Feb 28, 2013

D53: Robbed.

I didn't do a creative thing today because in the creative time I had Hub made me repair his shorts' button and he wouldn't let me put it somewhere creative.

Feb 27, 2013

D52: Quilting!

Stitched a few circles on my baby quilt.

I began this quilt a long time ago.  The baby it was for is now in 3-year-old kinder.  I'm not sure if I'll still give this to her or make her something new.  There's always another baby on the way who can have this!

Of my three UFOs this is the youngest and so carries the most hope.  I thought I had a lot more to go, but I've really only got the outer-most margin of circles left.

Mind you, that's forgetting the binding, which I haven't bought yet.

There are lots of fabrics in this quilt that I love, but a few I don't.  For example, I'm not sure what possessed me to include the beige one.  It matches colours in the Eskimo print, but its not very complementary to the quilt.  The blue-fleck pattern too... what was going on that day?

The back feels a bit mismatched.  I think what I did was find a few fabrics I really liked and hoped they could all go in the same quilt together.  A rookie mistake, I'm sure.  I think choosing a binding is going to be a bit of a nightmare as the front and the back have so little in common... Pink? Red? Grey?
Le sigh.

Anyway, I'll post proper non-instagrammed photos when it's all done.

Fabric goodies!
In other news, I had to get out of the house with Bub this arvo.  Lincraft was in mind, just for a window shop you see.  Just to see what they're stocking these days.  Must stay on top of the trends.

And I remembered a quilting store I hadn't visited in ages, so thought we'd drop by, peruse the shelves.  Lo and behold, my dots connected enough to choose these.  I'm hoping to making the 1:5 wallet out of them, one of each, and offer them to a few sisters I know.

Feb 26, 2013

D51: Bits and pieces

Marked the placement of the base-pairs. When I sew this together it'll be because I'm sick of looking at it in eight parts :|

Feb 25, 2013

D50: Little Tea Cakes

Fifty days! Woo hoo!*

First batch is lighter as Hub was impatient.
You know those cranberry muffins I raved about?   Well, the oil (I blame you, silver lining!) leached onto the outside of the patty paper, which I found rather unappetising. And my skin did not appreciate it either.  So the last half dozen of them went off with Mum and Dad today who've never had cranberry muffins either and were quite delighted with them, even if they did present poorly on their third day.

So this left the house without a bikkie in sight: little cakes ahoy!

I seriously doubt that, were it not for my breastfeeding and Hub's run/ride commute, we would be able to safely consume so much baking.

* I reserve the right to include my holiday days. It's my blog.

Feb 24, 2013

D49: Little Triangle bags

I'm beginning to suspect that paper-based projects will be best for days like these...

I was wondering about the geometry of the triangle bag I made yesterday.  It's the perfect width for a handbag for me, but it's too short to go over the shoulder: the hole is only forearm sized, not shoulder sized.

For at least one of the four sleeps since then, I've drifted off wondering about other construction ideas.  Folding bags from cones, semicircles and triangles so that theres just one or two seams.  I remember flipping the shapes around in my head and feeling fairly confident about the results.  Really, though, my brain doesn't dance with 2D-to-3D conversions, I need a mock-up of some sort, so today I've done up a few ideas with bits of paper.

Three different lengths, folded from the centre outward.
That 1:2 one is actually 5:12.

I thought I'd start with the rectangles and see how far I got.
I wondered if simply lengthening the strip would be enough. I already knew that the construction steps couldn't be the same as 1:3 (as it works in from the ends) and was curious about other arrangements.  Here are three rectangles of different ratios, all folded so that their centre is at the bottom of the bag.

I thought the lower the ratio, the wider the bag. The 1:2 5:12 and 1:4 both have a sort of 'left over' part, which is fair enough as it's just a bit less or more than the neat 1:3. Although a 1:1.5 (or 2:3) ratio bag may be even more shallow, the reverse is not true. As you'll see with the 1:5 examples below, I think fixing the width of the rectangle at 1, for example, determines the width of the bag to always be at least 1.4 (with a bit of give for the bias).

Left: Folded from the centre (symmetrically)   Right: Folded from the end with a triangle

I thought I'd try another 1:4, folding it from one end to create the same shape. This shows how the left over part was shifted entirely to one side, making a kind of envelope.

The symmetrically folded 1:4, in half.

I think this one is totally good to go! A neat little clutch, no?

