Saturday, 28 December 2013

Kofta's on the Barbeque

Last week I asked the family over for a barbeque, nothing fancy just some chicken burgers and Lamb Koftas.  My mother and father-in-law were staying for a couple of nights, a stop over on their way to visit their son and I thought this would be an easy meal to cook with the rush of pre-Christmas planning and cooking.     I haven't made Koftas for awhile and not on the barbeque before.   I saw a chef on one of the television shows mold them around rosemary stems and then cook on the grill.  This looked easy so that is what I would do.  They were amazing, so yummy wrapped in a pita with salad and Tzatziki sauce.  Definatly a winner and I will do them again over the summer.

500gm lamb mince
2Tbls pine nuts
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper

Brown pine nuts in a dry pan, remove and chop.  Place other ingredients in a large bowl and mix until ingredients are combined.  I use six stalks of the hard wood of the rosemary plant, strip all but the top leaves and then mold the meat, about a large meatball size around the stalk.  Once you have formed all of them place in the fridge for about 30mins.   Heat the Bbque and cook. Once cooked remove the rosemary stems from the Kofta, these should just slide off.   Assemble with pitas, salad and Tzatziki sauce or just serve on a plate with salad.   Either way these are yummy.   I doubled the ingredients to feed my large family.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Birds of a feather

As I opened the garage to leave the house this morning, I noticed a large flock of Ibis in the parkland across the street from my house, these are large birds with long pointy beaks, not having seen them here before I grabbed my camera from the car and snapped a few hurried photos.  They didn't seem to mind me being quite close to them, although I didn't tempt fate and stayed as far back as I could.   By the time I returned they had gone.  It must have been a stop over on their way to where ever.             I have just been having a relaxing day today, apart from the shopping trip for fresh fruit and vegetables I'm staying in.       It is hot and very windy so I am inside with air-conditioner on, just doing a few clean up jobs.     My daughter and Deacon came over for lunch, a sandwich with some of the left over ham from Christmas day,  I think I will finish the ham tonight for dinner and then I can wrap the bone for the freezer.  When the weather becomes cooler will have it there to make up a pot of soup.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Glazed Christmas ham

Every year I glaze a ham, but this year we have a large butt, and I wasn't sure if I would glaze this one, whether it would look as good as a full leg.   Then while looking through magazines for things to make and bake for this Christmas,  I kept seeing glazed hams, ok I was won over, but which glaze will I do.    Then I came across a  fig glaze and decided this would be the one.    I think it looks really good and after a sample I think it tastes great as well, I have one very good looking ham for tomorrow's lunch.    I am now getting excited, my grandsons have just made the rocky road chocolate Christmas trees, these have become a bit of a Christmas tradition that I involve the Grandkids in.     The chocolate bowls have been licked as well as spoons and fingers, the leftover marshmallows, raspberry lollies and the pecans have been eaten.   I think we are ready for the big day.        I wish you all a Merry Christmas, have a happy and safe holiday.

Fig Glaze:

1/2 cup of water or apple juice
1 cup light brown sugar
5 tlbs fig conserve (jam)
good pinch of both mixed spice and cinnamon
2 tlbs sherry or brandy

Add all ingredients to a small pot, stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil then lower heat and simmer for 10-15 mins. it should be syrupy.    In the mean time lift the skin from the ham and slash a diamond pattern over the fat, being carefull not to cut into the meat.  Stud with whole cloves and brush with some of the glaze.  Place into a hot oven for 15minutes, remove and brush with more glaze, repeat this a couple more times until it is burnished.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas craft with children

I've been caring for my four year old grandson the past two days, this has meant I've had to put my brain into action and think of things I used to do with my kids when they were young.     What craft things could I do with him, it was then I just decided to Google Christmas craft with children, hundreds of ideas popped up, after going through them we chose a Santa and a Christmas tree to make.    I then rummaged through my craft box to find the things we could use and was surprised to find more than I had thought I would.    This has been interesting and fun but  I have realised once again that four year olds DO NOT have very much patience.    We are both covered in glitter glue but  we have made something for Mummy and something for Shaun.    Packing things away he cannot wait to get into the next activity and I just want to sit with a coffee and relax for a few minutes.  Thankfully the sun has just come out and I can go outside with him.  We are having Summer here but this morning has been cool, it's now late morning and it's finally starting to warm up.  What craft activities have you done with your grandchildren?

Monday, 16 December 2013

Chocolate peppermint balls

As promised here are the chocolate peppermint balls.    I have to confess that this mix doesn't hold it's shape as well as the cherry ripe chocolate balls did, you can find the recipe for the cherry ripe choc balls here   I added another five crushed chocolate ripple biscuits to the mix and they still need to be kept in the fridge or they will go too soft.    On the good side they are dark, rich and full of peppermint flavour, very moorish. I do prefer the cherry ripe chocolate balls though, but, this is just a personal choice.

Chocolate peppermint balls:
1 pk. chocolate ripple biscuits (I added another 5)
5-6 chocolate peppermint bars
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 can condensed milk (395g)
coconut to coat
Place biscuits, peppermint bars and cocoa into the food processor and blitz till fine crumbs. Place into a large bowl and add the condensed milk and mix until combined, it was at this point I relised the mixture was too wet and added more biscuits.  Place the mix in the fridge for 30mins, then roll into small balls, about a teaspoon full, then roll in the coconut.  Store in the fridge.

