Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tomato Surplus Plus

Our tomato plants have been overloading us with ripe tomatoes for almost a month now. I was pretty excited about making my own pasta sauce. While I know that bought stuff is considerably cheaper, I'm looking forward to opening a jar of this and just pouring bottled summer over pasta.

It took a while to find a recipe that didn't require the water bath method. This recipe comes from Crafty Cherry and you can find it in the comments here.

As you can see I still have tomatoes to spare. I've already lined up the ingredients for green tomato chutney, to handle the ones that don't ripen before the plants give out. If you have any favourite tomato recipes, please point me in the right direction.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Unfortunately, Amy

A few years back I started to make my way through the Series of Unfortunate Events. They had me giggling away, in horror many times, with turns of phrase that just begged to be read aloud. I'm looking forward to reading these to little e at some point. In the mean time, I have just read about this at Allsorts.

You need to google the phrase “unfortunately, XXX” and put your name in the blanks. It seams that Amy Winehouse had been doing enough unfortunate things for all Amy's out there, but I did come across these:

Unfortunately, Amy may be heading the same way

Unfortunately Amy had got very upset that her party might have to be postponed because..”

Unfortunately, Amy's had enough of all that good clean living in the tropics

Unfortunately, Amy Lou sees imaginary friends

Unfortunately, Amy lost everyone's money

and this is the best one, it even managed to horrify my dearest:

“Unfortunately, Amy is immediately smitten with the well-dressed hunk, and it isn't long before Jacques, despite his ruthless professional instincts...”

While I have a few questions for him over this one :

Unfortunately Greg has since removed his Nipple from bebo due to...

Passing It On

We are busy tidying the house and clearing some space. There are a number of things that we have either never used or haven't used for a long time and so we are letting them go. There have been weekly trips to the Salvation Army Thrift Stores but somehow I end up taking one bag there and returning with half a bag full. It's a slow process. Maybe this will be a bit faster - Online Clothes Swap – Aoetearoa. The swap is only open to NZ residents to keep the postage down and you can see all it's glory here.

I've decided to pass on some summer knitwear that hasn't seen the light of day for at least 2 years. They were all picked with curves in mind, but the sizes varied. One I wished I bought larger and one I loved so much I bought the other colour too.

Meanwhile, the clearing out continues. We needed to reduce the number of blankets we had until they were each refolded and evaluated on their merits. We decided that we do need to keep them all. My dearest commented that really we just like blankets. The problem is more that we really just like stuff. The linen cupboard looks a little tidier, but is in no way less full.

It's slow going, but we will get there eventually.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Block Swap -Last One In The Mail

I managed to send this beauty off to Sharon, in Wellington, today. I've been taking part in the Kiwi Quilters Block Swap. If I remember correctly, it's almost the last month.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

New Nappy Bag

I finished my new nappy bag a few weeks ago and it has been my “going to work” bag ever since. I can throw all manner of things into it as I am rushing out the door at 6 am, knitting, a book and sometimes even lunch.

The inside is lined blue with burnt orange pockets. I'm still losing things in the pockets and vow that I will label them soon. At least the cell phone is one the outside.

The pattern is from the Amy Butler range. It's supposed to be a diaper bag and is all set to be in a few months.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

All Kinds of Envy

I've recently taken this book out of our local library – "Ladies a Plate" by Alexa Johnson, and I am envious. It's not just a case of culinary envy, but china envy, cookbook envy and even embroidered linen envy.

“Ladies a Plate” is a very antipodean phrase that was tagged to the bottom of many invites. I can remember it on the school notice announcing the annual end of year production. It's code for “make that signature dish of finger food you want people to reminisce about at your funeral”. This book of full of those recipes, and each dish has it's own little introduction and photo. It's a social history of your Nana's tea parties.

You might have guessed, I'm a bit of a china floozy, and this book is full of luscious china that your grandmother might have owned. Some would say that owning 5 different tea sets is going over board. I would say that it is being prepared. Ms Johnson looks to be well prepared indeed with different china in almost every picture.

As for cookbook envy, the recipes are a culmination of testing endless variations in community cookbooks. We used to save these book from second hand shops, take them home and admire the old fashioned recipes. Each recipe is credited with it's source. Never did I dream that someone would test and compare them all for me and let me know which was best, without omitting that Elizabeth Messenger's variation in 1957 was pretty good too. You'd also be pleased to know that Mrs S Dunphy, of the Chocolate Caramel Fingers recipe fame, still cooks for the Tokoroa Hospital Cafeteria.

Each time I catch a glimpse of a new piece of embroidered linen in the photos, I just want to whisk it home to line my glory box. Then again, it is wonderful to see it out in the light of day getting used on almost every page.

We've been testing the recipes too. You have to be quick around here. My dearest was able to whip up some afghans before I'd even decided what to bake. Then, as I stocked the pantry to make bumble bees, the coconut disappeared into a batch of coconut whispers. I finally got to test my hand at the chocolate caramel fingers. The recipe is great, you can get a sneak peak at the recipe over here. I wasn't fast enough with the camera either. I missed the coconut whispers and chocolate caramel fingers but I did catch an afghan disappearing.

Little e agrees, the recipes are very good.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Baby Boom and Stash Bust

While I haven't been up to anything quilty this week I have still been working my way through the stash. I've been busy re-stocking the baby box and giving stash away.

