Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Crochet Bag- Happy Holidays

As promised, here is the crochet bag pattern, before Christmas......just.

Why does everything become so hectic at this time of the year? The days rush on by, the weather mostly heats up & so do the tempers of the drivers & shoppers- so much for good cheer to all men- more like look out for No.1 or I'll run you over if you get in my way!

I am watching a storm cell move in, from my sewing room window-the sky an eerie colour, with the occasional flash of lightening & roll of thunder in the distance, looks like it will be quite a storm, if we get it.

Tomorrow our 4 year old GS, his father (our no1 DS ) & his Mum arrive for Christmas-the little one has more of an understanding this year just what this is all about & told me it was only 4 more sleeps when he rang me the other day. There is nothing like having a little one in the house for Christmas.

I may have thought I finished all my sewing but some friends & DD had different ideas- they had me doing towels with names on them-these are turning out to be very popular , especially as they don't have to pay for the monogramming! Makes for a really lovely gift for them to give. While I was at the sewing machine I decided I needed to have a few gifts in stash so embroidered 8 silk covers to slide on over satin (cheap) coathangers- these look lovely when finished & I've found they make a good stocking filler.

My friend Mary gave me a good belly laugh the other day- I have my bra class on her site (http://www.andsewitisnet/ ) & when she gets questions relating to making bras or fitting problems she sends them onto me.

One lady wrote that she was a size 34 K & was having problems getting a bra to fit or even a pattern to make her own. What could she do?

Mary's DH has the same first 4 letters in his name as mine & she thought she forwarded the email onto me with her added "Any suggestions?"- it went instead to her DH- who replied back to Mary

"keep away from sailors"-talk about laugh, it gave me my belly laugh for the day!, I was so glad I didn't have my morning toast or tea in my mouth at the time!!!!

Happy Holidays to you

Here's the pattern I promised you: If you look at my pic you can see the change in colour- this is what you get when you crochet in bed with a lamp- you don't see what you are grabbing!

Crochet Shopping Bag


2 balls (50g) 72m/78 yd cotton 8ply (or similar)

6.0 mm crochet hook


read a pattern


sl-st- slip stitch,

dc, double crochet (or single crochet for the Americans)

Dec- decrease. worked as follows over 2 stitches

hook through st of previous row, yarn over hook, pull through, insert hook into next stitch of previous row, yarn over,pull through, yarn over, pull hook through all 3 loops on hook.

Tension- its not that important, as it after all a bag-as long as its not too tight or too loose.

Don't get too worried if your stitch numbers don't exactly match mine- just don't do the decreases over the handles.

with 6mm hook & yarn either start with a knot or slip stitch, make 3 ch,join with sl-st to make a circle,
Row1. 2ch (counts as stitch), 7 dc into ring, join sl-st to top of 2ch
Row2. 2ch, 1dc in same stitch, 2dc in each st to end of round, join sl-st to 2 ch (16 sts)
Row3. 2ch,1 dc in next stitch, repeat to end,join sl-st to h
Row4. as row 2 (32 sts)
Row5. as row 3
Row6. as row 2 (64sts)
Row7. as row 3.

Pattern. Body of bag.
place marker if desired (I never worried about it)

5ch,miss 1dc, sl-st into next dc, repeat until end of round reached.Do not 'finish' round, just keep going.

Continue with 5 ch, sl-st into ch loop of previous round until length desired.

20 rounds if you are tall & want a biggish bag

15 rounds if you are short or want a smaller bag
these bags will hold lots & stretch in both directions!
Mine is a few more but its HUGE! (probably a little too long)

Top & Handles

when you've reached the length you want after last sl-st, continue
2dc in same loop as sl-st, 3 dc in next loop, continue to end of round, join sl-st to first sl-st of round.
2ch,1dc into each dc of previous round, join sl-st to 2ch. repeat this row.
next row.
2ch, *1dc in next 4 dc of previous round, decrease on next 2 stitches* repeat to end, join sl-st
Handles rows

Row1. 2ch, 1dc in next 10 dc, 25ch,miss next 20 sts, 1dc into next 20 sts of previous round,25ch,miss next 20sts, 1dc into next 10 sts, join with sl-st to 2ch.
Row2. 2ch, 1dc in each dc & ch of previous round.
Row3. 2ch, 1dc, decrease over next 2 stitches, repeat (decrease) to handle, 1 dc in each dc of previous round along handle, then dec (as before) to next handle, 1 dc in each stitch along handle, dec (as before) to 2ch, join sl-st. Tie off.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Finished.....well, sort of.

I've finished! Not a gift for anyone left to make- I can't believe it....never before have I been this organised....and probably won't be ever again, either!

