Monday 27 January 2014

And we have a winner....

This afternoon the HD3QBEM drew a name out of Grandma's Bowl for the winner of the "Lee Westfield Violets Needlework Tools" book.
Just to refresh your memory the book was this one
And the winner is
Oops.  I may not be blind but I can't read that.   Try again shall we?
Can you send me an email with your postal address and I will get the book on its way to you.

But there is a surprise - the HD3QBEM drew another name.
Pamela, I have another book by another New Zealand designer.
It too has needlework tools and I shall send that on to you this week.
Congratulations and many thanks for reading my blog.

60 Weeks Until .... Number 22

Sometimes life is difficult at our house.   I like cooking and trying out new recipes but the HD3QBEM has severe dietary problems that mean the list of "cannot eat" is loooong and growing longer!   This one however satisfies us both.

Cheddar Cheese and Silverbeet Rice Balls
1 tablepoons olive oil for sauteeing
2 cups of freshly chopped silver beet (or you could substitute spinach)
2 egg whites
2 cups white rice cooked
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 and  1/2 cups grated tasty cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius
In a frying pan heat the oil and gently wilt the silverbeet
In a large bowl whisk the egg whites until well combined.  Add the cooked rice, breadcrumbs and grated cheese.  Mix through thoroughly.
Add the spinach and combine well.
Season with salt and pepper
With wet hands form bite size balls and place on a greased baking tray
Spray lightly with cooking oil.
Bake for 20 minutes until crispy and golden.

These are great served with a tomato salsa (for me) and peach and mango chutney (for the HD3QBEM)

Sunday 26 January 2014

60 Weeks Until ..... Number 21

Tonight we tried recipe number 21 and.... it was a great success.   I recommend this one!

Chicken Meatballs and Miso Rice

400 grams chicken mince
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Mix all these together and pan fry in a non stick fry pan (I used oil spray)

Cook one and a half cups of sushi rice
1/2 teaspoon miso
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
Mix the miso and soy together well and with the coriander stir it into the cooked rice until well mixed.

Serve the meatballs on top of rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and a green salad ( to which I added roasted pumpkin).


Saturday 25 January 2014

A long weekend

Monday is a public holiday in Auckland so this weekend is relaxed.   I know I have time to complete all my chores.  However the weather man had promised only one fine day so I rose early this morning to make a start on the "outside jobs".   The runner beans have finished fruiting so they were pulled, along with numerous weeds and in the company of two really tame starlings, I tidied up the garden.  Fertiliser was sprinkled on and hopefully the promised rain will wash it down into the soil.   However the rain may mean that the car does not get washed.   Oh dear ;-)

Next, the HD3QBEM and I went to the butchers shop.   We go and stock the freezer every three months.   I had determined to clean and de-ice the freezer so today was the day!   All done and I feel satisfied to cross that item off the list and to have a basic menu planned for the next weeks.

As a reward we went out to sushi for lunch (again!) and on the way home I called at my LNS for some more DMC perle for this.
The Hardanger Sewing Pod is coming along nicely. Currently I am working on the third side.
I followed the instructions exactly for the tacking out but there is a lot of 'waste' linen so I plan on making a hardanger tassel and will stitch the pieces in these excess waste areas.   Surely such frugality means I can add an item as small as a tassel to my 2014 list?

60 Weeks Until .... Number 20

Last night, very late, I was indulging in a nostalgic wallow in my favourite "What Katy Did" books?   My own copies, which belonged to the HD3QBEM before me, have long since been passed on to nieces.   I hope they love them as much as I do!   In What Katy Did at School, she and Clover receive a box from home and forbidden to open it by a stern school mistress, they nevertheless ease the lid open slightly and their exploring fingertips find "Debbie's Jumbles".   Now Debbie is their family cook but I never knew what a Jumble was.
Today the mystery is solved.   I leafed through an old recipe book and found...... Date Jumbles.   Presumably it was a lack of knowledge of the Katy books which gave this cake the wrong name!   D is for Debbie not Date.   Whatever -  these are delicious!

Date Jumbles
125 gram butter
125 gram white sugar
250 gram chopped dates
Warm the butter and sugar in a saucepan until the butter melts.   Add the dates and mix well.

185 gram flour
60 gram cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
Sift these dry ingredients together.

