Friday, 27 February 2009

That's not a zucchini ...

Well, Mr Fudge came home last night after spending two days on a friend's rural property. He was not alone. He had a box of goodies.

I know, it's just a zucchini, isn't it? Take another look ...

That's a reasonably sized pumpkin trembling away in the corner. This is not a zucchini to trifle with. It measures 19 inches (48 cm) and I am assured by Mr Fudge that it is organically grown - no nasty hormones to beef it up. The farmer simply left it for a few days before picking and was staggered when he discovered how much it had grown. Jack and your beanstalk, eat your heart out.

Which brings me to a dilemma - what to do with it? A quick scan through my recipes came up with a highly recommended zucchini slice, which I have made before, so I know it will work just fine. Here's the recipe:

Zucchini Slice - serves 15 (!!)


5 eggs
150g (1 cup) self-raising flour, sifted
375g zucchini, grated
1 large onion, finely chopped
200g rindless bacon, chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 30 x 20cm lamington pan. Beat the eggs in a large bowl until combined. Add the flour and beat until smooth, then add zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese and oil and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

So that takes care of about a quarter of the zucchini, and the rest will go into some sort of ragout, along with the other vegetables from the farm.

But not the figs, of course. We had some last night with ice cream and honey. Died and went to heaven. There were about a dozen large figs, so there are plenty left to make a fig tart. Obviously I'm going to be busy little cook this weekend!

This afternoon I completed a peasant dress, size 3. Again I used the beautiful Anna Maria Horner fabric from her Good Folks collection. I really enjoyed making this little dress which I will be putting it up for sale in my Etsy shop tonight.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

What a glorious mess!

After viewing a member of BrisStyle's pristine work room on her blog, I foolishly suggested that we should drop everything, pick up our cameras and take some shots of our work areas, regardless of the terrible mess it may be in. No cheating, no sweeping piles of fabric behind the door, etc.

Well, at least one person took me seriously and posted up an image of a very respectable work area. Considering she does beautiful woodwork, this is pretty good. If you don't believe me, go and take a look at Eliza's blog. Or take a look at Ali of Charlie and Grace's room - spotless.

I, on the other hand, am in serious need of professional help, as you will observe.

This is my sewing area and I have become adept at not getting tangled up in all the electrical cords on the floor. So far, it doesn't look too bad, does it?

Here (above) is my cutting table - quite long - with a good 30 inches of space left free to cut out garments, quilts, etc. Still looking not too bad. But lurking under the table ...

... lies all this. My philosophy is out of sight, bla, bla. And lastly,

inside the built-in wardrobe lies my quilting fabric stash, or part of it. The rest is somewhere in the garage, still waiting to be unpacked after our move two and a half years ago.

I am so relieved to have my dark secret out in the open at last. I daren't do the big clean-up, because I know exactly where everything is and I love being surrounded by my lovely, familiar mess.

Trish of Trishalan Designs has entered into the spirit of the untouched home studio with vigour, although her very tidy shop studio lets her down a little, I'm afraid. And Miriam of Bubba Chenille gets bonus points for moving some of her work out into the dining room. Well done!

Shadow Shot Sunday # 12

I missed my dose of Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday last week, so I have some catching up to do.

This is a shot taken early on a Sunday morning at a friend's beach house, way before the activities of the day began. Early morning is my favourite part of the day, when the air is still and the birds sing their welcoming songs.
Now hop over to Hey Harriet to see some really beautiful Shadow Shot Sunday images.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

How many Surprise Birthday Parties can a girl have?

Now, I have a good friend who had one of those Big O birthdays way back on 2 January. Around that time her husband threw a surprise birthday party for her at their beach house, but being the holiday period, many of her friends were away, including us. From all accounts we missed out on a magnificent day.

So on Tuesday our little group of eight quilters (Loose Threads) who have been together for many years now, decided to throw her a surprise lunch of our own, as it was the first time we had met as a group since before Christmas. The guest of honour had brought along an apple and a few cracker biscuits for lunch, so she was quite chuffed when she saw the spread set out on the table. Who needs cracker biscuits when you can have this?

By now Birthday Girl thought she had seen the end of her prolonged birthday celebrations, but little did she know that the very next day yet another surprise birthday lunch had been organised by a larger group of quilters (30). Our friend was the founder of our group, Jems Quilt Sitters, so at our first meeting of the year we could not let the opportunity of a party slip through our fingers. I am kicking myself that I left my camera at home, because each member had created a fabric postcard for the birthday girl and some of them were little works of art. Other members took photos, so I'll get some copies and post them in a future blog.

