Thursday, December 25, 2008

A very special Christmas

I love Christmas. I have since I was a kid, which is possibly strange in a girl who was raised without religion and is now pagan, but nevertheless, love it I do. It's getting harder to maintain my enthusiasm and enjoyment as I get older, both because it sneaks up on me, and because my immediate family no longer share my love of Christmas (Andrew's younger sisters and my younger brother's girlfriend are great though) I've been working very hard this year to be enthusiastic, but it's turned out a good day.
We went to Vision Australia's Carols by Candlelight last night, which I adore. I can't think of a better expression of Christmas spirit than all those people joined in song, with money going towards a charity.
Today was lovely. My family celebrations were severely contracted with the loss of my grandparents and all the Canberra people staying there, but it was nice anyway. Andrew's family was all the wonderful madness it usually is, with the added joy of a new baby (I finally got a cuddle, so I made it a nice long one).

But best of all was the very first present I got this morning...
An engagement ring from my beloved! I'm so happy! (Channelling Marion of Bagelle from Robin Hood: Men In Tights)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A New Niece

Yesterday, we received word that Andrew's second sister had given birth to her second child. It was by emergency caesarean, and she is a tiny 4lb14oz (I have no idea what that translates to in metric, but she's smaller than her sister who was 5lb3oz, or 2.35kg) so we were a little worried, but apparently both mother and baby are well. As such, we are pleased to welcome to the world our new niece Amy Karla, a second daughter for Kirsten and Chris, and a little sister for Alice.
In honour of this event, I have spent last night and today making the signature bear above. It will go along with other gifts, but it is a tradition of mine to give one to the family babies (sorry Julian) though none have yet actually been signed. Amongst my other bear making traditions, is the naming of the bear after the recipient (which is to say, the bear is given a name with the same meaning), so this bear is named Mary Charlotte, and the silver anklet/friendship band you can just see on her right ankle.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Best Friend's Wedding

