Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Lots of New Stash!

'Huh?' I hear you say . . 'Sarah weren't you meant to be not spending money on craft?' And I would say 'you would be right. . . and I didn't!'

So where do the new things come from? Firstly my brother just came home from adventuring around the UK and bought back presents! Including this absolutely beautiful sewing box!

Hopefully it will replace my old portable cross stitch carrier. . which is a tool box, literally. He also gave me this wee pile of goodies:

A tartan hat and scarf from Scotland, along with the adorable wee hedgehog and a sweet scissor fob/pincushion. The cupcake cookbook was actually a 'just because' present from my mum, isn't she lovely?! 

My winnings from family Rugby World Cup betting have also been put to good use, at my hometown's annual bookarama. It's an AMAZING secondhand book sale, one of the biggest in New Zealand. I've missed it the last two years and I wasn't going to let it happen this year!

I picked up these three cookbooks. Complete Comfort Food is out of print and I've been looking for it for nearly 8 months since flicking through my flatmates gorgeous copy. 

These were my craft book selections. The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing I would recommend to anyone with a sewing machine, it really does have absolutely everything you need. And the Cross Stitch Design book looked intriguing, I'm looking forward to going through it. Maybe you'll see some patterns designed by me in future?

Finally my assorted other picks. . . 

Dawn on a Distant Shore and Monday's Child are ones I've read before and enjoyed enough to be more than happy to pick up my own copy. Musn't Grumble and Hannah's List are by two of my favourite authors, so have been set aside for upcoming plane travel reading. I've been meaning to read Middlemarch for a while and I can never set down a good classic that I haven't already got a copy of. And I thought Europe on a shoestring might come in handy. Not a bad haul all in all! Especially as they were all $1-2 each! If only I had time to go back on Saturday for their $6 bring-your-own-bag closing. I could have easily picked more, but was sticking to budget.

Finally just wanted to mention that there's a mystery stitchy giveaway going on at Old Ragged Threads for Elisa's 40th birthday. . So shuffle on over there and get your entry in!

That's all for now,


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Baking: Almond Orange Florentines & Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart

This weekend has been a busy one for me, heading back to my hometown for Mum's birthday (it was a big one, but I won't tell you which) and to help host the extended family for a party. And to watch the big match, All Blacks vs. France. If you thought this crafty kiwi girl was immune to World Cup madness you'd be sadly mistaken, it was a great game and I even made a little bit of money in the family sweepstakes. $13 on a $2 bet (we're real big time hehe)!

Of course, extended family meals call for some baking. My contribution was two batches of basic one-saucepan chocolate brownie (one walnut, one raspberry and white choc) and a fantastic Garlic and Parmesan Pull Apart Bread. Sorry about the photo – I didn't take my camera home so this was a quick one snapped on my phone before it disappeared. 

The recipe was adapted from this one at The Pastry Affair and several family members have asked for it!

Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread

  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for greasing)
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 3 ½ cups plain flour (plus extra for dusting)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes or 2 Tbsp fresh, washed parsley finely chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic or 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Stir together yeast and water, let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Mix in the olive oil, salt and flour until forms a soft dough. Tip out onto a clean surface lightly dusted with flour and knead for 7-10 minutes until dough is elastic. Transfer dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a clean tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 1½-2 hours until doubled in size.
In a small bowl combine butter, parsley and garlic and mix well.
Punch down the dough and tear off pieces (original recipe called for very small pieces but I went larger to have more small bun sized), roll into a ball and layer in the bottom of a lightly oiled deep ovenproof dish. If doing small pieces with multiple layers, sprinkle parmesan cheese between layers. If doing larger pieces (I had 1 ½ layers) sprinkle over the top. Recover the dish with plastic wrap and tea towel and allow to rise until doubled in size (25-30 mins). Preheat oven to 175C and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bread is golden brown.

This week I also made some Almond Orange Florentines from a recipe at TwoSpoons, my favourite local foodie blog. I didn't place enough trust in the recipe and should have layered them even more thinly, so they burnt slightly around the edges. But they still tasted fantastic and make a GREAT light breakfast, so I'll be making them again! 

That's all for now,

I'm linking up to Weekend Baking at a Spoon full of Sugar and some other great blogs!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

An Ornie and an Update

My first love is cross stitching really. I think it always will be . . . . stitching seems to lift stress off my shoulders like nothing else does. Anyways!

I've just made a start on an ornie, since its coming up to Christmas. I thought it would be a nice tradition if I made hubby-to-be and I an ornament for each year of our married life. Technically we won't be married this Christmas. . . but I think 4 days afterwards is close enough! 

Obviously my choices were restricted by my ongoing Project 0, so the pattern is a freebie (which I'd been wanting to stitch anyway, find it here), the linen is from my stash and so are enough colours to get me started. The remaining colours might have to be a project exception? Hmmm. I'm loving stitching on linen again instead of aida, haven't done that in aggggggeess. Just picking it up again made me go 'why has it been so long!' I'm stitching this on 28ct Antique White by Zweighart, just because it's what I had. Not sure how the white on white is going to turn out for definition, maybe if I backstitch the edge in a light grey? We'll see.

