Oct 22, 2013

D185-9: Lemon Impatience

While that is an excellent name for a dessert, it's not what this one is called.

This Lemon Drizzle Cake comes from lemons: recipes and remedies ("text by Sara Burford" it says, which is apparently different to being the author). It's the sort of book you'd find at a $5 discount bookstore, and I think that's where I got it, years ago.

This was my first experience at making my own self-raising flour.  According to CTAW, you add 10g (1 tbsp) of baking powder to 300g (2 cups) of plain flour.  It seemed to work out fine - hurrah!

I was surprised at the ingredient measurements as the weights were all less than the amounts suggested.  For instance, it asked for "225g/1 cup of unsalted butter" but I've always counted a cup of butter as 250g.  All the gram measurements were similarly less than expected, and somewhat explained in the back with a conversion table that I'd call just plain wrong.

Density anyone? 225ml what?
Then, after I'd read "4 eggs" I was surprised to see this go into a loaf pan.  I even lined the square tin I've used for all the brownie recipes, which have comparable amounts of flour, butter and eggs, but decided to do as the recipe said as I've never made a syrupy cake before.

In hindsight, I wish I had used the 23cm square tin.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to evenly drizzle the syrup across the size of a square cake but the pastry brush did a very good job and I shouldn't have worried.  It would've also meant that the syrup would've soaked further into the cake, and hopefully the heat would've gotten through the thickness better than on this occasion. 

At 50mins, the cake was beginning to burn on the edge but, eventhough the skewer came out clean, it sunk considerably (more shallow than when it started!) once the syrup was on.  We also cut it while still warm coz Hub and I couldn't wait for supper and as, as he said, you couldn't break it any more!

Here is the recipe, with [my adjustments].

Lemon Drizzle Cake
  • Zest of 1 lemon (finely grated)
  • 230g / 2 cups self-raising flour [300g]
  • 225g / 1 cup sugar [250g]
  • 225g / 1 cup of unsalted butter (softened) [250g]
  • 4 eggs 
  • Topping: juice of 11/2 lemons and 110g / 1/2 cup of caster sugar [125g]

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Line a loaf tin with grease proof paper. 
  1. Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each new addition.
  2. Add the lemon zest and sift in the flour. Mix together well.
  3. Transfer the mixture into the loaf tin and level the top.  Place in the oven and bake for 45-50 mins. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little.
  1. Place the lemon juice and caster sugar in a bowl and mix together to make the topping. [Microwave for three 10sec bursts to help dissolve the sugar, but do not make it warm.]
  2. Prick the still-warm cake with a fork and then [use a pastry brush to] drizzle the topping over the cake.  Leave in the loaf tin until completely cooled.
  3. Once cooled, remove from the tin and serve.

Obviously, I haven't spent four days making a cake.  I've been chipping away at my secret gift too.

Oct 17, 2013

D181-4: Pastie Rolls

No, it didn't take me four days to make these.  The first three days were spent working on my secret.
But today saw the invention of Pastie Rolls! 

These are an effort to sneak vegetables into Bub's diet.  She's been slow to take on carrot and zucchini, and even potato is a bit hit & miss.  She likes meat though, and always has our pastries when we're out so I'm hoping she'll take to these.  I have ended up with an awful lot though - about 40 - so I might share them with a friend!

I am completely confident, sure and convinced that the likes of these have never ever been seen in any other place on the face of the earth in the history of cooking ever forever and ever after, amen.  I must surely be the first to have put these ingredients together in such a way, yes?  I'd better write it down then, ay.

These are for my Bub, who has few teeth, so I've grated the vegetables. I'd prefer to finely dice them to make it more 'Pastie'-like.

Pastie Rolls

Score into thirds
  • 1kg puff pastry (6 square sheets)
  • 500g beef mince (ground beef)
  • 2 medium potatoes 
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • About 4 tbsp plain flour, in a saucer or plate
  • About 2 tbsp of milk, aside
  • Some water with a pastry brush

This takes about 20mins to prepare, 20-25mins per tray, plus construction time.

To make: 
Grated veggies
  1. Heat your oven to 220°C (430°F).
  2. Grate your unpeeled veggies (not the stalks) and squeeze out as much of the juice as you can.
    (If you prefer to finely dice your veggies, squeezing out the liquid isn't necessary.)
  3. Thoroughly mix the grated veggies with the meat. (Using hands works well.)
  4. Use a sharp knife to score or cut your pastry into three even strips.
  5. Collect a small handful of the filling and squeeze out excess liquid again.
    Form it into a roll about as thick as your thumb (or my thumb - about half an inch across).
  6. Roll this in the flour and place on a strip of pastry, near the edge.  Do this three or four more times until you've a long roll of filling going down the length of a strip of pastry.
  7. Brush the opposite edge of the pastry with water.
  8. Use the backing plastic to curl the pastry into a tube, rolling it closed and using the wet edge to seal the tube.
  9. Cut the roll into lengths as you please.
  10. Place on a tray covered with grease proof paper. Arrange the roll so that the overlapping pastry is underneath.  Glaze with milk, and put in the oven.
  11. After 10mins, drop the heat to 190°C (375°F) and cook for a further 10-15mins.
One strip rolled, cut into thirds and upside-down!