Christmas mice

Something I made on our craft day that was successful is these little felt mice and a christmas tree.  These are so easy to make and just slip over a candy cane.  I found the original pattern of the mice in Australian Super Food Ideas in the christmas section.  I thought these would be fun for the kids.  If you cannot find the magazine just draw the outline on card, cut a couple of horizontal slits for the ears and the candy cane to slip through. Decorate with tiny eyes and a tiny pom pom, or you could use sequins. I liked the mice so much I decided to make some trees as well.  Have fun with these.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Precious pieces our kids have made

I was talking to a friend about all the little precious things our kids have made for us during the years they were in school,  the things that we cannot part with.    I have numerous ornaments and useful things my five children have made for me.  Some of them have been used on a daily basis, my second eldest son had a talent  for woodwork and metal work.    I have a chopping board, a metal scoop I use in my flour bin and a rack for my letters and he also made a magazine rack.     My eldest son who preffered reading,  science and all things space made something in pottery that I have loved ever since he presented it to me when he was in year seven.    It is, he said, a hobo with top hat, with newspapers spread over himself to stay warm, sleeping on a park bench,  I love the detail, colours and of course because he had not shown much talent for things arty before or since.    The son who does everything is the artist in the family, and he has been asked in the past to draw portraits for friends and family and more recently to design an advertising board for a friend.     I have framed artworks drawn by my then five and seven year old daughters that I look at almost everyday, along with poems that I have kept.   These along with the numerous Christmas decorations that I keep year to year mean so much to me because of the memories that are held within each and everyone of them.   Do you have some things that your children have made that you cannot part with?

A little Christmas tree

I think I have mentioned before that I have a wonderful new shopping complex in my town.    In the past I have had to drive out of town to do most of my shopping, not anymore.     It's amazing, I am so surprised to see so many people, I wonder where they have all come from, I didn't realise there were so many people in this area.      I'm really enjoying browsing through all these new shops, they really are so tempting,   I've been shopping for gifts,  but I really have to watch the budget.     That was until I found a variety shop, it is amazing, so many things to look at, and the prices are very good.     While having a look around this store I found a little Christmas tree,  I knew I would buy it as soon as I saw it,  budget forgotten, well,  it was not much, or so I told myself, and I'm sure you will agree it is just gorgeous and I had to have it.    It is a small glass tree on a mirror base with small baubles that hang from the branches.    I've kept the decorations in the house at a minimum this year, because we will be having Christmas lunch with the son who does everything.   My eldest son and his family will not be having Christmas here this year,  they alternate with my daughter-in-laws family, so, I  have reasoned that because the grandkids won't be here at my house I don't need to unpack everything,  but, to be perfectly honest  I'm just being very lazy.      Just the thought of dragging all the boxes out, unwrapping everything, sorting the lights and decorations and then a couple of weeks later having to pack  everything away has worn me out, let alone actually doing it.      I know,  bah humbug has come to mind, but I have pushed that thought to the furtherest corner of my mind.    It was different when my girls were still at home, everyone was eager to help,  but now I'm on my own it just seems like too much work.       My mother-in-law has phoned to tell me they will be staying overnight on the twentieth and twenty first, they are driving through my town on the way to have Christmas with their eldest son and his family.     I love them, but that means I actually have to make up beds and clean through the house and my garden.    Geez,  I really am sounding like the Grinch or is Ebenezer more appropriate.   Someone give me some Christmas spirit, preferably from a bottle.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Craft day 2013

This year has been so busy, and it seems like it has flown by so quickly.  First off, and still ongoing is my eledest sons illness, he has recently had another MRI and this is once again a good result,  he will continue with Chemo one week a month, but he is feeling more positive, this has eased my fears and I'm also looking to the future.     My daughter-in-law and her family were busy with wedding preparations for her sisters wedding, it was a beautiful day and a lovely wedding.      Then the son who does everything and my daughter-in-law bought their first house, followed by the packing and the move.      Along with the Easter holidays, all the birthday celebrations and the pre- Christmas parties we had been unable to set a date for a craft day this year, for the girls in the family.     We  thought we should organise one before Christmas, and so, Sunday was chosen, I would buy everything needed for us to attempt folded fabric balls.       It was a very slow start, everyone was tired,  but,  once the fabrics were chosen, then cut and pressed,  three of us made a start and then we realised we did'nt have enough fabric to finish.    I think the polystyrene balls I had purchased were a bit too large.    My daughter-in-law did finish her ball by using some folded fabric and then ribbon around the join.    I love the colours she chose, and it does look good.  I think I will pull mine apart and redo it, after all practice makes perfect.   My youngest daughter  hemmed her new drapes, my eldest daughter looked through some Christmas magazines for recipes.  Although not much was achieved we did enjoy each others company and had some fun oh, and of course it would not be a girls day with out yummy treats to eat.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Christmas sweet things

It's that time of the year when I want try a few of those Christmas sweet things that are appearing on Facebook, you know the ones that put on kilo's but taste so, so good.   To amuse Deacon for awhile this afternoon,  while my daughter was doing some Santa shopping,  I thought he could help me make some cherry ripe chocolate balls.    While he broke a packet of Marie biscuits into the food processor I measured the cocoa and then we got to the fun part, we both broke five packets of cherry ripe bars, put them in with the biscuits and blitzed the mix till fine crumbs.   We had a taste test of the cherry ripe bar, just to make sure it was yummy and  while I stirred  the condensed milk into the mixture I gave him a spoon to eat the remains of the condensed milk from the can.      All the while he was chattering on about what a good cook he was, and how mummy lets him help cook as well.     I had some fun watching him help me roll these into little balls, but with chocolate sticking to his hands he decided he had done enough after rolling two balls, and asked me to wash his hands and put a movie into the DVD player for him, Despicable Me 2 is currently his favourite.  The verdict on the cherry ripe chocolate balls, very yummy, but I like the balls I dipped in white chocolate more.