With seven sets of friends expecting so far this year, it was the perfect time to get stuck into making bibs. Usually I'll make baby gowns for close friends, but they are of little use in the hot Wairarapa summer. I had bought the fabrics about at year ago specifically to set aside for bib making. As you can see, I'm very good at putting things off.

Random Selector Ready To Go

The stash busting went well too. There was a resounding response. 139 comments, I am impressed. This afternoon, as promised, I wound up the random number generator, fed her some marshmallows and she was off. The lucky winner was number 5 – Jelly Bean Soup. Ms Jelly Bean, the parcel will be on it's way to you soon. Thank you to everyone who entered. You've left me with a long list of new blogs to check out.

Random Selector Admiring Her Handiwork
(I am still having issues with blogger cropping the right off my photos, but you can see the whole picture in reader - grrr)

I'm not sure if giving stash away counts but for this week, it will have to. Here's the update for this week:

This week:

Stash Enhancement – 0.7m
Stash Used – 5.5 (well, 4 given away, 1.5 used)
New Fabric Used – 0 m


Stash Enhancement – 4.55 m Year to Date
Stash Used – 15.35m YTD
New Fabric Used – 3.65m YTD

Friday, February 6, 2009

Peach Harvest

Our long weekend started off with a call from my mother. The peaches were ripe at her house would Little e like to pick them? The answer, a resounding yes.

The peach tree is on it's last legs. It cracked something terrible a month ago and is held off the ground with strategically placed planks. The fruit has a pale, almost green flesh with small bits of red around the stone. My Mum loves to eat them one half at a time, with breakfast and dessert, and so was reluctant to cut it down until after the fruit was ripe. This leaves us with a tree that is at just the right height for little hands to pick.

I love watching Little e make the connections about where her food comes from. When we picked the first broccoli she plucked it from the bowl and took off to show her Dad. It really does look like the stuff that ends up on her plate. It was the same when she was shown the peaches on the tree last week. All we could do was restrain her from picking the not ripe fruit. Today she got her chance.

We celebrated peach picking by promptly eating some, freshly picked and sliced.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

It's Giveaway Day

Due to the wonders of international time zones, it's giveaway day here a few hours earlier that anywhere else. For the International Stash-Busting Giveaway I have selected four Japanese Style prints. I bought these a few years ago and really like them. Considering that I haven't had any immediate plans to use them for sometime now, its time to find someone who might.

The selvedges are blank so I can't tell you who designed or printed them. I can't even tell you if they are really Japanese or an American interpretation. The patterns are from left to right -
  • Shibori style rice grain pattern
  • Little wood ducks
  • Faruma dolls
  • Fans with random hiragana
There is about 1 metre of each and I will be giving it away as one bundle. They are 100% cotton and out of habit I have pre-washed them with delicate detergent. Just leave me a comment below and these lovelies might be heading your way. I will be drawing the winner next Monday. If my school girl Japanese serves me correct "Ganbatte Kudasai".

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Great International Stashbusting Giveaway

I'm taking part in the Great International Stashbusting Giveaway. Ginger Monkey putting it all together. You can click on the widget to the right to see how it all works and who else is in on this.

I'm currently trawling through my quilting stash looking for pieces that someone else might like. At this stage I'm thinking either reds or novelty prints. I'll have to decide before Wednesday, anyway, and as I'm not the most prompt of bloggers, I'll keep it open for a few days.

Burnt Butter and Felted Jerseys

There are some things that I try very hard not to do and there are some times when you just have to. Burning butter and felting jerseys are just two of them. One for edible cupcakes and the other for inedible ones and other felted goods.

The burnt butter cupcakes were pretty good, but I was a little timid. I had admired this Nigella Lawson recipe for a while but couldn't find golden sugar amongst the other exotic ingredients. Now that Trade Aid stocks the sugar, I'm all set. The first time I had to burn the butter for the cupcakes I was very careful, gently raising the temperature until the colour was a little more golden than normal melted butter. I figured it was burnt. I was wrong. The second time, for the icing, I walked away for a bit and managed to burn the butter good and proper. I'm not sure if it was the burning or just the concentrated sugar hit. The cupcakes were so-so, but the icing is definitely something else.

The felted wool is going to take some practice too.

I'm not meticulous about many things, but even in my student days I always carefully hand washed my woollens. It took a small infant and mounting washing before I would put even machine washable woollens into the machine. So, it was with some trepidation that I put the thrifted jerseys into the washing machine. I searched for advice on felting and in the end acquired my own copy of Warm Fuzzies.

The first batch was mixed, as you can see from the jerseys on top. The cheaper Ezibuy jersey was wonderful. I love the added texture from the ribbed sleeves. The Esprit 90% wool one shed quite bit, but really, doesn't look any different after two wash cycles. I think this will end up as a hotwater bottle cover. Then there is the wonderful 100% NZ wool jersey. I think the brand was Colours. Two very hot wash cycles and the only change is that stains have gone.

While last jersey is not going to be any good for felting, if it can take that kind of abuse, I might have another use for it. A few years ago I spied a quaint Enid Gilchrist Pattern for bootie pants, which honestly reads:

“Although these cosy pants could be made to match the skivy, we also made a pair from the sleeves of a women's angora sweater. The body of the sweater was used for the matinĂ©e jacket.”

This sounds like a modern day silk purse out of a sows ear if ever I heard of one.