I have spent the bulk of the last four days doing things related to Jill's wedding.
On Thursday, I went out with her to look for more plastic 'glasses' for the reception (spit roast dinner in the local hall) - then we managed a little Christmas shopping at Dymocks who were having a 20% off day for Booklovers club members. I had my hair trimmed in the afternoon, just to neaten it up for the wedding (it desperately needed to be done, so this was the perfect motivation) Later, I went out to buy her wedding wrapping paper, card, horseshoe, and guestbook (she'd forgotten. I spotted them and called her)
On Friday I worked for a couple of hours (helping with Prep transition - I love prep kids. They're exhausting but adorable) then picked up umbrellas from Andrew's parents in case of rain, attempted to pick up my pendant for the wedding - the jeweller had forgotten to make it, despite swearing it would be ready in time - had a quick lunch, then went to the ceremony venue - a historic homestead, in her home town, where her grandparents volunteer - for a rehearsal. Then I went home to collect my stuff and headed back to her hometown (10 minutes away) to be waxed so I was lovely and hairless for the wedding. I then sat through her manicure, so I could take her back to her house (another 10 minutes or so away) to collect things she'd forgotten. We then returned to her parents' house, where we were spending the night, for dinner, and packaging bonbonierre.
Neither of us slept very well so we were both ready to go back to sleep while having our hair done on Saturday - the wedding day! - but by the time we made it back to the house, we'd perked up. We both managed to eat lunch - I swear she was the world's most laid back bride! - and the photographer, the lovely Kirsten, showed up just in time to get photos of the make up application process. We had only minor difficulties with the dressing process - her garter straps would not attach to her stockings, and after both of us plus her mother had tried, we cut them off, and she wore pantyhose, Andrew, who had collected my newly made pendant, had gotten confused and hadn't dropped it off (he did in the end), and because her dress was put on before her shoes, I had to put them on for her, but that made for nice photos anyway. There was then time for photos with the various members of her family - parents, brother and his fiancee - including ones where she pinned on boutonieres and put corsages around wrists, and various poses around the house. There was a minor delay, because the friend of the family who had done our make-up had been so involved in getting us ready that she was running behind which held up the car with Jill's mother and siblings, which then meant that we couldn't leave. I got a phonecall at this point from Andrew, because Jimmy (the groom) was getting a little stressed. Finally, Jill, her father and I headed to the ceremony in the most gorgeous old car (I'm not a car girl, but it was 1963, with fins and a great rumble) Then we were there. Her father and I sorted out Jill's train, flipped the veil over her face and I headed down the path/aisle, under the archway and up to the gazebo where my best friend was married. I gave a reading, witnessed the marriage, held her bouquet, and stood smiling with happiness for my friend. After the ceremony was greeting family and friends, followed by photos - all with my trying not to let my far too pointy heels sink into the soft ground. Kirsten did not in any way allow her big pregnant belly to get in to way of getting the perfect shot - even when that meant climbing on chairs! We returned to Jill's parents' place for some photos she wanted in the front garden, which thankfully allowed our make-up lady to touch up Jill's jawline, where she'd unfortunately been bitten by something. Then everyone headed off and the bridal party climbed back into that gorgeous car for the short drive to the reception - we could have climbed through the back fence! Upon our arrival, Andrew stepped into his role as MC (having been playing back up photographer and and general gopher all day) to announce us. I stepped close to the Best Man to walk in, and not being sure what to do, he put his arm around my shoulder "Give me your arm, you idiot!" - he's the groom's best mate, we've known each other for years and get on quite well. The reception went so well. All the speeches were good (including mine) even though we were all nervous. Andrew was amazing as MC - you'd never have known how nervous he was or even that he'd never done it before (he did say a few grammatically incorrect things that had me wincing, but I doubt others noticed) Jill and Jim looked great dancing, I had fun dancing with the bestman (who is taller than me - even in heels... he appreciated that I was tall enough to look in the eye), Andrew, Mum, Jill's mum and my friends. Jill looked like the perfect image of a bride - I swear, if you go out and buy a bride doll, that's what she looked like. I had a brief moment during the night of "she's too young to be married" before remembering that she's 27! It was a great night, and I finally fell in to bed, exhausted, around midnight.
Today we woke up at 10:30 and had to hurry to get ourselves back to Jill's parents' for a post wedding BBQ. We had a lovely relaxed afternoon. Andrew has burnt the photos he took to DVD for both sets of parents and and Jill and Jim. We had a slideshow of them on the big TV, and Jill and Jim opened their cards and presents. They were given a huge amount of money towards their honeymoon, plus some gorgeous presents - including some antique cake forks, dish and tablecloth linens, that had belonged to Jim's grandparents (perfect for sentimental Jill). They loved our present, and have now headed off for a few days away - their actual honeymoon won't be until next year.

And now for some photos
Walking down the aisle

Bridal party

Dancing with Andrew - the height difference is (mostly) due to my heels

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Six Things

Earlier this month Erin tagged me to do a meme in which I relate six things I have learnt this year. It's taken me a while because I had to decide what to write.

1. I miss Nan and Pa terribly now they're gone. I always suspected this would be the case, but now I know for sure

2. I have two new nieces or nephews on the way. One to each of Andrew's 2nd and 3rd sisters and both to be born by the end of the year

3. The reason I have always identified with the Greek gods is that Greece has so many similarities to Australia.

4. My soul is tied to Scotland, Ireland and Greece and I am going to need to continue to visit them throughout my life.

5. I am a bigger wuss than I ever imagined, and fear can keep me frozen in place even when I know I need to get moving.

6. I am more powerful than I imagined I could be, and when I put my mind to it, I can do amazing things.

I am going to tag Sally and Tish because they're the only people (other than Erin) I can say with any degree of confidence actually read this blog.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Professional Framing

I did this cross stitch for Mum's birthday a couple of years ago, and we finally got around to getting it framed. It's the first time I've had a piece professionally framed - I have framed a few myself - but it certainly won't be the last. I was so pleased with the help we got choosing the matting and frame, with the finished product, and so happy to finally have it on the wall instead of hidden away.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Most sewers are addicted to fabric, and while I will confess to being slightly affected by this affliction, my big craft addiction is patterns. Sewing, cross stitch and quilting, I have more than I will ever use. And today I bought two more. In my defence, they were at least partially paid for with birthday money (originally a Spotlight voucher but they gave me cash change after I bought fabric) and they were 50% off.