Cherry Ripe Balls:

5-6 cherry ripe bars
1pk. Nice biscuits (I had Marie biscuits)
2 Tbls. Cocoa
1 can Condensed Milk
 Coconut to coat or dip in melted chocolate

Break the biscuits, add to the food processor with the cocoa and cherry ripe bars, blitz till crumbly.
Place into a large bowl and add the condensed milk, mix well, then roll teaspoons of mix into balls then roll the balls in the coconut or dip into melted chocolate. Leave them overnight if you can, they are much better.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Christmas challenge

I can finally reveal to you the reason I have been absent for the past few weeks.  In between all the pre-christmas parties, my sons house warming party and shopping and lunchs,   I have been sewing a little quilt for my quilt groups christmas challenge.    The organiser of the challenge decided the quilt was to be A4 in size and contain a minimum of two log cabin blocks.    I have played with several different designs before deciding on the final one I would use.    To stretch my skills I also decided to use prarie points around the edge to finish it off,  I have never sewn prarie points before, so this was a lesson in small points.     Several times I had to unpick and restitch but in the end I was happy with what I produced, it is not perfect, but this is what a challenge is all about, trying new things.    Tonight was our Christmas party, the last time we had a meeting before our break over the christmas peroid.      Two of the members supplied a lovely table of finger foods and of course desserts.    With all the little quilts lined up and numbered so it would be an anonymous vote, everyone was given a slip of paper and were asked to vote for their favourite, the winner was decided and then to my surprise I received  second place.     I'm very happy with second and my prize, which is a $30 voucher for our local fabric store and a fat quarter bundle.     Sunday will be a christmas craft day with the girls in the family, I'm looking forward to this and so I've decided to make some yummy treats for us.     After checking to see what is popular this year, I have decided on cherry ripe chocolate balls and peppermint chocolate balls.     I'll show you what these look like, and also give you my verdict on what they taste like when I make these at the weekend.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

I love Nori Rolls

I was introduced to Sushi,  or more precisely Nori rolls about three years ago while out shopping.  Never afraid to try something new I bought one prawn roll  for lunch, that was when my love for Nori rolls began.   My family like these almost as much as I do, so I decided I had to learn how to make them.    After several messy attempts I can now proclaim I know how to make these little rolls of yummy.    Ok, I still make a bit of a mess but they do hold their shape when I cut them and they taste yummy.   I was asked to take a plate of food to a friends birthday last weekend, so of course I decided  to make a platter of Nori rolls. Actually it was my sister who demanded I make a plate of sushi to take along.    I was surprised to find that there are some people that haven't tried these before.  I  convinced a friend to try one and guess what,  she has just bought a Sushi kit from the supermarket today to try and make her own.   Last night while wondering what to have for dinner I realised I had some fillings left from the wekend so I made a couple for my dinner last night.    I also have a weekness for pickled ginger and I  like rice paper rolls, my daughters and I often make these over the summer, they are so nice on a hot day.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Men and machines

The works have begun on the parkland across the street from my house.   Early starts to my mornings this past week, the men and machinery complete with their generators have been arriving just before 7am.   Today I decided to leave the house for awhile just to get away from the noise.     So far they have almost completed the new walking paths that extend the whole perimetre of the park.  We have been informed the new gazeebo and bbque area as well as garden beds will be completed before Christmas.  This will bring more people to the park, which until now has been nothing but a wide open space, I'm looking forward to see what it will become.     
In the front of my house I have a gum tree, over the past three years a magpie family have taken up residence in a nest in this tree.  It has been so nice to wake to the sound of their warbles first thing in the morning, they have a young one that I could see over the top of the nest this morning but, by the time I came inside to get the camera I could'nt see it anymore. So I only have a photo of the nest.

Monday, 11 November 2013

The adventures of a quilt

My quilting group, The Willows, and I have been disappointed and saddened to find a quilt that we had sewn as a group,  was being used to cover a childrens sand pit in a community kindergarten.    This quilt was made and presented to our Shire Office, to be hung as a community quilt,  and it was for a considerable amount of time until it was found to be fading by light from a nearby window.     It was removed to be placed in another room.  Over time we had wondered about this quilt, and it's whereabouts but had never followed up to find where it was.   Many hours were spent in making this special quilt, from taking photos of the buildings of  importance in our area, having the patterns developed,  finding suitable fabrics, deciding on the design of the quilt and then nominating who would sew each block.  We were very proud of this quilt, we had achieved this as a young, recently formed quilting group.   We were formed in 1997 and this quilt was planned during the following year,  I was one of the team chosen to be apart of this quilt, my block consists of  trotting horses during a race,  our area is home to Harness Racing and at that time I had a friend who was involved in this industry.    I thoroughly enjoyed working on this block, and was very proud of my efforts.  Phone calls have been made and the quilt has been rescued, cleaned and returned to our group.  Further enquires have followed and it appears that it will have a new home with the Heritage Society where it will be hung for display once again.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Where is my unpick?

