Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday

Another week rolls by and it's only one week to Christmas Day, arghhhhhh.

This week's cocktail was brought to us by Rachael at Blue Mountain Daisy.

It's a very summery and refreshingly sounding Cucumber Collins.

This is what mine looked like, very anaemic compared to Rachael's.

The verdict.  It was a tiny bit too sweet for my taste. I don't love sweet cocktails, overall this is refreshing but next time I would add only a little simple syrup or none at all. It's a lovely fresh and unusual taste in a cocktail, but who doesn't love cool crisp cucumbers in summer.  

After seeing Rachael's and thinking that mine was too sweet, I tried again. Although by now it was Thursday. My photos are not nearly as pretty as Rachael's. It didn't help that both days, I made the drink in the evening, with less than stellar lighting.

Take two.

I need to use smaller glasses. I only used half the amount of sugar, that was better, but it was still very anaemic looking, I think even paler than yesterday's, and with too much soda in it, the flavour was very subdued.  A great drink for those hot summer evenings. I will absolutely make this one again, but next time I'll use much smaller glasses.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Quelle Jolie Fée

I'm so happy I finally have a quilt finished. It has only taken me about 18 months.

It is a quilt for my sister's big *0 birthday last year.  Surprisingly, cough cough, I didn't have it finished in time for her birthday but I had made headway with it, so I "gave" it to her half finished and said I'll finish it for you in time for Christmas.  I meant 2012 not 2013, but as usual, life and my tardiness got in the way.

The story behind this quilt. 

Back in 2009 I travelled to Europe, and while in Paris I bought a present for my sister. Her name is Fi, and I know that Fée is French for fairy but I just couldn't resist this seriously cute cushion cover.  My sis loved it but eventually said to me that it wasn't getting used as a cushion because it's quite big, Euro pillow size, and would I please make it into a quilt. The cushion cover fabric is a very fine pure cotton and creases a lot!  A search through my fabric stash and  voila,  some coordinating fabric.  Even though my sister wanted me to make a quilt, she wanted minimal piecing and minimal quilting. The front of the cushion cover was unpicked from the backing and I started adding borders.
A variety of fabrics from my stash, including a piece from Pashmina by Moda, Kona Charcoal, Bella Snow and a Denyse Schmidt from Spotlight fabric, not all seen in the above shot.

Minimal piecing meant I chose to make a medallion style quilt with simple borders. Minimal quilting ended up being stitch in the ditch, using Aurifil 2021 and 2024 50wt.  I love quilting with the Aurifil thread as it's fine and it sits nicely into the fabric, it's perfect for stitch in the ditch quilting.  I also added a couple of extra machine quilted lines to add some very subtle quilting detail.

I had a dilemma with the wide Paris map border. It was too wide to just stitch in the ditch, so I chose to stitch along the streets. I really like how that turned out. It was a bit of a headache trying to plan ahead with minimal stopping and starting but I think I did quite well and the further I went, the more creative I became following the streets.

The next challenge was how to quilt the centre panel.  That took a lot of thought, I eventually machine quilted around the outside of the fairy, and then used white Perle 8 to add lots of daisies to the design. The original design had embroidered red and blue daisies scattered across the background.  I couldn't match the thread colour and weight so I added white.  They are hard to see in the photos, but that was the whole idea, I didn't want them to be a distraction.  I made each daisy adding two to three stitches in the centre of each flower, going through the backing to anchor it. 

For the backing I used the cute dog print from Aneela Hooey's Sherbet Pips. Not particularly French, but my sister loves it and I think it works really well.

I'm really happy with the whole quilt and I absolutely love the grey and white stripe binding.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The colour purple

I hope you're sitting down, it's a bit of a shock that I'm posting twice in one day.

I haven't just been drinking cocktails the last few weeks, a little bit of sewing has been happening too.  Not at the same time. Hmm that's a thought, maybe if I drank more I'd get more sewing done.

Firstly I've been playing with clamshells. Shock horror. I never ever thought I'd attempt anything using clamshells, but a few weeks ago, I saw one of Sue Daly's quilts that had clamshells in the design and Sue showed how she makes them. It was so darn easy I just had to try, and here's the first few I cut out. Please overlook that they are not pressed and looking pristine, I had just rescued them from under the cat.  If all goes to plan I should have cut another 50 or so by the end of the week year, decade.
 They are going to be added to the EPP block that I showed you last week, I think.

I'm ahead of the game too, have you seen Pantone's colour for 2014? Radiant Orchid.
I can use up my purple stash and be right on trend!!!!!!!

