Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas baking

All the shopping is done, presents bought, wrapped, and under the tree. All that is left to do is some Christmas baking.  I love baking at this time of the year as I love leafing through all my Christmas books and deciding what to make.  One of my fav books is Nigella's Christmas Kitchen, so I whipped up these Chocolate Christmas Cookies and Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies yesterday from her book.

Cranberry and White Chocolate Cookies

150g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
75g rolled oats (not instant)
125g soft butter
75g dark brown sugar
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g dried cranberries
50g pecans, roughly chopped
150g white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180oC/ 350°F/gas mark 4.

Measure out the flour, baking powder, salt and rolled oats into a bowl.
Put the butter and sugars into another bowl and beat together until creamy — this is obviously easier with an electric mixer of some kind, but you just need to put some muscle into otherwise — then beat in the egg and vanilla.
Beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and oat mixture and then fold in the cranberries, chopped pecans and chocolate chips.
Roll tablespoonfuls of dough into a ball with your hands, and then place them on a lined or greased baking sheet and squish the dough balls down with a fork. You may need two baking sheets or be prepared to make these in two batches.
Cook for 15 minutes; when ready, the cookies will be tinged a pale gold, but be too soft to lift immediately off the tray, so leave the tray on a cool surface and let them harden for about 5 minutes. Remove with a spatula to cool fully on a wire rack.

Chocolate Christmas Cookies

1 1/8 cups soft butter ( 2 1/4 sticks, 18 tbsp)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
candy sprinkles or sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F Line a cookie sheet with parchment or Silpat.
Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Sift 1/3 c cocoa powder into the mixture and beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder, and add to mixture. (Optionally, combine everything in a food processor and mix until combined.).
Form 1 tbsp sized balls. Place on cookie sheet at least 2" apart, pressing down into fat discs. (The dough will be very sticky; gloves may be a good idea.).
Bake 15 minutes. The tops will develop a cracked appearance. Cool 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled. (Placing a sheet of newspaper under the rack will help catch drips in the next step.).
For the topping, combine 2 tbsp cocoa powder with confectioner's sugar, boiling water and vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat and whisk until smooth. Cool 10 minutes.
Drizzle 1 tbsp of glaze on each cookie, spreading lightly with the back of the spoon, then sprinkle with sprinkles or sanding sugar. Work with 6 cookies at a time so the glaze doesn't dry out before applying the sprinkles.

I also went blueberry picking the other day and with the help of 2 willing  bribed teenagers, we scored ourselves loads of fresh blueberries. I think they ate more than they picked but not to worry. then whipped this Blueberry Cheesecake up for dessert.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

SMS Giveaway Winner

Wow, whose fingers are numb from all the blog hopping this week? I have had so much fun and found lots of new blogs to follow.  There is so much talent out there in blogland!

I loved reading all your answers. I tried to reply to all comments, but some people are still no-reply bloggers which means I have no way of getting in touch with them.  It was fun reading about all the places that are special to people for whatever reason.  I now have a few more places to add to my list that I hadn't even considered....who knew Oregon would be so popular! The favourites that kept popping up time and time again were Italy, Paris, NYC, San Francisco, Canada, Hawaii and Oregon. Lots of you had many happy memories of those places.

So without further ado, the winner of the Bliss fabrics is Kath who was lucky number 47

Will send you an email Kath...Congratulations and I hope you have fun with the fabrics.  Thanks for entering my giveaway. I am planning to have another one in the New Year, as I had so much fun with this one.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day

Yay, it's here. I love  Giveaway Day.  I have met so many amazing people through Giveaway Day in the past and found so many new blogs.  If you are new to my blog Welcome, and I hope you stay around for a while.

I am giving away some of the leftovers from my Bliss quilt.  There are 7 pieces of fabric with most of them measuring about 11" x 22". I just adore this range and it is probably one of my fav ranges of all time. There is also a limited edition pack of silk thread from Dinky Dyes, an Australian hand dyed thread designer.