Melbourne Cup Day today,  the horse race that supposedly stops the nation, if you follow horse racing you will know this race is big..... it is a public holiday here in Melbourne.  Have you ever heard of a public holiday for a horse race before, most people use this time to have a lunch with friends, watch the race via the television, have a few glasses of champagne and eat far too much.    Those who go to Flemington to witness the race will dress in their finery, men and women alike and be amoungst one hundred thousand others people all fighting for a position to hopefully see the big race.    I have been to this race day only once and believe me once was enough, far too many people.      Me.... what did I do today, well I woke early and decided to spend some time in the garden before it warmed up, I trimmed my roses, pulled the parsley that had taken over the garden and swept the paving where my grandsons had spread the crushed terracotta,  and all this before lunch.    After lunch I decided to tackle something I have been putting off, an attempt at something for the Christmas Challenge for my quilting group.   I have decided on three inch log cabins for the background, actually it has to be log cabin, that is part of the challenge,   what I will do then I'm not sure I have several ideas but will decide once I have these done.  I have been sewing these by hand and it has taken me two hours to do four.     Everything was going so well, I had four done and then I looked at them,  what have I done, where is my unpick?   I've  made a mistake, see if you can spot it.   Damn, now I only have two complete and two I will have to unpick and do again.
  I need six in total, so I guess this is what I will be doing tonight. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sunday is market day

Fresh asparagus, cherries, olive oil dressing and basket
The first Sunday of the month is market day in the little town up and over the hill from where I live.  I love going to this market because the fresh produce is locally grown, there is a huge array of different stalls, plants, gifts, fresh breads, cakes, jams, olive oils etc.   This morning I arrived early, always best if you want a good parking space, and the weather was predicted to be showers and cool, yesterday was very warm and today just the reverse, typical Spring weather.   I came across a stall selling wonderful grass baskets, different shapes and sizes, the women selling these told me they are made by women in Ghana from elephant grass, 60% of the sale of the baskets will go bach to the community to support women and children.  I decided I would buy one of the baskets, but which one, it took me awhile before I made the decision as to which one it would be.   I really do hope that the funds from the sale of these baskets do go to these women.     I was able to buy some wonderfull local cherries, asparagus and an olive oil and verjuice dressing before my phone rang.   My friends who live near by would meet me for coffee, then the rain came down so we went to a cafe where we sat and talked for awhile, before my daughter rang to say she was just parking her car and would meet me.   We were wet and cold by the time she bought her free range eggs, some lovely berry jam and some breakfast cereal.    We decided it would be a much better idea to come home and dry off,  and in her words " wrap herself in her quilt cave and watch a movie this afternoon".


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

About my home town

One of my blogger friends recently asked me to tell her a little about where I live.  Well this is not an easy thing to do, how much do I say,  I do want to protect myself  but, I also want to connect with her and others that read my blog.  This is what I have decided, I don't need to give my address or tell too much about my shire, but I can tell you about my State.    I live at the bottom of Australia, the only place further down and across the waters of  Bass Strait is the island of Tasmania.   My home is in the state of Victoria, named after Queen Victoria, we were settled by the British and most of our ancestors were criminals who were shipped from the motherland England as convicts to settle this great land, although  my ancestors are mostly Irish   My home town is Melbourne it has a population of about 4 million people, I live in a shire about 50 kilometres on the outskirts of Melbourne.  Our shire has a population of roughly a hundred and twenty thousand people, with about a half of the community under 38 years old.  This area was once farming land, the original road through the shire was the Cobb and Co., coach road used to access the gold fields of Ballarat.  The Shire sprang up around the pub and coach office. The outskirts of the shire are still farming but are becoming required for housing.  Victoria's weather is classified as temperate, basically meaning we have very hot summers, mostly dry heat, occasionally it will be humid but this is rare, it has been know to reach 47 degrees celcius in the middle of summer to cold and hopefully wet winters. We have experienced fifteen years of drought but this winter has been kind to us.   Our winter tempretures usually vary between 1-2 degrees celcius to about 12 degrees, this of course varies, especially now we are feeling the changes due to global warming.  I love my town, Melbourne has bush on one side and open beaches with cafes on the forshore where most spend their time in summer.  On the other side of the city it is suburbia and housing,  but then if you want to ski during the winter it is only about one hundred kilometres to the snow fields.    In the summer we are not far from  the world renowned surf  coast of the Great Ocean Road and the beaches of  Bells Beach, Lorne, and Anglesea.  Melbourne is a lively young city, we have the Yarra river which winds it's way through the centre of the city, and has become the hub of many shops, cafes and water sports.  The sport mostly played is Australian rules football in the winter and Cricket in the summer,  and let me tell you everyone who has a club they support is very passionate about their team.  Not far from where I live there are kangaroos, koalas, wombats, beautiful wild birds, parrots, galahs, cockatoos etc, and of course the dreaded snakes.  If you look very carefully along creek beds you may come across a platypus or two, not as many as there used to be.     Kangaroos are taking over parts of this country, they are breeding in large numbers and are now being culled for their meat, which by the way is delicious, little fat and high in protein.  Snakes are some of the most dangerous in the world, and we have many.  
This was taken not far from my house overlooking  farmland
The city of Melbourne has many high rise buildings,  wonderful museums, art centres, theatres, hotels and of course the scorned casino. Most of us live in single story dwellings, we do not have cellars or attics, but saying that,  a lot of the earlier heritage terraces around the city do. The photo on the right is not typical, most people live in suburbia, I think I am very lucky to live outside what is called the green wedge, the land between the city and my shire. This area is becoming smaller as more land is needed for housing, but I am happy as I drive home that I can enjoy the scenery around me and unwind.
My home is a single story house with a garage attached to the side, it has three bedrooms two living areas and two bathrooms, I have a small yard, just enough land to have a garden and a small vegetable plot.  Diane, I hope this has given you an insight into my town and where I live. I have been told Melbourne reminds people a little of Seattle if that will help, not sure.
I took this photo from a hot air ballon eleven years ago, it is early in the morning, with the sun just rising.  We were coming over the city from the east, down below is the Yarra river and the tennis stadium in the middle of the photo with the some of the city buildings beyond.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Shy little boy

