Monday, November 26, 2007

Groovy Lunch Bag

Don't fall over from shock - two posts in one day from me!

Had to post a couple of quick photos of my new and groovy lunch bag. I was heartily sick of taking my lunch to work in a daggy old (and non-recyclable) supermarket plastic bag. So, using the Flea Market Bag pattern I picked up a while back, I used some thermal-lined curtain fabric I found at Spotlight and whipped this up over the weekend. (sorry about the average photos and flash blast...not enough hours in the day!)

It was also a practice run for a reversible bag I'm making for my SIL for Christmas, from this and this lovely Denyse Schmidt fabric I picked up on sale from Quilt Fabric Delights.

I'll definitely put a base in the one I make for Jacinta, as the one I made is a bit floppy - perfect for a lunch bag though :)

Romily's first photos

Well I'm her mum, so I'm allowed to tell you how clever my little one is! Indulge me if you will.

At 27 months, Romily:
  • Can count to 10 - she really can! Not just repeating numbers, but counting objects. She also recognises all numbers up to nine.
  • Just about knows her alphabet! Out of the 26 letters, she can recognise around 20. She tells us which letter words start with - and gets very excited when she announces 'Starts with a T, Mummy!' They're like little sponges at this age!
  • Has just about toilet trained herself. Romily has been out of nappies during the daytime for about a month now. She still wears them at night, as she's dry only every second night or so. She just loves her undies, especially the Pooh Bear ones :)
  • Has also worked out mummy's camera. She even tried out different settings, turning the dial around by herself, looking through the eyepiece, and pressing the shutter:

She's my clever little angel. Oh and she started calling Carl by his name on Saturday! It was so funny! 'Where's Carl, Mummy?'


I must also tell you that I was not the inventor of green scrambled eggs! I read it somewhere...although for the life of me cannot remember. Regardless, it was a big hit :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A New Day; A New Government and Green Eggs

Welcome to my Sunday.

A new government was elected last night. After 11 years in the political wilderness they're bursting with ideas, but have come up a little short on real policy. It will be interesting to see what the new team can bring. Australians decided it was time for a change, and I have to agree. John Howard has been a pretty good PM, tough, wily and committed to and passionate about Australian values. He just seemed to have run out of puff, and most of his team looked very tired, and old! Hopefully the high energy levels of the new government will carry through to some much-needed ideas and policies for our struggling health and education systems, as well as continuing to manage Australia's prosperity well. They've got three years to prove themselves before we go around the mulberry bush again!

To celebrate the new government, Romily and I had green eggs for breakfast!

Yes, they are indeed green scrambled eggs, in homage to the much-loved Dr Seuss. Rom was quite taken with this idea.

(Just add four drops of green food colouring to the pre-scrambled eggs and milk mix and voila!)

Enjoy your Sunday.

We're off to buy a new carseat for Rom, as she's just about outgrown her old one. My little girl is growing up fast!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The 7000 Kilometre Quilt

I can finally reveal the secret quilt I made! After travelling the breadth of Australia twice, it has arrived at its destination with Bec.

I made the extra doll quilt for the recent EB Doll Quilt Swap as a thank you for the swap organiser, Helen. She also received another one from one of the other girls. Helen asked if she could send the quilt I made over to Bec as a 'lucky door prize'.

Helen lives in Perth, so from Canberra to Perth my little quilt travelled 3905 kilometres (2426 mi). Then it went from Perth to Tumbarumba - a distance of around 3590 kilometres (2230 mi). That's a total of 7495 kilometres (4654 mi)!

Of course if it had gone direct from Canberra, it would have not been such a well-travelled little quilt, as that journey is only 260 kilometres (161 mi)!

If you were paying attention a couple of months back, I posted a little tease of the quilt, with a sneaky preview of one of the pinwheel blocks. Here is the finished product! (Click to enlarge, as always)

I am really happy with how this turned out. Again, I used Tonya's freehand fans hand-quilting technique, and while I am happy with the effect, I need a lot more practice before I'll be satisfied! Tonya recently recommended quilting the fan lines around 1/2" apart - the ones on the doll quilt are more like 5/8" or an inch.

(and yes, that's 'Mau' the original feline friend in our house - the one that didn't run away!)

Here's a back view:
I hope Bec likes it!