All you have to do to have a chance at winning this is to tell me
where one of your favourite places is and why? 
I love travelling and am always on the lookout for new places to go. We try to go overseas every year...sometimes twice a year!

If you are a new or regular follower you get an extra chance, so be sure to leave a second comment, letting me know if you are. I will post internationally as well.

Have fun blog hopping!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Christmas Wallhanging completed

I started this wallhanging last year and ran out of metallic thread, so put it to one side until I could get some more thread.  It was after Christmas when I finally got more thread and I really didn't feel like making Christmas themed  things after Christmas had been and gone, so put it to one side and completely forgot about it.  With the silly season upon us now, I thought it was time to drag it out and complete it.

This was my first attempt at FMQ, so please don't look too hard at the background! I then quilted stars on the gold speckly border. Once I got into the FMQ, I really enjoyed it. Got caught a couple of times losing my train of thought and it got a bit pointy or strange shaped!! I didn't want to quilt over the tree so it probably would be a lot easier if I had picked a quilt to just go wild over without having to worry about avoiding bits of fabric.

I have put little Christmas lights and gold stars over the tree, which don't show up that well in the photo, but actually look really cool on the actual wall hanging.

Christmas Wallhanging

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Christmas is here a little earlier...

With the price of fabric in NZ, I try to take advantage of the US online sales and nearly always buy from Hancocks of Paducah when they have their free shipping sales. The postman dropped off a package today that was postmarked Nov 25, so how is that for fast service!! I only received notifcation from Hancocks on the 27th, so wasn't expecting anything for another few days.

So much loveliness....Terrain by Kate Spain,  some Tula Pink and some Joel Dewberry. And a non-stick ruler.  It was all on sale so with the free shipping it was an absolute bargain.  With fabric here at NZD$28 a metre (USD$22), I paid about a quarter of what I would in New Zealand for the fabric. 

I have been wanting an extension table for my sewing machine, so my wonderful hubby decided to make me one. He is an engineer, so has lots of odd things left over from jobs. He just happened to have some plexiglass and some feet so whipped up this table for me. 

I am about to quilt my Christmas wall hanging I started last year so will give it a test run (once I have cleaned his grubby fingerprints off it!!).  He is one of those guys that if you happen to just mention something, consider it done. I have learnt never to say, "I wonder what it would look like without that fence there" or "I wonder if I should chop out that tree".  It can be handy, but I have lost many a lovely tree as a result!! I turn my back for a minute and it's gone! 

It does have its good points though..."I wonder how difficult it would be to make a light box" and he had it done in a few hours. " I wonder if I should dig over my garden" and its done. "I think I might wash my car" and its done!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kitchen Window and At the Beach

I have finished the top of Kitchen Window and am really pleased with how it has turned out. I will do a pieced back from some of the fabrics that I have used on the front and hopefully quilt it his weekend. I am going to FMQ it so wish me will be my first effort.

It is also Hannah's 15th birthday today. I can't believe that she is already 15. Sarah and I got busy in the kitchen once Hannah had gone to school and made her a cake. She is always lying outside trying to get a tan, so we thought this cake summed up her existence very well...complete with book, iPod, phone (which I believe may have to be surgically removed from her one day!) and her water.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


My daughter, Hannah, decided she wanted to make a little something special for dessert last night for her little sister. She found a recipe in one of my magazines White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. Oh my gosh, my hips automatically put on 5 kilos just reading the recipe! It was very easy to make apparently and she whipped it ip very quickly. The hardest part she said was resisting the urge to dip her fingers into the mixture and keep tasting it.

My strawberry plants are abundant with strawberries at the moment, so we decorated it with a few strawberries from the garden. The verdict....scrumptious.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Guess what I bought today....

Anyone that knows me knows I love technology and gadgets.  I especially love Apple!!  I started with an iMac and an ipod nano, then bought an iphone 2 years ago. When I went to Vietnam I bought an iPad.  My husband rolled his eyes and I could see he was thinking "Oh just another toy" and he referred to it as a silly little ipad. Well, he uses that silly little ipad more than me now!!!

