Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There's Still Time for Cordial

At this time very year I have to start letting a few things go. I am letting go of the dream of making elderflower cordial. The fact that the flowers are now turning into berries helps a little on this.

However there is still time for cordial. This was my first attempt at making rhubarb cordial. the recipe was taken from this month's NZ Gardener and it needs only 6 stalks of rhubarb unlike some of the 1kg wonders that are out there. This recipe also boasts that it can be made the day before. I initially wondered who would be so disorganised, only to discover that would be me.

We are still tweaking the sugar ratio. I like my rhubarb tangy. However this 1 cup of sugar recipe masked all the mouth puckering, eye squinting glory of rhubarb leaving a subtle rhubarb scent and cloying sugary taste. Serving it with some gin and soda might fix that. Reducing the sugar by a third in the second batch appeared to work too.

On the other hand, here is the cordial recipe that doesn't let me down

Lemon Cordial (courtesy of the side of the King's Tartaric Acid box)

3 lemons - peel and juice
3 cups of boiling water
3 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon tartaric acid

Mix all in non metal bowl until sugar is dissolved and leave to cool. Strain and bottle.

Brilliant! That's another three gifts sorted.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Little Stitches, Big Changes

This week I put the finishing touches on this embroidery. While it may appear to be a small thing, its completion marks the end of something bigger. This is the last piece that I will stitch on the train to work.

I am trading the commute that sees me leaving home at 6am only to return at 6pm, travelling almost 2hrs door to door, for a new job that is a mere 20 minutes up the road.

The kids are excited and my dearest is delighted. They met me in town on Thursday to help me pack up from work. With boxes in the car, we headed for home.

Before starting the new job, there are few adjustments to be made. I will eventually reset the alarm clock. It's 5:30 chirping on my first day off was more than unwelcome. On the other hand,while my body clock resets, I might just try and make the most of these few minutes of peace before the household wakes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

See It, Dream It, Make It

I indulged in some colour co-ordinated decorations for the kitchen. Purely frivolous, I know. However, I didn't realise quite how taken Little E would be with them. For her it wasn't the colours, instead the mere thought that she could make one too.

She took up her crayons and started drawing. Each branch and decoration was narrated with delight. Once the picture was finished, we had to admit that yes, she could make one too.

We took the secateurs and trimmed some dead branches off the magnolia tree outside. After some more trimming and a spare box of baubles it was finished.

I cannot help but admire her systematic approach to making this happen. She is used me pouring over drawings of hypothetical renovations and projects with my father and a cup of coffee, as well as the occasional sewing project. Perhaps it runs in the family.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pincushions and Crafting Sacrilege

I find it really hard to cut into someone else's embroidery. While admiring the works that other people have made out of thrifted embroideries, my inner Nana gasps at small acts of crafting sacrilege.

Perhaps it was beyond help. Perhaps this is better that being holed up in drawer. I tell myself little consolations and move on, admiring the crafter's daring and bravery.

This tray cloth was truly beyond help. One set of three baskets was eaten away by a mysterious substance. In other places you could see the embroidery thread was all but gone where it had been ironed over and over. I tried to take a photo. It really didn't turn out. so you will have to believe me on this. I carefully cut around two of the intact baskets and some fragments of garlands to put this together, before raiding my button collection for the final touch.

Little did I think that four lots of 3 inches makes for a really big pincushion. In hindsight I could have made this smaller, but despite my initial daring, I can't bring my self to slice up these little baskets. One day, I might be brave enough but for now I will listen respectfully, to my inner Nana.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chicken Scratched Dress and a Book Review

I have always wonted to give chicken scratch embroidery a go. Occasionally, I find a table cloth or apron in the opshop with the distinctive stitched gingham.

After finding this darling dress, I felt it needed a little something to look less like a school uniform. The chicken scratch pattern is from Alicia Paulson's* "Embroidery Companion" and was originally meant for shelf edging. While I probably wouldn't recommend chicken scratch on such a small scale gingham, or polycotton for that matter (must remember to read the label first), I do like how this has turned out. Next stop a table cloth, I think.

I am loving this book at the moment. The patterns are just wonderful and I really love how she has utilised a wide range of sources and inspirations. You will find black-work sitting next to Ukrainian folk embroidery. I don't know what an experienced embroiderer would make of it, but for me, right now, as I begin to experiment, it is a great place to start. Alicia's encouragement to start with stitching something you love, leaves me with twitchy fingers and threads.

*Have you been reading along on Posy gets Cosy? Her journey to parenthood has had me both on the edge of my seat and in tears over the last few months.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Cards For 4 Year Olds

As part of the Small Hands Christmas Swap, we needed to find some simple cards that everyone in the family could make. We decided on these Pipe Cleaner Christmas Tree Cards. I know it's a bit of a mouthful to say, but so much fun to make.

To make your own you will need:
Card stock (we used red, obviously)
Ice block sticks
PVA Glue
Pipe cleaners
Pliers (for cutting the pipe cleaners)
Scissors (for cutting the paper)

Step 1 - Cut pipe cleaners and wrap then around the ice-block stick tree trunk. Using the pliers, pinch each set of branches to hold then in place and then, with the pliers again, trim the tree to shape.

Step 2 - Thread the beads onto the branches.

Step 3 - Cut card to size and fold. Glue the back of the trunk to the tree. If needed hold the trunk in place with pegs until the glue dries.

There you have it. Finished trees. The kids' involvement varies with age - Miss 4 was able to wrap the pipe cleaners around each trunk and both Miss 2 & 4 too great delight in threading the beads on. We even had enough left over to start making beaded stars and course, I got a little carried away thinking about other shapes you could make.

Saturday, December 3, 2011


We have been indulging in a little unpacking lately. The tree is up and lights on and the kids buzzing.