Meanwhile, I'm busy making Christmas gifts...the countdown is well and truly on!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Yummiest Chocolate Cake

The head honcho at work hosted his 'Christmas' drinks last night and yours truly scored an invitation. I was really pleased to be invited, as only those who work most closely with him (and who have contributed) are invited. I've only been working with him for eight months, but I've made an impression, and, thankfully, the right one.

I really wanted Carl to come with me, so we decided to offload Romily with some friends for a few hours last night. It's the first time we've left her with anyone at night other than my parents or Carl's dad - and that's usually after she's gone to sleep! Our friends have an 11 year old daughter and Romily and Emily adore each other. We trusted all would be fine while we were out, but we took our phone nonetheless!

We had a lovely time at the Christmas drinks. We each brought a plate of something good to eat, and I had to bring something sweet. I wanted to make more than just your ordinary run-of-the-mill cake, so I had a little hunt online for yummy recipes. I really wanted to use mascarpone (a really soft Italian cheese that's very like double cream in consistency) so went in search of the 'perfect' recipe, aka one that I could cook and with the least amount of fuss!

Here it is:

Chef: Erin Miller

You need:
100g couverture chocolate chopped into small bits
1/2 cup cocoa sieved twice

2 eggs plus 2 egg whites
1 tablespoon of brandy

1 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/4 cup almond meal

2 1/2 tablespoons of plain flour sieved twice
1/4 tablespoon of cream of tartar sieved
mascarpone or double cream to serve with cake
2 tablespoons of melted butter

Preheat oven to 180c and prepare a 20cm springform tin with melted butter and baking paper and a
dusting of flour to prevent sticking.
1. in a pyrex bowl place the cocoa, chocolate (cut into bits) and 3/4 cup of sugar. Pour over the 1/2 cup of boiling water, stir until chocolate has melted. 2. whisk in the 2 egg yolks and brandy and stir in the 1/4 cup of almond meal and 2 1/2 tablespoons of plain flour until combined.
3. In a very clean glass bowl add the cream of tartar and the 4 egg whites and whisk together until soft peaks form. Gently sprinkle in 1/4 cup of caster sugar and whisk through until stiff.
4. In 2 batches fold the egg white
mixture through the chocolate mixture with a metal spoon until just combined. 5. Spoon into the 20cm prepared springform tin.
6. Bake in pre- heated oven for
approximately 35 minutes, when tested with a skewer a few crumbs will stick.
7. Remove from the oven and rest until cool 8. Turn the cake out carefully and remove the paper, then invert onto a serving plate.
9. Dust with sieved cocoa or icing sugar and serve with cream.


I added the raspberries on top for that extra wow factor, and mixed a little icing sugar into the mascarpone to make it a tiny bit sweet, as the chocolate cake used couverture chocolate, so wasn't as sweet as you might expect. The end result was indeed yum!

We arrived back at our friends' place at around 9.20pm. Romily was having a wow of a time! She had her hair in pig tails, was wearing some of Emily's jewellery and playing with all of her toys. She had been very well behaved (apart from running around with no pants on for half the night!) and Emily did all the babysitting so her parents were pleased too!

We finally managed to drag her home at around 10pm and tried to put her to bed straight away. I say tried, as yesterday we converted her cot into a bed. Yes, our little baby is all grown up and is now a fully fledged girl. Of course we couldn't keep her in her bed - she was still over-excited from her big night out, so we decided to go to bed. We figured if all the lights were off and nothing interesting was happening she would go to sleep.

Not quite! Romily came in and wanted to get into our bed (I can hear the parents among you laughing right now). We said no, go back to bed. All we heard were little footsteps racing up the stairs, a scrape and then bomp, bomp, bomping down the stairs. Next thing Romily appeared at our bedside, with her step and climbed up onto the bed, under the covers and in next to me! It was so cute. She snuggled with me for about 10 minutes before starting to go to sleep. I scooped her up and put her in her new bed, gave her a kiss goodnight and she went st raight off to sleep. Actually, she's still asleep now, more than an hour and a half after her normal wake-up time. She has stirred a couple of times this morning, but now she knows she can come and go as she pleases, she doesn't seem to be so worried about getting out of bed! Long may this last!