The iphone 4S was released here in NZ yesterday, so I popped into town this morning and am now the owner of a new iphone.  Siri is fun, but there are obviously issues in understanding my Kiwi accent!!! Oh my, it's a hard decision whether to sew or play with my new toy!!


I have found a couple of quilting applications that I use on the ipad...BlockFab HD and the Robert Kaufmann quilting calculator. Does anyone have any favourite apps that they can't do without?   I find I use my ipad a lot in the kitchen if I have found a recipe online. I also store pdfs of quilting patterns and photos look great on the ipad, so it becomes a virtual photo album.  If you have an ipad, what do you tend to use it for?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kitchen Window

A little bit of Anna Maria Horner and a little bit of Pat Bravo mixed together with Kona solids in the first 4 blocks of Kitchen Window by Elizabeth Hartman. I have her book Practical Guide to Patchwork and I like all of the designs in this book. Her instructions are simple and easy to follow and her diagrams make sense! This is stitching up really quickly and hopefully I will have the top finished tomorrow. Wow! That's got to be a record for me.

We are home from the hospital and Sarah is doing really really well. Each day she surprises me more with what she can do. She is transferring independently to and from her wheelchair now and I can hear her rattling around in the kitchen making something to eat!!  That girl sure has got determination.  Still gets very tired though and needs to have a couple of sleeps a day. That is my "me" time (aka quilting time).

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bloggers Quilt Festival

My entry into the Blogger's Quilt Festival this time is my Bliss quilt using the Wild Things pattern by Thimble Blossoms. I love this range of fabrics and wanted to showcase the whole range.  The aquas, reds and greens look so lovely together and I find them quite restful.

I finished this quilt last night sitting beside my daughter's hospital bed.  I had started the binding before her accident and all it needed was to be handsewn down.  So the quilt is covering her in bed. I had strict instructions from her that she didn't want to be in the photo!! I think this quilt will always remind me of this ghastly week now.

I had really wanted to do FMQ on this quilt, but ended up chickening out. Didn't feel confident enough, so I straight line quilted it. I pieced the back using my fav fabrics from the range.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

How quickly life can change...

Right now I am sitting at the hospital next to my little girl. Last Friday I got the call that every parent dreads...."hello, There has been an accident and your child is hurt". I was on my way to pick up Sarah as she had been away at school camp for the week. The parent who was driving the car turned into the school driveway without seeing an oncoming car. Sarah was the rear seat passenger and took the full brunt of the impact as the car hit her directly. When I got to the scene, she was trapped in the car and was unconscious. She needed to be freed from the car by the fire service and was air lifted to the hospital. She has sustained a subdural haematoma with a head injury, facial and nasal fractures, fractured pelvis and fractured femur along with more bruises covering her little body.

I can't get any photos to upload at the moment but there is a pic of the car on flickr. stream

It has been a roller coaster these last few days but she is making progress now. She is such a brave little girl and so strong. I can't bring myself to leave her side and when I do, all I think about is getting back to her. It is going to be a long haul for the next few months...

I did go home last evening for a couple of hours and brought back my Bliss quilt to finish the binding on. She sleeps an enormous amount as a result of the drugs and the head injury so I will make good use of the time she is asleep!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Four years ago today....

Tony and I got married in Rarotonga....

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back from California...

Oh well we returned to reality yesterday.  Had a fabulous time, but it's always good to be home in your own bed.  It's a little cooler here...we had temps in the 30s (C) every day, so a bit of a shock to come back to 14 degrees C.  The first couple of days we just cruised and shopped and looked around. We were staying at the Hyatt in Anaheim so there were lots of things within walking distance.  It seems a lot cheaper there in the supermarkets, but meals out aren't once you add in 20% for the tip.  Took a while to get used to tipping, but we eventually got the hang of it. I never knew who to tip and who not to tip, so we just winged it. Didn't get any rotten fruit thrown at us, so we must have done it ok. 

