Nov 28, 2013


For a few days after my previous post I worked on the baby quilt.  I even purchased some fabric to make some binding and tried to problem solve the front and back being a little uneven (this is why people do plain backs).

I also made some spicy pumpkin muffins in preparation for the inlaws visiting to babysit while we went to our dear friends' wedding.  But I haven't been well so all else has paused since Friday night.  I've not been bed ridden, but I've been poorly enough to be completely disinterested in online shopping and three of the muffins went mouldy.  My crafting mojo is dormant.  Dark signs indeed.

I have continued pinning and liking things though.  I mean, I'm not dead.

Nov 14, 2013

D209: Eco goop

I've been splurging on the little fruit puree pouches from the supermarket.  They are, admittedly very quick and handy for Bub.  Although they instruct you to put it in a bowl, or spoon it, Bub loves sucking it straight from the spout.  A pouch of goop has been a very handy thing on the run.

Home made goop - Apple & pear with raspberry, mango or banana
Still, the pouches the fruit goop comes in aren't recyclable and they aren't reusable because you can't see how clean they are.  So I've bought these so I can make my own.  I suppose we shall see how well they fare after a few uses.

D208: Simple & complicated

Well, its not terribly creative but it is made.

Bub now has a small stash of chicken and leek risotto in the freezer.  Luckily she seemed quite happy with it for the next day's lunch.  It is exactly what it sounds like:
One finely diced leek, softened with a bit of oil in a saucepan, about 200g of chicken mince added and cooked, about two handfuls of arborio rice heated through and then about 21/4 cups of water, added a half cup at a time, and stirred through until the rice is tender.  I added some thyme, rosemary and a smidge of dill and salt.
Two trays went in together - the tall ones are from the top rack :)

These are the spicy pumpkin muffins I've made before
I had a little extra pumpkin so decided to increase the recipe in proportion and, although it was only an extra fifth of stuff, I added a second egg.  

I know egg binds and acts as an emulsifier, and I've definitely had brownies that have had a yucky egg flavour, but otherwise I wasn't too sure what it would do.  Nothing disastrous, it would seem.  This time...

Nov 12, 2013

D203-7: Secret Purse!

A wonderful friend of mine is getting married soon.  She's so wonderful she reads all my blog posts, even with the crappy photography.  So, while I've been preparing a gift for her I haven't wanted to reveal it here*. On Sunday night, however, it was completed and now that I've been able to hand it over all can be revealed.

Both sides of the purse

The clasp and ribbon

Well, not quite all.  I didn't take photos as I was going, but if you hold you hand over part of the pictures you'll get the same effect.

This friend has carefully and diligently made beaded purses for her friends during their engagements, so I've been looking forward to returning the favour.  Once I knew she was having bridesmaid dresses with a rose pattern I had my heart set on echoing that in this purse.  I'm not sure it was the most sensible decision.  I feel the last beaded purse I made was smoother, maybe more elegant.  It was certainly much quicker, with the purse's shape being built by simply sliding more beads as you went down the purse rows, while knitting the same number of stitches.  Maybe I should've just done another of those...

I am frustrated with the few loose rows. They were hard to detect while I worked and it took me half a side to get my groove, I think.  I kind of hate that this precious gift is not as even as I'd like.  Time was not on my side, however, so redoing parts was limited to only the frame being resewn, and only once I knew I had time.

I recommend keeping a set of pliers on hand when knitting beaded purses.  Use the pliers to break and remove any beads that are thinner than usual.  There will certainly be enough beads to cope with culling the irregular ones.
This was a step I did with the first purse and it was worthwhile for a design that used so much repetition, where unevenness is easily spotted.  In this design it makes for a bead that flips it's direction more easily than the rest.  While the regularly sized beads all sit in the same direction, the thin ones flip from side to side.  If you're feeling particular, get rid of the thin ones as you go and you won't feel the need to (uselessly) fiddle with their arrangement later.

The ribbon is secured with little beaded stars
Before I started I had a choice of beads and thread colours (the other set shall be used for another's wedding - my friend has kicked off the tradition in me too!) and a few patterns to choose from.  I even considered getting enough beads to do this pattern in reverse, with the blank parts being beaded and the beaded stitches being plain.  I thought it might build a cleaner picture of the roses however, having never done this pattern before, I thought it prudent to stick to the instructions.

I am glad to have chosen a larger purse too; I want my friend to be able to use it for lipstick, tissues and an atomiser should she want to.  Or for some other thing like, oh I dunno, storing her silk stockings ;)

One thing I have hesitated to share here is the big mistake I made.  It may be hard to see at first, but it is so very clear once you see it.

I was fairly pleased with the letters, as much as they could be done on such a small scale.  I spent some time, too, considering the symmetry and balance of the initials. (See it yet?)  I share an initial with the groom, so we were even able to make jokes about how the purse is about my friend and I - a ha ha!
So I was a bit miffed, to put it mildly, when I realised that I hadn't thought how the reverse knitting of the pattern (while fairly inconsequential for flowers) would change the letters.  True story.

At the start I was glad to have symmetrical letters because they were easy to plan.  But now I wish there's been an E or something so I could've seen it happening before I was finished! Ugh! Amateur lament!

