Wednesday, 31 December 2008
Resolution kept! And I've already started a project based on the books from this Christmas - books about beading by Robin Atkins. Very inspiring!
Monday, 22 December 2008
The Sourdough Rolls are made and in the freezer. They'll go extra well with the ham made from Free Range Pork, which is sitting in its calico bag in the fridge, smelling delicious and calling to me. Good thing there's a strict rule in this house that not a skerrick of it can be consumed before Christmas lunch!
These are the rolls looking pale and interesting as they rose.
And here they are the rolls looking tanned, healthy and good enough to eat. Yum!!
They smell wonderful, too!
Monday, 15 December 2008
My first Christmas out of Australia was when I was 22. It was spent with my husband's parents and brothers in Denmark, and what a life changing experience that was! It wasn't only the ice and snow, but the food and the decorations were all so different. The Danish red and white flag lends itself so well to the Christmas theme, and hundreds of tiny Danish flags on strings decorate the Christmas trees. The other decorations were carefully crafted and many were hand embroidered. At least half a dozen different types of Christmas biscuits were made in each home, and served with hot spiced wine for supper, or with coffee at afternoon tea time. Back in Australia, we took our favourites from each of our Christmas traditions, and made Christmas a special family celebration. On Christmas Day, we have the cold meats - ham, roast pork and chicken, and salads that I grew up with. This year, instead of the cold prawns that we usually have, we'll do some extra spicy prawns on the barbecue for our new daughter-in-law who was born in the Philippines and just loves her chili hit! So a new tradition may be born.
For dessert, we have the Danish Ris a l'Amande - a cold vanilla-flavoured rice pudding mixed with whipped cream and chopped almonds, served with a hot cherry sauce, that is much better suited to the Australian heat than the heavy British-style Christmas Pudding that I had never really liked anyway. And instead of fruit cake, I make as many of the Danish Christmas biscuits as I can get done in the weeks before Christmas. This year, we've had a wonderfully cool lead up to Christmas, so I've done lots of baking. The tins are bursting with Brunkager, Pebernodder, Aeggeblommekager, Kanelstjerner and my version of Rutebiler.
I love decorating the tree, because it's so full of memories. The little cross-stitched 'pillows' that my Mum made 30 years ago, using patterns from a Danish cross-stitch book that she'd found, still look as fresh as the day she gave them to me as a surprise. Then there's the tiny knitted angels that my mother-in-law made and posted from Denmark all those years ago, and the angels that I have embroidered. Of course, the strings of flags that we bought in Denmark add the finishing touch, and even though it's a plastic tree, because we can't get anything like the real thing here, and we can't light those candles, it still looks pretty special to us.
Monday, 24 November 2008
This is the back -
The book has occasional pages of purple batik paper, just to add some interest -
I hope the recipient likes it. I'm going to include a list of ideas for using the book. Here's what I have so far...
A diary (so you always have something sensational to read)
A place to write down that wonderful quote you just read (you just know you'll lose the scrap of paper)
A Gratitude Journal (write down three things each day that you are grateful for)
A place for your "To Do" lists
An Observation Journal (for that novel you've always wanted to write)
A notebook (to write down the details of that great idea you just saw or heard about)
What would you use it for?
Friday, 21 November 2008
And this is how the blossom looks as it's emerging from under its cap...
Monday, 17 November 2008
I've been working on this, on and off, for a while now. It's a good project to take to a Saturday embroidery meeting, because I can sit and chat without having to think too hard about what I'm doing. So I pulled it out last Saturday, when a free Saturday of mine coincided with a local group meeting. It's based on an Effie Mitrofanis project in Stitch magazine, although I've really only used that as a starting point. The silk is from a samples card that I picked up in a sale bin at a curtain shop years ago. I knew I'd use it one day...
It's a bit like these ribbons, which I've either bought at various times, or rescued from Christmas parcels over the years. I'm trying to find inspiration for this years' Christmas cards, because I really should get started on them. I have a couple of ideas about how I'd like to use them. Now I just have to play a bit to find out whether my vague ideas will translate into something achievable!
Sunday, 9 November 2008
A recent trip to Sydney to attend a conference resulted in catching an end of season cold that turned into an infection. That's why the blog has been neglected for the last few weeks.
However, I'm quite recovered now and thought I'd share my Sydney purchase with you. These quilts, made from old Indian embroideries which have been cut up and joined together have become fairly common, I know. However, I've looked at lots and thought they were either uninspiring, too expensive or that the colours just weren't appealing. This one, however, caught my eye. The price was right, I loved the colours (yes, it's mostly blue!), and I keep finding bits of inspiration in the many tiny pieces of embroidery.