Another crap photo, but I'm in the middle of hand quilting this baby and I wasn't going to go and press it just for the sake of the photo, I'm lazy, and really what's the point when it's just going to get all scrunched up again 5 minutes later.  I'm almost at the end of this project, it's the quilt for my sister. Some of you may remember it was supposed to be for her big 0 birthday last year, yep that's right, it was almost 18 months ago. I'm now aiming for Christmas this year,  and I'm presently sewing lots and lots of daisies (the white ones) 
on to the centre panel as a quilting element.  Why? Don't ask. 

Another peek at my sister's quilt, before quilting.

Cocktail Wednesday

Wow the weeks are disappearing very quickly, yikes, only two weeks until Christmas.  That's a good reason to taste test a cocktail or two. I need to decide which drinks are going to make the cut and will be served on Christmas Day. That brings me to today's cocktail.

I'm not sure whether this one has a name, Shay picked it so we'll just have to ask her. I think it's called a cranberry cocktail, if not, I'm sure Shay can come up with a suitable and probably highly inappropriate name!!!! 

Anyhoo, the ingredient's for this one are in the pic below. As usual I forgot to include one of the ingredients. You'd think I was taste testing the cocktails before I took the photo, as this is the second week in a row I've stuffed it up.
A lime should be in this shot, oh and ice.
The recipe for this one: a handful of ice, a shot of vodka, I had cranberry vodka on hand, so I used that instead of regular vodka.  Topped up with cranberry juice and dry ginger ale and served with a lime wedge and a mint sprig. Oh and if I lived somewhere I could get my hands on fresh cranberries, I'd have chucked a couple into the glass too for some festive cheer.
This is it.
Not bad at all. 100000000000% better than last weeks cocktail (sorry Thea). I'd give it a 4.25. I couldn't decide between a 4 or a 4.5 so I split the difference. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday (on Thursday)

Another week has rolled around and it's Cocktail Wednesday again.   Well it was yesterday, but as Thea has picked this weeks gem and she lives on the other side of the world and is therefore a day behind, we have been waiting for her to give us her verdict before Shay and I posted our "results".

Below we have a photo of most of the ingredients, I forgot about the other two ingredients when I was taking the photo, although I didn't forget to add them in when it was time to make this cocktail.
An eclectic mix in this one
The recipe called for Calisaya Liqueur but as both Shay and I discovered, it is not available in Australia or anywhere else in the world except Eugene, Oregon.  After quite a bit of research, and many emails back and forth between Shay and myself, we thought that Angostura bitters would be a reasonable substitute.
The ingredients: rum, Calisaya liqueur (Angostura Bitters substituted), maple syrup, coffee, and frothed milk. I'm not going to give you the recipe. You're welcome.

The piéce de resistance, see the photo below.
Yes, that is bacon

Another shot of the bacon
The Bacon Maple Syrup Cocktail.

I  couldn't decide whether it was going to be really bad, or it might just be an interesting mix that couldn't be as bad as it sounds.  Well I'm here to tell you that I think Thea may have been trying to poison us.  In the defence of the cocktail, it possibly could have been much better if we had the Calisaya, but I'm not ever going to try it even if I miraculously find that stuff, (not that I'm ever going to look for it either.)

Thank god for the bacon. The bacon was great. It almost masked the taste of the two sips I tried. Why did I take a second sip?

On a more positive note, BP has finished university for the year and is back home for the summer break. She has found part time work locally, so I'll have the pleasure of her company for the next three months!

BP and Bailey selfies.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Material acquisition at Material Obsession

I couldn't pass up a trip to Material Obsession whilst we were in Sydney, and of course, I had to make some purchases whilst I was there.

Some lovely prints to add to my ever expending stash.  Hopefully I'll be using most of these in my current EPP project.

Not sure where I'm going with this. I started following one pattern but I'm now thinking of  going off on my own tangent and combining it with another pattern.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cocktail Wednesday (on Friday) yes I'm a bit slow

For the last few weeks Shay and I have been trying out cocktails that we pinned on Pinterest, just like the meals we tried out earlier in the year. I have a feeling that the cocktail hit each week is going to last longer than the meals did. We are really enjoying trying out "new to us" cocktails and enhancing our booze cupboards! Thea has also joined in with us and is planning the cocktail for next week.

This week it was my pick, and I chose Tiffany's Lemonade, purely because I liked the sound of the name and the colour of the drink.  I'm not a huge fan of lemonade but I thought the alcohol would mask the taste. It didn't.  I think if I was to make it again, I'd maybe try it with club soda instead of lemonade, as I like peach schnapps and blue curaçao, although the colour of blue curaçao looks very similar to toilet cleaner. 

I'd rate this cocktail as a 3 out of 5. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Last week I flew down to Canberra to meet up with my friend J. Dodging thunderstorms as we flew out of Brisbane. I stayed the night in Canberra, then we drove to Sydney for a girls weekend, except that it wasn't a weekend, it was a Thursday, and Friday night!

 This was our view from our hotel.