Noah waiting patiently for his Dinosaur birthday cake
I am already missing my eldest son and his boys, although I am tired and have loads of  washing to do and floors to clean I miss them.  Noah is so shy when I see him, it usually takes a few days for him to respond to me and by that time, it is almost time for them to pack and go home.  I know it is because I only see him a few times during the year and he is still young, and this will change as he grows.    Isaac is almost six years old and I always receive  huge cuddles from him, he is more outgoing than his little brother, although I can remember when he was little it would take a few hours for him to warm to me before I was able to speak to him and give him a cuddle.    I'm  looking forward to the next visit, I have a flight booked for April next year, but I think they will be down here to visit before then.    Here are a couple of photos of  Noah and his dinosaur birthday cake that his daddy made for him.   Sorry for the photo quality, I forgot the flash.

Family photo,   Isaac helping Noah to cut the cake

Gluten Free Orange cake

The house is very quiet, so quiet that I have turned on the radio for back ground noise.  My eldest son and his family left this afternoon for their trip home.  This week has passed by so quickly, so much has happened and has been celebrated.   The son who does everything received the keys to his new house and has been able to show the family where he will be living, the new carpet has been put down and they are now ready to move the furniture in.   Last Friday would have been my late husbands birthday, my eldest son suggested we all go out for lunch and celebrate this, and have a nice day together.  We chose the old blue stone homestead "Eynnesbury" which has been converted into a restaurant, the old farmland that surrounds the house now has a golf course and a housing estate.  It is a lovely place, we enjoyed a relaxed lunch and the children had a run around on the lawn under the trees while we had coffee.   My eldest son Darren had invited family over to celebrate Noahs 2nd birthday on Sunday, all the food was organised except the gluten free food for my sister and neice.

My friend Jenni gave me a recipe for an Orange and Almond gluten free cake which she often bakes for her family.  Not sure how this would taste I was nervous serving it, but as you will see by the photo I need not have had any worries, so I can recommend this if you need a moist and also delicious cake for a celebration cake.

Orange, Almond Gluten Free Cake:

2 large Navel Oranges
6 eggs
250gm Almond meal
250gm castor sugar
1tsp baking powder
Cook the whole oranges in water, making sure they are covered for 11/2 - 2 hours until they are soft.  Cool, and then place in food processor and blitz until soft and pulpy.
Preheat Oven to 170 celcius
Butter a 22cm pan, line base and sides with baking paper and dust with almond meal.   Whisk almond meal, baking powder, and castor sugar until well combined.   Beat eggs on high for 6 minutes until light and fluffy.  Scrape the orange puree and almond mix into the eggs, fold together.  Bake for 1 hour, brush with apricot glaze or dust with icing sugar.  I dusted with the icing sugar and then decorated with strawberries.  Thankyou Jenni

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Embroidery for a new bag

A few weeks ago I bought a pattern for a bag, I thought it was about time I had a new one, the bag I currently use to carry all my quilting things in would be about fifteen years old.  The pattern I chose is one by Gail Pan called "Friendship Daisies"  if you know me you know I love daisies, and so, when I saw this pattern  I knew it would be mine.
I have made a start on the embroidery, it is all in a navy blue, a bit unusual but I really like it.  It is a simple pattern, backstich with some french knots, this won't take very long to finish but,  I won't be doing much sewing for the rest of the week,  because my eldest son and his family will be arriving from interstate this evening.   I have been busy this afternoon putting my sewing machine and everything else away.   My youngest grandson will be turning two this weekend, I am not sure where that time has gone, I'm think as we grow older that the time speeds up.  My son has  invited the family over for a birthday celebration on Sunday, it will be so good to see everyone together.    Oh, the big news for this week,  the son who does everything and his wife will be picking up the keys to their new house, it is going to be an exciting week for all of us. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Some little tarts

I rolled out the pastry I had over from the fruit roll and had enough to make two dozen little jam tarts, or so I thought. ( the recipe for the pastry is on my previous blog)  I don't know why, but, every time I make these I always put too much jam in them and they overflow the tart cases and make a complete mess of the pan.    I only have one small tart pan so after washing this and then realising I would not have enough jam to make another dozen,  I took the eggs from the fridge and with some red onion, sun-dried tomatoe and grated cheese I made a dozen little savoury egg tarts as well.  These have been cooled and stored in the freezer.  I do have to admit to having a taste test of the apple and fruit roll and one of the jam tarts with a cup of coffee this afternoon, very yummy.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Left over apples