Here is the 1:5 effort. The one labelled 'wrap' is folded from the end and has the extending end concertina-folded and tucked into the other tip. It would be asymmetrical and possibly sit on a shoulder really well.
The 'centred' one is the same size as the 1:4 clutch when folded in half. It would hold more, though, because the tube/body is deeper.
The one on the left is the same height as the 1:4.  The right one is asymmetrical.

I like this one very much and already have a lined version in mind as a gift.
That's all for today. Possibly more miniature geometric bags in the future.

*Teachers looking for ratio/geometry/prediction tasks are welcome to steal this post! ;)

Feb 23, 2013

D48: Triangle bag

I found this a few days ago in my feed via Makezine website. It's an excellently simple bag made from a 1:3 rectangle. It's designer calls it a triangle bag and you can see why. The tutorial I used is at between the lines by Pascale.

My triangle bag!
I wanted something that would fit into a day, but it wasn't as quick as I'd hoped. Fifteen minutes, suggested Pascale.  Hmmm, I thought, is dinner already made...?

Measuring it out.  It's much too long. It should be 45cm, not 46cm!
Firstly, ratio matters.   I used a rolled-hem foot on the machine to hem the beginning rectangle, as the instructions demand, but I didn't properly account for the seam allowance in my original measurements.  I wasn't even sure of what the rolled hem would use.  Luckily, I didn't go into this project feeling precious about the fabric (long-term stash filler).  At least the time saving rolled-hem foot saves time when I make mistakes. O_o

So my first effort was a bit long, and chopping & hemming another edge added time.  I also decided I wanted a scrunchy part at the handle... Anyway, you'll see what I did.

I let it be a bit long, thinking the seam allowance would eat up the extra length but forgot that I'd measured the height accurately.  Silly me!

Using the rolled-hem foot to do the edges.
I really do like using this foot, but I can't use it with everything.  I find it really tricky with sheer, stretch or very light fabrics.  With those, if I want a rolled hem, I pin-sew-pin-sew and sometimes, depending on the fabric, with pin-tack-sew twice instead.

The rectangle hemmed and then folded, when I realised it was really was too long.

At one point I thought of working backwards: finding the middle, folding it 45degrees and then folding back the corners. But I decided no, I will do it p r o p e r l y.  The slow way.

Bye bye extra bit!
The layout and folding of the bag. Only two short seams!
The scrunchy, made up without measuring.

Of course, the bobbin ran out of thread at literally the last inch, so that's why the joining square on the left is a bit ratty. I'd cracked it a bit by that point.

Joining of the two points, then tacking and little half-hitches to secure the scrunchy.
I tacked the scrunchy in the middle and did a few sneaky half-hitches at the end to hold its length in place.

The finished product!

...and holding my phone, keys, sunnies case, wallet & water bottle!

As the comments in the tutorial suggest, there are lots of ways to go with this one.  For future ideas I'm thinking of what could be done while skipping the first hemming step:
  • Hemming the edges at the end. 
  • Making two bags, one as a lining, and joining with an enclosed seam or bias binding the edges. 
  • Using sealed seams and bias binding the edges. 
Meanwhile, I'm quietly pleased with this one and hope that I'll be able to use this as a chuck-in for the pram or some such.  Glee!

Feb 22, 2013

D47: Cranberries? Can-berries!

Bub's been waking more during the night recently and today's lethargy had me thinking I might extend my break an extra day.  But then I went and made cranberry muffins! :D

We received a pack of dried cranberries (craisins?) for Christmas.  I've never worked with cranberries before, even though I've enjoyed some official Craisin.  I've been a bit shy about using them.  I figured muffins must surely be the safest and friendliest way to break ground with a new fruit.

These muffins were created using the Basic Muffins secipe in the AWW Home Library series Country Cooking cookbook.  (My mum actually gave this one to me - no associated guilt! Yay!)  My misgivings about using oil in baking were muffled: "Who can be bothered with creaming butter at this hour?!" said the silver lining.  I followed the blueberry variation and found it to be a terribly easy recipe - sift, stir, stir, spoon out, sprinkle, spoon out again, rub, sprinkle again, bake.

I attempted to reconstitute the cranberries but because they were all broken no puffy sultana-effect was possible.  Still, it helped to soak them in cold water beforehand.  I soaked a lot of cranberries... best to round up when trying to estimate 200g of reconstituted anything, I say! 