This one is described as a 'Walk-away dress' the idea being that you can start making it in the morning and walk away in it in the afternoon.

And I just couldn't resist the gorgeous 40s style of this one.

*sigh* I'm already dreaming about wearing them, but have no idea when I'll manage to make them!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Another Loss

We buried you today, Pa. I know you didn't want to live without Nan, but it was hard to say goodbye to you so soon after losing her. It was evident in your funeral today that no one could think of you without thinking of her, so it's fitting that you're together again. I'll miss your wicked sense of humour and your stories and your support.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jam Drops

More Jam Drop cookies, once again at Mum's request. I made them this time with blackberry jam, because we were out of raspberry. I was a bit concerned that I wouldn't like the flavour, but as it turns out, it was sweet, but rather bland. Back to raspberry next time!

Cobblers Apron

I made this for myself. I got the idea from Anna at Pleasant View Schoolhouse who has this exact pattern - I have gotten much inspiration from her gorgeous blog. I made it from a gorgeous cotton print I got from my grandmother's stash, and bound it in white. I'd say my grandmother had started making something out of this fabric herself (curtains perhaps) and there are lines of holes where I removed stitching - I'm hoping these will disappear with wear and washing. I didn't bother to do any measuring of fitting so I was quite impressed to find that the waist ended up exactly where it should, given my above average height. It went together quite easily and quickly, though I made the sash double thickness to enclose the seams rather than hemming it. If I make it again, I will lengthen it a little, and lengthen the sash. I may also round the back corners so that I can bind the bottom and back in one go. I've been wearing it all day today, and it makes me smile. I love the deep pockets, the fabric, and the way the shoulders sit out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Quilting Dilemmas

All the pieces of my 21st quilt have been sewn together, and I'm quite happy with it. It's by no means perfect - there's plenty of places that the seams don't match up properly, but over all, it works out. Now I have some dilemmas... Does it need a border? If so, what fabric should I use? I don't have enough of any of the ones already in there, and as I bought them 5 years ago, I can't get more. What colour binding? What should I use for the backing? What quilting design should I use? Should I hand quilt or learn to machine quilt? Decisions, decisions....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spring has Sprung!

I celebrated Ostara, the Spring Equinox, with some friends on the weekend. It was a nice enough night, but not as good as I'd hoped - one friend took on more responsibility than she could handle, resulting in her being 2 hours late. She has a history of this, though she's been great lately, so we simply started dinner without her. Though the weather had dumped us back into Winter, we went ahead with barbequing our meat. Thankfully Andrew, Dad, and one of the girl's husbands (actually the only husband in the group) did the man thing, and took over that, allowing the girls to stay warm! Unfortunately, one of the other girls was unable to deal with the late one (she has a lot of other things going on in her life right now, and her emotions are a bit raw) and ended up leaving early, which was disappointing because I'd been looking forward to seeing her. We'd also intended to do a ritual, but since that was the responsibility of the Late One, it didn't end up happening. We did, however, do the chocolate ritual which is a laugh, although we all discovered that homebrand chocolate topping makes our skin red!
Yesterday, Andrew and I went to the Royal Melbourne Show. I have always loved the Show, but I was disappointed. Between entrance tickets and train tickets, it cost $74 for the two of us to get in, and we were done by 1:30! The whole thing is smaller than it used to be, fewer animals, and the whole Grand Arena is gone, which is a big loss. There's also a whole lot more stalls selling trash...
Jade loved her dress.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The process of smocking

This week I finished a smocked dress that I have been working on for almost a year. It didn't take that long in actual work time, but I didn't want to get it dirty while travelling. It started as a plain white piece of fabric, though I did buy this one as a kit, so it came pre-pleated for me.
Then I did the smocking and backsmocking.