Not only have I finished, I've cleaned my sewing room up & tidied it as well-completed it off with a thorough vacuum through as well. It must be a full moon or something.LOL

This week I wrote my list out of everything I needed to get done & as we had a function Friday night & then backed up for another lunchtime one on Saturday I knew I had to be well organised to get it all done.
Larissa, one of the RN's from work ,asked me to put an initial on some bath towels- seems her DH doesn't like the thought of sharing his towel with his young sons in case they wipe their backsides on his towel- apparently his backside on his towel is OK!.....so that was 8 towels as she brought me in 2 sets to do. Nice & quick & easy as I multi hoped them. One thing I did find out was that the embroidery arm does not like the weight of 2 bath sheets & 4 bath towels on it- it made some terrible noise & I quickly removed the hoop & started again for the last 2 bath sheets!
Next were the Xmas serviettes- 20 of them to have a design in the corner. I found a design I had in my emblibrary collection- edited it & came up with a simple, lower stitch count design. Took me a couple of nights to complete these-did 4 to one hooping-and managed to strip bed & clean up while I had the red colour going through.

My machine does not like RA thread. I'm not sure why it doesn't like it, but it doesn't. Every time I tried to use the RA it would shred & break constantly,so I slowed the speed down-which makes the whole process take longer, but then the trade off is I can multi task while its doing its thing!
Saturday saw me finish the serviettes, make 2 tablecloths, 3 tote bags, 2 receipt book wallets & my GS a pillowcase!

Sunday I had an easy day- made my MIL an embroidered bag which I filled with goodies for Xmas & a V pillow case for my friend, Marge, as part of her Xmas gift! While the machine was stitching out the design I wrapped all the Xmas presents & started making a list of everything I need to pick up.....
Even though I'm this organised I still haven't actually gone shopping to buy any one a gift....not even sure when I'm going to get time to go.

Do I get up at sparrow fart next Saturday & brave the crowds for that mad rush of Xmas shoppers, do I order online & hope whatever I order is in stock & is delivered before Xmas-or do I just give them all money & tell them to go buy their own....sounds perfect to me!
DH likes me to buy him something. I have suggested many a time that we buy what we want for ourselves- give it to each other to wrap & put under the tree-we'd get what we want that way-but no, he likes to do it the traditional way.
I thought I had his gift all worked out. I'd been sneaky. He had wanted a macro lens for his camera & I was with him when he was asking about it in a camera store. I picked up the brochure & marked the one he was after....ah, the perfect gift.....just had to order it & surprise I got you what you wanted.
Well that was the scenario.
He went & ordered it 2 weeks ago! ARGHHH!!!! I could have shot him. When he showed me the new lens I told him I was going to order him one & showed him the brochure.....he back tracked & said I could pay for that one (no way) or buy him another type (done your dash)....so now I have to come up with something else.
A ticket to my friend Ruth's place is looking perfect.....she lives in Canada! he always wanted to see real snow! He'll get it there!LOL

My crochet bag is making slow progress-I'm nearly to the top-so not long now before I have the pattern worked out. Should be done by the end of the week.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The week that was

What a sensationally productive weekend I've had. Embroidered names on 10 towels (not all mine)-designs on 8 place mats (gifts), 2 more of those huge designs for cushions & managed to sew the 3 cushions up as well (gift to my DD), wrote all the Christmas cards out & had my hair done as well! what a woman!LOL

Oh, I sewed all the ends into the dishcloths I'd knitted when we were travelling- one of those little things that kept on being put off! Have even managed a bit of tidy up in both the rooms where my sewing stuff is as well!

Writing the Christmas cards has to be one of my least favourite tasks of Christmas-its mindless in a way. I have often said that I was going to stop sending them but DH gets up in arms about me not doing them......but he refuses saying he hates doing it & is flat out doing the 5 I insist are his to write! So how come I get saddled with it & he escapes it- doesn't seem fair to me!?

For a number of years I used to include a family newsletter- writing a little bit about each one of the kids & what DH & I had been up to through the year as well. Then a couple of years ago I thought this is so naff-it sounds like I'm bragging about this wonderful family as you only ever get the good bits- let's face it- who wants to hear the bad?

And as for DH & I it sounded like we were on one eternal holiday somewhere exotic or exciting in the world, which is far from the truth- we travel, yes, but not ALL the time! So I stopped writing it-I have had a few comments from friends that they liked the newsletter but I'm not going back there-my family is not the Brady bunch of perfect kids & I truly don't think everyone wants to know where we travel each year.

I have friends that still do their newsletters- now its the addition of Grand children,marriages, elderly parents passing, them retiring & thinking about touring Australia in caravans & 4WD's (I can only be thankful we have put that notion to bed, never to rear its ugly head again!).I love to hear their news, but I won't be tempted again.

