Thursday, October 20, 2016

Five Things I'm Loving Right Now :)

I'm super busy in the studio at the moment, sewing projects that I can't show you just yet, so I thought I'd do a fun little post on five other things I'm loving and making time for, right now (in between long hours at the machine).
Who doesn't love Spring? Its the season of new beginnings after a long cold winter  We've been busy planting new garden beds and preparing the vegetable and herb gardens. The apple trees are blossoming, the perennials have doubled in size and beginning to flower and everything is looking bright and pretty.
I'm starting to take my projects outside to bind or setting up the laptop in the patio to write patterns, as I absorb all the beauty this season has to offer.
Maddi and I LOVED the "House Of Cards" TV series which then led us to "The West Wing". I did watch some of this when it first aired, in the 90's but I'm really loving it this time around. Both shows have given us a better, if not dramatised, understanding of the current US Election and how the whole process works. 
I love these old shows and Maddi has worked part time at Sanity (DVD and Music chain) for the last two years, so she has accured an endless supply for us to watch; it's one of those job that is beneficial for both of us :)
Mum is culling her sewing room and she gave me these old crochet pattern books. I remember looking through these as a child and picking things for mum to make. I can't wait to get started on my own projects from these books, particularly the lace doilies, I'm just waiting on a new hook to arrive in the mail.
Mum was taught to crochet by a German lady who lived next door to my grandmother. If mum had trouble with a pattern she would have to wait until her weekly lesson, for some help. It is so different for me, I can watch a quick You Tube video or Google a tutorial and I have instant answers. Thank goodness for the internet and all those generous people who share their knowledge :)
Reading is huge in our house. It would be rare to find any of us without a book in our hands at some point during the day/night. I love big book series (Game Of Thrones, Harry Potter, Outlander etc) and this fantasy series ticks all the boxes.  There are fourteen books in this amazing series and I'm slowly making my way through them all, getting totally lost in the pages and staying up way past my bedtime.
One thing Les and I have consistently made time for this year is Date Night. Doing such a "grown up thing" was a little difficult at first but our kids have their own lives and social engagements and we found ourselves just sitting at home waiting for them to return.
Its become an enjoyable habit now and Saturday night is usually dinner and a movie or dinner and Netflix. Its great to take off our "parent caps" for a few hours and just be a couple. Plans are made, problems and dreams are shared and the best part is, I don't have to cook and the food doesnt come on trays and no one asks if we want to "upsize".....bonus :)
So that's my fun little post on what I'm loving right now. I'll be back soon with my next monthly mini but for now, its back to the machine for me :)
Happy living and loving :)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

With all the spookiness of Halloween, its nice to serve something elegant and pretty as a treat for guests. There are plenty of weird and wonderful baked creations on the net but I've decided to make some Toffee Apple Cupcakes for our little "scary movie night" with the girls;
When I was a little girl, our Primary School had an annual fair and it was there that I tasted my first toffee apple. I think I may have lost a baby tooth, biting through the toffee but it was a little piece of heaven to me. Every year this same lady would have a huge table full of toffee apples and I would spend all my coins at her stall :)
Years later I discovered, that the stall lady was actually the former owner of the house we purchased. To think she made so many toffee apples in our former small and pokey old kitchen was commendable and I can just imagine them lining the bench tops and covering the old table, before she packaged them up.
These little cupcakes are inspired by the humble Toffee Apple. They are loaded with apple and spice, topped with a gorgeous salted caramel buttercream and decorated with shards of dark, golden toffee. I like to take my toffee to just before the "oooops...too far" point to give it a little bitterness and that beautiful rich colour.  Dip those shards into that yummy buttercream and its heavenly.
The cupcakes are super moist and packed with gorgeous pureed apple and cinnamon, which gives them an intense flavour that is warming to the soul.
The kids will enjoy these cupcakes too and they are not as messy as the traditional sticky, toffee apples on a stick, plus they don't have to be healthy and actually eat the apple :)
If you would like to make your own Toffee Apple Cupcakes, you can download my recipe HERE.
A plate full of these will delight your guests and give your celebrations an elegant Halloween feel without all the spookies!
Happy baking :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Jack O'Lantern- Free Mini Quilt Pattern