Janet and Clara (2 fabulous women I had met online through a quilting board) picked me up on Sunday and we went to M & L Fabrics in Anaheim. What an amazing store and so cheap. I picked up a few bargains ;) Actually after my shopping spree here, I needed to buy another suitcase to get the fabric home!

Clara ready and raring to go with her trolley
Janet hunting for bargains!
The 3 of us after the shopping trip
The next 3 days were taken up with Disneyland and California Adventure Park.  Fastpass is fantastic...certainly saved queuing for hours.  So many fabulous rides and things to see, but exhausting. 

Just before the fun started!! 
Pluto was gorgeous and really acted his part well 
World of Color Show...amazing!! All done with lights and water 
Just inside the entrance
On Thursday, we headed up to LA. Certainly had a different feeling to Anaheim. Our hotel was right behind the Kodak Theater so perfect for just strolling down to Hollywood Boulevard. Everyone there was just trying to make a buck.  Michale Jackson's star on the Walk of Fame was certainly the most popular by far.  We went to Universal Studios on Friday. I preferred this to Disneyland and will never view movies in the same way again!! 

Hannah's new boyfriend
Just resting up under the famous sign!
Chilling with the Simpsons!
From the set of Desperate Housewives. They were filming while we were there.

On Saturday and Sunday we shopped.  Just happened to stumble into a little shoe shop...

A few purchases...Thought we were quite restrained.

So goodbye LA...

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Blissful times

I have had my Bliss quilt all basted and ready to quilt for the past couple of weeks but have just not had the time to do it.  I really want to FMQ it, but am a little worried I will make a complete disaster of it.  This is one of my favourite fabric ranges, so am not willing to settle for second best with it!!

On another note, in 3 days time we are heading to Disneyland, CA for 10 days!!! Well Disneyland for 4 days and LA for 4 days, but with the time difference we are away 10 days. I am taking the kids and they are SO excited.  I have never been and they are old enough to appreciate it now so I can't wait. Already mapped out a couple of quilt shops around Anaheim that I will visit, much to the kids disgust (aaawww mum, can't you go anywhere without looking at quilt shops!!!).  I am not going all that way without adding a few purchases to my suitcase!! Fabric is so expensive here compared to the USA, so I have already warned my hubby we need to take an extra bag!!

I also have a new job which has been keeping me busy...still nursing but am now the charge nurse of the High Dependency Unit.  Still nice regular hours...Mon- Fri but I do have to make the move back to shiftwork within the next couple of years :( And I thought I had done my last ever night shift...

Ok see you when I get back in a couple of weeks....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spring is in the air!!

Our babies have all been born. We had 4 ewes that were pregnant...3 had twins and one had triplets so it is a real nursery in our field at the moment.

Just a couple of days old 

Sarah with the youngest one.  Mum won't feed it, so we are hand rearing it

Hannah, my oldest daughter, with a set of twins

Sheep kisses for Hannah!

Isn't this so cute!!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blogger's Quilt Festival

This is the first time I have participated in the Blogger Quilt Festival. I have had so much fun admiring and looking at all the quilts on display so far.  I just can't pick a favourite though...there is so much creativity and talent in the quilts displayed.

This quilt came about as I wanted a Kiwiana (things unique to New Zealand) wall hanging.  I had had a long break from quilting due to bringing up a family and work committments, but a visit to a craft show last year got the quilting juices flowing again! This was the first quilt I made on my return to quilting.

Initially it was supposed to be just a small wall hanging but I just couldn't decide which charm squares to use. I wanted to incorporate designs that held special memories for me, so it is now a very large wall hanging!! I have used all NZ fabrics in this and came up with the design myself. I straight line quilted it mainly because I have never done FMQ, but I think the straight line quilting is perfect for this quilt.

It is now hanging in our family room. Lucky, we have a very big wall!!