But it hasn't all been parties and celebrations. I have managed to make a couple of dresses for my Etsy shop. I received a shipment of the latest Anna Maria Horner fabric line, Good Friends, and was absolutely delighted when I opened the package and saw the beautiful colour range. So I made a knot dress.

I had been procrastinating over a little dress I had cut out last week, so I decided it was time to get it put together.

And so another year begins in earnest - can it be almost the end of February already?

Sunday, 15 February 2009

A catch-up and a christening

Most Saturdays are busy times, but yesterday was particularly so. The much anticipated meet-up with members of BrisStyle was organised for 11.00 am at the Pandemonium Cafe at Paddington in Brisbane. When a group of like-minded creative people get together, the air is filled with friendliness and enthusiasm. The group is expanding in leaps and bounds from our first meeting almost a year ago. About ten people were at that first meeting and now our membership is heading towards 70. There amongst the familiar faces were scattered some new members, but in no time it was as though we had known each other forever.

I always look forward to seeing first-hand the beautiful works created by our group and I was sorry to have to leave before many had arrived.

However, it was time to get home to quickly change clothes, make a final check of the christening gown and drive to our latest grandchild's baptism. The gown was made by my mother for our own children and now it has been worn by her great-grandchildren. She would have been chuffed.

The number one lesson learned was that perhaps I should have had my glasses at the ready before I attempted to undo the tiniest buttons it is legal to sell.

Excuse me, Father, you're going to do what?

I don't believe he did that. Look at my hair - it's ruined!

There was time enough afterwards to chase some birds ...

before Miss G was arrested ...

and grounded.

It was then time for some celebratory food, so it was off to the children's favourite eatery.

I know as a child I had some pretty peculiar food fetishes, like peanut butter and Vegemite sandwiches - mixed together. But nothing prepared for the sight of our nearly four-year-old granddaughter continuously taking spoonfuls of chocolate ice cream, alternating with sips of pumpkin soup.

It was compelling, in a horrible sort of way. I suddenly lost my appetite.

It didn't seem to affect Miss G who was on a chocolate high, but the guest of honour was far from impressed and took to her stroller, fingers firmly in place.

It was the end of her Big Day Out.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Bushfire Appeal


I was thinking of making a new line of children's drawstring bags for my Etsy shop when the Victorian bushfires made everything going on in my little world shrink to insignificance. Even as I write the death toll is steadily growing and the survivors are doing it tough.

The generosity and public outpouring of people not only in Australia but around the world has been staggering. The international cricket match played yesterday and last night between Australia and New Zealand raised over $6 million. That amount was made up of player match fees, ticket revenues and sponsorship and crowd donations. There will be more major fundraising events on television in the coming weeks, no doubt.

I felt so helpless as an individual, but after researching several options (donate proceeds of Etsy sales, put items up for auction, etc) I decided that I would prefer to make something which would reach a small child and perhaps put a smile on his/her face. So after discovering Beyond Pink and Blue's blog, I knew this it exactly what I was looking for.

Having made the decision, I immediately cut out the fabric for the drawstring bags, put one up in my Etsy shop in an effort to attract attention to the bushfire appeal, and will be sending the balance off to Beyond Pink and Blue, along with a few other items.

I had to turn off the news last night, as the scenes were too distressing. Let's hope those poor people can rebuild their lives and I am sure with the help of the general public, they will see that life can be good.

Monday, 9 February 2009

We can all help

Having survived a bushfire when our children were little, I know only too well the fear and horror that confronts these poor victims. It's something you never forget.

There are ways we can all help and here are a few sites:

St Vincent de Paul Society
The Red Cross

For a more comprehensive list, go to Pro Bono Australia where you will find many organisations offering assistance.

At this very early stage, money is needed desperately, as you can imagine.

If you have any handmade items such as quilts, soft toys, clothing, etc, pop over to Meet me at Mikes where you will find an address for a drop-off point.

Another very worthy cause is the Rainbow Comfort Packs which you can investigate by selecting the button at the side of my blog. I have a quilt and some children's clothing which I will be sending down. Please assist if you can - every little bit helps.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday # 11

It's Shadow Shot Sunday again and I am cursing that I didn't take my camera to the Leonard Cohen Concert on Tuesday evening. There he was posing for me all night, with a wonderful dramatic shadow of his hat over his face. Mind you, a young lass in the row in front of us spent the whole evening watching the performance through her digital camera. Maybe I should have asked her to send me one of her thousands of shots. Some people don't get the fact that a live performance means occasionally looking at the real person rather than through a lens. Still, she is now smugly sitting at home surrounded by marvellous shots, while I sit here with none!