I still need to find a good way to hang it, so couldn't get a photo of the whole quilt. However, it's the detail that appealed to me, and that's what I wanted to share. So, here it is -
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
It's really no wonder that peacock feathers have been used as design inspiration in so many ways by so many artists. I found some being sold at a Farmers' Market recently, so bought a bunch to put in a vase. I love noticing the way that the colours and metallic sheen change during the day as the light changes...
Monday, 13 October 2008
Ruth has now issued a challenge to other bloggers to list their fifty favourite books. It started me thinking. So here is my eclectic list. It is listed alphabetically by author. It contains books I loved as a child, books that changed my way of thinking as I grew up, books that always cheer me up, books that taught me something. What they all have in common is that they are in my library, because I regard them as "keepers" - books that I have re-read and will continue to re-read (yes, even the children's books!). And I know I have cheated and listed trilogies and series as single books. What the heck. It's my list, after all! There are also many books in my library that didn't make it to the list, so it's probably given me a starting point for doing some culling, too.
What's your list? I'm always looking for another book to fall in love with.
Douglas Adams- Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and the rest of the series)
Isaac Asimov- The Foundation Trilogy
Jean M. Auel - Clan of the Cave Bear
Jane Austen- Emma
Jane Austen- Pride and Prejudice
H.E. Bates- The Darling Buds of May
Enid Blyton - The Enchanted Wood
Geraldine Brooks- Year of Wonders
Lois McMaster Bujold- The Warrior’s Apprentice (and the other Vorkosigan books)
Jung Chang- Wild Swans
Agatha Christie- The Mysterious Affair at Styles (and lots of her others)
Wilkie Collins- The Moonstone
Elizabeth David- An Omelette and a Glass of Wine
Patrick Dennis- Auntie Mame
Charles Dickens- David Copperfield
Charles Dickens- Oliver Twist
Isak Dinesen- Out of
R.F. Delderfield- The Swann Saga (series)
Arthur Conan Doyle- Sherlock Holmes stories
Gerald Durrell- My Family and Other Animals
Victoria Finlay- Colour
Ken Follett - Pillars of the Earth
Jostein Gaarder- Sophie’s World
Paul Gallico - The Silent Miaow
John Galsworthy- The Forsyte Saga (series)
Mrs Aeneas Gunn- We of the Never Never
Frances Moore Lappe-Diet for a Small Planet
Harper Lee- To Kill a Mockingbird
C.S. Lewis- Chronicles of Narnia (series)
Astrid Lindgren – Pippi Longstocking
Gavin Maxwell- Ring of Bright Water
James A. Michener-
Mary Norton- The Borrowers
John O’Grady- They’re a Weird Mob
George Orwell- Animal Farm
Marcel Pagnol- Jean de Florette
Edward Rutherfurd- Sarum
Vikram Seth- A Suitable Boy
Clifford Simak- City
Joahanna Spyri- Heidi
Mary Stewart- Merlin Trilogy
Amy Tan- The Kitchen God’s Wife
Flora Thompson- Lark Rise to Candleford
J.R.R. Tolkien- The Hobbit
J.R.R. Tolkien- Lord of the Rings Trilogy
H.G. Wells - The Sleeper Awakes
Margaret Visser- Much Depends on Dinner
Evelyn Waugh- The Loved One
John Wyndham- Day of the Triffids
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
The newly painted, carpeted and totally re-arranged lounge room needed some cushions, preferably blue. While searching for blue fabrics, I came across a piece I made a while ago for a challenge, then decided I didn't like it and didn't know what to do with it. So,I played with it some more, and made it into a cushion.
It contains a mixture of fabrics and threads,beads and both hand and machine stitching. I quite like it now.
Here's a close-up of a section -
Friday, 19 September 2008
It makes me wonder just how much beauty I missed as we sped along the roads. After the recent rains there were lots of wildflowers on the road verges but I just wasn't able to keep stopping, as we had so far to drive in such a short space of time. Next trip I'll just have to factor in some exploration and discovery time...
Coolabah is on the way from Nyngan to Bourke, and is where we turned off to head for Brewarrina. There's not a lot there, except for the Coolabah Hilton!
As we crossed over the Bogan River at Gongolgon, the swallows nesting under the bridge flew up and swooped over the river, catching our attention so that we spotted a couple of pelicans obviously enjoying the extra water in the river brought by recent rains. Of course, by the time I'd found a safe place to pull over and walk back to the bridge, the pelicans had drifted further downstream, but one was still in sight
Rivergums are such majestic trees...
