Sunday, October 31, 2010

A great weekend

Well I had a pretty good great weekend this weekend.

I won tickets to the Brisbane Wine and Food Festival for next weekend, thanks to  Kerry.  I very rarely if ever win anything so I was very pleasantly surprised to receive an email from Kerry to tell me that I had not only won tickets to the Festival but also tickets to the cupcake making class that is being held there.

I also got tickets, (I didn't win these), to Wicked,  they are as scarce as hen's teeth now, so I am very pleased with myself.

Working on the quilting of the wonky owls quilt. It's slow going and hard work, I'm working up a sweat, man-handling it around right angle corners, but it is going well. No photos as yet.

Last night I went to a Halloween party, very spooky and an interesting crowd.  Again no photos, I forgot to take my camera. How am I ever going to remember to take it anywhere!!!!! I like the idea of Halloween, it is only just starting to become more popular here, and this is the first time in about 5 years that I haven't held a Halloween party at my house. It was good to be able to go somewhere else and not have to worry about being the hostess, (and the tidying up afterwards).

I started a small HST quilt too this weekend, to practice, as I love the way there are so many patterns/ layouts you can make with them.  So far so good. I have used two and a bit charm packs of Fandango and used all of the charms that had either greens, blues or yellow. I left out all the warm colours,  -oranges, pinks, apricots. I've paired them with Bella solids Snow. The Bella Snow has quite a yellowish tinge which doesn't show in the photos, and I wanted to use it up as it doesn't go with much else in my stash.

A (small) pile ready to go

Another (small) pile ready to be cut to size.

I was am planning to do a small quilt, as after all this is a test run to see if I can cope and I don't spit the dummy like I did with the infamous snowball blocks. I had planned on 81 blocks - 9 x 9. I placed them all on some flannel on my "design cabinet".  Stood back, checked them all, rearranged a couple and then took them off row by row, keeping them in their rows by putting a numbered piece of paper from 1 to 9 on top of each pile, all looking good everything going ok, and............ I had one pile left over.  What the?  I counted again, although it was very obvious I did actually have 10 piles of blocks and I hadn't stuffed up my numbering. Apparently when I counted 81 blocks there were 91 blocks. I have absolutely no idea how I did it, but I did, and it wasn't the after affects of the Halloween party, thank you. At least I had more and not less, that would have been annoying. So now I am making a quilt with 90 blocks - 9 x 10.
This is the initial layout, it has pretty much stayed the same, just a couple of tweaks to fix some that were bothering me. 

They are all ready to be sewn together, but my machine didn't want to play nicely this morning, so I had to put the blocks aside. I'm going to speak nicely to it later and hope that it will be feeling more helpful. Maybe if I name my sewing machine it might just be a little more inclined to play nice. Now I have to think of a name that goes with Pfaff, that will be easy, HA!
I'm off now to come up with a short list of names, and go back to crocheting until it behaves.

I hope everyone else had a good weekend.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Favourite Things Friday - Birds In My Backyard

I was debating whether to do this as a FTF post, however I love the sounds of all the birds here (even the annoying ones) so I thought, what the heck, and as an interesting follow on to last week's FTF post of my view.  As I don't live in the city,  I have a large variety of birds visiting here.  I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to birds.  So I'm linking up with Mrs P's Favourite Things Friday this week.  It's a bit ironic, as Mrs P as said how she loves silence, and I certainly don't get very much silence with all these guys in the background.

A warning, some people may find this completely and utterly boring, I won't be upset.  Most Australians will know most of these birds, but I thought it might be interesting for overseas visitors.

I just found out about this website, Birds In Backyards . Now it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you are at all interested there are a number of birds listed on this website that I regularly hear in my little piece of paradise.  SO, if you want to hear how raucous it is around here, you can find out,  unfortunately  there are no sweet melodic English countryside birds, no siree,  it's just a cacophony of bird song here.
You can see from the list below, the birds you can hear in my yard, just click on the link above to take you to the site if you want to hear some other Australian birds.
I have numbered them below to correspond with the numbers on the Birds in my Backyard website in case you are wondering why some numbers are missing and if you click on the link after each bird it will take you direct to the sound file (I hope).