This morning I noticed I had four apples left  in the fruit bowl, tomorrow will be my shopping day and because I'll be buying fresh fruit for the coming week, I knew I would have to do something with these.  I  decided the easiest thing to do was  to cook them with a little sugar and I would store them in the fridge, but, you know how it is, once you start to think about it all sorts of things come to mind.    As I was cutting the apples  I realised I still had plenty of butter,  I had some dried apricots and
some dried sultanas.   If I made a pastry I could make a pie, then again what about a fruit roll.  With the decision made I found my pastry recipe, added the dried apricots and sultanas to the cooking apple, once they were cooked I set aside to cool and worked on the pastry.  While this was cooking in the oven, I had enough pastry over to make some jam tarts, these will be good for the grandsons tomorrow after school.

Fruit Roll:
 Peel, core and slice four apples, I used a mix of granny smith and pink lady, add a few chopped dried apricots and a small handful of sultanas, 1 tablespoon of sugar and a little water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer until the apples are soft.  Cool. (I don't like very sweet, so if you like, add more sugar)

Pastry:                      200g plain flour
                                200g butter
                                80-90mls of ice cold water
                                Place the flour and butter in the food processor and pulse until it looks like large breadcrumbs, slowly add the water, depending on the flour you may need more or less, until it comes together.  Roll out into a rectangle and then place into the fridge for 30 minutes.  Add the filling along the long side of the rectangle, brush the edges with some egg wash and carefully roll away from you while tucking the sides in. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with caster sugar and sprinkle a little cinnamon over. Bake in a hot oven 200 celcius for about 25-30 minutes.  Serve with custard or fresh cream,  Enjoy

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A patchwork adventure on a bus

Saturday was the planned and very much anticipated bus excursion for my Quilting group "The Willows"  we would be travelling to the other side of our city,  to explore and shop at five of the patchwork shops,  that are normally  too far away for us shop with.   It was an early start to the day for us, we were to meet the bus at 7-30am, it was to leave at 7-45am on the dot.   Well, the bus was not there when we all arrived, we waited and we waited,  it seems the bus driver had been given instructions to be at our meet place at 8-30am.  With everyone on board,  our organiser for the day handed us a small bag of goodies, inside was a small pack of biscuits with cream cheese, small pack of crisps, a piece of fruit cake, a roll of fabric and a  raffle ticket.    This was going to be a good day.    First shop on our trip was "Catarina's Country"  where I found some beautiful Northcott fabric by Ro Gregg called  bed of roses, this fabric was part of the quest for a cure, I was dissapointed to find there was only a metre left on the roll but purchased that anyway.    The second shop was "Patchwork with Gail B" in Bayswater,   this shop was tucked away in the back of Gails fathers tile shop and was a surprise, if I had gone on my own I don't think I would have  found this shop.     Our next stop would be for lunch, this is the shop I was most excited to see, "Patchwork Teahouse" in Warburton, it is situated in one of the prettiest areas of our state, lots of tree ferns and gum trees surround the shop and we could hear so many birds.   Being so close to the snowfields they usually have snow in the winter, this would be very picturesque.  We had pre-ordered our lunch and it was almost ready when we arrived, my lunch was homemade pastie with a side salad, my friend had quiche and salad, we both agreed it was delicious and very filling.   I was amazed with this shop, there was so much to look at, their displays of  fabrics and small gifts was wonderful.    I bought a range of Lynette Anderson fabrics from here and could have spent more if I had not decided on a budget.  Next stop was "Stitch N Patch" this was a small shop and was very crowded, not much room for the forty of us to move around the store.  I did purchase the remaining two pieces of Robyn Pandolph fabrics I needed, but left the store without really have a good look.   The last shop was a tiny shop, no more than a shed really which was situated in the back of private premises "A little bit of country"  I had a look around but did not purchase anything.    We all climbed back on the bus for the long journey home.  Oh, the raffle tickets we were given, four prizes were available, but I was not one of the lucky ones.  We arrived home to our little town at 6-45pm very tired but happy we had spent a wonderful day with friends, seen some amazing shops, spent our money and I cannot wait till next year for our next shopping adventure where ever that will be.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Aphids on my roses

This spring I have been amazed at the size of the aphids invading my roses, Some of them are almost the size of elephants, ha ha not really, but they are the largest I have seen.   I have tried all the home remedies and to no avail, I have tried to squash them in my fingers, just had a green mess on my fingers,  I haven't been able to eradicate them.     I was hoping the severe winds we have had over the past week would have sent them on their way,  no, they are back in full force this morning.   This morning I have attacked them with white oil in an attempt to get them under control.   This infestation of aphids is not only here, I also noticed my in-laws roses were infested as well and they are interstate.  I am hoping this spray will be the last time I have to attack them.   Fingers crossed.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Fairies a late birthday gift

Things have been a little slow around here this week, I was so busy last week my body has told me to take it easy.    While sitting on the lounge yesterday  I designed the label for my sisters quilt, something pretty to match the quilt top, which is of fairies.  Yes, I did say fairies, my sister is fairy mad, everything fairies, jewelery, ceramics, paintings, furnishings.  It started in her bedroom but has now invaded the whole house, including the bathroom.     This has taken me awhile to complete, I was planning on having it finished for her 50th birthday, but then decided to embroider and stitch some beading on the panels.   She has beeen very patient, especially as she celebrated her 53rd birthday this year.  Illness has also played a part in why there has been a delay in the making of this quilt.   I have given her a
preview as I was sewing the top and I know she will be excited to receive this.   The wording on the quilt label is something I read recently, I have changed the wording slightly, I am so sorry I don't know the author of this or would give credit where due.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A sad goodbye

