Tuesday, April 28, 2009

go with the flow

yesterday was the last day of Sienna's pre-school holidays. It was a perfect clear autumn day and I did have a brief moment of thinking we should go down to the beach. But then the thought of transporting two children and assorted paraphernalia made me feel exhausted (then this morning reading soulemama's adventures with FOUR children on the beach I felt highly inadequate!). 

So instead I thought we could just have a relaxing day hanging at home ... ok and yes, I did visualise this lovely day having some time in it for me to do some sewing ;)

Well, try as I might the day was slipping away as another load of washing was done, sibling arguments were sorted, beds were made and all that fun stuff. I was noticing myself feeling really agitated and watching the clock as each hour slipped by, thinking I was never going to get in front of that machine! Until finally I caught myself in this feeling, took a deep breath and let go ... and figured the only way to joy was going to be found through following the lead of my little ones.
And this is one of the adventures they took me on ... 

Yes, I even relaxed for long enough to do a drawing myself!

These ones were dubbed, "Hula Skirts" by Sienna.

Oh, and I did get to do a tiny bit of sewing late in the afternoon.

Friday, April 24, 2009

little things ...

just a quickie. I wanted to share this delightful little parcel containing a scarf I purchased a few days ago on a quick shopping trip to Surry Hills with my mum ... well, actually mum purchased it for me as an extra birthday pressie ;)

Isn't it amazing? And that's not gift wrapping folks that's just the way they package up anything that you buy! They also engage in that very civilised practice of handing you an invoice, change and/or credit card on a sliver tray. Scrumptious! We were then escorted to the door and handed our little parcels before we were bid a fond farewell by the four guys in the shop. If you're ever in the area I highly recommend you drop in. It's called Mrs Red & Sons.

p.s I am not getting any kick backs or anything for recommending them just in case you were wondering!


Thursday, April 23, 2009

sewing spaces

(image found here)

so I mentioned in my last post that my new love (a.k.a my sewing machine), is sitting on top of a salvaged telephone table and that currently when I want to sew, it has to be done sitting side on to the machine. Definitely not an ideal situation. So last Sunday we all went on a family outing to try and find some sort of table or desk, but considering we started this hunt at 3:30pm, I guess it's not surprising that we didn't come home with anything.

Anyway since then I have been trying to get really clear in my head about what I want and here's what I've come up with: in the absence of the EXACT same cupboard from Heather Ross' Weekend Sewing...

I would like a white or extremely light Scandinavian-like wood table as opposed to a desk type thing. 

I am completely in love with the idea of trestle legs and a separate top like here but I am having a hard time convincing someone else of the strength and stability of anything that comes from ikea (I think he is visualising himself spending a whole weekend with his friend 'Allen' the key). Has anyone got any experience with this kind of table for sewing?
So I'd be really interested in hearing how and where you house your sewing machine or really, any other creative space you may work in. I need some inspiration!

Monday, April 20, 2009

he ain't heavy ...

... he's my brother N30 sewing machine! Isn't he pretty!

Now at the moment he is sitting atop an old telephone table I picked up off the street. Needless to say not very conducive to good posture while sewing not to mention the fact that my legs can't go under the table. So far I have been sewing a a kind of side saddle fashion. But it's all good! I'm sewing! 

And here's the proof ...

Lovely that I managed to get our bin in the background but it was difficult to get a shot without Sienna moving about. I got this gorgeous butterfly fabric from good-ness some time back and have been desperate to get his little baby all sewn up! Mind you the fabric is so light I am wondering if she will get any wear out of it before the next summer rolls around!

I also bought some beautiful animal print fabric at the same time as the butterfly print and so yesterday afternoon I set out to make a pair of pants for Luca.

Can you see what I've done? I've cut out exactly the same pattern twice (for the back and the front) rather than changing it's orientation! The instructions on the pattern pieces only said to pin it to the right side of the fabric and then cut two pieces, but I guess they assume a certain amount of common sense and prior sewing experience (that doesn't include high school)! Now I have two identical legs and not enough fabric left over to start again, so I have decided to get some sort of complimentary fabric (denim? navy?), and have one leg in this print and one in the other fabric. Jamie gave me a weird look when I mentioned this but then he suggested perhaps a little pocket or something in the animal print could tie it all together. 