1.   Common Koel - (Pacific Koel) that's the guy I told you about the other day, now you can hear the rest of his "song". (Michelle this is especially for you)  here
2.   Channel -billed Cuckoo  - thank god, not so often.  here
6.   Willie Wagtail  here
9.   Australia Raven  - (Crow) now I could use a slingshot on these! here
10. Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo - fortunately these are usually only here from about late March to August.  here
11. Australian Magpie  here
12.  Pied Currawong here
13.  Kookaburra here
17. Magpie Lark - another annoying one. here
18.  Galah - not many of these  here
19. Noisy Miner - these are quite aggressive, and scare off all the smaller birds, I used to wish I could get rid of them, but they are good as a warning signal, especially if they see a snake.  They saved my neighbours cat from a python, as they alerted my neighbours by their screeching. For the time being I am (relatively) happy that they live here.   here
32.  Australian King Parrot  here
33. Lorikeet - hundreds of these, they are very pretty but very very noisy. here
40. Figbird - not very many of these.  here

There are many many more that visit us and unfortunately that website doesn't cover all the birds that I hear daily.

I also  found a You Tube video of the  Eastern Whipbird, it is the most amazing sound which I love listening to even though it is loud. It is not the best video but the audio is great.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crochet Granny Square Cushion

I put the quilting aside and finished this cushion that I started months ago, another one off the WIP list.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday tidbits (and tails)

Here's the noisy guy from last week,  he is not quite so shy now, although his girlfriend is definitely very shy. It has been impossible to get a photo of her.

He likes the berries of the palm tree so this has become his favourite perch.

Spring is well and truly here and all the flowers are beginning to bloom.

A Cassia at the bottom of the driveway

Lots of scented plants in my garden.


Frangipani, just starting to flower on the higher branches

Unfortunately it rained after the Gardenias had opened so quite a few of them have discoloured. The scent from them is amazing at the moment. See  the black on the walkway, that is one of the trials of living in paradise, it is because of the high humidity here. I clean it every 6 months but it always comes back.

I don't remember buying this at Ikea.

Today I have been basting the wonky owl quilt and then started quilting it. I have decided I detest the quilting part of quilting, especially when it's on a larger quilt. My basting is perfect, I spent ages doing it and am really happy with it. I don't like man handling the quilt on the machine, I just get really annoyed, especially as I am outlining each "square" so there is lots of turning involved.  I think it would be easier if I was just doing straight line quilting or stippling, but I don't think either of those are going to look any good on this quilt. I will soldier on but I won't be finishing it in a hurry and I won't be making anything bigger than a lap quilt from now on if I am going to quilt it.

Now for something else with a tail,

avert your eyes now if you are not too keen on reptiles. A visitor to our garden on the weekend. 

A python, so it's not venomous, I'm just not quite sure where it is right now, so the fur babies are not going outside, (they don't anyway), but I'm making extra sure they don't get out.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

When you think you have made a mistake.......

When you think you have made a mistake, you probably have............

The offending row

Note to self:
When you are sewing all your blocks together for the quilt top and you think you might have made a mistake....STOP, and check, I mean really really check it properly. Don't just think, oh it should be ok. Because if you don't check it properly chances are that when you have finished sewing all those lovely blocks together to make your quilt top they are going to be in the wrong order, and it is going to really really really bug you.  In fact, bug you so much that you have to unpick all those beautiful straight seams, that have been neatly ironed open, and re sew them in the correct order. What would have taken a couple of minutes at the most and might mean unpicking one,maybe two seams, now, involves unpicking a whole row from the middle of the quilt top and then unpicking the blocks in that row,and sewing them all back together in the correct order.

I hope I learn from this mistake.

It's all  better now.

A scruffily quilt, pattern from Moda Bakeshop , I love the colours, the design of the fabric, Rural Jardin by French General. yummm.

I am very happy with it since fixing my error. Now for the fun part, basting, not. Then on to quilting, binding, and washing it to make it all crinkly, yay!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Favourite Things Friday

It's Friday again, wow that comes around quickly and that means it's time for Favourite Things Friday.  I really love this idea and thanks so much to Mrs P  for starting this up and having a linky thingy (technical term) so that we can all visit each other to see everyone's  favourite things. It also means you have to think about good things not annoying, irritating things and things that make you grumpy and give you the sh*** so thank you  to Mrs P at Quilting In My Pyjamas  for  Favourite Things Friday. Check it out and see everyone's  favourite's today.

This week, it's my view. I have lived here for almost 12 years now, amazing, as previously I had never lived in one place for more than 4 years, as an adult. I was a city girl and was not very keen to move to the country, but  I have slowly grown to love living here and now I think I have my very own little piece of paradise.





If I ever become tired of my view I don't have far to go to look at this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How would you like this as an early wake up call

How annoying is this!  This was as close as I could zoom in to him. He sits in a tree that is pretty much outside my bedroom window.  Fortunately this year, he hasn't been starting up at 4 am as in previous years, and he doesn't call all day.  I only captured a tiny bit of his call today, as he wasn't being very cooperative when I was trying to film him. It is a male Pacific Koel, a type of cuckoo, also known as a Rainbird or Stormbird as they are supposedly thought to signal the coming of rain. I am very grateful he is not here all year.