Spooned, sprinkled, and spoon & 'sprinkle' some more

The last thing to do is rub some flour, brown sugar and butter to a 'breadcrumb' texture and sprinkle it over the muffins.  In this variation, the berries go on top too.   Somewhere in there I measured too much butter, or not enough flour, or it's just plain too hot in here, coz there was no breadcrumbing to be had with this part.  I mashed it all up with half the berries so that the 'sprinkling' would be more efficient, and divisible, and hoped for the best.

The reconstituted cranberries and the 'breadcrumbed' topping.  O_o
I was off settling Bub when the first batch came out and I didn't realise that the clump of 'crumble' would appear wet and spongey on top.  When Hub answered the timer he though they were underdone, so that's why there is a dark brown batch and a lighter brown batch.  They're both terribly yummy though!  The berries have a nice tang, like raisins or dried muscatels.  I may have a need to use the other half of the pack soon enough! :D

Days 40-46: Soooo busy.

Does my sarcasm come across? Emphasis is soooo important.

I set myself no expectations for the holiday at the coast. I remembered that the house had some baking supplies from the last time we were there, but it still didn't compel me to bake. Even the glorious stash of daggy, obscure and glossy recipe books and magazines on the shelves couldn't persuade me to do more than some wholemeal pancakes.

With those, Bub woke me up at a stupid hour on the Sunday morning, when our cousin was there and the house was at its fullest. I made the crepe batter (from a Delicious magazine - Wicked or Wicked Desserts) and left a note to say "make after 7:30". They we're absolutely lovely, even without the extra egg yolk.

For our two dinners we did a no-frills lamb roast and some rice paper rolls. The former was hardly something to write Tom Cruise about, and the second was remarkable only for its suitability on the hottest day we had, which was a crappy unairconditioned 37°C.

I ad-libbed a dessert for myself when everyone else was having ice cream (no lactose for me D:). It was a mini plum & apple crumble with amaretto biscotti in the crumble. Not bad, but no pics.

The DNA toy was also deconstructed. And that was as far as I got with a single piece of yarn or thread. I actually spent a lot of my free time doing puzzles from The Age, reading its articles and getting through The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared for book club. And sleeping in.

I got a lot done :)

Ed note: We tried to eek out the chocolate almond bread for as long as possible, but everyone quietly grazed on it, with and without hot drinks, and it was gone pretty quickly.
I also baked on the day we returned - my favourite chocolate cake recipe in the log tin - as a thank you to our neighbours for watching the place and collecting the mail. The glaze probably went on too soon...

Bub was definitely busy: She turned 6 months old, learned to sit and use her bottle!

Feb 14, 2013

Day 39: Chocolate Almond Bread Part 2 - for the road!

The slicing was tricky and Hub helped a bit.  We got 44 slices, not including the stumpy ends.

I was a bit 'clever' with the baking too.  It says to do them in a single layer for 20 mins. I do have two trays and they probably would've all fit, but I wasn't sure so I used a wire rack to arrange them and turned them over half way through baking. That way I was sure to only have one baking batch.

In other news, we're off down the coast today for a week.  I've decided the blog will take a holiday too.  I've got stuff to do but I won't be doing a daily thing if I don't feel like it. I may collect pics along the way to post on our return.

See you next week lovies!

Feb 13, 2013

Day 38: Chocolate Almond Bread part 1

Back when I made the two-tone brownies, I thought I might use that cookbook to make the chocolate almond bread. It said 'makes 70'.  Only if I'm Jesus! I've used a shorter pan than required, which is why my batch will be a different count. If I can manage to stick to the 3mm thickness I should get a fair few, but still not that many. I'm really not sure about the cutting though - its very hard!

This mix doesn't rise or melt to cook so it's turned out exactly as I'd laid it, which was messy.  It's a very sticky dough.

So very appetising, yes?

On initial taste tests though it is very yummy so I'm looking forward to slicing (hopefully) and toasting it tomorrow.

Feb 12, 2013

Day 37: Cockatwo

My effort at a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo. It would be completely white except for the nine yellow ribbons in the crest. The yellow feathers on this bird are hidden when they're not flying.

I'm not sure the back gusset is the best length, but I won't know until I actually make it. To be properly complete I'd need to trace and separate the wing piece. On the other hand, this is not a project for the ear future. I've way too many UFOs to be taking on something I'm not dying to do!

