Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas day snapshots

Things have been crazy busy - in a good way. So here's a few snapshots of our Christmas day. Unfortunately I was a little too distracted to remember to take many photos (well, that's not so true; I took lots of family photos, just not many bloggy photos).

I made these hors d'oeuvres call Ma Hor, which means 'galloping horses' in Thai. The recipe is from David Thompson's recipe book, "thai food" and is actually very easy, as long as you have access to an Asian supermarket (we are lucky enough to be close to many). It is basically a minced pork, chicken and prawn paste served on pineapple and mandarin (although I only did pineapple as mandarins are not in season here at the moment). The aim of these is to stimulate and tease the palate, in readiness for the meal to follow (can you tell I took that straight from the book? he he). If anyone would like the recipe just let me know and I will post it.

My brother-in-law (the fantastic chef I have previously talked about) did, among many things, an organic turkey baked in a salt crust. It was fantastic!

It took a while to crack into though...

And there it is - I know it looks a little strange sitting there in the bottom of its crust, but boy was it yum (sorry to any vegetarians out there - hope I haven't grossed anyone out!)

By the time I took this picture of my plate I'd had a few glasses of wine.....hence the lack of presentation....but here we have turkey, ham, wagyu beef (courtesy of Kym, again), bbq'd prawns, roast veggies, and three types of salad!!! This was followed by a Christmas pudding made by mum, and an eggnog creme brulee tart, made by my sister.

After lying about for a bit, trying to digest such a huge meal, we then went out for some exercise and had some fun kite flying.

This kite looked very impressive...

...but really didn't fly so well.

All in all a wonderful Christmas, and I feel a little overwhelmed at just how much fun, food and good cheer was had. We had sixteen people (all extended family) here for the whole day, and it was just so enjoyable.

Looking forward now to the new year. Here's to good health, good food, good company, and of course, gratefulness.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Feelin' kinda Christmassy...

It's been looking a lot like Christmas for a while now, but just this last week, it has actually started 'feeling' like Christmas. For me, anyway. Saturday night saw us at our local Carols by candlelight (although we no longer have candles anymore, so it's more like carols by 'glow-stick light' which is kind of strange **flashback to Melbourne docklands warehouse parties - oh my, what a lifetime ago..**). The kids had such a great time - Lee conducted the brass band, and was even asked up the front to shake his bells (we took our own bells along) when they played "Jingle Bells". And of course we didn't take the video camera...oh well....

We have also done the Christmas light tour, checking out all the houses that are done up like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Love love love it. And love it even more because it's not my house that is all 'neoned' up!

Christmassy craft has also been high on the agenda, from 'kind of' handmade cards (photo of Lee's Christmas tree art, with cardboard stuck onto the back), to the little felt garland shown above. And here is a close up.

It was so easy - took about 5 minutes! I just followed Liz's felt Christmas garland video tutorial. It reminds me of Christmas with the Flintstones or something. And the bells at the bottom were my own Christmassy addition, which I can't help but tinkle every time I walk past - yep, I guess I've got a thing for bells this year. Go figure!

I also made this bag to wear to a Christmas party that is being held on a yacht on the Brisbane river. I actually found the old necklace in an Op Shop, and paid 20 cents for it, and then found a handmade cushion cover (also in an Op Shop, for $1.00) and decided they would go together nicely (the rest of the outfit is just a black dress and black shoes). It is likely to be a very swank affair, so I hope the outfit pulls together nicely, and I don't feel too self-conscious in my $1.20 accessories.

Lastly, I have been giving my Grandma's old handmade apron a big workout, and have decided I need more. So I bought a vintage pattern (1960s I think) and made this apron/smock. Only problem is that it was a size 12 pattern (and I'm more a size 6), so I cut it down a bit, but not quite enough, so it looks a little dowdy on. But it fits mum perfectly, so once I've made another one for myself she can have this one. It was my first go at putting bias-binding on something, and I'm really happy with how it worked out.

Two big thumbs up once again for my "Bend-the-rules Sewing" book by Amy Karol, who explains nicely and clearly all the different ways of applying (and even making) bias-binding.

And now I'm off to prepare for the Mother's Group Christmas party, which will be held here tomorrow. So I'm going to get cracking. With bells on!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Five (really) good things

Liz, over at be present, be here, had a lovely post about five really great things on December 12. Well, being without a computer I missed my chance to leave my five on her blog, but it got me thinking.

So, here are my five (really) good things for today, Friday December 14.

1. Walking barefoot on our new kitchen floor - we've had the bamboo floor for a couple of months now, and I walk on it every day, and I still love the fact that it just feels wonderful.

