Thursday, December 30, 2010

What I Want to Sew Round-Up

I have my brand new sewing machine. . . what am I going to sew? Even though I'm a beginner I've been having a lot of fun looking around at other peoples blogs and websites for those must-so tutorials I've never had more than a cursory glance at before. It's all so exciting! and a bit scary! 

So what's in my sewing future? 

This Super Simple Nightie at SewMamaSew
The stunning Gathered Clutch at Noodlehead 
The Simple Reversible Bag at Very Purple Person 
This Simple Party Clutch also at SewMamaSew
Amy Butler's Blossom Shoulder Bag once again at SewMamaSew 
Again at SewMamaSew, this Ponytail Scarf

And much more besides! I think some of these are at the moment just a bit beyond my abilities, despite the 'Simple' label on most of them. But we'll see!! 

Is there anything you think is a must-sew tutorial out there? 

That's all for now,


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Very Crafty Christmas

The presents are all unwrapped, the fridge is being slowly emptied of leftovers and although the tree is still up, I've been enjoying the post-Christmas holiday of sun, drinks (though not to many), eats and family time. It seems that this year those I love have latched onto my passion for all things crafty and many of the gifts I recieved reflected that. I thought I'd show off my favourites, crafty and non-crafty! I'm feeling very spoilt right about now. . .

These cute as and super comfy slippers. I actually got them for myself in the Boxing Day sales, but with a giftcard from my Uncle, so I'm counting them as a present. 

This vintage floral clutch purse. I love love love it, it's so pretty. I really needed a clutch just for those occasions when a bag feels like to much, but I can't really lug around my gigantic wallet which is stuffed full of cards and coins and everything but the kitchen sink. It's actually exactly the same one I featured in this post, good spotting mum!

Some measuring cups and spoons, which will make a welcome addition to my flat kitchen this year. It's amazing how many little things you need for good baking, although I've always managed to make do. Now I just need a rolling pin. . . . 
Also a container of Mod Podge, which I only recently became aware was even available in New Zealand! It's a craft glue and sealer which I've seen innovative bloggers do just about everything with, from coasters to fabric covered shoes! 

My brother gave me this absolute tome of a book (over 300 pages!), I don't think I'll ever need a baking cookbook again!! It's brilliant. Allyson Gofton is a cooking institution here in NZ and her recipes are practical for the home and pretty fool proof. Up until now I've only had several different editions of Edmonds Cookbook, which is also an NZ institution, but of a very different type - it's a slim edition covering those need to know recipes in all genres and traditionally given upon leaving home. I think this new edition to my bookshelf will quickly become well thumbed! 

My beautiful friend Becky made me this absolutely stunning quilted bag. It's amazing, I love it to pieces, her sewing skills are so incredible in comparison to mine!! 

And now for the cherry on the cake. . . .

This is my new baby, a Bernette 66 sewing machine by Bernina. I still can't believe I have my own sewing machine!! I've played on it a little bit to make sure I know how to work it and I have to admit, my skills have already improved by about 10 times working on a machine less than 30 years old. . . although that's probably more the machine than me. It's a bit daunting. . .I've always been a little scared of the sewing machine. But now I have no excuses and I can see 2011 being a bit of a learning curve. But more on that in the New Year!! 

I hope you were all as spoilt at Christmas as I was! 

That's all for now


Monday, December 27, 2010

The Final Poppies Post

After over a month of waiting my poppies have finally come back from the framers. They did a beautiful job, I really can't believe that I stitched the piece it looks so wonderful! I don't think I can really do it justice with a photo. 

It's now hanging in pride of place and will be for many years to come. Mum made me sign and date the back so "one day when you're famous I can say I have a Sarah ******* hanging on my wall". I pointed out if I'm ever a famous textile artist (unlikely) that she's my mum, and can have all the pieces she wants!

That's all for now,


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Baking: Malt Treats

Lately I've been doing some Christmas baking. My mum works full time right up until Christmas and as I work an evening shift it means I'm free during the day to do some of the things that traditionally she would do. I admit, it makes me feel a bit old! and shows how my place in my parents home has changed as I get older. 

Anyway, I thought I'd share with you the recipe's for some of my favourite Kiwi Christmas treats. A Kiwi Christmas is very different from those in the Northern hemisphere and my favourite treats are chilled and perfect for a 30 degree (celcius) day. Nevertheless, they make a tasty treat at any time of year really! These are easy recipes from easy to find ingredients - you'll probably have most of them in the cupboard already. I haven't included photos of the method, just the finished product, but honestly it's so easy you don't need them!