Cutting the pastries into thirds makes 18 rolls.  If you cut these into:
~ Halves, you'll have 36 Pastie rolls;
~ Thirds, you'll have 54 Pastie rolls; and
~ Quarters, you'll have 72 Pastie rolls and should open a shop.

Yum! and Yum says Bub! Hurrah!

Sewing machine review: Bernina Minimatic 807

As inspired by Sew Mama Sew and using their set questions.

Sewing Machine Review

What brand and model do you have?
Bernina minimatic 807

How long have you had it?
My mother bought it from a local high school in the 70s (think they got it 2nd hand too). I acquired it from her after I left home, soon after 2001 (4th hand?).
How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
These days? Not much. Less than $300 AUD at a guess.
What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
Clothes, softies, mending, home deco projects, some quilting
How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I sew maybe 5-10 hours a month.
Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
I love my machine for its longevity and nostalgia.  I love that the daggy clothes my mum made me come from this machine.  I love the look and the tone it gives the room.
I like the simplicity of the diagrams and layout, as well as the ruler on the front and little things like the way that bobbin winding is done, and the little thread cutter on the foot lever.
What features does your machine have that work well for you?
It's simplicity, it's sturdiness and that I can generally work out what's wrong if it goes wrong.  It's mechanical nature is comforting - I can have we go at gently fixing it and servicing it myself.  It's not very mysterious.
Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
It's a bit noisy, so it's hard to share a room with others. It does tend to shuffle itself when the right frequency is reached, adding to the noise.  
It's almost too simplistic - if it had 2 or 3 decorative stitches, I'd never consider replacing it.
It does have it's limits with thicknesses, so I haven't attempted bags.  It also seems to munch fine fabrics, no mater how sharp the needle.  It's as though the feed is too coarse.
It's heavy - about 12kg.
Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Yes, it's a great starter machine and it lasts.  There's nothing cryptic about it. It's like a beta model they got right.
What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
It's cost to benefit ratio, which is hard to predict this when a new machine might bring about a new range of projects.  If I were to have done my last 18months of projects on a new machine I imagine it would've been worthwhile, and would continue to be. It may be even more valuable if I continue with that frequency and add trickier projects such as ones that need a walking foot, or use stretch or fine fabrics, or decorative stitches.  
Any score given for a new machine would be x1.5 if it were quiet!
Do you have a dream machine?
Bernina 830! Or, if I was on a budget, the Bernina 740 QE.

Bonus: Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
Well, it's my only story, though I'm not sure it's a great story ...
A few years ago I was working in the city (Melbourne, Aust.).  My partner and I were without a car those days, and my heavy Bernina Minimatic 807 had died beyond my surgical skills.  I asked a colleague who drove past my home if he would be so kind as to give me a lift to work one day, via a sewing service centre, so I didn't have to pay for a taxi or haul the machine around town.
My colleague was pretty old school and rather sexist but generally well meaning and harmless.  It seemed to take and lot of conversation for him to wrap his head around the idea that I needed my machine serviced and that it wasn't easily portable.  "What do you mean, it's heavy?" he asked, about three times. "It's heavy, like, 12 kilos. I can't do 12 kilos on public transport." 
"And what's wrong with it?" he asked again.
"I think the compressor's gone."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean it has a compressor and it's stopped working."
"On a sewing machine?"
"Yep. It's old, and sometimes the compressor cacks it."
"That's what's wrong with it?"
Good grief, I thought, which bit is confusing him?  Last try: "The hamster died."  
Of course, on the day, he was very gentlemanly and offered to take the machine out of the car during the drop off.  But he put it on the footpath for me to take into the store, saying "Gee, it's heavy isn't it!" 
"Yes. Yes it is." 

Oct 12, 2013

How to: No-Sew Wet Weather Gear in 10 Steps

Want to get out in the wet weather but haven't a coat or boots for your Little One? Do you have a few meters of waterproof fabric, or even a big garbage bag? DON'T WE ALL??! Well, guess what? Freed from the house you shall be!

This project makes a poncho, a rain bonnet and 'shoe cover' booties that give good* cover in rainy weather.
(The photos are of the prototype, before trimming.  The final product was a lot less of a trip hazard.)