So there I was yesterday, blithely looking out of the window, daydreaming instead of working on the computer when something caught my eye. A stick insect was swaying across the top of the fence, so I grabbed my camera and ran outside, hoping he would still be there. Luckily he obliged and posed so nicely for me. As it turned out, the fence cast interesting small shadows across the texture of the timber. If you visit Hey Harriet's blog you will find some truly wonderful Shadow Shot Sunday images - they are well worth a look.

Walking back to the house, I passed the garden tap which looked sad and forlorn. We are coming out of a drought which lasted for several years and we have not been permitted to use our garden hoses for so long that I had forgotten that it was even there. Much of the garden has been watered by bucket and quite often it's recycled water from the laundry. Fortunately here in Brisbane the summer has been quite comfortable. I wish I could say the same for other parts of the country.

To the north of the State the population is being devastated by floods. The poor folk have only just finished mopping up and the floods have returned for the second time within days.

By terrible contrast, in the southern-most part of the country, the cities of Melbourne and Adelaide are suffering extremely high temperatures. Today Melbourne hit the highest temperature on record for the city - 46.4 degrees Celsius, or 115.52 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, there are terrible bush fires which are never far away in such heat.

It all makes the northern hemisphere snow look very tempting indeed.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

New York 1969

AS MENTIONED in an earlier post, I discovered some long-lost slides taken of New York in September 1969. I was on my way home to Australia to be married after spending a wonderful year in Toronto. I was due to fly out in a week, so my brother and I took a whirlwind tour of New York, Pennsylvania and Washington DC.

I had long mourned the loss of these slides which I thought had been swept up in some over-zealous house cleaning exercise. So you can imagine my delight when last year I discovered them in a dusty old box. (Memo to myself: dust more regularly.) Thank goodness for modern technology. I was able to scan them through my colour printer and I admit to spending endless hours pouring over them, marvelling at the fashion and at the vehicles.

These two display windows were in the Rockefeller Centre. You can tell I was a dressmaker's daughter - I had to take a photo of the latest Singer Sewing Machine for my mother to drool over. Such modern technology!

Time for a quick Breakfast at Tiffany's pose. Ah, good to recall that I was a Magazine Queen even back then. My arm to this day automatically goes into magazine carrying mode.

I don't know if Jack Dempsey's Restaurant still exists. Oh, what a shame. I just Googled it and discovered it closed in 1974. Anyway, my brother Anthony and I had a great meal there one evening. I swear they served up a whole side of beef on the plate, with an Idaho Potato balanced precariously on top. I hate to admit this, but if my memory isn't playing tricks, I seem to recall that we squeezed in some dessert.

It was then a quick sprint to see the Broadway production of the Tony Award winning play of the year, The Great White Hope starring a very young James Earl Jones. I daren't tell my grandson (Darth Junior) that many years later he provided the voice of Darth Vader.

I had forgotten that in the Sixties one dressed to the nines to hit the town.

Mayor John Lindsay was up for re-election ...

... and life was so innocent pre-September 11.

I have returned to New York on more than one occasion with my husband and children and have loved the experience, but there's nothing quite like that first time in New York.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Something for nothing

It's true - there are some things in the world that are free. Take for instance the fabulous giveaway on the BrisStyle blog this month.

This delightful little bird could be yours, courtesy of edward and lilly.
So why don't you hop across to BrisStyle and see how it can be yours.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday # 10

I don't recall reading anywhere in Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday rules that it has to be a new image, so here is my blast from the past. Why don't you hop over to Hey Harriet to see some more up-to-date shadow shots?
I had been living in Canada for a year and had just finished working at a boys' summer camp and was about to return to Australia to get married. It was September 1969 (!!) and before I flew home my brother, who was teaching in Toronto, suggested we take a whirlwind trip around New York and Pennsylvania.
The first lunar landing occurred on 20 July that year, while I was working at the summer camp. A television was brought in specially for the occasion so that we could all witness the event. Just as Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, a little boy in the assembly hall spied a large moth and there was a rush of kids to see it fluttering against the window. Priceless history.
Anyway, there on exhibition in New York was Neil Armstrong's space suit, which we found much more exciting than a moth.
I had lost my colour slides of that trip to New York for many years and had long suspected that they had thrown it out in some over-enthusiastic clean-up. But last year, nearly forty years after they were taken, they miraculously turned up in a dusty old box. I converted the slides on my nifty colour printer/scanner and will put up some of the other shots during the coming week, as they are a priceless time capsule of a city I have loved and re-visited over the years.