Thanks Amy for hosting this fabulous festival.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Back from our Vietnam adventure

Woman off to set up her food stall
Wow, what an interesting country. It was hot, humid and smelly, but the culture and history is incredible.  We hit Ho Chi Minh City at the beginning of April and what an assault to the senses.  The noise was all around us. HCMC has a population of 10 million and 5 million people have scooters to get around. They toot as they go past other vehicles or pedestrians so there is constant honking.  So once you adjust to the noise levels, you try to adjust to the was mid 30s (100 fahrenheit) and humid. I spent a lot of time having cold showers! And then there is the smell of sewerage, cooking, fumes and goodness knows what else!

Barge on the Me Kong Delta carrying rice husks
We travelled out to the Me Kong Delta, the Cu chi tunnels and then went up to Dalat in the highlands. It was lovely up there...much cooler and very green. Spent a night there and then headed over to Nha Trang, a beachside city via the central highlands.  Didn't enjoy Nha Trang at all....very touristy, agressive hawkers and the beach wasn't very clean. Plus it was incredibl;y hot and humid here.

Hoi An fruit seller and local in the traditional ao dai
Headed up to Hoi An after this which I loved! It has a French feel to the town and is very old.  Could have stayed here for the rest of my holiday! Hoi An has over 400 tailors here and you can get clothes made very cheaply. I bought some silk here which has the most beautiful fondle factor.   We drove from Hoi An to Hue via the Hai Van pass. The scenery along this route was some of the most beautiful and spectacular that we saw during our entire holiday.

Our Hanoi Kids guides outside the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
We then flew to Hanoi.  I loved this very old city with the Old Quarter. One of the highlights was taking a trip with Hanoi Kids, a volunteer organisation made of of university students that wish to show off their city. They also use it as an opportunity to improve their English.  We had 2 amazing guides who spent the entire day with us showing us around Hanoi. We certainly had an insight into their lives and culture doing this. The service is entirely free and they will not take any financial recompense at all.

Halong Bay
The highlight, though, for both Tony and I was Halong Bay. We spent 3 days and 2 nights doing a cruise on Halong Bay, a World Heritage site that has over 3000 limestone karsts. It was a great way to finish the holiday.  We took over 2000 photos, and I have put a few of my fav ones on Flickr.

The food was amazing. I did a cooking class there at the Morning Glory cooking school. It wasn't just about was also about their culture and customs and why they eat what they do. Fascinating. My fav food had to be the fresh spring rolls and the Cao Lau noodles, a local specialty in Hoi An.

The other highlight of my trip is that I bought an Ipad 2!!! Yay!! I just LOVE my new toy.  They had sold out in NZ as I had tried to buy one before I left so I could keep in touch with the kids etc while I was away. (All the hotels have free wifi which is fabulous). Anyway, found one in duty free on my way out of NZ.  How lucky was that!!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A finish of a different kind...

My baby turns 10 in a couple of weeks, but since we head to Vietnam for 3 weeks next Friday, we are having her party today. I can't believe she is 10! Yikes, where have the years gone.  Anyway, the house is full of squealing girls and the cats have gone into hiding!

She asked for a make up bag as her cake, so I have been spending the morning modelling fondant.  All of it is edible so I better warn all the parents that they will be on a sugar high soon!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A finish, a spend-up & a fun afternoon!

I have finally finished my postage stamp quilt. I went with some of the suggestions and quilted it on the diagonal. I am really pleased with how this turned out and have been snuggling under it on the couch watching DVDs today. I coupled some of the left over blocks with a vibrant red for the back and bound it with a spotty fabric to match the greens in the quilt. My egg of a husband would not behave while I was taking this photo so unfortunately you have to look at him too!!

I took advantage of Pink Chalk Fabric's sale too and bought a bunch of Central Park (I love this range) and Amy Butler fabrics.  And Hancocks is offering free international shipping so I just had to go and grab the Central Park designs I still needed, along with a few other goodies.

I had such a fun afternoon yesterday. I signed up for a Free Motion Quilting class at Donna' s Quilt Studio as I really want to be able to feel like I can tackle FMQ on my quilts. Up until now I have been straight line quilting.  Donna is such an amazingly talented quilter and she makes FMQ seem so easy.  I can see I am going to have to practice, practice, practice.


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