Blocked it (stretched it out to the right width and steamed it)

Embroidered the flowers.

Blocked it again and shaped it. I hate this part because it means cutting into it. I can't believe that pink flower got cut off!
Then I turned it into a dress.
I know it's totally impractical, but I love the colours, and the crisp whiteness of it.

I will be giving it to our niece, Jade, tonight for her 7th birthday last week. We're also giving her a book about dinosaurs!

Monday, September 15, 2008

My world will never be the same

Nan died this morning.

She was a wonderful woman, and so much a part of our lives. Her death leaves a gaping hole that can never be filled. We are all going to miss her so much. The world, and certainly the area she has lived in for more than 40 years, has lost on of it's great lights. She would have loved to see this silly cockatoo the other day.
Rest in Peace, Nan.

Cookie, cookie, cookie

Mum and Andrew put in a request for peanut butter cookies, and other than refusing to actually put peanut butter on the shopping list, I didn't have the heart to refuse. They enjoyed them, at least! I have also made yet another batch of chocolate chip cookies - always my fallback - and a batch of Anzacs, though I wasn't entirely happy with those. I can never remember which recipe is the good one.

Monday, September 1, 2008

21st quilt underway!

As it quite clearly states in my profile, I am 25. I turn 26 next month. But for my 21st birthday, I had all my friends and family sign quilt squares for me, and I am finally getting it put together. I have laid it out and am currently 'living with it' to be sure the layout is right. It has proven to be a little emotionally difficult, as there a squares in there from people who are now deceased, and a friend who is no longer in my life. There is also a debate as to whether or not to remove a square with a not-so-nice message, and rewrite history... but it's nice to finally be getting it done.
Cooking-wise I have been repeating cookie recipes - the jam ones and ginger ones. I did make gingerbread cars for a friend's birthday, but I'm waiting on a photo of those from another friend. And I made a lamb roast for dinner - yum!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ah, that's better

I had another go at the Late Night Cookies, using a large egg. They were still a bit dry so I had to add a little milk, but definitely better than last time. I also noticed and followed the instruction to squish them and spread them out before cooking. All up, a big improvement.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I think I need to pay more attention to egg sizes. I've had a bit of trouble with cookie mixes being to dry lately, and I think that's the problem. Especially since I've now made the ginger cookies three times, and each batch was drier than the last. I was particularly careful with the 3rd batch, trying to figure out what happened with the 2nd, and it was worst of all.

I miss having my own chooks to lay eggs for me.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Last Ginger Cookie

I let Mum go through the recipe book I have been using for most of the cookies I've been making lately, and she requested ginger cookies. She's a ginger lover, so I wasn't surprised. I made them on Sunday, and this afternoon, I ate the last one. They were crunchy, and just slightly chewy in the middle, and oh so good.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Late Night Cookies and Imbolc

I finally made the Late Night Cookies I've been talking about, and I'm disappointed. They're tasty enough, but the mix was far too dry, and thus, they're chunky rather than flat as the picture in the book shows.

Saturday was Imbolc, another of the sabbats (holy days, festivals) that I celebrate...when I remember (I have the sneaking suspicion that I am the world's worst witch...). This one marks the change between Winter and Spring.
I didn't have a party for this one, but I made sure it was my turn to cook dinner, and I themed it accordingly. We had an entrée of halloumi, a kind of cheese from Cyprus, that you fry until it goes crispy and good. It was a new brand that we are trying, and it went a little too gooey, but still good. Main course was asparagus risotto with lamb chops.This was quite nice, but I totally neglected the fact that neither Andrew nor I actually eats asparagus, and the lamb chops almost fell by the wayside, because Dad forgot to buy them! Thankfully, he popped up the street to grab some for me. Dessert was a divine sponge cake, filled with raspberry jam and cream, and topped with lemon icing. I love a good sponge.

Oh, and Alice loves her skirts.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Jam Cookies for Mum

When discussing cookies recipes with Mum the other night, she mentioned that she loved the ones with jam on the top. So, on Tuesday, I made these.