So my Christmas cards are empty- just a scrawled message to each friend & maybe a sentence or 2 at the most on a very few of the cards.
Monday night we put the Xmas tree up-it is supposed to be a family affair-a time spent together in each others company.....yeah right. Two of the boys had put it up -mostly no4 son with DH & no 2 son watching-when I came down to see what they had done DS no2 tells me we are going for the minimalistic look this year (that means he was too lazy to put all the decorations on)-I said its a Xmas tree- it needs lots of decorations & you will put them on & enjoy this wonderful time together while we're at it! In the end I told them to bugger off & I'd do it-so much for the Christmas spirit! The tree now looks beautiful ,although I keep forgetting to go put the angel on top of it!

My moon flower (the flower is the pic at the top of my blog) has buds all over it- so far I've counted 10 & it looks like they'll all be out on the same night & I bet anything it'll be a night when we have a function!

This cactus only flowers of a night time- the cutting came from a patient some years back & the last couple of years it has produced an amazing number of blooms-I'm sure moon flower is not its correct name but it flowers only when its dark-I never tire of taking pics of the blooms or looking at them- they are absolutely amazing to see flower over the few hours it takes for the bud to open.

I have a black agapanthus coming into bloom at the moment- this is the first year it has flowered & although they call it black its really a very deep purple-it seems to be taking forever to open out completely- should make a stunning display when it finally does come out.

Both our accident victims are coming along OK- GS is very sensitive about the loss of his tooth not wanting to talk so you cant see it & DS's GF is now out of traction but not allowed out of bed as yet.

Started a crochet shopping bag through the week- don't seem to be getting as much done as I hoped I would- progress is slow but for those waiting on the pattern it should be done before Xmas!

One thing I learnt this weekend was don't walk away from your embroidery when you are using a topper & you have the ceiling fan on- what a mess it made & I was lucky that the machine didn't get damaged-it also took me all night to soak the solvy out! Lesson learnt!

Lets hope all remains quiet & peaceful for a while...a long while!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pauline's easy shopping Bag

For all my friends that wanted to know how I made my bag, here is the pattern- easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Its shown here holding 2 queen sized bath towels & it's not even at full stretch!

Pauline’s easy shopping bag
This bag is very flexible in what requirements you need & what you knit it in. You could do it in 4ply if you like or even heavier yarn. There isn’t a tension that is critical- it’s not like it has to fit. If you want to do a really big bag then get another ball of yarn, but be warned this bag stretches & stretches & will hold lots-so you don’t want it too big or it will be too heavy to carry.

Great thing is it fits in your handbag without taking up much room & can be pulled back into shape when you take everything out of it.

2 x 50gm balls of 8ply knitting cotton or similar. Craft cotton would work.
5.5mm crochet hook (use bigger or smaller if you change the yarn weight)
5.5mm circular knitting needle. (use bigger or smaller if you change yarn weight)

You need to be able to;
Knit in the round

Not important, but should be looser than you would normally knit up your chosen yarn.
The instructions are very easy-& can be adjusted to suit your requirements- on how big or small you want the bag.

Sl-st slip stitch
dc- double crochet (single crochet for the Americans)
k2tog- knit 2 stitches together
yfwd- yarn forward

With 5.5mm crochet hook & chosen yarn make a slip stitch start & do 3 chain, join with a sl-st to form a circle.
1st row: 2 ch,7 dc into circle, join with a sl-st into top of 2 ch. (2ch counts as a stitch)
2nd row: 2 ch, 1 dc into same space , 2 dc into the top of each dc of the previous row, join with sl-st to top of 2ch. (16dc-first 2ch counts as stitch)
3rd row: 2ch, 15 dc into top of dc in previous row, join sl-st into top of 2 ch.
Repeat 2nd & 3rd rows, increasing every second row until the base of the bag has at least 64 dc’s- you can go to 128 but you’ll need more yarn & this is a really big bag.
Take loop from crochet hook & place on circular needle-knit up 1 stitch from each of the dc’s of the last row. You should have the same number of stitches as you had dc’s & you need an even number of stitches to do the knitted pattern.

Continue as follows:
Mark beginning of round.
K2tog, yfwd-repeat to end.
Repeat this row for as long as you want the bag- about 55 rounds. Do more rounds if you want a bigger bag-you need to have about half of your last ball of yarn left (if using 50gm balls).

Either cast off REALLY loosely or chain cast off with a crochet hook- it needs to be very loose or you won’t get your goodies in your bag easily! Do not cut yarn. Leave last loop on knitting needle & transfer to crochet hook.
2 ch to commence round, 1dc into each stitch of cast off row-if you had 64 stitches then you’ll have 64 dc’s in this round. Join with a sl-st.
Next row: 2ch, 1 dc into each dc of previous row, join sl-st
Repeat this row twice.