What  do you think? Any other suggestions? 

Post Script: I forgot to add the link to good-ness above earlier and in doing so have found out she is having a closing down sale - 50% off everything! 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

i am a complete numbskull

like, completely and totally S.T.U.P.I.D. 

You know the sewing machine competition that I have been harping on and on (and on) about? Well in the magazine that featured the competition it mentioned to look up the terms and conditions on their website which, I dutifully did but could not for the life of me find them anywhere. 

You know what's coming don't you ... I bloody well found them last night didn't I!

I swear swear SWEAR (like, a LOT!), that every time I searched the site to check if they had been posted, they hadn't been - at least not that I could see. So last night when I checked of course, I found them in five seconds flat and guess what? You were meant to write your 25 words or less on the back of an envelope!!!! Not cut and paste 25 words out of fabric on three sheets of A3 paper!!!!! Aaaarrrrghhh! And to think I could have just written the same thing out on to the back of an envelope and sent it as late as Wednesday (entries closed midnight 15 April)! 

Anyway (*breathe, breathe*), I am trying to just shake it off and say to myself that it was a sign (of stupidity) that perhaps I was meant to choose my own sewing machine and not have one chosen for me - well, that's my line and I am sticking to it ... either that or I will go and stab myself in the eye with my never used fabric scissors! 

And so to that end dear reader, I wonder, if you sew, could you enlighten me with what machine you use and whether you would recommend it or any other brand? Also, whether you think the computerised thing is the way to go or just mechanical? And any other bits of info you think would help. 

Cool. That will make me feel better. Slightly. 

post script: I went out this afternoon and bought a machine! A brother something-or-other. Not top of the line but certainly way more advanced than anything I have ever used before (threads it's own needle - brilliant!). First skirt is being whipped up tonight!

Friday, April 17, 2009

awesome (birthday) pancake recipe

ok so I am a big pancake fan and had been on the look out for a pancake recipe that was just right for some time! And people, I think this one from Australian Table magazine (March 2008), is it! So crack out the frying pan and get cooking!

makes about 15
prep time 10 mins
cooking time 20 mins

2 cups of plain flour
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk
2/3 cup (160 ml) milk
60g butter, melted, plus 50g extra
1 egg lightly beaten
2 punnets blueberries (if using but I typically don't)
maple syrup (the real stuff people - 'Camp' all the way for me!)

1. Sift flour with sugar, bicarb soda and 1 teaspoon of salt into a bowl. Combine buttermilk, milk, melted butter and egg in a jug. Stir milk mixture into the flour mixture to JUST COMBINE (really important not to over stir here!). The batter should still be a little lumpy. 

2. Heat a little extra butter in a non-stick frying pan on medium. In batches, spoon 1/4 cup measures of batter into pan leaving room to spread. Press five blueberries into each (if using) and cook for one minute, until bubbles appear. Turn and cook for another minute until golden. Transfer to a warm plate while cooking remaining pancakes, adding more butter as needed.

3. Top with remaining blueberries and drizzle with maple syrup to serve.

Now then, just a few of my notes:

- make sure you definitely sift the dry ingredients. I think this makes a real difference to how light and puffed up they get.
- try to hold back on the stirring. You'll feel like it's too lumpy but over stirring it makes them really heavy. Believe me, I've done it!
- I have found it works better with my non-stick fry pan when I DON'T add extra butter. The addition of more butter  just seems to make the edges go all crispy. They seem to cook really evenly on just the non-stick surface. 


Thursday, April 16, 2009

birthday goodness

thirty-five. 3-5. I tried to do one of those "35 things about me on my 35th", but I got bored of myself by number 15. So instead I thought I would share some of my yummy birthday goodness.

A pressie from my bestie sent just in time for my birthday ...

The long awaited copy of Meet Me at Mike's with instructions in the card to turn to page 100 and open the second package ...