You will need

  • A child, wearing their outdoor clothes and shoes 
  • About 1.5m of a waterproof fabric.  A cut open garbage bag may work, but I haven't tried it (yet).
  • Elastic - about 40cm
  • Sticky Velcro dots - 4 pairs
  • Scissors
  • Wide sticky tape of gaffer tape, or a sewing machine if you're able
  • Measuring tape, or string to collect lengths

Priorities for this project, from highest to lowest: safety, speed, accuracy, looks.


1. Get two measurements.
A = child's shoulder to knee x2
B = child's wrist to wrist, +10cm (4")
Cut out a rectangle that is A x B for your baby's poncho.  If A or B is close to the width of your fabric, use that width.  

2. Fold the poncho in half twice, with the back of the fabric showing (so half one way, right sides facing, then half the other way).  You should have a corner that's all fold, and no edge.

3. Measure across the top of your child's head.
If you can find something round that's as big as your child's head, use that to trace a quarter circle on the fold-corner.

Otherwise: Halve that amount.  Measure that amount down the edges from the corner and mark.  (So, if it's about 16cm across the child's head, measure 8cm down each side.) 
Cut straight across from one mark to the other, or if you like it fancy, draw in a bit of a curve to cut along.

3. Open poncho.  
Decide which straight edge is the front.  
Make a 5cm-ish snip from the neck hole pointing straight down the front.

Neck cinching dots.

4. Put poncho on child.
Take a pair of Velcro dots and join them together (i.e. 'Do them up') so you have them connected and with their stickiness exposed. 

At the neck opening, next to the top of the snip, stick your Velco to the inside of a corner.  Then take that corner towards the child's opposite shoulder to close the neck opening and make it fit better.  
Attach the Velcro dot wherever it fits best.

Wrist cinching spots.


5. Take one side edge of the poncho.
Find the middle point and hang it over the child's wrist.
Like before, connect two Velcro dots with their stickiness exposed and attached them to the poncho under your child's wrist.
Do the same for the other side edge.

Optional step: trim the corners off your poncho, however you like.

BOOTIES (shoe covers)

6. Get two bootie measurements with shoes on.
A = ankle to ankle, going under the foot + 10cm
B = front of ankle to top of heel, going under the foot + 10cm
Cut two rectangles that are about A x B.

7. Tie some elastic around the child's ankle so that it's snug, but not tight.  
Check you can take the elastic off before you tighten the knot or trim the elastic.  
Make two loops this size.

To put on booties, take the short edge of the rectangle and hold it under the ankle.  Wrap the length of the plastic under the shoe and over the foot and hold in place.  Hook the elastic over the toe and drag it up the back of the heel, collecting the sides of the plastic.  Vwa la!


8. Get two bonnet measurements 
A = shoulder to shoulder (bottom of the neck), over the head
B = from eyebrow to back of head (the crown)
Cut one rectangle that's about A x B. 

9. To construct bonnet
With tape: Fold in half, wrong sides facing, so that you have two A edges folded in half.  Hold one edge closed and open the other so you can see the inside of the closed edges. Overlap the closed edges and tape them down.
With sewing machine: Fold in half, right sides facing, so that you have two A edges folded in half. Sew down one folded A. Turn out.

Poncho too big, bonnet too small. Perfect prototype.

10. Put the bonnet on your child with the seam going down the back of their head.  Bring corners under their chin and attach some Velcro spots to hold in place.

Dress your poor child in their travesty of an outfit and admire your work.  Takes a few pics before you head out or Child rips it off.

Go and enjoy your day of floating paper boats down the gutters, searching for pearly spiderwebs, or poking earwigs under bark.

Some children don't like wearing rain bonnets.

*Better than good: good enough.

Oct 11, 2013


A little jump here - I've been working on my secret project so shall clock the days but here's not much to say for them. 
Thursday, however, was eventful!
It was raining gently, with no wind, and I was desperate to get out... But no wet weather gear for bub meant I was hesitant.  How dodgy would it look if I cut a few holes in a garbage bag?... Would someone call the Welfare dept on me? (In our area, quite possibly!) 
Then I remembered I had some waterproof fabric from another debunked project... CRAFTARAMA!! Snip, snip! Fold, trace, snip! Knot, twang! Trim, stick, restick, test, restick... And TADA! CAFE AND PARK AHOY!! Stay tuned for a tutorial. 

Yeah it's a bit big...

Still a bit big... But better...

Off we go!!! (She wouldn't let me put the bonnet back on her.)

 To the cafe!

I didn't get any pics of us at the park, but it was lovely.  Down the back of the oval we found some logs and looked behind bark to check out the bugs and slugs, poked the dirt with some sticks, pointed at all the birds who we're out to scavenge after the rain.... It was grand!