Add the butter, sugar and date mixture to the dry ingredients.   Add 3/4 cup milk and mix well.
Spread in a greased slice or swiss roll tin and bake 30 minutes at 170 degrees celsius.
When cold ice with chocolate icing.

Thursday 23 January 2014

The year begins with HOPE

My To-Do list for 2014 is not long or complicated.  Only 15 items.  I pat myself on the back for showing such restraint!
Logically speaking if I list "Stitch five ornaments" and then complete six or seven or eight I can count that as a roaring success n'est pas?
But let's not get carried away -only the first of the five is completed.
 From JCS Ornament issue 2013 - stitched with DMC floss substitutions on 32 count linen of unknown origins.   I intend to stitch this orphan linen full of ornaments and in October have a mammoth construction session.
 Do you think this piece of fabric might fit more than the planned five?
Last night television here in New Zealand had a much delayed screening of the Downton Abbey Christmas Special.  Lovely,  but so many unanswered questions.  Does Edith find Michael again?   Is there a future for Miss Bunting?   Will Mary choose Tony or Charles or neither?  Does Carson find love or is that a red herring?    So many questions and so long to wait until Season Five reaches the Antipodes.   I wish this series was actually based on a book because then I could read ahead and satisfy my curiosity! I  love the costumes.  Edith had some beautiful dresses and I envy not only those fabrics but her porcelain skin!

I need to finish the Hardanger Sewing Pod before starting anything else.   So I'm off to do so.

Sunday 19 January 2014

Town and Country

Today I enjoyed an outing to what we call "Town and Country".   Hosted by the Embroiderers and Lacemakers' Guild in Auckland, this day long event heralds the start of our Guild year.   Although numbers were down a little it was fun to meet up and be inspired by seeing what others have done and are doing.  
One of the speakers was Lesley who had been a model stitcher for Mary Hickmott of "New Stitches" fame.   I was particularly interested to hear her as that magazine was responsible for me extending my repertoire from 'fancywork' and cross stitch to other forms of embroidery such as blackwork, hardanger and pulled thread.   I owe Mary Hickmott a lot, and after listening to Lesley today I am convinced that I am indebted to the wonderful model stitchers too.   Lesley had created this huge blackwork masterpiece.   Isn't it spectacular?
While listening to her interesting talk I managed to progress on my Hardanger Sewing Pod.   Admittedly my needle rested when I was particularly engrossed in what Lesley was saying!
A fellow New Zealand embroiderer Lee recently mentioned a design she had done years ago for a set of small stitching tools.   Read all about it in her blog post here.   Today at Town and Country I found an autographed copy of the original book containing the design.  

On sale as a fund raiser for Embroidery 2016 conference to be held here in Auckland, I decided it would make an excellent giveaway.   If you would like to stitch this set (and the new addition mentioned on Lee's blog), please leave a comment on this post.   I will have the HD3QBEM draw a name out of Grandma's bowl on Monday 27th.  
I'm off to watch Antiques Road Show now :-)

60 Weeks Until .... Number 19

This week I have tried out a new roast chicken recipe.

Lemon, Ginger and Coriander Roast Chicken
One 1.5kg chicken
2 Lemons
2 Cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Slice the lemons finely and slide them under the skin of the breast of the chicken
Crush the garlic and ginger together and mix with the coriander to make a paste.   Place this under the chicken skin with the lemon.

Roast the chicken at 190 degrees celsius for one hour

1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons soya sauce
1 tablespoon mirin

Reduce the oven heat to 170 degrees.   Combine the stock, soy and mirin and pour over the chicken.
Continue to roast for another 50 minutes to one hour

Serve with steamed chinese vegetables, rice noodles.

The HD3QBEM says she prefers my "other roast chicken recipe" by which I think she means the one with the orange date and pistachio stuffing.   Therefore this new recipe may not be repeated chez nous :-(

Saturday 18 January 2014

A new discovery and a small finish

This week I managed to finish a small book mark for Little Brother.   He indulges my embroidery hobby with smiles, occasional evidence of some interest and frequent chortles, so I was not about to create a huge framed masterpiece for his wall.   One interest we do have in common (with differing levels of obsession) is reading so a bookmark seemed a safe choice.   Little Brother is also a keen beekeeper so - the result?  This!