This photo is from Wikipedia

Tuesday tidbits (and tails)

It's like the gift that keeps on giving.
I had to take Karma to the vet yesterday as he had a raging case of conjunctivitis. When we were in there the vet repeatedly said it was really unusual to see a case like it at this time of year, as it has been so wet and  we have had quite cool temperatures. He kept asking me whether Karma had allergies, whether he had been running around in grass, anything unusual at home, and finally the penny dropped. I mentioned the puppy, and guess what, it is highly extremely likely that he picked it up from her. Apparently puppies can quite often be carriers but not show any symptoms.  Great.
So I can add another $100 to the cost  of the  life lesson.  Not happy, Jan!

Poor boy

On a lighter note the weather has been absolutely glorious here the last couple of days and I'm trying to make the most of it, before it turns wet and windy again.

To make everyone feel better,  and just in case you thought I was a neat and tidy person, and to make me remember to clean up a little more often , here is my dining table a few days ago. There are at least eight, yes that's eight different projects lying there. I was trying to work out what fabric I needed.  I don't think I need much do I, and oh what a pain to tidy up later.

It's hard to keep the bed looking neat and tidy when you have to contend with this.

Finally, this image was sent to me by a girlfriend, I had a good chuckle over it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A great start to the week, BBC One's Talking Animals

An abundance of colour

Three rows completed, four more to go.

I absolutely love this, the photo doesn't do the fabric justice. It is so pretty and the colours are exceptional.   It was a fabric line that I purchased by default as I couldn't get any Rouenneries, and wow what a lovely accident. I can't wait to have this one quilted, washed and all soft and rumply.  

I've put aside bitchypoo's quilt as I inadvertently laid it out incorrectly, I realised that after I had sewn about 10 blocks together, grrrrrr.  It actually looked fine the way it was, but it's going to annoy me leaving it that way, so for now it's been unpicked and sitting looking sorry for itself.  So in the not too distant future I will try again, lay it out the way it is supposed to be, if it's better I will do it that way, if not, I should have left it as it was, and saved myself an hour or two of unpicking!

The exchange rate from Aus to U.S. dollars is so good right now, I have been, shall we say, a little over exuberant with my online fabric purchases.
Innocent Crush, yummmmmmm

Poppy by Laura Gunn
The Poppy fabric I saw online, I love the colours and the interesting prints. It was showcased in a beautiful quilt. I love to take inspiration from what I see but I don't like copying exactly. I use the pattern but change the fabric, or possibly use the same fabric but rearrange it differently. I saw that quilt and thought yay, I love it, want to make it, but now I have the fabric I don't want to copy it so I'm going to have to put my thinking cap on to think up a fabulous alternative.

I wasn't overly keen on Fandango when it first came out, but it has been growing on me.  Playing around with the warm palette and some Kona and Bella solids, for a new quilt. This will now be added on to the world's longest List of Quilts to Make.

These are only the beginning of the fabric invasion at Chez Sunshine. More to show after they have arrived on their long trip from the States. 

I have thought about doing a weekly post on fabric in and fabric out, but it's too scary as it will always be a bazillion in, and if I'm lucky 4 out, but more than likely none out. So instead I will just show you pretty photos of my purchases (that I admit to) and ignore the fact that my fabric stash is growing very very quickly.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A life lesson

After 10 days of chaos at Chez Sunshine, the puppy has gone back to the original owner.  Bitchypoo came to the conclusion to give it back after realizing that having a puppy isn't all sunshine and roses.  As she made the decision to get the puppy, behind my back, and knowing full well I didn't want another fur baby to look after now, I refused to help out with feeding, cleaning up etc.  Very hard to do, but if I gave in now I knew I would be regretting it for a very very very long time.
A combination of things brought her to the decision that the puppy had to go, (fortunately the girl who sold her the puppy had said to her, that she would take her back if needed.)

1. Cleaning up after a puppy is not fun, in fact it's gross.

2. Entertaining a puppy for hours on end is not that great if you want to spend time on the computer, or with friends, etc.

3. The other fur babies hated the puppy.  The puppy had to be separated from the others, especially Bailey.

4. Puppies bite and scratch, stuffed toys don't. 

5. If you have a puppy and you want to go away, you can't because no one will look after it for you, and you can't leave it on it's own for 24 hours.