Casey in 2009 aged 12 years
While I was away over the weekend I left  "the son who does everything"  in charge of looking after my two dogs.    He rang me on Saturday night to tell me Casey, my sixteen year old terrier was not well, not eating, this is unusual she may be old but eating has never been a problem,  in fact she has been known to steal food from my other dog Tyler.    I was a little concerned but he said he would keep an eye on her and let me know if there was any change.  Over the past couple of months she has spent more time sleeping than she used to and I knew the inevitable was near.      I noticed last year that she was deaf,  I always seemed to be giving her a fright when I came up on her, and then early this year she became blind in one eye and then I noticed the other eye was cloudy as well.    I arrived home on Monday afternoon and saw straight away that the end was near, I made an appointment with the veterinary clinic for the next morning but I was worried she wouldn't make it through the night.  She did, but she had not moved all night, I held her while the vet gave her the injection and she went to sleep.   This little dog had a great life, she was from a litter that was to be disposed of, we rescued her and took her home to be part of our family, five kids, a golden labrador, and a cat.  She settled in right away, was pals with the cat and the dog, she was friendly and loved to be part of everything.  Casey was an ugly little dog with a great character and we loved her.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A road trip to visit family

White (Albino) kangaroos
My youngest daughter asked me to accompany her on a road trip interstate to visit her grandparents.    She had taken a couple of days leave from work so it would be a four day weekend.    Since my husbands death we have been making this trip about once a year, more often for family occasions.    This drive takes us through farming country, which at this time of the year is green from the wheat, barley and pea crops and then the vivid yellow of acres of canola fields. It is an amazing site and because we have had good spring rain the country is very green,  something we haven't seen for a long time.   The drive is usually about four and a half hours depending on the amount of stops along the way.     My daughter decided she would drive, it was so nice to just sit in the passenger seat and look out from the window at the scenery as we drove by.     There is one place we nearly always stop at, the Giant Koala, we have so many photos of this, it has been a tourist attraction for a number of years, in the early years a few of the photos included my oldest daughter screaming in fright.   Those days a long gone, now it is just a drink stop and another photo before we drive on.    It was good to spend time with my in-laws and catch up with my husbands brother and his wife,  in fact it was lovely to see my gorgeous girl relating to her family now as an adult, why do our kids grow so fast.    We did a little shopping while we were there, this is a small town so not much to look at but, we both managed to spend some money. 
Giant Koala at Dadwells bridge
I bought a photo frame I saw in the gift shop, something that will be just perfect in my craft room, on my desk along with my mouse pad not sure what photo I will place in it yet.   We also went to the wild life park, this town has a population of albino kangaroos, at the moment their numbers are down and we saw only three females, a joey and a white buck in a seperate enclosure.  As I went to snap the photo they lay down in the grass, so I don't have a great photo of them.    The son who does everything rang me on Saturday night to inform me that my old terrier dog was not well, I think the time has come to say goodbye to her, she is just over sixteen years old and I have had her since she was a tiny puppy.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Big decisions

I spend a lot of time with the son who does everything, not as much as I used to now that he is working full time again, but I still see him almost everyday.     This son became a stay at home dad when his youngest son Connor was still a baby,  so his wife could go to University and obtain a teaching degree.     When it was time for him to re-enter the workforce he found this had disadvantaged his chances of obtaining work.    Well,  he now has a job and I  take Connor to school and collect him in the afternoon, then  I usually sit with him and his fifteen year old brother Ryan until my son and daughter-in-law return from work.      As you may know my health is not so good,  my son often checks on me to make sure I'm ok,  as well as always doing odd jobs for me.     They have just bought their first house, on a very large block,  and they have given me a proposition to think over.      Would I move into a unit on their property, it would benefit both of us, me because I'm getting older, and he will know I'm safe, and for them as someone to help with the care of their children while they both work.       This is a big decision, I would have my own space but be close by, I know we all have to face the reality that we grow old and the consequences of that, this is would be a better option than a nursing home, which is something I do not want to think about.     I have some thinking to do and maybe I will talk this over with my sisters.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

A cute mouse rug

I opened the mail box this morning to find a large envelope jammed inside, on opening the parcel I was excited to find the cutest mouse pad- rug  I've ever seen.    I realised this, along with a bookmark are gifts from my youngest daughter, she asked me if I had received any mail on Friday and now I know why.  Thankyou my sweet girl, I love them and will think of you when I use them.   The mat is a miniture version of a William Morris Carpet called "Holland Park", designed in Britian between 1834-1896.  William Morris was one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts movement , the original can be found in the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.     I often come across fabric reproductions of William Morris designs, as a matter of  fact one of my friends is a huge fan of everything William Morris and has completed some beautiful quilts using these fabrics.                       This morning I was expecting a sleep in, no school pickup today, but my phone rang a little after 7am, my eldest daughter wanted me to collect Deacon from day-care, apparently the floors at the centre had been stripped and cleaned over the weekend.    The fumes were so strong that children and staff were being affected by them, the centre would have to be evacuted until it cleared, so I quickly dressed and drove to pick him up, when I arrived about 7-45am only a handful of children were left there.   My daughters partner had a half day today so he has just taken him home for the rest of the day, I now have the rest of the day to myself.