Feb 11, 2013

Day 36: Majaaaw Mitchell!

Aaaaaw! Look at this Major Mitchell cockatoo!! I'm still amazed.
The final product, with the prettiest band-aid eva.
I found a good webpage of Major Mitchell cockatoos and decided to do a standing bird minus the legs.  I started out making a flat version of a cockatoo that would be standing on the ground.  Then I decided I would try giving it some depth and nutted out a few gussets, with no idea how well it would actually work. But you know caution, wind, etc.

Feb 10, 2013

Day 35: I am amazed!!

I've amazed myself!

After the disappointment of last night's realisation, I decided before breakfast that I'd make something comforting: a nice easy, reliable, achievable item that would be quick, pretty and fun. I remembered  Emmie's Taggies Birdie and thought that was the job for today.

I love my French curve.
I made this pattern in preparation.

I held it up for Hub to see. It's nice, he says, but maybe you could make an Australian bird, like a cockatoo.  The wind out of my sails, I wracked my brain.
I haven't any yellow, I said.
We've an old T-shirt that's going to waste, offered the Goddam Problem-solver.
I would like to try up-cycling something... Anyway, success was the name of the day, not experimentation. Not risk, no sir.
But now my design seemed so simple and inadequate. I was feeling beaten already.

I told Hub that I'd never made an animal pattern from scratch. Remember my little people? They were very odd. Today, I want something I can do.
But this will be so much more rewarding, he blithely counters. You'll feel so satisfied by the end.
Or hairless, I thought.

We looked through some picture storybooks for inspiration. Further intimidated by the beautiful illustrations and so wishing I could do a Crimson Rosella or a lorikeet, I tried going in reverse: what can I make. I went through my stash and thought of birds. Why was I still stuck on birds? Because I'm nothing, if not hopeful.

So I flipped through some Google images of a bird I did have the materials for, turned the page over and sketched something new.

And it's turned out well! Like, way better than I expected. As in, really quite okay.

I'm 80% done.More pics once it's complete tomorrow!

Feb 9, 2013

When Dr Frankenstein knits...

Unfortunately, this mutated DNA doesn't result in anything interesting.
It's just wrong.

Day 34: I've nothing indoors

We needed a square pan when we made Turkish Delight the other week.  Now that I've bought one I felt should find reasons to use it, and I just happened to have some white chocolate lying around...  First World problems hey.

I let Hub put in a request, which for was a slice, and I got a bit stuck.  I realised then that I'd grown up with slices including a fruit of some kind - usually apple or a jam, not chocolate - and that I expected them to have layers and a short pastry of some kind.  However Hub includes brownies and fudge in that group and my mum never made those.  Considering my family's penchant for chocolate I have no idea how that whole genre was skipped*.

These Two-tone Fudge Brownies were rather persuasive.  They're from the small AWW cookbook series, this one being biscuits brownies & biscotti.  I've made the Orange Polenta Biscuits before, but didn't love them enough to do that again.  The Melting Moments we pretty good too - definitely butter-based and melty, slightly coma inducing.

These brownies, as it turns out, are
 pretty full on.  Six eggs, three for each layer, and a whole quarter pound of butter make for a rich cake, which is what makes it brownies, I suppose, and not just a slice.  They're much easier to knock up than I expected - essentially a melt and mix recipe but you have to do it twice.  (Do I call it 'brownies' before it's cut? Or 'the cake'? Or 'brownie cake'? My plurals are getting confused!)
It recommends to put foil over the cake if it looks like it's going to burn.  After 40mins in the oven it was rather 'golden', so I covered it and spent the remaining 40mins a little nervous because I now couldn't see if it was burning.
Also, this book uses 'terms' for temps and not degrees (i.e. 'moderate oven') which have a 25° range in Fahrenheit.  In an effort to figure out my forever-singed baking, I reduced the temp from the mid to the lower end of the range, with 20mins to go, even though the cake is on the second-lowest tier again.  I also left the foil over the cake as it cooled in the pan, to discourage sinking (not completely successfully).

Moist! It says makes 25, but I'll cut 36 since its so rich.
Having discovered this book again, I'm thinking of making the chocolate almond bread (a biscotti-style thing) because it says it 'makes 70' and that's my kinda of effort-to-quantity ratio.  It would be a good stash to take with us on our week-long holiday on Thursday.