Halloween is fast approaching and the stores are full of spooky costumes and decorations. This American tradition, seems to grow bigger and bigger each year here in Australia and is slowly becoming part of our culture as well.
I decided to make a little Halloween mini quilt, to add to our decorations this year, and I'm sharing the pattern, with you as well, as a little freebie. So here's my free Jack O'Lantern mini quilt:
This is a paper pieced pattern which finishes at around 11" square. You can whip this little quilt up in an afternoon and its super fun to make. I'm going to hang mine on my hall stand, along with a few other little decorations I have but you could also use it as a crumb catcher/placemat for your party food or as a cushion front or make a few blocks and sew a larger wall hanging.
Every Halloween, Maddi and I host a little "scary movie night" for a few friends. We're not really that brave and watch most of the movies from behind a pillow but its a fun night and a great excuse to get the girls together, eat some junk food and scare ourselves silly :)
My Jack O'Lantern isn't scary though and I love his big toothless grin. I don't have a large range of orange fabrics in my stash, so I went for a dark apricot colour combination which works just fine. It always pleases me to sew from my stash and I try hard to use the fabrics I have in the projects I'm making, without hitting the fabric shops.
If you would like to make your own Jack O'Lantern mini quilt, you can download the free pattern HERE.
The PDF file includes full step by step instructions and diagrams, the required paper piecing templates and a colouring sheet to help you plan your colour/fabric selections. There's also some tips on adding a hanger or corner sleeves, if you plan to hang your mini quilt.
I've never actually carved a pumpkin, so this is about as close as I will get to having my very own Jack O'Lantern and I'll be able to use him every year as part of our Halloween decorations :)
Happy sewing :)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Threadbare Handmade

It's no secret that I love crocheting almost as much as I love sewing. Crochet is so portable and social and I enjoy making items that are both practical and compliment our homes decor.
Because I love it so much, I have just opened a new Etsy shop called Threadbare Handmade and its a "little sister" to my quilting business. In this shop, I will be listing some lovely handmade crocheted items, available for purchase:
My stock range will vary from time to time, according to the patterns I find and want to try but for now, here's a quick look at the items I have available for sale.
First up, I have a few sets of gorgeous coasters because I like something special for my cup or mug:
Flower Coasters (Set of Four)
Flower Coasters (Set of Four)
Flower Power Coaster(Set of Six)
Spring Coasters (Set of Four)

And I also have a lovely selection of Mandalas, which are perfect to use under a vase of fresh flowers or beneath your favorite ornament or picture frame:
(Set of Two)
(Set of Two)
Magnolia Mandala (Set of Two)
Magnolia Mandala (Set of Two)
Spring Daisy Mandala
Spring Daisy Mandala

All items are made by me, from lovely cotton blend yarn which can be easily washed by hand or on a gentle machine cycle. All items are pretty and practical and they will add something special to your home decor. They would also make lovely Christmas presents, if you are looking to start your shopping now.
I have tried to keep the cost of my items down as postage is a killer and something beyond my control. After lengthy discussions with our postal office, all items will be posted worldwide, using Australia Post Parcel Post.
If you would like to purchase a homemade item, made with love by me, just visit my new Etsy shop HERE and don't forget to add this shop to your favorites, so you don't miss any new items I add in the future :)
Happy shopping :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Fireworks Mini Quilt + Your Free October 2016 Calendar