The design is unashamedly pilfered in bits and pieces from charts in my stash but overall I am pleased with the finished result.   On 32 count cream Belfast linen with left over Autumn Harvest Silk 'N Threads floss this was all from stash which has raised the happiness factor.
So this week the mailman can carry this off to Little Brother who will hopefully put it to good use and not chortle that the bees look like blowflies.
This morning I went with the HD3QBEM to a shopping mall on the north side of the city.   A shoe shop there carries her favourite ECCO brand but unfortunately nothing appealed today.   However we did discover Crafty Knitwits Cafe to which my wool-lover HD3QBEM could rapidly become addicted, I think.
Cute little tables covered in vintage textiles with hand embroidered linen napkins and cooking like Grandma used to make.  Fabric covered lampshades, menu cards in sweet little quilted covers.   All of this surrounded by woollen yarns and tempting knitting patterns.   Perhaps it was fortunate that she sported a Vision Impaired badge and was therefore legally unable to see and be tempted to purchase yet more yarn :-)   Down the stairs was a treasure trove of quilting fabrics.   Just as well I have a to-do list for 2014 and so was not be tempted to acquire.
Great place though and a delicious Hot Chocolate so we shall be back!
Last night I started the first Christmas ornament for 2014 - as a stop gap until my floss order arrives from ABCStitch.   I ordered the floss at the beginning of November and on Friday had an email to say it was being dispatched.   What an excessively long turn around time.   I shall be pleased when it arrives and I can make a start on The Mermaids Chest.
Now I am off to pick beans and Sweet Peas from the garden.   Tonight we are having salmon sushi for dinner and after that my car needs a wash.   With that today's list should be complete.

Sunday 12 January 2014

A new start

Having made an embroidered journal cover for Little Sister I thought I must make something for Little Brother.   He is much harder to stitch for so when inspiration struck I decided to get going and tonight, while watching Antiques Roadshow, I produced this.  
Another couple of nights and it will be all finished.  I'm stitching on cream 34 count linen and Autumn Honey Silk 'N Colours floss.   All is from stash which makes me happy!
And it's back to work tomorrow and reality will bite I'm sure.   However the holiday has been good and at the end of this month we have a public holiday Monday which makes a long weekend.  Great!

Saturday 11 January 2014

And the scars to prove it...

Today the HD3QBEM has been unwell so it has been a very quiet day chez nous.   Enforced seclusion for me meant that I crossed another couple of items of The List.
First up the Christmas Tree.  
This kit was an impulse purchase a few years ago.  
Such a simple idea really but stitching the corners of the triangles together was really hard on my fingertips - and on my thumbnail which got used as a thimble to push the needle through.
I have several thimbles but find them very hard to use.   Even when wearing one I tend to push the needle with the next un-thimbled finger!   How contrary is that?!   I shall have to moderate my efforts for a day or two and let the fingertip recover.
Second, I managed to complete the first side of the Hardanger Sewing Pod and while fighting my hatred dislike of picots I decided on what I shall stitch as a small gift for Little Brother.   On the whole men are hard to stitch for I find,  but I think my inspiration will hit the spot.   Little Sister loved her journal book cover with the Floral Embroidered 'H'.  
Monday I go back to work and settle back into a regular routine.   That will surely be better for my eating habits but fewer items will be crossed off The List - oh dear, sob sob.   Next weekend I have an Embroiderers Gathering to go to and am looking forward to that.   Maybe the anticipation will make Monday to Friday go by quicker?
Tonight Phryne Fisher will keep me company as the HD3QBEM has gone to bed.   And as a treat I am going to choose a Christmas Ornament as a new start.   Surely today's scarred fingertips mean I deserve a new start!

Thursday 9 January 2014

60 Weeks Until ....Number 17 and 18

Tonight I made a rice salad.   Well to be precise

Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad with Balsamic Dressing 
200 gram of wild rice blend (I used Sunrise) cooked and cooled
1 large apple diced
1 stalk celery finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
handful parsley
50 grams toasted pine nuts

Mix all together well

For the balsamic dressing
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Shake the dressing well and stir through the salad.

Enjoy.   This one is delicious and I shall repeat it.

Courgette and Feta Fritters

4 medium courgettes grated
90 gram feta cheese crumbled
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh herbs -  your choice

Squeeze out excess moisture from grated courgettes.   Combine all ingredients  and mix well.
Spray a non-stick frying pan with old.  Cook heaped tablespoons of batter over a medium heat until golden.
Serve with a salad of tomato, red onion and fresh mint.

