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...