I love this outfit! I wore it last week to teach P.E. of all things. I knew I needed something I could move in and still be decent, and also something that would be cool in the warmer weather we've been having lately. I had intended to wear a polo shirt, then forgot while I was getting dressed that morning. As it was, I spent the day feeling pretty, and feminine and fun. I couldn't have asked for more, and I will definitely be wearing this again. (please excuse my rather tired look, the photo was taken at around 9pm)
It's been funny having chooks. One of Andrew's tends to lay really big eggs - the one on the left weight a whopping 93 grams, but only contained a single yolk! We've had eggs without a proper shell. And recently Daisy, our neighbour's chook, has started to lay. Because she's still young, most of her eggs are small.
And one looked normal but had two tiny yolks! I can't wait to see what comes next...
It's been a couple of months now since Mum finished her first ever quilt. In all honesty, she did the actual hand quilting, while I did all the cutting and construction. Still, she spent ages lovingly quilting words about love and family in both English and Burmese, and finally gave it to the Burmese family she has been working with (she tutors the mother in English through AMES - a great program if anyone is interested)
My middle niece turned 4 last month. Much to the fascination and confusion of the family at large, and especially her mother, she's quite a fashion conscious, trendy, feminine little thing. So when I saw High Five! in issue 87 of Australian Smocking and Embroidery, I knew it was the perfect present for her birthday. I spent far too much time fighting my sewing machine over the topstitching thread, and I'm sure I wasted more of it than I used. I also spent an hour and a half fighting my future mother-in-laws sewing machine over keyhole buttonholes, before giving up and doing standard buttonholes on my own machine. But in the end, I love it so much that I'm trying to figure out how to make myself one!
Almost immediately after finishing Oscar's coat, I moved onto my next paid job - catering a morning tea for 35 local principals. I got the job through Mum's boss, who has known me since I was 8, and has often hired me as a relief teacher too. She requested biscuits and muffins, so after much thought I decided upon my famous chocolate chip cookies, ginger biscuits, white choc/raspberry and double chocolate muffins (from the one recipe which I got from an online friend), and lemon cake from a recipe Jill gave me (from the CWA cookbook) Having never made the muffins or cake before I did a trial run on the Sunday before the big event. Both worked well (though the lemon cake should not be made in a mini bundt pan!) and both Mum's staff and the staff of the school I worked at on Monday were well fed. I also make the choc chip cookie dough up and put it in the fridge. Monday afternoon and evening saw me very busy baking, from soon after I got home until almost 10pm (though I did fit dinner in there!). After surveying the scene above, and doing some calculating, I decided that one more thing was needed... And so, I got up early on Tuesday morning to make a cinnamon honey cake. I'd debated doing a chocolate cake, but I don't have a recipe I'm sure of, while the cinnamon honey cake is an old favourite. I took everything up to the school in plastic containers, except the last cake which was still warm, and set it out onto platters when I got there. I had the assistance of some very capable senior students to take it in, and I am told it was a great success!
After searching long and hard, we finally acquired some more chooks. We got these little girls from Chesterfield Farm, and they were only 12 weeks old (that was a week and a half ago) so it will be a couple of months before we get any eggs from them. The two spotty ones (centre) are Mum's, and she has named them Flora and Dora. The grey one (back) belongs to our neighbour (a bit of a joke) and Mum tells me its name is Cora, but I don't believe here. The two black ones are mine, and they are as yet unnamed. Any suggestions? One has a few brown feathers around her neck (it's hard to tell, but I think it's the one on the left)
I hope that you will forgive my absence these last few weeks. You see, when not working, or sick, or both, I have been obsessed with finishing this gorgeous little coat for an even more gorgeous little boy named Oscar. After seeing my recent girl's coats, Oscar's mummy commissioned me to make a coat for him. We went fabric shopping together, and after a little searching, I found this pattern. It took me far too long to make between the work, and the illness and a few little challenges, including eliminating most of the handsewing (the pattern wanted me to handsew in the entire lining!), making pockets and lining the back vent but finally I finished this gorgeous little coat and delivered it to a very excited mother. Not only has she paid me for it, but has had professional photos taken of Oscar wearing it, which she has offered to me for promotional purposes! Fortunately, considering that Winter is now over, it is still a little big so it will fit Oscar next year and get the wear that it deserves.
I found the kit for this bag for half price last year. I soon decided that it was perfect for Sal's birthday present. Putting it together had some challenges - the instructions weren't all that clear - but it wasn't too hard.