They're not really as attractive as they could be, but they're tasty, and disappearing fast!

Late Night Cookies are still coming, probably this afternoon, though my mood matches the weather, so mustering the enthusiasm could be tricky.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cookie Frenzy

I've been a little bit obsessed with cookies, and with trying new recipes. I made Sugar Cookies (massive batch) and Dark Chocolate Bars. The latter were dipped in Lindt 85%, because it was all I had, but the balance of sweet and bitter works out beautifully.

This is small selection I took down to a friend's place, when I went to say goodbye - he's now in Perth at uni.

Coming up - Late Night Cookies!

Alice's skirts

I made two more skirts for Alice to remedy the issues with the first one. They both have the elastic sized to her hips (where she likes to wear them) and the waistband done more carefully.

This one is simply four tiers instead of three. Each tier is narrower than the original, but still 1.3 times the length of the previous tier.

This one is three tiers like the original, but this time each tier is 1.5 times the length of the previous one.
I didn't give them to her directly, instead leaving them at Andrew's parents house - sooner or later, everyone passes through the parental home. We saw Andrew's youngest sister, Ashley, yesterday, though, and she tells us that upon being given them, Alice walked around telling everyone "These are MY skirts"!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Winter dress for Alice

When I returned home from travelling, I heard that my 2.5 year old niece, Alice, loves wearing skirts, and dresses, but only owns summer and won't wear tights or leggings with them. So, I offered to make one (or two). A month and a half later, I finally finished this dress out of pinwale green cord, with pink gingham piping. Personally, I think it's adorable. Alice says "it's too big" *sigh*

I also made this skirt. Thankfully, it only took a couple of hours, and I have heaps more fabric, because she wears it lower than I had anticipated, and it needs to be fuller at the bottom so she can play. Two more experimental versions coming up.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A perfect Winter's day

Yesterday was spent doing craft (and talking about craft, and just talking) with friends. Bliss! We're making it a monthly thing, and I got to play first hostess - at least two more friends have volunteered to host. I made a big pot of minestrone soup for lunch, and bought a loaf of pasta douro (I don't know how to spell that) to eat with it in big chunky slices. It was so delicious, I forgot to take photos! I also made my choc chip cookies again, at Andrew's request. They're disappearing fast. Then, just to top the day off, Mum made a lamb roast for dinner. Yum!
Yesterday was also the first day of a Week in Feminine Dress, over at the Sense and Sensibility Forums (technically historical sewing forums, but for some reason filled with devout Christians), so I spent the day in a skirt
The dress I have been making for my niece is now almost finished. Pictures in a couple of days.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Honey and Nutmeg cupcakes

I made these last night, from a recipe in last week's Sunday Magazine (Sunday Herald Sun) and iced them this morning. Mum requested them to take to school today, though I don't know what she did for icing as she left before I got up. They're quite tasty - the nutmeg flavour really comes out during baking - but I won't make them again until I get my benchtop mixer set up (which won't be until I have my own home) because they need to be beaten for ages. I also want to come up with a different icing recipe, as this one is too buttery, and makes me feel ill. I'm wondering how my lemon icing would go.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I'm not much of a knitter, but I bought two skeins of yarn while I was in Ireland (in addition to the two lots I have in my stash) and now I need something to do with it. Part of my problem with knitting is that I get bored knitting plain scarves, so I'm looking for something more interesting to do. With this in mind, on Tuesday I bought this:
I don't actually have enough of any given yarn to make anything out of it at the moment, but they sure are pretty!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The joys of fabric

I've finally started making a Winter dress for my 2.5 year old niece who doesn't want to wear pants. I'm altering a pattern from an Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine (issue #74 "Little Bo Peep") so that the dress isn't smocked because I want to get it done quickly. I'm making it from a gorgeous teal green pinwale corduroy, which is so soft and pretty. I can't wait to see it on her. I just have to decide what colour piping to use on the collar, and figure out where to get mini piping.
Also, Mum took me to visit an old friend of the family yesterday - who still thinks of me as "little Katie" even though I'm much taller than her - and she gave me a whole pile of fabric! There's whole rolls of it, quite nice, and a lot quite expensive.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Jill's birthday