Glitches and dumbfoolery aside, I do think it looks quite vintage and pretty (naive at the very least).  I hope my dear friend has a use for it in the future.
All my best wishes!

*I'm writing the post before having given the present. I won't be the least bit surprised if she's already figured out what it is!

Nov 5, 2013

D202: Square Lemon Drizzle Cake

Works so much better in a square tin.  I knocked back the syrup sugar to 75g and it was still light and sweet with a fresh tang.  Something happened in the creaming and the sugar didn't dissolve that well - I can still see little square granules around the edge of the cake.  Maybe that's because it browned so well...

Regardless, I was quite glad to be able to take this along to a Cup Day catch up.

Nov 4, 2013

D201: Citrus lactation cookies

Bub has been unwell these past few days - a bit of a fever and actual malaise.  I'm not sure I've witnessed malaise before. It seems such a generic, vague description, but she demonstrated it perfectly.  Today the doctor said she had rosiola, thank goodness, coz I thought it was measles.

As a result we won't be cancelling our Melbourne Cup Day visit to our lovely friends tomorrow!  So lactation cookies are on the books tonight because I love donating them to my lovely friend!

Usually I make them with grated apple (to counter the peppery flavour of the flaxseed, and add some moisture), apricots and sultanas.  However I'm out of apricots right now, and while sultanas are always about I thought a bit of a variation might be nice.

These ones have the juice and zest of a large orange added to the flaxseed soaking stage.  It was basically a big ball of juice so I added a little more flaxseed to the first step.  I planned to split the recipe and put dried peel and sultanas in one third, and chocolate chips in the other two thirds.  The peel, however, had seen better days, and once I smelled the lovely zestiness in the mix nothing but chocolate - dark chocolate - would do.  I'm hoping my friend will put aside any guilt about chocolate for the cookies: she's mumming three beautiful kids, breastfeeding and house-holding it all together. Two choc chip cookies a day are the bare minimum in my opinion ;)

Nov 3, 2013

D190-200! Persistence and indulgence

Two hundred?! I thought I'd be doing something special for this little milestone. But no, we're just chugging away at the moment.  Anyway...

Last weekend I had some much loved friends from my teaching degree visit for dinner and some telly.  For quite some time now (4 years?) we've been meeting at my place every few months and catching up on episodes of Supernatural.  It's marvellous, indulgent, cheesy and so good for the soul.  This time was our first evening catch up.  Previously, they've been during the school holidays, but Bub can no longer tolerate such a long time of me being so distracted and her nap doesn't occupy her enough.  We managed to organise delivered Thai and bringing a dessert each.  Genius.  Supernatural evenings may become more common :D

Next to the ice-cream and the apple & rhubarb and apple & apricot crumbles (yum!) was my bread pudding.  If you happen to be on Pinterest, and you happen to follow my board for food, you may have seen my pin for this recipe.  It is a beautful looking website and the photos are gorgeous, but there're lots of them and they're huge.  I found it very frustrating to have to wait for the photos to load; every time I'd scroll down to get the recipe a few more pics would load and it would shuffle down again!  I'm copying the recipe here, exactly as it appears, to save you small-device grief while you cook.

It went really well, although I used some surplus wholemeal bread and my new cinnamon is Dutch Cinnamon, which has a subtly different flavour to regular cinnamon.  I'm not sure I won't replace it soon and keep the Dutch stuff for beverages, or something, or find specific recipes for it.

Ugly, messy and yum
I also managed to make the butterscotch sauce, which I've never attempted before.  I'm very happy with it!

All my other days have been spent keeping on with my secret project, less the two I used for completing my tax return. (Ugh. I seriously considered subtracting creative days from my count, it was that uncreative.)   The project is going well, about 40% done if I do all I hope to do.  More like 60% if I skip a step.  It's not exactly as I'd like but I'm not sure it could really have been any different, all things considered.  I hope the recipient likes it anyway.

Today I'm doing the bread pudding again, but using left over crusts and a layer of maple syrup on the bottom with sultanas mixed throughout.  It probably doesn't need the syrup on the bottom as well as the butterscotch sauce, but when has less been more with desserts like these?!

"Recipe: Classic Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce
4 Cups Dried White Bread (I used a french loaf, crust removed and cut into cubes)
2 Eggs, Slightly Beaten
2 Cups Milk
1/4 Cup Butter, Melted
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
Vanilla Sauce:
1 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.
Bread should be stale. Either cut into cubes and let sit out overnight or preheat oven to 300 degrees and place cubed bread into oven for about 15 minutes or until they feel stale to touch.
Grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole, or 9×13 pan and set aside.
In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
Pour mixture over bread cubes and let sit about 5 minutes. Pour into greased pan and bake, uncovered for 50-55 minutes or until puffed and browned on top.
Remove from oven and serve warm with vanilla ice cream and sauce.
Sauce Directions: 
Combine all sauce ingredients except vanilla in a small saucepan. Heat until melted and begins to boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, remove from heat and add vanilla. Mixture will bubble up, this is normal. Stir in vanilla and let cool. Pour over ice cream and bread pudding and serve. Store in a jar for up to 2 weeks and use as a topping on all your favorite desserts!
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook."
from by Bee of Mikey's In My Kitchen