It's school holidays here again and we really needed this two week break. This term has dragged and its nice to know we can now relax in the spring sunshine and recharge our batteries. Spring is my favorite time of year. I can find the time to garden, catch up on some reading and simply enjoy the great outdoors. Its such a pretty time of year and its also time for my new monthly min and your free October 2016 calendar. So here it is; introducing the gorgeous Fireworks:
No matter how old you are, there's nothing more exhilarating than standing under the night sky, watching it come to life with bursts of beautiful colours, as the fireworks explode. I really tried to capture that spectacular display in this paper pieced mini quilt. The main star block, featured in this quilt, is my own design:
I combined a few different elements to achieve that burst of graduating colour you see when the fireworks explode and slowly fade. Its a lovely little block, which is quite easy to paper piece and I think it looks stunning. I chose two shades of the one colour for each block but it would also look lovely in a mixed palette as well.
I struggled with how to quilt this mini, mainly due to the black background. I did try some straight line quilting (which I ripped out), some echo quilting (which I also ripped out) and then I settled on some stippling, using a lovely light grey thread. I think it adds another element to the night sky and in the end, I was happy with my choice.
The little stars are small sections of the main block and they are designed to look as if they are fading into the background as new fireworks explode.
The Fireworks PDF pattern comes complete with full step by step instructions and diagrams,  paper piecing templates and a colouring sheet to help you plan your colours/fabrics prior to starting your mini quilt. There are also optional instructions to add a hanging sleeve or corner hangers.
If you would like to make your own Fireworks mini quilt, from today until the end of October, PDF patterns are available at the introductory price of $4.95 (AU) in my Big Cartel shop, HERE.
Or if you prefer an instant download, PDF patterns are also available in my Etsy shop, HERE.
I also have your free October 2016 Calendar, featuring the gorgeous Fireworks:
To download and print your free calendar, just visit HERE.
In a few weeks time, our annual Launceston Show begins and on the Friday night we are treated to a gorgeous fireworks display. Until then, this little mini will hang on my studio wall and bring me the same joy as watching the night sky explode into colour.
I hope you love my Fireworks mini quilt just as much as I do.
Happy sewing :)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Date and Walnut Truffles

Life is all about balance. I love baking cakes, biscuits, slices and tarts but I also do a large amount of clean eating cooking as well. Maddi is vegetarian and I'm almost one (with the exception of small amounts of chicken and seafood), so we need to find our protein in other ways. We make a lot of protein balls and energy bars to keep us fueled and eat a large range of plant based proteins. Our biggest vice is chocolate, so when we found the recipe for these scrumptious Date and Walnut Truffles, we discovered we can have our cake and eat it too:
These decadent little truffles are a healthier alternative for us and they curb those cravings for that bar of chocolate or that heavy dessert. Maddi and I have been enjoying one of these after dinner and they are just so good, I had to share the recipe with you. The original recipe came with our smoothie maker but over time, I had adapted it to suit our tastes and the best part about it is, you can adapt it to suit your own as well.
They are filled with luscious dates, walnuts, coconut, cinnamon and cacao but they are also lovely with the addition of chia seeds, almonds, almond meal and shredded coconut (I prefer the desiccated). The quantity of cacao powder is quite large, so adjust this if you like but I love how rich and decadent it makes them. Just remember to adjust the amount of coconut oil you use if you add or subtract ingredients, as you don't want the oil to overpower the flavour but you need enough to combine the ingredients.
There's minimal cleanup as once the prep work is done, everything goes straight into the food processor or blender and your mixture is ready to roll into balls and then into some extra coconut. This recipe makes around 16 truffles and they store well in the fridge, or you can freeze them for up to a month. This quantity suits Maddi and I for a week but half the recipe if you need less.
We have experimented with homemade healthy chocolate or peanut butter cups but I wasn't a fan as the coconut oil was way too prominent for my tastes. These truffles are a wonderful balance of health and yumminess without feeling naughty.
If you would like to make your own Date and Walnut Truffles, you can download the recipe HERE or right click on the photo below and save to your computer for later:
I'm positive you are going to love these Date and Walnut Truffles as much as Maddi and I do. They are packed with super foods, they are easy to make and they are something to look forward to, every night after dinner :)
Happy baking :)
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