapefruit Marmalade recipe from Nigella's book How to be a domestic goddess but replaces pink grapefruit with the regular yellow kind.

My marmalade turned out well and tastes good but its not in The-best-marmalade-I-have-ever-eaten category. Possibly, here's why... I made the toast from bread I'd hastily bought from a local deli. It hadn't been labeled in any way but it looked nice and I thought it was a sour dough. I made toast and coffee, ate and drank then back for seconds. As I cut the second slice of bread cloves of garlic fell out of the loaf onto the chopping board. I'd eaten my marmalade on garlic bread! It reminded me of this :

I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on my knife.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

There's a hole in my life ...

the size of a Nissa Figaro. Yes, after two years of deliberation, I've sold my car. As soon as it went up on the auction website a little anxious flutter started inside me. When the "For sale" sign was taped to its cute rear window I asked myself "What have I done?" But it was too late for regrets as we'd already bought its replacement - something zippy yet fuel efficient for the daily commute.
But I was a bit surprised, embarrassed even, by the depth of my attachment to my Figaro. I loved that car! So this has been a week of emotional weirdness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This and this and this

This is the first freesia to bloom in my garden this season. I've been inspecting the garden regularly looking for signs of Spring.

This Crown Lynn side plate is a recent purchase. Somehow it makes anything eaten off it taste just a little bit nicer.

And this is a birthday cake. I cheated a bit with this photo, as I was desperate to create a flower theme for this post. This is the cake I made last year for my mother's birthday. The photos of this year's cake didn't turn out so well. But, curiously, this year's cake was very similar to last years. I think I'm in cake rut.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Knitting with fox

Finally I've finished the gloves. I can't believe I started them in April. There aren't so many cold days now to wear them but I'll have them nice and new for next winter.

I've also made a coffee cozy adapted from Ann Budd's design in her book 'Knitted gifts'. I like to get a take-out coffee on work day mornings but by the time I get it to work - especially on a cold day - it's barely warm enough to drink. The cozy idea is a wee bit naff but it actually works! I get to sit at my desk with a nice hot coffee. Mmmmmmm.

And, while I'm trying to buy less stuff, I couldn't resist this adorable fox. I've got him sitting on the window sill in the bathroom and the morning sun makes him glow with golden cuteness.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why can't it be like Bogor?

I'm relieved to say that Hedgie is not trapped in the compost bin. I went out with the torch one dark night - hedgehogs are nocturnal - to discover her gone.
Had she been coming and going freely all along? Or had my intrusion with the camera driven her away?
I fretted. I checked the bin over and over. I felt responsible for her departure. Then, two days later she was back - snuggled under some spinach leaves.
I still can't see how she gets in and out but she does.

I was reminded of this New Zealand cartoon strip by Burton Silver, first published in the 1970s about a woodsman called Bogor who befriends a nameless hedgehog.

It's nice to know a hedgehog has taken up residence in the garden. And it would be amazing to be like Bogor and keep her as an almost-pet. But she's best left alone.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Adventures with Hedgehog

This cute hedgehog has been living in our compost bin for several weeks now. Always she or he would be curled up in the corner. I thought s/he was hibernating - do hedgehogs hibernate? - and we were being careful not to smother her. But tonight I when I visited she was up wandering around on the vegetable scraps. And not too bothered that I was peering in with my camera.

The bin is one of those upright plastic ones with a lid. And I can't work out how she got in. The air vents are too small even for a small hedgehog. There is no obvious entry point. The question is: how will she get out? Is she trapped in there waiting to be rescued? Or has she found a really good place to hang out until spring?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A full-time job is a full-time job

I'm still adjusting to full-time employment and the lack of time to make anything. Or blog. But I'm getting there.

I whipped up this simple snowflake button on the badge maker using some wool flannel from my stash. I'm thinking of doing a spring one. Maybe some blossoms?

The sunrise was taken from my back door. I went to put some washing on the line and there it was - this amazing pink sky.

And the magnolias - a harbinger of spring, hoorah! - are in flower everywhere and are just gorgeous. I especially love the fuzzy buds.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sweet things

It's a bit bleak today so perfect for indoor things. I've caught up on the mending and made these "Buckeye candies" for my daughter who adores them! I think I found this recipe in a Nestle ad. They are super easy and taste a bit like Reece's buttercups!

Buckeye candy
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter - smooth or crunchy
50g butter, melted
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups Nestle dark (or milk) chocolate melts

Put icing sugar, peanut butter, butter and vanilla in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Roll into small balls. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.
Melt the chocolate and using a toothpick or skewer dip each ball leaving about a third uncovered. Place on a tray lined with baking paper or foil and refrigerate again until chocolate is set.
Makes about 25-30.

I hope there are sweet things in your day today.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Where have I been?

I've had a weekend in Rotorua. Not many photos, sorry. It rained.
I'm working full-time. Again.
I'm disheartened with blogging. What's the point? I still don't know the answer but here I am.
I've made some changes to the blog. If I can't figure it out at least I can make it pretty.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Once again I have a camera

So now I can show you what I've been working on....

Slugs! Slugs! Slugs!

But not ordinary, garden-variety slugs.
These are fridge slugs!

And, as you can see, I'm over-run with the little beasties. So I'm giving some away. If you have a fridge, email me your address and I'll post you a randomly selected slug.

They are made from new polar fleece with vintage button eyes and filled with polyester fibre. The magnet is sewn in on the inside so it won't scratch your fridge.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Reflections on a burglary

I'm grateful the dog wasn't harmed or traumatised. No damage was done to the house and only insured, replaceable stuff was taken. I'm so glad they didn't take my desktop computer because I would've lost all my photos and music. I have NEVER backed up. So lessons learned: back up, back up, back up.
The husband discovered he's also lost his favourite shirt. He liked this blue shirt so much that a few months after he bought it he went back to the shop to get another in a different colour. Unfortunately they'd sold out of the other colours and only had blue left so he bought one and ended up with two identical shirts. So.... has he really lost anything? After all, he still has his favourite shirt.

Enough about burglary. Here's a sweet sentiment from a local bakery.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I need a scarier dog

My house was burgled today. The place was trashed - everything pulled out of drawers and cupboards. But no damage so it could've been a lot worse. But my laptop, iPod and - disaster! - my camera were taken.
Unfortunately I have some new stuff that I've been meaning to photograph to show you. Something I'm pretty excited about. So until I get a new camera...

Monday, May 3, 2010

It must be autumn

Maybe it is Autumn because I really wanted to knit and I decided on... gloves! I'm using this old pattern. It has a price of 15 cents and the measurements are Imperial but I don't know how old it is. Or even how I got it.
I'm using a sock wool. I've made gloves before and found pure wool just doesn't go the distance. You seem to need some nylon for durability. Unfortunately there wasn't a great colour choice. I was hoping for orange but ended up with this coffee brown which has become strangely appealing. The wool itself is lovely - a New Zealand brand, Waikiwi, - a merino/nylon/alpaca/possum blend.

And, just to prove it must be Autumn - my Camellia has gone mad with blossoms...