2. Experiencing a lovely 'worlds collide' moment when I took my children into my former workplace for morning tea. In fact, they didn't really collide as such - the kids were well behaved (or should I say, well 'entertained' - thanks Lee!), and I actually got to have adult conversations with people I really enjoy talking to (and don't catch up with enough).

3. Sitting on our couch with my two children watching The Upside Down Show (who doesn't love The Umbilical brothers??)

4. Christmas time in the sub-tropics. What can I say, I just LOVE LOVE LOVE it. No white Christmas for me, just give me green green green!!! By the way, the rainbow photo wasn't taken by me, but it is a photo of where I live (in Queensland). Image was found on the Our Brisbane website, and I'm afraid will have to do until I am back on my own computer...where all my stuff lives...

5. Thinking about everything that has to be done in preparation for Christmas, then being reminded (by Liz in her post) that perfection is really not the goal of it all. And feeling relief at the realisation...

If I were to be a bit pathetic then I would also add a sixth thing to be happy about, as I just had a call from Matt to say that my computer is coming home today - yay!!! (Currently I am using a clunky set-up that Matt cobbled together from our TV monitor and our Mac mini, which usually runs our TV - I think he was getting sick of my whining about my computer, and set this up for me before he went to work. Lovely boy!).

And for those who have never seen an Umbilical Brothers comedy skit, here's one I quite like. Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Two in one day!!!!!!

My poor computer is going into hospital tomorrow, so in preparation for Internet withdrawals, I am posting twice today. Hopefully it will come back the same day, all fixed, with a new battery.....but I fear it won't...

The pic above is actually the detail on a bag I made some time ago. It is a gift I haven't given yet, but I'm pretty sure I can show it now and won't give it away. Anyway, here is the whole bag:

This bag is made entirely out of Op-Shop finds. The red cord and green knit fabric were just some remnants I found, and the green circle fabric was a pillowcase.

And here is some more of what I have been doing lately, and what I am about to start working on:

Another new bag - a gift for someone else.

Outside of bag is Amy Butler fabric from the Lotus range. Trim and inside is grey remnant fabric found in an Op Shop, and as always, buttons from my collection. The red pocket came from an old pillowcase (sounds romantic eh?).

Also been at the kiddie craft again. Lee made this Christmas decoration for his Grandma. I found the wooden shape at Bunnings, of all places. They had lots of cool stuff like this, letters, flowers etc. Good for keeping a three year old (and a thirty-four year old) occupied.

And lastly, I found this sweet little dress in an Op Shop on the weekend.

How great is this fabric! I was actually glad to find the top of it stained, as I would have found it really hard to justify cutting it up for a bag (and Kate probably won't fit into it until she is twelve - and will so not want to be wearing a dress like this...:P)

Well, in case it's a long time between posts (I've got everything poor computer, I miss you already...) take care everyone, and may your own computers live long and fruitful lives!

Almost famous....

So I've been called a 'great cook' in the Christmas edition of Delicious magazine! How funny is that! And that was by a chef who has just been named '2007 Queensland Chef of the Year' by the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide, and also '2007 Young Chef of the Year' by the Courier Mail Food and Wine Guide.

...ok, so this is the part where I should also mention that Kym Machin is my brother-in-law, so maybe just a little bit biased (or looking to score brownie points with the in-laws..ha ha!). He was a contributer for the Delicious magazine this month, and gave a nice little blurb about how he will be spending Christmas (at our place), as well as a 'Christmassy dessert recipe'. It's funny because he said the writer basically asked him a heap of questions, then just made the whole blurb up. Hence there are little gems in there about us all getting competitive in the kitchen (um...I don't think so!) and we have 18 people coming for lunch (what the???? where did the extra four people come from???). I guess it comes back to not letting the truth get in the way of good copy...he he...funny stuff!

Anyway, this is where I would post a scan of the article if my scanner actually worked with my computer (Matt 'upgrated' my operating system to Leopard, or some such thing, which means heaps of previously perfectly good technology that I used to use every day, no longer works....gggrrr.....). Anyway, I guess if you want to read it you will have to pick up the mag and flick through it yourself - sorry! And if you want to sample some of Kym's delights, get into Urbane in Brisbane. It might be hard to get into before Christmas, but it really is a gastronomic delight. Eating Kym's food is as much about the appreciation of art and creativity as it is about eating exquisite food. Just be prepared to part with some serious cash.

And just so this doesn't sound like a post soley devoted to blatant advertising of my extended family members, here's a completely unrelated food photo:

This is what we ate after getting back from the Rocklea Produce Market on Saturday. Everything on this plate is market fresh. The organic olive sourdough bread, the vine-ripened tomatoes, the kalamata olives, and the soft sheep's feta. The lady who sold us the olives and the feta said this was a very traditional Greek snack, so when we came home we gave it a crack. And oh my god, just delicious. You've got to try it - nothing beats fresh!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas is coming...