Sunday was my best friend, Jill's, birthday, and she had a high tea in celebration. To help limit costs and stress, she asked her guests to contribute. She specifically asked me for my chocolate chip cookies, and cinnamon honey cake for her birthday cake. Then I couldn't resist and had to make chocolate butterfly cakes too.
It was a lovely afternoon. We stuffed ourselves silly on sweet things, and had hours to chat. I can't think of a better way to spend a birthday.
Oh, and this blog has already inspired someone! It inspired my friend, Sally, to start her own blog. Check out Earthbound Shaman in my blog list.

My chocolate chip cookies!
Brightly coloured patty pans. Andrew laughed at me when I got him to take a photo of these "because they're pretty and they make me happy"
Cinnamon honey cake, with lemon icing
Butterfly cakes - samples for Mum and the neighbours. I put the rest together at Jill's place as they were easier to transport that way.
The tea table. Doesn't it look pretty?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Yule Weekend

Well, I had a lovely weekend. The house was cleaned and set up in plenty of time, as was I. I had a slight issue with the icecream - I decided to make white chocolate (as well as dark chocolate) but Andrew brought home 'white cooking compound'! I wasn't game to use it, but fortunately Dad was out at the time, so I got him to pick up a block of real white chocolate. This did, however, mean that it got made a little later than I would have liked.
The food was gorgeous, and it was wonderful to see my friends - several of whom I had not seen in almost a year! I also love seeing all my friends get on so well. We had soup and mini quiches for entree, and a massive main of lasagne, spinach and ricotta cannelloni, gluten free pasta bake, roast veggies, potato bake, chili con carne, and corn on the cob. Unfortunately, the lasagne wasn't ready when everything else was, so very little got eaten. Dessert consisted of a gorgeous chocolate ripple Yule log, sticky date pudding, sponge cake (gluten free), and my icecreams. Yum!
Four of my friends stayed overnight. I love being able to allow them to do this. I had taken photos of how beautiful one of the beds looked, but my father appears to have deleted it for reasons which are unknown to me since they were the only shots on the card.
Sunday morning, I was up at 8:30am (not my choice after going to bed at 3am, but I couldn't breathe well enough to sleep) well before anyone else, but this meant I was able to potter around and clean up at my own pace. Sad to say it, but it was really nice to not have Mum there to hassle me (she spent the night with a friend on Phillip Island) about cleaning up as she usually does.
Once I had cleaned up, showered and eaten breakfast, it was time to get ready for the afternoon's UnderCoverWear party. This meant baking. I made a batch of my chocolate chip cookies - I'm known for these amongst my friends - as well as two batches of scones. One of the batches was an experiment in gluten free for my friend, Jacq, who has an intolerance. They weren't perfect because I got impatient, but certainly edible, and Jacq was thrilled to be able to eat scones again.
The party started at 2:30. My best friend, Jill, returned (and her fiance, Jim, came to play with Andrew) and Andrew's Mum came up, bringing our beautiful 2.5 year old niece, Alice. Our lovely consultant, Chris, was wonderful as always. I must confess that my ideals of putting dips in nice bowls, and crackers on plates fell by the wayside, and the nibblies I had in the freezer stayed there, but no one seemed to mind.
The day ended with a dinner of leftover lasagne with Jill and Jimmy, and Lettisia (Tish) and her lovely new guy, Jason. A lovely way to end a lovely weekend and I went to bed tired, but happy.

The fireplace filled with candles. We couldn't have a real fire, because the hearth is being redone, which was disappointing, but this was pretty. I was impressed with how well they burned too, since I paid $16 for the lot at Target!

Us all sitting down for our entrees

Mini quiches, with and without gluten, candles and sword (I don't know what it's doing there either, though it is mine, but it looks good though, doesn't it?)

The chocolate ripple Yule log. Such a simple idea, but so effective and so tasty