Lolly Log
You'll need:
  • 110 grams of melted butter
  • 1/2 tin (200 grams) of condensed milk 
  • Dessicated coconut
  • Vanilla essence 
  • 1 packet of plain malt biscuits (girl guide biscuits, malt milk or wine biscuits are a servicable alternative)
  • 1 packet of fruit puff lollies/sweets/candy. This is the only one that may cause some difficulty for non-Kiwi attempts, as I've never seen the same type of lolly overseas. They are similar to dry marshmallow or confectionary foam. A picture can be seen here. If no substitute can be found, marshmallows can be used just as well although will give a different texture and flavour from the traditional.  
  • Baking paper

To make:
  • Add condensed milk to melted butter and mix well until fully combined
  • Crush biscuits until crumbed (a food processor is the easiest way, adding 2-3 biscuits at a time)
  • Add crushed biscuits to butter mixture with a few drops of vanilla essence. Mix well until forms a crumbly dough. 
  • Chop fruit puffs or similar into halves or quarters according to own preference. Combine with dough. This may not look as if it's combining well - don't worry! Just combine as well as possible. 
  • Tip mixture out onto baking paper and form into a rough log shape. Cover the log in dessicated coconut
  • Roll the baking paper around the log and refrigerate for at least two hours. Slice to serve. The log will keep well for weeks in the fridge! 

Marshmallow Balls 

You'll need:
  •  Half a tin (200g) of condensed milk
  • 1 packet of malt biscuits (or similar, see last recipe)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 1 packet of marshmellows 
  • Vanilla essence 
  • Dessicated coconut
To Make: 
  • Melt the condensed milk, brown sugar, cocoa, butter and vanilla essence together, stirring constantly, but do not bring to the boil. 
  • Crush biscuits (again, a food processor is useful here) and combine with the melted mixture until forms a stiff dough.
  • Break of small parts of the dough (approx two teaspoons) and flatten in hand (having wet hands really helps here). Roll flattened dough around a marshmallow and into a ball. 
  • Roll each ball in dessicated coconut
  • Refrigerate for at least two hours until hard. Again, these will keep easily in the fridge for weeks.

Once again, Merry Christmas everyone! I hope your enjoying your friends, family and a bit of Christmas craft. 

That's all for now,

Summer Reading Challenge Update: No change :P 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Things I Like Friday: Christmas

I admit I do love Christmas. There's just something about it. . . last year I spent my Christmas on the other side of the world with my wonderful man and his family. Nowadays I can't decide what I like better, the traditional white Christmas I had in France and the UK or the typical Kiwi summer Christmas. I think I'll just have to alternate in between! I thought I'd share a little bit of what my parents home looks like at Christmas. Many of our decorations were handpainted by my late grandmother, who was a talented folk artist. 

The small pieces of cross stitch were both done by me several years ago now. The flowers are various types of lilly, the white being the Christmas Lilly that is traditional here and for me smells like Christmas even more than pine does. 

More important than the decorations is remembering the reason for the season. It's a time to thank God for our blessings, our family, our friends and our lives in him. I am truly thankful for the people I have in my life, the abilities and passions God has given me. Craft being one of them! 
God Bless you all and may you have a safe and merry Christmas



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stocking Up

Yesterday I returned to the city for the day to pick up the keys for my home for next year, do some Christmas shopping, catch up with friends and the like. It was a fantastic day and great to get "out and about"! One of the highlights was a stop off at Spotlight, which is a homeware and hobby store. Unbeknown to me before I arrived, they were having a wool clearance sale with a huge variety going for a dollar a ball. I'd been meaning to get maybe 3 balls of wool for a small project and I ended up with 13!! At $1 a ball though, how could I resist?!? I think I now officially have a wool stash. Which is both exciting and kind of scary, my craft stash has never been huge but lately it's been steadily increasing in ways that haven't over-extended my students budget. 

By luck of the draw the ones I picked out turned out to all be by the same brand, Moda Vera. The one on the bottom left here is actually the same kind of wool I used for my man's scarf and hat set, just in a different colour. I got between 2-4 balls of each kind here.

I've been cleaning out my childhood room lately and during the weekend managed to free up this crate box (it was full of lego sets I hadn't been able to bear dismantling when I packed away my lego years ago. These days I'm a bit more ruthless and realise that lego can be put back together again). With a quick wipe from a wet cloth its become my new wool stash box. 

I also got something new for myself I just had to share. Remember my post about florals and vintage style? 

This was my buy for the day from Cotton On at Dressmart, which is a mall in Christchurch thats main feature is discount stock chain clothing stores. I love the lace detailing around the shoulders and the modern/vintage mix. For me this is very girly in comparison to how I've dressed for most of my life and the first clothing item I've had by choice since I was 6 that can undeniably be called pink. Just goes to show how tastes change through the years!! I think I'm developing my own style more as I approach the end of my teenage years.

That's all for now, stay tuned tomorrow for a special 'Things I like Friday' post! 


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Writing my recipe file

The other day I did something I've been meaning to do for ages and 'created' my own recipe file. By created I mean I bought a notebook and wrote/glued in all the recipes I've collected and have been gathering dust on numerous scraps of paper and in random computer documents. It was suprisingly hard to find the type of notebook I wanted. . . around 5x7 inches and with a hard cover and binding. Eventually I found what I was looking for by finding a step in the store and investigating the display shelves that are out of most peoples reach. 