This is tasty and quick but may not be repeated in this house.   My old recipe for Courgette Fritters (sans feta) is more to the liking of the HD3QBEM and moi.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

And what are you going to do, she asked

Today I'm still on holiday so the HD3QBEM and I went out to ..... where else but the LNS!   Well, we went to two LNS actually -  one north and one south.   What did I buy you ask?   A length of 40 count fabric for a future (far in the future) project, a new pair of hardanger scissors and some EPP hexagons.
Then in the afternoon while the HD3QBEM slept I ventured out to the dress fabric store .... two of them actually - one east and one west.
At the first I bought nothing but scrounged a couple of samples, which having brought home and thought about, I will go back and purchase tomorrow.   Lining for the Naxos Necessaire -  a splendid exact match red gingham check silk.   Perfect!   The other is a navy and ivory check in a silk viscose mix which will make a gorgeous pair of soft trousers.
At the second shop I inspected every single roll of fabric and finally I found what I was looking for.   Also it was here that I found the title for this blog post.  The helpful shop assistant asked me "what are you going to do with it?" and when I replied, "make a nightgown" she swallowed, then said "the last lady who bought this was going to make her wedding dress"!!!   It was ....guess... silk!   But summer sales are so useful and silk nightgowns are gorgeous to wear.   I currently wear silk nightgowns I purchased 17 years ago so I consider that quality lasts!   Anyway here's a shot of the fabric.
Now I promised Jo some photos of my planned projects.   Not all of them are in a state to photograph but I have two or three that are
First   the Acorn Sewing Roll.   Stitching is complete and I plan to buy a suitable lining fabric and complete this over the remainder of the month.   I unpicked the acorn in the bottom diamond and substituted an M which suits me better.
Second  Ring O Roses   I am stitching on 32 count linen from stash which is Belfast Dirty Linen I think and using the Threadworx floss shown.   This will be my Guild piece for the year so I won't be working on it any more than once a month on Guild days.
Third is this Christmas Tree.   Currently still not completed, this really only requires one evening of disciplined effort and it will be done.   This was a kit purchased from a local quilting shop as an impulse and it languished in my cupboard for a couple of years.   With 2014 being my year of steely resolve, this is now all but finished.
 And Jo, just so you won't worry too much I also have the following on the ever growing list
My Favourite Things Sewing Basket
Mermaid's Sea Chest
One more Altoid Tin Topper
5 Christmas Ornaments
C A Wells Cottage Etui
French House Etui
Merry Bee Notebook cover

I think that should keep me out of mischief for a few months and if I am honest I should add that I am going to do a Casalguidi course at my Embroiderers' Guild in March.  Three Saturdays a couple of weeks apart as there is apparently a lot of homework to do.   I'm expecting that hardanger and cross stitch will get put to one side while this course is on.

Today I harvested yet more beans from my garden.   Each day I pick enough to freeze for future meals and I try to ensure that no pickable bean is left on the vines.   I look up, look down, look in, look around.   Two, three, four and sometimes even five times.  Why? Because I know that if I miss a bean it will grow and grow and grow and be unusable!   Like this one.
A giant bean, over 30 centimetres in length but far too mature and woody to be useful.   How on earth could I have missed that?

Now I am off to a cool shower and another hot night.

Sunday 5 January 2014

60 Weeks Until .... Number 16

Today is a little out of my ordinary -  a dessert!

Passionfruit and Peach Fool

1 ½ cups low fat milk
2 tablespoons custard powder
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix all together well and bring to the boil.  Stir constantly and the custard will thicken.   Set aside to cool for 10 minutes

400 gram can of peaches in natural juice - drained
250 gram pottle of fromage frais
4 tablespoons of passionfruit pulp

Puree the peaches until smooth.   Mix the passionfruit into the peach puree

Mix the fromage frais into the cooled custard until well blended then stir in the passionfruit/peach mixture.

Chill before serving.   Enjoy.

And here we are in the HD3QBEM's wedding present crystal dish (I had better be careful - this is older than me!) and my little Harrod's spoon.