...and so is the craft. Lee and I made this wreath while Kate was sleeping today. I let him loose with my pile of fabric scraps and some glue, and he pasted them all onto a paper plate that I'd cut a hole out of (the bow and tassels were my addition - I couldn't help myself ;P). We are both really happy with it, and it's hanging in our entrance now. Very festive! I got the idea from the blog V's World, which has fantastic ideas for fun activities to do with children. Oh, and can you spot the one incongruous addition to the wreath? Lee insisted it be there - look closely ;P

And of course a post wouldn't be complete without some more bags to show off. So here's the latest. One for my Aunty Leanne.

The outside of the bag is made from Heather Bailey fabric from her Freshcut range, as well as some lovely japanese quilting fabric from Spotlight. The inner is black fabric remnant found in an Op Shop. I think my sewing is actually getting better. I was quite happy with this stitching. And I LOVE this button. It was very satisfying to sew it on.

Also, another bag for mum. This one was designed so that she can sling it across her shoulders and have two hands free when she is out with the kids.

And I'm sure you're all sick of hearing me bang on about buttons. But again, I REALLY love this button.

It is one of only two of this kind from my Grandma's button tin, has a beautiful heavy weight to it, and is glass (makes a lovely noise when chinked against other glass buttons). It went so well with the black and white fabric (Faye Burgos design for Marcus Brothers Textiles). The peacock coloured fabric was just a remnant found in an Op Shop. It's a lovely fine cord - very tactile. Anyway, I know it's silly, but I'm very very glad this button went on a bag for my mum. To me, it is a special button, and I'm glad it went on a bag for a special person. There's a nice synchronicity to that...

Friday, November 30, 2007


That was the sound of another flying week! Where does the time go?

Opened my 'Bend-the-Rules Sewing' book to find a sewing diversion other than bags, and decided on the mixy-matchy napkins. Was a fun project - nice and quick, and so bright and happy! Perfect for having with tea and biscuits.

I then returned to bag-making to make a reversible shoulder bag for my sister. It turned out pretty well, but I forgot to take a photo before giving it to her. I'll try and remember to do it on the weekend when I see her.

It was also a week of playdates, and kids sloshing through the mud in the backyard. So of course it was also a week of cleaning (and fighting a losing battle with all the mud around). Hopefully, Matt will finish the retaining wall around the yard this weekend, which will eliminate the worst of the stuff. Maybe I'll have to let the kids out into it for one last good slosh before the wall gets built. I remember how much I loved skidding and sliding around in the mud as a kid (and growing up on a vineyard, there was a LOT of mud to play in), so it's hard to begrudge them their fun. I just have to keep reminding myself "it's only dirt"...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Show and tell

It's an unfortunate thing that the more there is to blog about, the less time there is to actually do it. Well, that's how it goes with me anyway. Been so busy doing stuff I've had no time to write about it - plus we are having Internet issues at the moment which is making things very hard....gggrrrr....

So anyway, here is a quick show and tell of what went on last week. First cab of the rank is...what a surprise...bags!

Three bags for three lovely ladies I used to work with. I'm still enjoying trying out different shapes, styles, and methods of construction. It's just such fun! And all three are a mixture of new fabrics and Op Shop finds. There's something about the mixture of old and new that quite appeals to me.

Clutch in Heather Bailey fabric from her Freshcut range, with a beautiful glass button from my Grandma's collection. Lined with fabric from an old sheet.

Shoulder bag in Amy Butler fabric, from her Lotus range, and cuff, straps and inside in vintage denim remnants I found in an Op Shop. More old buttons from Grandma's button tin.

Shoulder bag in soft quilting fabric found at Spotlight, with vintage designer fabric found as a remnant in an Op Shop, and thrifted red cord remnant for strap. And of course, another button from Grandma's trusty button tin (going to have to start replenishing the vintage button stash soon - ebay here I come!)

Also whipped up a couple of things for Kate this week. First was a twirly skirt I made by following a tutorial at this link

I also made some light summery pants from the same old sheet I used for the inside of the Heather Bailey clutch. The pattern was actually a pajama pants pattern that I had used to make pjs for Lee, and I just altered it to have more of a wide leg and funky cuff, rather than the tapered in look. I was quite happy with how they turned out, and they literally took me about 20mins to whip up. Yay! I love a bit of instant gratification.

And that's about it for the 'making' stuff. Poor kids had a lovely bout of 'hand, foot and mouth' virus (not to be confused with the deadly 'foot and mouth' disease you get from cattle). So a few days of fevers, crankiness, and awful foot blisters and mouth ulcers. Boy it's gotta be tough being a kid sometimes. But all's good now and we came out of quarantine on the weekend - whew!

Looking forward to a slightly more relaxed week this week. Yes I know, famous last words....