Away from the river, this is what the country looks like. Red soil, small trees and brush, and very very dry...
Grey foliage lessens evaporation in hot climates. This is the vegetation where we stopped for a lunch break, under the shade of one of the larger trees.
On the other side of Brewarrina, heading for Walgett, we spotted some larger birds than pelicans. I'm sure the farmer won't be impressed about them grazing in his crop, though...
Yes, they're emus
Spring is here and in Lightning Ridge that means that the Bougainvillea is in flower and looking fabulous.
Saturday, 6 September 2008
Friday, 5 September 2008
It's that time of the year when strawberries are in season, and a punnet costs less than $2. Who can resist? So, some strawberry muffins for afternoon tea seemed like a good idea. The last time I made them, I upped the strawberry flavour factor by adding some dried strawberries, but there were none left. However, there was some glace ginger, and it worked very well.
Here's the recipe -
1 punnet (250g) strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 generous tablespoon strawberry liqueur (or brandy, or rum...)
90g glace ginger, chopped finely (or 90g dried strawberries, chopped finely)
Grated rind of 1 lime (or lemon)
Mix all this together and let it stand for about 30 minutes to an hour, mixing it occasionally.
Then mix up -
Juice of 1 lime
Add enough milk to the lime juice to make 1/2 cup (yes, the milk will curdle - that's good! It helps to lighten the muffins)
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup caster sugar
Mix well together.
Sift the following into a bowl -
2 cups Self Raising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
Mix all the ingredients together. Spoon into greased muffin tins and bake at 200 degrees C for about 20 minutes. Makes 12-15 muffins.
These are light, moist, delicious muffins.
Saturday, 30 August 2008
But, then again, those bloggers don't get to visit the Toongi Quilt Show, and I did!
Toongi Hall is 26km south of Dubbo in Western NSW. For any of you who watched the show Outback House on ABC TV, you may like to know that "Oxley Downs" is only a couple of kilometres away from Toongi. The hall is in the middle of paddocks, and has served as a meeting place for the surrounding farms for many years. Here are some shots of the surrounds -
And this is the hall...
A group of quilters from the area hold a quilt show every couple of years. The hall is packed with quilts, local shops and craftspeople set up stalls, and they serve absolutely delicious scones with jam and cream for morning and afternoon tea.
This is inside the hall...
And here's a closer look at some of the quilts. I love the chooks with boots! And if you need a translation of "chooks", they're chickens in the rest of the English speaking world. Chooks is a much better name for these, though...
The photo doesn't do justice to the beautiful applique on this one. It's covered in flowers and fairies.
And this is a very pretty cot quilt. The centre of each block has been embroidered.
So, I've had a lovely day with a couple of friends and can claim to have visited a quilt show that most of my blogging friends will never have the opportunity to see (grin).
Sunday, 10 August 2008
The walls of the kitchen / dining area have finally been painted, so I'm going through the process of working out what's going back up on the walls, what is being added, and what is going to be put away.
One of the pieces that's definitely going back up is this quilt which I made after my trip to Japan about 10 years ago to visit my son while he was living there. It holds memories of the time I spent with him in Matsue, a fairly small town on the west coast, where he was teaching English in a junior high school and I spent days exploring the town and the outskirts of it. I caused a minor sensation almost everywhere I went, as a middleaged non-Japanese woman whizzing along on the bike he had borrowed for me! I loved exploring the local shops and this quilt contains some of my finds - the traditional indigo fabrics, the fish motifs and the samurai helmet motif all made from fabric. The kimono are a reminder of the night spent at his supervisor's house where we were treated to a wonderful traditional dinner. The supervisor's wife explained to me that she was currently training to be a "dresser" at weddings. The traditional wedding kimonos consist of a number of layers, which all need to sit "just right" on the body, and the tying of the obi is an art in itself. She suggested that she could dress me in some kimonos, so that she could practise and we could get some photos. It resulted in quite a bit of hilarity - and some photos of me looking extremely fat - as we put the kimonos on over the clothes I was already wearing!
Torben (my son) and I then spent two weeks backpacking, travelling by a mix of bullet train and local transport, and staying in ryokan (the Japanese equivalents of B&Bs). So the quilt contains new and secondhand fabrics (silks and cottons) found in places such as Kyoto, Nagasaki and Hagi. It was springtime, and the cherry blossom was at its height, especially in Kyoto where an afternoon spent following the Philosopher's Path beside the canal and under the blossoming trees is a vivid and favourite memory.
This quilt has used only a fraction of the fabrics I found - it's amazing how much can be stuffed into a backpack that already looks full to bursting! One day I'll use some more of it...