Saturday 4 January 2014

Dress Number 3

Today I started early and now have only the hem to do on dress number three.   I took this photograph so that Little Sister could see!   I'm particularly pleased to be able to reuse the belt from a dress I bought 22 years ago!   As I am not a hoarder of any great repute it was amazing to me that I had a belt which suited this dress.   Most items unused for any length of time find their way to the charity shop.
The pattern for this came all the way from London and along with the tissue pattern and instruction booklet had this cute little label.   A great finishing touch.  Apologies for the fuzzy shot.
Tonight I spent ages stitching an acorn onto the point of the sewing roll and thought it would look OK.   It doesn't.   So tomorrow I will spend ages taking it out (silk couched with gold kreinik - oh dear) and then go through my books and charts to find an 'M' to fit the space.   Note to self -  do not attempt to design you are no good at it!
Now I am off to bed, perchance to sleep.   We are promised another tropical night of 19 0 heat.

Friday 3 January 2014

Santa came late for me

Today I have had a really productive day - stitching a muslin mock up of a new dress.   Of course this involved endless dressing and undressing, sewing and unpicking but I am satisfied that I have the pattern adjusted to suit now and so the fabric is cut and tomorrow I with the help of my 50 year old Elna machine will sew the real thing.  
Besides that, I promised the HD3QBEM a new bag for her blood pressure machine.  Diving into my stash I found a zipper.   Too long?   No problems; I know how to shorten this.   Fabric of suitable colour?  Back to the stash.   Too soft??  No problems; I have "giggle cloth" to stiffen this.   So away I went and before the HD3QBEM had even got out of bed the bag was finished and what's more - it worked!
Then the second altoid tin was all glued together and finished.  Two down and one to go.   I find the twisted cord edging of these difficult to finish neatly.   However I have three tins so will persist with one more but I can't see this finish becoming an all time favourite.   Next visit to the LNS and I must look for tiny scissors to go in this one or the lettering on top will be a lie.
The HD3QBEM finds it difficult to get out shopping unaccompanied now so for Christmas I was asked to provide a list of what I'd like and she chose one item off that.   Today we went to the local mall where Santa brought these to me...
My new dress is navy and white so I can see these getting a lot of use.  
And that's my report for today.   We are promised a humid 19 0C tonight so I am planning on sitting up late in company with Henning Mankell on my Library eBook.

60 Weeks Until .... Number 15

This week's recipe is untested by the HD3QBEM.   The list of foods that she cannot eat is so long and ever growing and this one comes in that category.   Never mind I am enjoying this!   Delicious.

Mixed Vegetable Quinoa

225 gram quinoa
500 mls vegetable stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
400 gram frozen mixed vegetables
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
juice of one lemon

Step 1:   Cook the quinoa following packet instructions  ( I boiled the 225 gram of quinoa in 500 mls vegetable stock)
Meanwhile in a large non-stick fry pan heat the olive oil and stir fry the vegetables and garlic.   Allow to cool.

Step 2:  Mix the cooked quinoa with the vegetables and the lemon juice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer to the serving dish and keep warm.

And the bonus of this recipe??   It can be made in advance and reheated when it is time to eat.


Wednesday 1 January 2014

A good start to a good year

Fine weather for the midnight fireworks last night and then wet weather for the garden for part of the day today.   We are off to a good start!
And on the stitching front too.   I have made enough progress on the Acorn Stitching Roll to qualify for a photo and the first side of the hardanger Stitching Pod is almost completed too.

The hardanger is stitched on 28 count cream linen in DMC Perle #8 and #12 colour 3823
And the Acorn Stitching Roll is also on 28 count linen in a vanilla colour.   I have used the specified DMC equivalents for the solid colours and Thread Gatherer 'Autumn Honey' for the variegated floss.   As I don't want "historic needlework guild" to be the lettering in the next band I will spend some time with a pencil and graph paper tonight.   Yes, I admit this is a delaying tactic as I must return to the ecru queen stitches and finish off the tudor roses in the floral band :-(
A new venture for a new year is contained in this box.

I hope to make a quilted top for our blanket box -  the current one is very old and the fabric has not stood up to the heat of the sunlight it receives.  What is more this project will use up a lot of the small cotton fabrics that currently occupy space in my stash cupboard.   I can think of a lot more interesting objects to fill that space!
Tomorrow I plan to get sewing again - the fabric is cut out ready to stitch so it shouldn't take me too long.   As I don't need to go back to work until next week I am determined to make good use of this free time but the HD3QBEM insists that she wants to go and see Judi Dench in "Philomena" with me so I may be persuaded to abandon the sewing machine.  What a luxurious feeling this is - looking forward to the free time of the next four days.  

So from a warm and summery New Zealand, the HD3QBEM and I send you all good wishes for a

Happy New Year