Which contained all the bits and pieces needed to whip up the gorgeous little pants (minus the sewing machine but as we all know, I will be winning one tomorrow ;) What an awesome gift!

Then there was this lovely parcel from my gorgeous sis...

A beautiful Australian Merino wool top. I just love that gorgeous print which goes around the neck line and half way down the back. It's by High Tea with Mrs Woo where my sister works. And the colour makes a nice departure from my mostly black autumn/winter wardrobe!

And then I figured it was perfectly acceptable to whip up some pancakes for myself and the kids (in fact if anyone out there is slightly interested I have stumbled upon the most awesome pancake recipe - thick and fluffy and REALLY tasty. Just let me know and I'll post it). 

In fact Sienna and I decided pancakes on your birthday should be our new tradition. Sounds like a plan to me! 

Monday, April 13, 2009

knittety knittety knittety knit

my little man currently has two favourite books; Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and his latest favourite is this one, Derek the Dinosaur by Mary Blackwood and Kerry Argent.

The story is about a not-so-ordinary dinosaur who likes to knit instead of roaring and fighting like his two older brothers Fearless and Fang (gotta love that!). Of course all his knitting pays off when the ice age starts to arrive and his brothers suddenly realise how useful all Derek's knitting could be. And so they arrive shivering on his doorstep ...

... where Derek pours them a cup of tea and retrieves some handmade woolley goods for them to wear! Luca's favourite part goes like this;

"I'm glad," remarked Fang when he'd thawed out a bit,
"that dear little Derek would rather just sit,
and go

So I'm not sure if it's been the reading and re-reading of this book, or the fact that there is a distinct Autumn chill in the air or whether it is all the influential knitters out there in the blogosphere but yesterday I picked up some long forgotten knitting ...

It's certainly nothing too difficult. Just one more scarf to add to the pile. In fact the only thing I have ever managed to knit is scarves! I think I started it when I was pregnant with Sienna and she will be turning four next month! Talk about forgotten. Even the needles had a coating of what looked to be mould due to all the damp in our house! 

Anyhow it was very delightful to just sit and knit while the kids were playing yesterday afternoon instead of running around cleaning up or thinking about dinner. Only problem was I was a point of much interest for two little people who rarely see Mum sit and knit! 

Luckily I had a decoy ball of wool laying around ...

All in all I had a quite meditative ten minutes or so. I was even offered an easter egg!

Now to finish this scarf ... where's that Derek and his pot of tea when I need him? ;)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

the artist's way link up

Well I wasn't totally bowled over with people keen to give The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron a cracking good go (though I did get some lovely comments from people who, like me, had attempted it or use it to dip in out of when the need arises), but in a way, that kinda suited me.
You see I think I was recently drawn to it because I am meant to be doing course work for the world's most boring qualification, and I was wondering if it was just me procrastinating. I mean, it has sat on a shelf for over three years and I get the urge to do it now?! 

Anyway I was checking in on all my blogs today (more procrastinating but gee whiz, is it fun!) and desire to inspire has done there regular reading list. Just by chance (or was it?) I clicked on one called two ellie and found a link to an Artist's Way book club that only just started this week! Hurray! 

Now I figure this is a sign and that I just really need to start being vigilant with my time and set aside a few nights a week for the world's most boring course work, a few nights for my blog catch ups (imperative), and a few nights for the Artist's Way. Easy.

So if you want to join in the 'fun' (I say 'fun' because parts of the book are apparently quite difficult emotionally) drop in here to indicate your interest. I'm sure it's not too late! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

sticks & stones ... or in this case just sticks

I have developed a thing for sticks. I keep seeing interesting looking sticks and twigs laying about and feel compelled to pick them up and take them home and arrange them ... and that's about all I've done with them so far. 

I think it may have started from seeing this lovely project which I'd love to try when I WIN my sewing machine (less than a week until it's drawn!). 

It's funny how once I start to fixate on something (like sticks), that it's suddenly all I see. There is a name for that phenomenon but it escapes me at this moment. Any ideas? 

Anyway I was flicking through my Real Living mag the other day when I spotted this spread on the home of Sherry Olsen and it seems she loves sticks too.