Here's a progress update on Calm Waters. . .I'm just giving you a partial shot though because I don't want to give everything away! Don't you just love those mountains? I'm closing in on a quarter done. 

That's all for now my stitching friends,


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Awesome baking with hideous photos

Yep, I apologise for how bad these photos are. My camera does not like night time shoots, but I'm a night time baker and all to often by the morning whatever I've been baking is all gone. So it's night time or never!

Lately my concentration has been on quick and comforting as I work through the last 5 weeks of my degree. 5 minute chocolate cake? Has to be a winner. Those 5 minutes include the washing up.

There's a heap of recipes online for this one, but here's what I used, a bit of a mix of a few of them. 

 Better photos of similar via pinterest here and here

5 Minute Chocolate Cake (serves one, or two if you're really on a diet).

  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 ½ Tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • ¼ tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 Tbsp oil

Measure all of the dry ingredients into a microwave safe coffee mug and mix, add wet ingredients and mix well until combined. Microwave for 1 minute (or longer/shorter depending on your microwave and mug, mine took 1 min, 10 seconds). Note that the mixture will double in size, so make sure it's a tall enough mug! Serve with a spoon of whipped cream/ice cream or just by itself. Best eaten straight away, as I've heard it tends to go rubbery if kept overnight. 

Last night I had such a craving for home made bread, but it was already 7pm, I still had class work to get done for the evening and there was no way I was going to eat at 10pm after letting bread go through two risings. Solution = Irish Soda Bread. Again this recipe is a bit of a mix of those I found online, using vinegar and water instead of buttermilk because it's what I had around. This made for a very dense loaf but it was fantastic dipped in soup.

No Buttermilk Irish Soda Bread (makes a medium sized loaf) 

  • 4 cups flour (I used half plain white, half wholemeal. Don't use bakers/bread flour, it contains to much gluten for this recipe).
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • 2 Tbsp (white or cider) vinegar
Preheat oven to 200 C. Combine dry ingredients and mix. Mix water and vinegar. Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix in wet until forms a soft dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead very lightly for a max of two minutes. Shape into a round approx 1 ½ inches high and place on a greased baking tray. Using a sharp knife cut an 'X' shape into the top of the round. Bake for 40 minutes, reducing temp to 180C for last 15 mins. Glaze while hot with 1 Tbsp softened butter if desired. 

So there you have it, two quick and easy recipes for when you're short on time but still craving homemade. 

I'm linking up here

That's all for now,


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finished Unfinished Bag

I felt like doing some sewing the other day and the perfect project came to mind for using up some stash material. A bag of the same design I did earlier in the year, from Cath Kidston's 'Sew'. With a slight difference though, this time I gave it a lining, I think it looks much better with one, don't you? 

You can see how my sewing has improved since the start of the year. Then I would have had no idea how to even do a lining! My lines are straighter and the whole thing was a lot faster. I whipped this up in about 3 hours, including tracing and cutting the pattern. 

But it's not finished. . . you might have noticed that the strap is connected to the bag and it has no closure at the top. Why not? Because of Project 0 . . . I need three buttons to finish it off and I don't have any that will work! Of course I won't be buying any, so I'll check out my mum's button box next time I visit. 

Apart from that this project was entirely FREE. The outer fabric was an offcut from curtains mum made in the land before time and I stole from her fabric box when I got my sewing machine at Christmas. The lining is from an old shirt of my dad's that I rescued from a bag of old clothes to go to the Salvation Army. Yay for repurposing! And I got 13 buttons off the shirt while I was deconstructing it to add to my own collection. . to bad they were to small to use for this!


That's all for now,


Check me out partying hard here

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another blog award and things!

The lovely Alison at Heavenly Handmades recently gave me a blog award! Thank you Alison! It was the Versatile Blogger Award. 

Usually you'd pass it on to 15 other bloggers but as I just did the passing on thing recently I'll just tell you 7 more things about me! Hmmm . . .

1. My visa got approved yesterday, so I'm officially allowed to get married now!
2. I love water skiing, but hate (am even slightly afraid of) snow skiing. I think this is because of a bad experience with an instructor as a child.
3. My guilty pleasure TV watch is New Zealand's Next Top Model, but I don't like any other countries. . . maybe because the NZ version is less polished than everyone elses.
4. Today I went to The Help. . .only to find it's apparently not out yet at our cinema
5.My mirror absolutely refuses to stick to my bedroom wall. My original mirror fell of the wall 20+ times (and didn't break!) so I swapped it for a lighter one. . now this one won't stick to the wall either.
6. For 14 years of my life I refused to wear pink
7. I've owned mod podge since Christmas and still haven't done anything with it.