I'm one of those people that are naturally organised, so it was nice to finally get rid of all the scraps of paper. Then again, the file itself is somewhat lacking in terms of my usual level of neatness and organisation. I threw the recipes in as I found them, so I've ended up with soups next to desserts next to snacks and the like. But I really don't mind. I'm sure the pages of my favourites will become well thumbed enough that they'll be easy to find. 

Here's a page. On one side Chilli Corn Fritters and on the other Vienna Almonds. The corn fritters I've made so many times now I know them by heart anyway. The almonds are something I only found the other day, in a section of a magazine titled 'edible Christmas gifts to make at home.' Maybe not this year as most of my Christmas gift buying/making has already been done, but it may come in handy for next year. I'm looking forward to filling in a few more pages by then.  ..which reminds me, I must ask my flatmate for her pumpkin cassarole recipe!

That's all for now,

Summer Reading Project Update
Non-fiction read: 2
Fiction read: 1
Currently reading: "The Political Animal" by Jeremy Paxton (non-fiction), "New York" by Edward Rutherfurd (fiction). Yes another historical epic, who knew I was so predictable?!   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sew Crafty Phone Sleeve

In a post not long ago I mentioned that I recently got a new touch screen phone and have been a little scared that I'll scratch the screen when I throw it into my bag alongside keys, pens and numerous other pointy things. Solution. . . a chance to rehash my almost non-existent skills on the sewing machine once again. When it comes to sewing I really am a beginner. I haven't consistently used a sewing machine since intermediate school (non-Kiwi's would generally call it middle school). Still I'm always willing to pull out my mum's 20+ year old machine and give things a go in hopes that it will one day magically translate into real ability! 

I used a cotton print for the exterior in lime green, one of my favourite colours. The interior is light blue fleece, that provides the cushioning that the sleeve was designed for without being to fluffy or heavy. The fabric came from just my local store and I got both pieces on special at a fantastic price, though I now have a heap of both left over!!

As you can see, I've done some top stitching in red to match the red buttons. This was my first attempt at buttonholes, which mum's sewing machine didn't really like very much, but it kind of warmed up to the idea eventually. Luckily you can't tell when its buttoned up just how wonky the holes are. The whole thing is also very forgiving of my far from straight top stitching. I think in retrospect I should have used velcro instead of buttons, more for practical use now than ease of creation then - doing up the buttons takes a wee while! I think it also would have been better of with one strap instead of two. Nevertheless it's a truly practical project and I've used it every day since I made it.

I adapted the design from the tutorial here. The Cottage Home is a fantastic blog, and her tutorials are always so easy to follow!

That's all for now,

Summer Reading Project Update:
Non-fiction read: 1
Fiction read: 1
Currently reading: "A Land of Two Halves," by Joe Bennett (non-fiction). A hitch-hiking journey around New Zealand by a favourite newspaper columnist/"travel" writer of mine that I've been meaning to read for over a year. I wouldn't really call it travel writing, it's more beautiful and brutally honest descriptive prose. I'd also recommend his book "Where Underpants Come From," in which he traces a pack of underwear bought at a discount retail store here in NZ back through the manufacturing process to a cotton field in China, while analysing how such a phenomenon came to happen in the first place and the new economic dominance of the Chinese industry. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My Creative Space: Christmas Stitching

A few Christmas pieces are starting to come together. Is it really December already? It must be, as I start doing the real late night shift at work as store opening hours extend. 

This will probably be the first and last hint of Christmas craft I'm doing this year, as much of it is destined for people I know are regular readers! 

You can see more creative spaces here

For creative space visitors who may have seen my progress on the knitted hat and scarf set, you can see it completed in my last post.

That's all for now,


Book Update: Still going through The Making of Modern Britain

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mens Scarf and Hat Set

It's finished! I've been working on this set now for what seems like forever (although in reality is actually only a month or two). They've both turned out beautifully and I've taught myself a few new skills in the process. What I've learnt from this project is 

- Purling
- Reading a knit pattern 
- Decreasing 
- Ribbing
- Adding a Fringe to a knit scarf 

I've finished them right in time too, as where my man lives is fast dropping in temperature as the depths of the European winter approach. Just as it's reaching 25-30 degree days here!

I know that these photos don't really do the set justice as a photo of someone modeling them would. But I'm still a bit cautious about showing my face in a setting where anybody can access the photos! So this will have to do :) At the very least they show how beautiful the colours are, although that's down to the wool rather than me. 

The scarf is a simple knit/purl alternate rows until appropriate length. The hat is No.24 Knitted Family Cap (Mens) in Patons Book 483: Winter Warmers. Both are knit with Moda Vera "Athena" green yarn on 6mm needles and it took 4 and a half balls of wool for the two.

That's all for now,