Here are some of her sticks painted with a red gloss ...

And here she has sticks suspended in parallel rows on the back of a door! Genius!

This collection is probably my favourite though ...

Lots of cute little twigs and sticks arranged quite singularly in their own glasses and small ceramic mugs. 

So I may be playing fiddle sticks over the next few weeks ... at least until my sewing machine arrives! 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"the art gallery" ... by Sienna

"These seemingly simple acts of childhood are small, yet full of wonder, appreciation and imagination" (Blake Soule, 2008)

Monday, April 6, 2009

sewing machine!

No, unfortunately not mine (though I still believe I WILL win it), but one I found at a local school fete yesterday morning ...

Ok yes I know it is plastic and it is a particularly offensive shade of pink (plastic+pink=hideous), but wait till you hear how much it cost ....... ONE DOLLAR!!!! Yes, you read it right $1! I could hardly believe it was still sitting there on the table amongst all the other second hand toys. I did really want this one and had planned on buying it for Sienna's birthday but ONE DOLLAR! How could I pass that up?

And here is the kicker - IT WORKS! I didn't even test it at the fete because I just assumed for one dollar (ONE DOLLAR!), it surely wouldn't be working but it does! It has a little foot pedal and everything! 

Now I did plan on keeping it hidden until the birthday (in May) but accidently on purpose left it on my bed after showing Jamie ("And it was ONE DOLLAR!"), and sure enough, 'ol eagle eyes spotted it. Hard to miss that colour I guess. Of course she immediately fell in love, so much so that it needed to come in the car with us yesterday on our long journey out to a friends place for a bbq ...

And then at 5:57am this  morning I heard her little voice, "I need some fabric" as she excitedly set it all up at the table ...

Even Luca got to have a turn. When Sienna wasn't looking.

And I have even been told that I can share it too. Hopefully mine (that I WILL win), will arrive not long after my birthday and I won't have to, but in the meantime it is tempting ...

Friday, April 3, 2009

pizza making

It's weird that this is my first food related post given the amount of time I spend cooking, or dreaming and talking about food, or reading cookbooks, or for that matter eating! Mind you I am certainly not as passionate or prolific as this amazing lady but I do fancy myself as a pretty good cook and I do get quite a great deal of pleasure out of those thankful, "mmmmm's" and "yummm's" I get from my appreciative audience - i.e. the family! Very wise of them really! 

I should point out here that I am not very adventurous when it comes to making up my own recipes. I am addicted to cookbooks and figure the authors are my teachers and I am their very willing pupil! I guess I get a little creative with substituting ingredients from time to time but that's about where my creativity ends! 

Except for pizza where I figure it's open slather on what constitutes 'topping'. Once I have strictly followed the recipe for the base I am happy to get slightly creative with the topping (*sigh* I am such a rules girl).

So after trying many different base recipes, in my opinion the one that seems both the simplest and the most effective (not to mention the most important bit: TASTY!), is this one of Jamie Oliver's.

And the other thing that has made the world of difference to our home pizza making success has been our pizza stone. I'm sure everyone knows what these are but I had no idea how inexpensive they were and what a HUGE difference they make to the texture of the crust. 
Anyway on to the actual cooking. I generally always have a keen helper (or two) when I cook, though for now Luca's 'helping' involves standing on a chair near the cutlery drawer and happily rearranging it all. Sienna, like most kids her age I guess, loves the pouring, measuring and mixing part of cooking and I suppose the arranging of the topping ingredients on a pizza appeals to that almost-four-year-old decorating and embellishing desire!  

I should point out here that this recipe yields A LOT of dough and after six pizzas and many "please not another one" groans I ended up freezing the remainder of the dough (which seems to work fine). I won't go into detail about all the toppings from this particular night except to say that the one in the photo below consisted of Italian sausages squeezed out of their casing to make little mini meatballs, red capsicum, black olives and some rocket tossed over the top once out of the oven. 

And can I leave you with the image (and taste) of a dessert pizza I made on the same night? It was this one and it was UNBELIEVABLY good! Weird ingredients I know but far out, a taste sensation!

Happy weekend everyone!


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