A new house, a wedding and a quilt-in.

my place at the quilt-in
Block three "Butterfly Garden" by Leanne Beasley
So much has been happening, these last few weeks have been very busy.  First and most importantly is the news that my son who does everything and his wife have just purchased their first house.    They have been married for fifteen years and have rented during this time, but over the past six months have been hunting for the perfect house at the perfect price for them, and they have found it.     It has been so exciting to see how happy they are, although they are in shock at the mortgage they now have, they cannot wait to move in, which will be in six short weeks.         My daughter-in-laws sister was married last weekend, they have been together for forteen years and have a young son who was their page boy.    It was so cute to see he had made a small box from lego pieces to place the wedding rings in for the service.    His coursage was a little lego man in a top hat, this was such an appropriate arrangement for a little boy.      It was a lovely wedding with amazing food, but the most popular thing on the night was the photo booth,  along with the booth was an assortment of costumes, it was  fun to view the photos taken in the booth on the night, this will be a wonderful memory for them.      Yesterday I went to a quilt in, along with some of my friends from our quilting group, we travelled to Wyndamvale quilt group and had a wonderful afternoon, meeting other women, shopping at the four shops they had there and listening to the guest speaker who was Gail Pan.     I enjoyed  hearing her speak about her recent teaching trip to Hawaii with Leanne Beasley,  and seeing the many quilts she brought along to show.    Gail also had a stall of  her many patterns, fabrics, block of the month and accessories for sale.    I bought two patterns and was pleased that was all I bought on the day.     While sitting sewing I almost finished block three of "Butterfly garden" by Leanne Beasley,  I'm making slow progress on this quilt but,
that is what I expected when I started.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Labels for quilts

Today I have been sitting, listening to some music, some Sarah McLachlan and Pete Murray.    I have also been hand stitching a little car for the label I will attach to Isaac's quilt.    I copied one of the cars from the fabric on the quilt and decided to embroider the outline,  I'll then use some of the leftover fabric to border this and write some details on it with a Micron pigma pen.      I have done the same for Noah's label but instead copied an elephant, I haven't embroidered this as yet.   The weather has been amazing for the first week of spring, beautiful sunny days and mild nights, apparently we have just had the warmest winter on record.  I'm not sure about that, we had some very cold days, although there was not much rain.   My son has had another MRI scan and this has been the same result as the first one.    He is to remain on chemotherapy one week of every month, at least till the next MRI scan.     This has given me enormous relief, I was so worried, I know this will be a journey but it has given more hope that he will have a full recovery. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Another quilt finished

Zoot by Riley blake on my design floor, lol
This morning while I was sitting with my quilting group I finished sewing the binding to the quilt for my grandson Isaac.    This quilt is all cars and trucks, what is it with little boys and cars and trucks, then again what is it with big boys and their cars and trucks.     One morning last year while my son was having breakfast and reading the paper while sitting at the breakfast bar,  Isaac was sitting alongside him and looking through the car advertisments in the morning paper.    He was pointing out cars to my son who thought it amusing enough to retell the story to me.   While shopping for fabrics for the boys quilts I came across this range from Riley Blake designs called Scoot.  This was perfect especially when I saw the fabrics with the car advertisements.    If you are looking for a simple pattern, something for a large print this is it and you can find it here     As with Noah's quilt it is bright and cheerful and just perfect for little boys.     After quilting this morning a small group of us went out for lunch, it was nice to be able to sit back and chat to some of the women I don't normally sit with.    I was surprised to find four of them practically grew up together, in the same area that I lived when I was a little girl.     I'm going on a bus tour to quilting shops out of our area in a couple of weeks,  I will be on the lookout for all things space for my daughters little boy Deacon,  and then I have one more boy quilt to make before I can start on a new quilt for my room

Monday, 26 August 2013

Noahs animal quilt finished

Noahs quilt
I have just finished sewing the binding to my youngest grandson Noah's quilt, I decided to use some of the leftover fabrics and make a scrappy binding.    I love the bright and fun look of this quilt and I'm sure he will as well.     If you want the details for this quilt you can find it here I have just started to cut lengths of fabric to make binding for Isaac's quilt, I'm hoping to finish this tonight.  I am feeling unsure  as to whether  I should post these interstate, I've heard so many stories of quilts going missing in the post,  or will I wait untill I can travel there and deliver them.   I would like to see the look on their faces but I also want them to receive them soon.  This is something I will have to think on.    Over the past week I have been cleaning out cupboards,  how do we accumulate so much stuff,  I have a pile of things to sell, another pile to go to the church shop and the rest is going to the recycle centre and the bin.     I am amazed how good I feel after doing this, I always feel a sense of pride when I finish another quilt  but, I  feel a sense of accomplishment when I've had a good clean.     The weather is starting to warm and I am looking forward to going out into the garden to plant my summer vegies and clean up the mess after the strong August winds,  one of the large pots I have with a twenty year old cumquat tree was blown over, it is looking a bit sad so I think I will repot it if I can get someone to give me a hand.    The caterpillas from the cabbage moths have done a lot of damage this year to all my pelagoniums I'm going to cut them back and look forward to a new display this spring.

Quilted elephants all over