Monday, November 19, 2007

What fun!

Just some freeform felt rosette brooches and bow and flower hair clips. Such fun to make, and they're all hand sewn, so very meditative. I like to stitch them up while Kate is feeding herself, as it stops me from getting frustrated with the mess, and with the amount of time it takes her to get the food from the plate, to the spoon, to the high-chair tray, to her spoon again, to her head, and then finally into her mouth (eeekkk!).

Had a fantastic weekend. First a gorgeous early morning family trip to the Rocklea farmers market complete with sit-down coffees and cupcakes while listening to the live jazz, and overflowing bags of veggies, organic chicken and fresh flowers - scrummy! We always buy flowers from the same flower stand, and Emma always gives Lee a free flower of his own. This week he was given a yellow and purple 'bearded iris' - very funny hearing a three year old trying to say this :)

Then I went to the Umbrella Collective's Annual Christmas Fair and did LOTS of wanting, but just a bit of buying. I LOVE my Jack and Jill bobby pins by Liana Kabel (aka Plastic Girl).

And I couldn't resist these Christmas tree decorations by Kylie Johnson from Paper Boat Press. They are thin ceramic pieces that feel like gingerbread cookes - I could almost eat them!

Then a trip to Funky Fabrix in Ashgrove to buy some...well...funky fabric! I then came home and made a tote, but no pics as it is a Christmas present for someone - don't want to spoil it. Did also make this little number. Not for anyone in particular - just wanted to try something different...

Saturday night I had everyone (ie. the extended family) round for a roast which I actually did myself!!! Yep, that's right. Usually it's Matt doing the cooking/entertaining thing, but this time he actually sat and drank beers with Dad and Ron, while I did the faffing about in the kitchen. Luckily my sister and my mum helped me pull it all together - and mum made a delicious apricot cobbler for dessert. Perfect way to finish a perfect day - I just wish I had have thought to take a photo. Unfortunately I was enjoying a lovely glass of Pikes shiraz while cooking, so WAY too relaxed to be remembering such trifles...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stevie Nicks to Strawberry Shortcake

Once upon a time there was a dress. To say it was the ugliest dress in the world may be a little harsh, but it did have a 'Stevie Nicks meets red riding hood 1983' kind of feel to it.

But the dress had seen a lot of love. Someone had picked out the gorgeous red floral cotton, the cream floral contrasting fabric, and some swirly red and white resin buttons. They then sewed and sewed, and created...well.....something of a travesty if you ask me. But then, I am a child of the 80s, so my intolerance of the fashion crimes committed during this decade (which are trying to come back to embarrass a whole new generation at the moment it seems) is possibly a little extreme. But back to the dress. It had the bat wings, it had the pointy ruffled over-skirt bits, it had the 'medieval-style' lace-ups at the back, it had the big shoulder pads, and of course, it had the 'drop waist'.

This dress was worn a lot. It had been ripped and carefully mended, and the collar was stained with age and wear. One day, however, the owner and the dress parted company, and the dress made its way to St Vinnies. There it was spied by a girl on the lookout for fabric and buttons.

The dress had a new home, but little did it know it was to stay a dress for not much longer. That night, while her husband tinkered with and cursed his mountain bike and its baffling parts, the girl started cutting. She decided not to plan her object. It was cut out freehand, and pieced together ad hoc. Not necessarily because of a lack of respect for the dress, but more so that it inspired her to create with a childlike enthusiasm and impatience, and well, after all, the dress did only cost $1.00. If the project ended up a dud, then there would be no real loss, and at least the process was fun.

At the end of the evening, the girl held up her project for her husband to admire.....well? "Ha Ha" he laughed. "It's a Strawberry Shortcake bag". Maybe not the exultation or even admiration the girl was looking for, but she took it to mean it was not a failure. The freehand thing didn't really work out. There's a bit of wonkiness. But the girl thinks it's ok. It's a thing from the 80s she can live with (and looks a lot better on her than the dress did).

The end.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kid art

Yesterday during Kate's nap, Lee and I did some art and craft. First, we made stained glass windows. Lee has been very big on Playschool lately, so we did a Playschool window. When he finished his 'round' window, he liked it so much he decided that Kate needed one too. So we made her a 'square' window. (However, both did end up stuck on the window of Lee's room at the end of the day!!)

We then decided to make a rainbow (after which we both had to stand up, wave our arms around and sing the 'rainbow song'...."red and yellow and pink and green, purple and orange and bluuuuue, I can sing a raiiiinbow, sing a raiiiiinbow, sing a raiiiinbow toooooo"....I SO hope the neighbors weren't listening!).

Lastly, we decided to get a head start on the Christmas thing, so we did a Christmas tree collage. This one is my favorite.

Gotta love kid art!