In other news I also recently had my crochet butterflies featured on Sugar & Spice. . . and Everything Nice. Thank you Stephanie! 


That's all for now, tune in later in the week for my latest. . . a finished-unfinished bag.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Saving the Dates

Today I dropped fiance off at the airport, sending him back to Europe. It was bittersweet. . Always tough saying goodbye to each other, but easier knowing that the separation this time will be as short as 7 weeks and then that's it, we don't have to say goodbye like that any more. The end of our separate lives is something we've both been waiting years for and it feels so good to finally have it within sight. I think one of the (surprisingly many) advantages of being a very long distance Christian couple is that unlike most, we've lived in the same house for months at a time before we're married, as it's unpractical to do it any other way when we're visiting each other. For the last few months he's been an extra flatmate and I know what it's like to have him underfoot! And I'll miss that now he's gone. . . cooking for two instead of one, sharing a washbasket to save on space, even the shortage of electrical sockets. Soon!

We've just sent out an email Save the Date for our first ceremony. It was packed full of info about our different weddings so I made up this wee graphic on picnik to go at the top to brighten things up a bit.

The 'unsurprisingly' is a bit of an in-joke with family and friends. We're one of those couples that even when we had only just started dating people just knew we would be getting married one day, even if they didn't know us very well. So our engagement didn't come as a surprise to many!

I was going to get stuck into an essay this afternoon, but instead watched the start of the Rugby World Cup, went to Spotlight with a friend (didn't buy anything, remember Project 0), did some stitching and cut up some stash fabric for a new project. You'll be seeing it soon!

That's all for now,


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some Simple Butterflies

I told you I wanted to try out some amigurumi . . . I was hunting on Ravelry for patterns and got distracted by these simple butterflies and decided to try them out. I don't think they really count as amigurumi, but it's a good start!

I can't think of a use for them yet, but I'm sure they'll come in handy. I wish I knew some very little girls, because with a few more they'd be an excellent mobile. If nothing else, it's good crochet practice, although I didn't learn any new stitches. 


Of course, this was a Project 0 project (read more about my crafting for no cost journey here). The pattern was free on Ravelry. I used scrap yarn from my mum's stash. . . I mean really scrap yarn, this is what the blue looked like before I used it . .

and the crochet hook was mine, so total cost was the aimed for 0!! Got to love it.

That's all for now,


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Weekend Baking: Honey and Almond Brownie

So I wasn't going to do any weekend baking this weekend . . . but then I saw the post over at A Spoon Full of Sugar and couldn't resist trying out the honey and almond bars, although I'd call them more like brownies. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery! 

They were pretty awesome, though I wouldn't recommend them unless you really are a honey fan! A recipe to be written into my recipe book with utmost care I think. By the way, for all you bakers out there, I just found this amazing conversions page. I especially love the cup to metric and imperial conversions table.

This is my first Project 0 project. Cost breakdown: As I'm currently on holiday and staying with my parents, all the everyday ingredients were from their cupboard and I managed to throw the almonds into mum's shopping trolley. So free, even if cheekily so :) A successful first project – feel free to follow me on my crafting for no cost journey.

I'll be linking up in the usual places.

That's all for now,


P.S We just received this stunning cookbook as an engagement present. I can't wait to try it out, especially the microwave mozzarella

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Introducing Project 0

I'm embarking on a new project. I mentioned in my last post that with wedding costs my crafting budget is getting tighter. It wasn't very big in the first place, but it's one of those things that often goes under the header un-essential costs. I craft for pleasure, not out of necessity.

Don't get me wrong, I do work part time and I'm not a poverty line student, but with all the extra costs associated with the wedding and the travel involved, there is some hefty budgeting going on. The solution? My new project. Project 0, in which I endeavour to continue my crafty life without spending money on it. I hope that you'll join me and follow my progress! 

 Image Source: here

The rules:
  • I can't spend money on craft or crafting related supplies until I get married on 29th December 2011
  • I can accept gifts, but cannot ask for them. In other words I can't beg fiancé to 'just buy me this one scrap of material,' but if fiancé asks something like 'Christmas is coming up, what would you like' then I'm allowed to ask for crafting related stuff.
  • I can of course use all existing supplies I have in my stash/other things that I can get hold of at no cost.
  • THE EXCEPTIONS: Legitimate wedding related craft that is going to save us money if we do it ourselves. Legitimate Christmas gifts that cannot possibly be made from what I have in my stash according to someone other than myself (fiancé, you guys!). The Just Cross Stitch 2011 Ornament issue, which I already have on pre-order for its release later this month.
  • Baking is also a partial exception, as it's often a cost-saver in itself. BUT I will be cutting out fancy ingredients that I wouldn't normally have in the cupboard. 

From now until the end of the challenge all my finished craft posts will have a cost breakdown, so you can see that I'm sticking to the rules. You'll find me linking up this post and all my Project 0 projects here

Wish me luck!