Oct 3, 2013

Pattern: Linen-stitch Kimono Booties

These booties are modelled on Chaussons mignons by Pruline (Ravelry link).  They should fit an 11cm foot, which is 9-months-old for my small baby.
You may make the sole as long as needed for your baby and, at the sides, cast on about 3 stitches for every cm of sole.

Linen stitch kimono booties

A tunnel shank button
Linen stitch is a woven stockingette stitch. The weaving is formed by slipping every other stitch with the yarn in front of the work. It is usually done with a two-row phrase of slipping every second stitch in one row and every first stitch in the other.


  • Two small buttons, preferably tunnel shank
  • About 80cm of matching thin elastic. 
  • 3.75mm needles
  • 50g Aran yarn (10ply). The example uses Debbie Bliss Aran Cashmerino in grey (colour way 28).


12st x 43rows = 4cm


CO = cast on
K = knit
P = purl
sl1p = slip 1 purlwise
st = stitches
yb = take yarn to the back of the work (away from you)
yf = bring yarn to the front of the work, between you and the work.

Bootie body 


CO 15 st (leave a long tail for construction)
Row 1: *P1, yb, sl1p, yf* - repeat ** to last stitch, P1
Row 2: K2, *yf, sl1p, yb, k1* - repeat ** to last stitch, K1
Repeat these rows (linen-stitch) till work measures 10cm (4" - approx 42 rows), finish with a knit row.


Next row: turn, extend work by CO 30 st purl wise. Do not turn - work these stitches as normal as follows: P1, * yb, sl1p, yf, P1* - repeat ** to end.(45 sts)
Next row: turn, CO 30 st knit wise, then, without turning, work these stitches as normal as follows: K1, *K1, yf, sl1p, yb,*, repeat ** to last two stitches, K2 (75 sts)
Continue in linen stitch until new section measures 5cm (2" - approx. 25 rows) (or as long as your original cast on is wide). 
Finish with a knit row and cast off as follows:
P1, *yb, sl1p, pass first stitch over slipped stitch to cast-off 1, yf, P1, cast off 1* - repeat ** to end.
Bind off with a long tail for construction. 

To make up:

Hold your work so it looks like a T, purl stitches facing up (linen pattern down). The up-down part is the sole, with a bar across the top being the back and sides. The instructions describe making up each bootie as though it's facing you, with the toe pointing towards you and the heel away.

Baby's Left bootie

Take the left arm of the bar and fold it so that its short edge matches the end edge of the stem (the toe). Fold the right arm over to sit on top of them. Match the length of the toe edge and the corners. Whip stitch from left to right (big toe to little toe) through the three layers, continuing down the right side. Whip stitch down the left side (from big toe to heel). 

Baby's Right bootie

Arrange as for the left bootie but overlap the bar arms left-over-right, stitching from right to left and down the left side, and then stitching the right side. 

Both booties

Count 18 stitches from the toe on the upper layer of the bootie and flag this stitch with a safety pin. Count 40 more stitches, along the back if the bootie, and flag this stitch too.
Take one end of your elastic and tie it to your button.  Use a yarn needle to thread the other end through the hem, beginning at the one marker and finishing at the other. The elastic in these booties is threaded through the edge for the first and last 8 stitches, but through the purl stitches below the edge around the heel, to pull the bootie up the back of the foot. 

Tie a knot where the elastic exits the hem. Make a loop, using about 1cm of elastic, by tying the end in a grannie knot behind this first knot. 

Thread the ends of the elastic into the inner sides using the purl loops inside the bootie.

Oct 1, 2013

D176: Neat feet

One of the great things, if not the great thing, about these booties is their simplicity.  It's a big T shape crossed over and sewn.  Badabing, that's it.  And as sweet as the symmetry is, feet just ain't symmetrical in the same way.  I mean they are symmetrical, just to each other and not in themselves.

Consequently, I've pitched these just a bit too small for Bub, and I think they'd work best on a foot about a centimeter shorter.  Which is no biggie, but there you go.  
Some excellent friends of ours had the good foresight to have their first girl about 364 days after ours, so all our handmedowns will be seasonally appropriate!  It may seem silly, but knowing their little girl may get some wear out of these come next June is enough to make it worthwhile for me! 

Here I am trying to get the placement of the elastic and button right.  I thought I'd centre it, initially, but the foot shape doesn't suit it so I'm trying to figure out which way and how much to adjust and create some balance.

I decided to thread elastic all the way around, rather than just on either side, or even using a yarn or elastic loop (too fiddly).  Green is not my first choice for button colour, but the set-in shank is.  I thought a regular eye-hole button would be awkward and bulky with the elastic and a regular long-shank button would be uncomfortable when crawling.

I'm currently trialling the elastic being threaded below the cuff at the back, to counterbalance the roominess in the corners.  Anyway, still a bit of remaining trial & error that bub hopefully has the patience for!

Pattern to come, hopefully soon!