Of course, we had to have cocktails.   A Pear Martini.

Calamari for lunch.

A snapshot taken at The Rocks.

The weather in Sydney was good most of the time.
A trip to Manly

Frozen yoghurt inhaled. Love this stuff, we first had it in Hawaii last year.

Lunch at Hugo's Manly…fabulous food and fabulous view.
Crab and avocado salad

Pate, quince jelly, cornichons and pickled carrot.
Couldn't miss out on a Margarita for me, and a Cosmo for Julie

The weather was pretty good while we were there, we managed to miss out on the worst of the Sydney weather. We had one storm on the Friday night that was very spectacular. We were able to sit on the chairs in our room and watch the lightning display.  We had been sitting out on the balcony at first but it got a bit wild so scurried inside before we were struck by lightning.

Then I spent a few days in Canberra, not so many photos though as it was cold, and not quite as photogenic as Sydney.

A chai latte to ward off the cold

Parliament House, Canberra (under the flag pole)

I have had an Instagram account since Instagram started, but failed to see the goodness in it, so never bothered with it until I went away earlier this year.  I can not believe I didn't start using it sooner.  This is part of the reason I'm so quiet on this blog, also loading photos is driving me crazy on here, it seems to take forever, and I spend more time trying to fix the photos than I do writing the post. If you'd like to see what I'm doing on a more regular basis, you can find me at
mj_inparadise on Instagram.

Monday, September 30, 2013

And now for something completely different.

When a very very good friend who doesn't crochet, kept on pinning lots and lots and lots of crochet related pins on Pinterest, I had to ask myself, WHY?

Was it because this friend was so excited by my crocheting skills that she really wanted to start crocheting like she said she did three years ago,  when I bought her a how to crochet book, some yarn and some hooks, none of which has been touched since.  Or, was it because she was trying to be subtle, hinting that she would like me to make something for her?

Having heard the swear words after her last attempt at crocheting, I concluded that it was her cunning plan to get me to crochet something for her.

What to make?  After a lot of deliberation I decided on something that would be useful and bright and cheery.

What exactly is it? You ask.

It's a bag.

I followed the tutorial on Attic 24. There are fabulous crochet tutorials by Lucy on her blog, very good for beginners.

(That's a not so subtle hint for my friend!)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Where do I begin?

I am still alive, all in one piece, and hopefully back to more regular blogging.  I can't believe my last post was in April.  I wrote a few posts on my other blog, about my very long vacation, but ran out of memory on my iPad so couldn't upload any more photos. I'm going to try to post more about my holiday on that blog, but I've been thinking about doing that for two months and it still hasn't happened!

It's been so long since my last post, and I've struggled with what to blog about.  There's so much that's happened over the last few months, it's been easier to ignore my blog rather than try to squeeze everything into the first post after such a long hiatus, or to even pick one thing to blog about.

However,  if I don't start somewhere I'm never going to start.  So here it is.

I've finally found my mojo.

It took months for it to return, but it's back, and I hope this time, for a very long time. I've also had to wait for my Quilt Holder Upperer to be home so that I could photograph the quilt and quilt top that I've finished.

Since I've been back from the vacation of a lifetime, I've finished McFlurry, and just in time for Christmas 2013.  Never mind that it was supposed to be finished for Christmas 2011.

The wonderful Fiona at Quilting Fairy, quilted it for me in an all over swirl pattern.

I used a panel, shock horror, in the backing as I didn't have enough backing fabric.
The back

I need to take some more close ups to show the binding and my favourite blocks.

I finished the Mystery Star BOM quilt top. Albeit with a few changes, as it was never going to be finished, if I tried to attempt all the blocks that the lovely Sheila designed for the BOM.

I'm really really happy with how this turned out, it's now about 60 inches square.  To finish it, I made an extra block, (the aqua/green/orange block in the top left quadrant), and whipped up some more braid strips to fill in gaps. I then made a narrow black and white border followed with a piano key border using lots of white and black fabrics, with the odd coloured key thrown in to give a bit of interest. The four corners are wonky stars finishing up as 3 inch blocks. More photos to come.

I've even basted a hundred or so of the 2 1/2 inch squares that I cut earlier in the year and I now have about 40 hexies sewn together. I changed my mind on the layout, of course, but it's starting to look good. (More photos coming soon.)

I started a Dresden quilt, finally, after three years of saying I was going to do it.   (Even more photos to come!!!)

I take a long time to get my a into g.

On top of all this my brain has finally gone full steam ahead and I keep thinking of ways to use my stash.  Why oh why does that happen a couple of days after I've just started a new project?  I spent weeks looking through my quilting books, Pinterest, Flickr, anywhere, trying to find inspiration and drew a complete blank.

It doesn't help when you live in paradise and all the days are like this.