And in the end, I was able to give my friend this gorgeous bag.
Yule has come and gone for another year, and sadly, I forgot to take any photos of a wonderful night. I did, however, manage to take photos of the invitations. I love to send out formal invitations to events as I think it's more exciting to receive something in your letter box than your email. Sadly, this year, some took the long way through our postal system. Hopefully, next year will be better.
A while ago, the lovely Erin at Purple Frangipani posted about Ottobre Design. I checked it out, drooled over the gorgeous designs, then forgot about it. Then when I was preparing for the Chestnut Festival, and looking for boys patterns, I found Ottobre again. Each issue contains around 40 (or more!) fantastic kids (and some adults) designs, and costs less than A$20. So I bought two (and Jill bought one of the women's issues) I haven't actually used any of the patterns yet, but I love looking through them and am looking forward to getting some more issues. I'm even thinking of subscribing.
I've been experimenting with the jam cookie recipe. Adding jam after baking leads to soggy cookies, but it's tricky to judge how much jam to use before baking. This batch was about right. And I remembered my grandmother's trick for using up left over dough/pastry - little jam pasties.
I made this for dinner on Tuesday night. Typically, I forgot to take a photo, but thought you might enjoy the recipe.I used the pumpkin puree leftover from making the pumpkin pies.
Serves 4-5 Ingredients: 60g butter 4tbsp plain flour 2 rounded teaspoons wholegrain mustard 500ml milk salt, pepper, nutmeg 125g grated tasty cheese (I use Coon, but whatever you prefer) 1tbsp grated parmesan 1 1/2 cups (approx.) pumpkin puree Method: Melt butter, then stir in flour. Stir for 1 minute without browning. Stir in mustard. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Stir until it boils and thickens. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in cheese until melted. Stir in pumpkin.
Notes: This is still experimental, and I think it's missing something. If anyone can tell me what that is, I'd appreciate it. Pumpkin puree is made according to instructions on Martha Stewart's website. I was going to link to it, but it's not working right now. Basically roast about 750g pumpkin in one piece until it's really soft, skin it, and run through the food processor or blender. I have also used homemade pumpkin soup instead of puree.
Andrew's pumpkins finally ripened. We got 1x8kg, 1x2kg, and one slightly possum nibbled. So now we have to use them up... 1. Roast as part of dinner - check 2. Make soup - check 3. Pumpkin pie 4. Pumpkin scones. Now if someone could just help me out with the other 97 uses, we might just get there!
With an abundance of spinach in the veggie garden, I decided to attempt something new, that we'd experienced on our travels - spanakopita (Can anyone tell me how to pronounce that, by the way? Is it SPAN-ah-kop-ih-tah or span-ah-kop-EE-tah?)
May 1 was Samhain (actually, April 30 was, but that was a Thursday) - Pagan New Year, and a time when the veil between the worlds is thin and we can communicate with and remember lost loved ones. I had some friends over for a dinner in front of the fireplace. Only a couple were able to come, and one of those was quite late, so we didn't bother with the planned ritual, and just had a lovely social night instead. Andrew roasted some chestnuts for a pre-dinner snack, I provided baked spuds with garlic butter, cheese and free range bacon. Dessert was provided by my friends - gingerbread skeletons, and pumpkin pie. Yum!
The Chestnut Festival went really well. I ended up with 5 jackets to sell (I made 6 but an online friend bought the first one on Friday) finishing the last one at the stall! I sold 3 of them, which I'm quite pleased with. I think I would have sold more if I'd had more, especially in the bigger sizes. We sold a few of Andrew's wands, and a couple of staves, and even had a woman interested in stocking them in her shop! We also sold some of his mum's knitted gnomes, and a pile of his sister's amigurumi tortoises and hippos, plus a few kids bracelets. I was really surprised that the painted bags his mum made didn't sell at all. We were using one of the primary school's tents (thanks, Mum!) which unfortunately meant we were next to the fairy floss machine, and got coated in sugar! A few of our friends came by, his parents helped out for the day, and the weather was a perfect crisp autumn day. Prepare for the photo bombardment sequence.... Size 2 short jacket in chocolate corduroy with striped lining (I still have this) Size 2 Rusty orange polar fleece with floral lining - the last one finished Size 3 Rusty orange polar fleece with gingham lining (I still have this) Size 4 Blue polar fleece with floral lining Size 6 Brown floral velour with floral lining (this was sold to 2 women who plan to pass it down between their daughters!)