Of course, when we try to put her to bed at her normal time tonight we may experience a little more pain! If the worst comes to the worst, we'll put one the kiddie gates in her doorway. It won't stop her getting out of bed, but it will stop her from marauding around the place at all hours!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Australian Idol

I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to blog about something very exciting that happened a couple of weeks ago!

*takes a deep breath* I am coming out as a closet Australian Idol fan! I watch it every week and must confess that last year really had me hooked. I even voted once. Yes, I know, if you watch it you should probably vote for your favourite, but I'm not that much of a fan!

So, anyway, last year's final was won by Damien Leith, an Irish emigré, who's been living in Australia for around 10 years. He has quite an extraordinary voice, with an unbelievable falsetto. You can hear his music on his website. I thought he sang beautifully and bought his first album (that's showing my age that I still call them that), which was a compile of most of the songs he sang during Idol. It's been on high rotation in my car :)

He has a new album out, which I hadn't yet bought, but planned to. A tour to Canberra was announced and I decided to go. And then I chickened out, as I didn't think any of my friends would want to go with me (not knowing whether they were closet Idol fans too!). Carl certainly wasn't interested in going with me (although he watches the show as much as I do).

But, in the week before the concert, I entered a competition to win tickets to his show...I won! I was so excited - I took the call at work and all my colleagues were looking at me funny as I gushed into the phone! I rang a friend of mine to see if she could come and she said she'd love to. Unfortunately her daughter got sick on the day of the concert so she couldn't come. I ended up going by myself, but that was okay, as there were lots of other 'mums' there by themselves!

I struck up a conversation with another solo mum during the interval and discovered we had some mutual friends. It turned out she was a huge Damien Leith fan, and when I invited her to come backstage with me after the show to meet Damien - part of my prize! - she nearly fainted! It was so funny. She had her photo taken with him and was very excited. I got my free CD of his new album (signed and all) so I was happy.

It was a fabulous evening, and it was so nice to be out, doing something social, sans child at night!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Yum, Yum, New Fabric!

My parcel from Equilter arrived last week, and all the fabric is now washed and ironed.

Although it's quilting cotton, it's actually going to be dresses for Rom...although leftovers might just find their way into my stash :)

And shirts for my twin nephews. I just couldn't find good quality cotton/nice prints in my local fabric store, so I thought I'd get this! I'd better get busy though if they're going to be ready in time for Christmas.

I've also been tagged by Tina.

Here are the Rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are TAGGED by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, five 'fascinating' facts about little old moi:
1. My wedding dress was green
2. I fell in love with my husband on Mt Everest
3. I hope to be living in Tasmania within five years
4. My middle name is Margaret (and so is my mum's and my daughter's)
5. If I won the lotto tomorrow I wouldn't work another day in my life! On second thoughts, that's probably not just me, but you get the drift.

Lots of memes are doing the rounds, so don't feel obliged. But if you are game, I tag:

Oh and hoorah! My work trip to Adelaide was cancelled! Thank goodness. I can well do without it at the moment. So much happening over the next six weeks.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sing with me! I'm a little teapot...

...Short and stout!

Well this teapot sure is :)

Being the thoroughly modern, liberated woman that I am, I have embraced semi-wonkiness (the non-flexible part of my personality won't let me go all the way towards wonky just's a work-in-progress) and am letting myself have some more fun with piecing. I have taken a (tea) leaf out of Tonya's blog...and decided to go for it in designing and piecing a wonky teapot.

I wanted to make a little something for a Christmas present for my father-in-law's companion, who is going though a particularly rough patch with her health at the moment. She needs an operation to remove some gall stones, but, not having health insurance, is forced to wait for the public health system to look after her. It could take up to 12 months for her to get the operation she needs, which is not much fun at the best of times, but when you're nudging 80, it's even more difficult. Thank goodness we can afford health insurance. I would hate to see Carl or Romily go through this. It's bad enough seeing the pain it's causing my father-in-law.

Anyhoo, I thought a little teapot mat for her dining table might be a good idea.

So, following Tonya's idea that you can piece anything - you just have to look at it the right way, I drew up a little teapot design straight out of my head, used some of Rom's crayons to colour it in, and voila! (The scribbly crayon is Rom's contribution)

Of course, I'm so new to working angles, that I didn't follow Tonya's fab instructions completely - I took a slightly different approach and used horizontal planes, which meant I could use angles learnt through through joining binding strips. Once I get a bit more comfortable with sewing angles, I'll loosen up a bit more...I hope!