(Speaking of, I'm not sure what's going to happen with the blog during that time...)

*This may have been a strategic move on Mum's part. For some reason, having a baked good in the house was the norm (a tradition I'm fast emulating).  There was always a cake, a slice or biscuits in the tin, and as soon as the supply got low more would usually be made, a job usually left to Mum (until I started joining in).  I remember many an arvo tea before Dad would go the shed for milking, he'd ask in a hopeful voice "Got any bikkies?" Mum would often make Anzacs.  They are a traditional Aussie recipe, full of rolled oats and golden syrup.  They sound lovely yet for some reason we didn't really like Anzacs.   So while we wouldn't eat them we also couldn't complain that there weren't any bikkies in the house. Considering she baked for CWA and the Red Cross too, I could totally see how she'd want to reduce the load at home. Well played, Mum, well played.

Feb 8, 2013

Day 33: Four done

...two to go.

Day 32: oh dear

I broke my streak! Although I did some sewing on my DNA toy (suuuure, you say) I forgot to blog about it. I didn't even realise till this morning. In my defence, I'm tired enough to feel queasy, so I'm not chucking guilt into the mix! Bub had her vaccinations this morning so grizzles are up 50% and I hope the sleep matches it :)

Feb 6, 2013


You came out clean, but you liiiiiiied >:(

Pineapple upside-down pudding was dark on top, bubbling over and under-done in the middle. Do not like.

On the plus side, I wasn't able to turn out the cake straight away and the pineapple/caramel goo on the rim cooled into a cool snappy-cracker thing. Teeny perk to an otherwise weird night.

Feb 5, 2013

Day 30: Awkward

Yesterday I mentioned that I thought the last stage if the DNA toy would take a while. How insightful of me.

Sewing these things on is a bit tricky. I could do them one at a time by marking the points for each one once I've spaced then out. But I'm not sure that it would make this much easier. Le sigh.

In other news, a month of daily posts today!! Hurrah! I really didn't think I'd get this far without skipping a day.

Yay me! :D

Feb 4, 2013

Day 29: All in a row

I made the last of the base pairs tonight. Here they are, stuffed and ready to be attached to the protein strands. I need to work on my cast off being as loose as my cast on!

I think putting it all together will take longer than I think...

Feb 3, 2013

Feb 2, 2013

Day 27: Apple roses

I found this recipe via a friend's Facebook page. Both are awesome. The recipe is exactly the sort of thing I like - easy, with apples and pastry. The FB page is pretty much bakery glamour shots.

I had it in my mind that I was going to make these today. (And it just occurred to me that friends we saw this afternoon will realise we didn't bring our treats to share. Awkward turtle. Anyhoo!) Even though we had a thing to go to this afternoon, and Hub let me sleep in, I wilfully stuck to my plan knowing it would keep me busy right up to going out the door. I even remembered, when I was calculating the time it would take, to forget to think about how fiddly the assembly would be.
Thank you daggy container-with-cutting-attachments thingy. Couldn't've done it without you.

The recipe called for one sheet of pastry for three apples. I used three Granny Smiths but easily used two sheets, with the same amount of sugar coating. Krisztina must've had larges sheets.

It also says to put them on a baking tray or in a cupcake-type tray. I imagined the apple would release a lot of juice so I used some patty pans in a cupcake tray. But I think two things could've impacted that:

1. I over cooked the apple by about half a minute and I think it took on a lot of liquid. They only need to be softened, not cooked. They were still workable so nothing huge lost but I wonder how much difference that made. I possibly didn't 'dry' them adequately on the tea towel either.

2. I didn't attempt to seal the pastries at the bottom. I let the apple stay exposed at the base so the juice was always going to go somehow here rather than pool in the pastry. Maybe if I'd fashioned them so that the base was all pastry, and used a tray, they would've browned better and been crispier.
Food for thought for next time.

Another disclosure: I didn't have any apricot jam with which to warm and glaze the pastries. Instead I used raspberry, blueberry and cranberry jam, which gave them a lovely rosy hue - a lovely side-effect!

Nevertheless, it's a puff-pastry-with-apple-&-cinnamon recipe. Rather hard to go wrong flavour-wise. Mine aren't as pretty as Krizstina's but I won't be throwing them out!

Hmmm. If I keep at this baking thing, I may actually start having standards.