6. If you want to go out at night, you can't because you have to look after the puppy, because your mother won't!

7. Being woken up two or three times during the night to take it out for a pit stop gets really really annoying.

8. Puppies destroy things, eg, phone charger cords, and anything else you leave lying on the floor, which is a bummer when all your worldly possessions are lying on the floor, because you are too darn lazy to pick anything up and put it away.

9. Puppies pee on things on the floor, eg your clothes, etc refer to number 8 above

10. It costs a lot of money to keep a pet, food, vet bills, flea/tick protector, worm tablets, toys etc., oh what's that, you don't have any money, I know you just spent it all on a puppy.

11. Puppies don't listen to you when you tell them to do something, it's annoying isn't it!

So now there is peace and quiet at Chez Sunshine for today. I'm not sure whether my feet look any younger but at least I don't need to keep up the experiment, hallelujah!

Favourite Things Friday

It's Favourite Things Friday and I'm linking back to Mrs P at QIMP

In Mrs P's Slack Tea post yesterday, Mrs P said she didn't like two minute noodles.  I thought this was a perfect opportunity to post my all time favorite recipe. It uses two minute noodles and takes them to a whole new level.  It's a recipe that I have used ever since I moved from Singapore (a very very long time ago.)   I bought the book " Singapore Food" by Wendy Hutton when I lived there.  This dish is so simple, tastes very authentic and reminds me of Singapore hawker (street) food. It is a  really quick one that can be adapted to use what you have on hand, and it  can easily  be double or tripled to serve more.

Kon Loh Mee
Simple Noodle Dish
from Singapore Food by Wendy Hutton
Sufficient for 2

As usual I have adapted it but this is the original recipe.

2 pkts instant noodles (discard packaged seasoning) 
4 cups water
4 - 6 stalks Chinese greens, bok choy, choy sum etc
1 tspn peanut oil
2 tspns sesame oil
2 tspns black / dark soy sauce
2 tspns chilli sauce
any of the following, red BBQ pork sliced (the recipe follows), shredded cooked chicken, cooked prawns

Heat water and simmer the green vegetables until tender. Drain and reserve water. Cook noodles in the vegetable water for the time specified on the noodle packet, then drain.
Combine peanut and sesame oils, soy sauce and chilli sauce and toss in a large bowl with the noodles. Serve garnished with the vegetables and other ingredients. (In Singapore these noodles would normally be accompanied by a small bowl of light chicken soup and a side dish of pickled chillies.)

My variations include:
Soba noodles or any noodles I have on hand, as sometimes I don't have two minute noodles in the pantry.
I don't always use the peanut oil, sometimes I substitute it with macadamia oil, sometimes I leave it out altogether. Don't use olive oil.
Baby spinach leaves, in which case I don't cook them, just shred and toss into the bowl when adding the meat.
We use Thai sweet chilli sauce.

Char Siew ( Red BBQ Pork)
also from Singapore Food

500g (1lb) pork fillet
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tblspn liquid honey
1 tblspn soy sauce
2 tspns Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tspn tomato sauce
1/2 tspn five spice
pinch powdered ginger
red food colouring (optional)

Cut pork lengthwise into strips about 4cm (1 1/2") thick. Combine all other ingredients. Marinate pork in this for at least 2 hours, turning from time to time. Put pork strips on a greased rack set over a pan of water and roast for 45 mins at 230C (450F), basting with the marinade every 15 mins. Allow to cool and cut into thin slices.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Progress.................. finally

I have had a week of absolute nothing, well, nothing crafty.  I stared at a computer screen for hours on end, tried to get some inspiration, looked at and maybe purchased fabric online as the exchange rate is so good, read blogs to see what everyone else was doing while I was doing nothing.
Then today, all of a sudden the funk lifted and I had a great day, both on the home front, cleaning, washing, ironing and sorting though clothes and taking the excess to the Salvation Army, and more importantly, working on the layout of two quilts.  The first one using Rural Jardin and the scruffily quilt tutorial  from Moda Bakehouse. Roughly and quickly laid out on the floor before the possibility probability of being re-arranged by cats, dogs or teenage daughters.

The second one, bitchypoo's quilt, I had to take the blocks over to my parents house as I don't have a "design floor" large enough to lay it out. Sorry no photos of this as I forgot to take my camera.  Both quilts are  ready to go now, and I've sewn the first row of bitchypoo's this evening. A couple of close ups.

I started pulling fabric for another project and this is a very tiny sneak peek.

I need to use up some Kona Solids fat quarters, as I accidentally ordered (and paid for 2) bundles of the same colour way. Hmmmmmmm