Once I was happy with the design I set about piecing it. As you can see, it turned out a little large/wide, and the handle on the 'lid' is a tad small...BUT, I like it a lot! It's not perfect, but I think it works quite well, and, although the colour scheme is a little muted, it will suit Robina and her house very nicely.

21" wide x 13" high

I'll back it with some hand-dyed royal purple fabric and will bind it with some cream fabric I've got in my stash. (I actually have a tiny one these days!)

I'll embroider some steam curls above the spout and will probably hand quilt it, as I'm currently short of an evening project :)

That's another Christmas project started! I must get onto the Christmas Stars table runners again and see if I can make some more progress!


We had a very busy weekend, catching up with lots of people we haven't seen for ages. Romily didn't have a sleep today due to a combination of overexcitement and overexcitement! She was absolutely stonkered by tonight, so went off to sleep 45 minutes early without so much as a peep.

And our busy period shows no signs of stopping, with me travelling overnight to Adelaide Tuesday/Wednesday then Christmas drinks with work people on Friday afternoon and then more Christmas drinks on Saturday night. I'll need a holiday before Christmas at this rate!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

British Strippy Quilt a Smash Hit!

You know from my last post how much I enjoyed my first ever swap with the EB Quilters. The lovely AJ has revealed the doll quilt I made for her, so I can now post some photos of it here.

You've seen teaser images of it up till now, so drum it is! (Click to view larger images)

It's my version of a British Strippy quilt, so I'm calling Strippy for AJ!

And here's the back:

It measures 17" x 19 1/2" and was such a pleasure to make - I find handquilting terribly therapeutic! I was a bit nervous about whether AJ would like it, but it seems that she does!

A couple of the EB Quilter girls were asking about handquilting - I'm certainly no expert! I learnt from one of the best - go check out Tonya's tutorial on hoopfree handquilting. She is truly amazing.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Still Doing the Happy Dance!

Romily helped me open the quilt from our doll quilt swap today. I don't know who was more excited! The lovely and talented Helen has made the most gorgeous wonky log cabin! I am thrilled with it! I haven't been game to try a log cabin quilt yet and this has really inspired me. Romily of course has claimed it for herself - or, more precisely, for her doll Ginger. So now it's 'Ginger's Quilt'.

Thank you so much Helen!

Helen ran the swap and did such a good job getting us all organised. I had so much fun. This was my first swap and now I know why people love going in them. My swap receiver hasn't opened the one I made for her yet - I'm dying to know what she thinks of it! I hope she opens it soon - as soon as she gets home from work if she hasn't opened it already!

Okay, that's enough exclamation marks for one post!! Am going to enjoy the rest of my day off - it's a public holiday here in Canberra.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm still alive...

...just not posting much. Have been busy stitching every night trying to get my doll quilt finished for the EB swap. Finally finished last night and posted off by Express Post this morning, arriving at Destination X tomorrow :)

I must confess to being a tiny little bit nervous about whether my swap partner will like it. Too late now for second guesses! I'll post some photos next week - we've allocated 6 November (Melbourne Cup Day) as the day on which we'll all open our gifts. Exciting!

I think the quilt that's been made for me (ultimately Romily) has arrived - we had a ticket in our mailbox today, which means there's a parcel to collect from the post office (they don't deliver parcels to our development...dammit!). If it's not the quilt, it might be some new fabric I ordered from Equilter - either way I will have a pleasant surprise waiting for me when I get home from work tomorrow.

Been busy at work again. Blergh. Worked all day Saturday again and am feeling weary. I got a little bit toey with my second-level supervisor today, as he and my boss are being very tardy at filling two positions in our team of four. I am carrying a double-load at the moment and am concerned that due to their slowness to recruit that I will be expected to drop my tasks to take up the admin tasks currently done by our business support officer, who is leaving in two weeks time. I am not there to do their admin and it's not something I've done since I first started out 15 years ago. Fortunately I've worked so hard over the past 7 months or so I think they've worked out that they can't afford to lose me too. Hopefully they'll listen to and address my concerns...or I'm outta there! There are several other vacant positions in the department I work for that I could have tomorrow. At least I feel like I'm in a reasonably strong position...I hope!