Make handles:
Mark the top of the bag roughly into quarters.
2ch, dc into each dc of previous row until you reach the first mark (I used pins).
Make a chain adding about 5-10 extra chains than the stitches that are between the marks (if you have 17 dc between the pins then do 25 chains)-dc into the next marked spot on the bag. Dc to next mark & repeat chain, dc to beginning of round & join sl-st.
Next row: 2ch, 1 dc in each st & ch to end, join sl-st to beginning 2ch
3rd row (handles)-2ch, 1 dc in each to end, join sl-st to beginning 2ch
Repeat 3rd row once (you could do another row, but if you make the handles too thick they will be uncomfortable to carry)

Tie off. Sew in end. Admire bag. Fill it with goodies. Expect comments wherever you go.

Few things to note.
If you make the handles too long then when the bag has stuff in it they tend to get longer & longer. This is not a shoulder type bag- more like the string bag my mum carried but the holes are closer together so things don’t fall out as easily.

This pattern is really just a basis for you to work on- add or subtract as you like to give you the size you like.

Please send me a pic if you make this bag. If there are any massive mistakes in my instructions please let me know- this if the first pattern I've written for anyone but me to follow!

Oh, what a week

Oh what a week it really was.....apologies to the song.

Last Sunday I got the phone call that all parents dread......I knew it couldn't be good when I saw which son it was that was phoning. We hadn't heard from him for quite a few weeks (for various reasons!), so I knew, as most mothers do, it wouldn't be good.

The first words out of his mouth were. "I'm OK, but we've had a car accident, a massive car accident." Hmmm, great, you think-he's alive & talking, so who isn't....

You see, this same kid rang me at work a few years back & asked me if his tetanus shots were up to date.....I enquired (as all mothers would)- was there a reason I should know about, as to why he was enquiring this at 10 o'clock in the morning. "oh, nothing much...I cut my finger at work, needed to check."

I never thought any more of this until I got a phone call at about 6pm the same night. "mum, me again. Can you come get me?" I asked where exactly did I need to come to get him & why (as all good mothers do). "Oh, I'm in hospital- I've just come out of surgery- they said I needed to be picked up."

YOU WHAT?! (mild hysteria at this stage)-you better back it all up a bit & tell me why you are having surgery (he was 18 so didn't need parental consent). Turns out 'the cut' on his finger was more like a slice & dice with a Stanley knife & he cut the side of his finger off & had to have a full thickness skin graft done! sheesh this one kid of mine always plays things down then you get a massive shock later.
So you can see my concern over 'a massive accident,but I'm OK.'

To cut a long story short- they rolled the car, several times, at what appears to be high speed, missing the oncoming traffic & going off into the scrub. His GF was not as lucky- she sustained a fractured hip-he dragged her from the car. The dog also escaped injury but ran off into the bush & wouldn't come back for some time. I feel this son of mine has a guardian angel sitting on his shoulder.

We drove straight to the hospital & spent Sunday night in the trauma unit. DH is not good at hospitals & I really wanted to leave him at home & take DD or the twin of the one that had the accident (although he always faints)- but no- he felt obliged to come & then I had to listen to him whinge about hospitals & can we go home yet- his tolerance level is about 1 hour- I knew we were in for a long night!

Thursday I received a phone call from our DIL asking me what she should do- our GS had had a fall at kindy- tripped on a mat. After discussing what symptoms he had I suggested a dentist & then get them to look in the mouth & see if anything else needed treatment by a doctor.

Turns out our GS tripped on a mat- fell onto a balancing beam- putting his teeth through his tongue & through his lip.

He needed surgery at Melbourne kids hospital to remove 1 tooth- he still has one very loose & 2 more that may have nerve damage- they stitched up his tongue & lip. He looks like he's been kicked in the head! After he slept most of the next day when he & his dad finally got home- he woke up & told his parents it looked like a nice night to go for a walk. Kids recover so fast & leave their parents in a heap behind them!LOL

We will leave this week behind- I need no repeats of it!

I managed to get my stockings knitted for the stocking exchange- I did little ones. I found some very old silk yarn in my stash & knitted one in that & trimmed it with holly leaves I made on the machine. Stitched the leaves onto organza, trimmed the excess away, then melted the rest to make them free standing. My parcel is already to be posted now.

I did a towel for my daughter for her Kris Kringle gift- the girl she drew likes fairies apparently,so I obliged by doing her name on the towel & adding a well known fairy- who is very naughty & changed the colours in the name to all bright ones!

DD likes this variegated thread so much she's asked if I'll do her some tank tops with any old word embroidered on the front- just for fun. She better tell me what words or I may put something inappropriate on there!

Yestserday I tried out the Grand dream hoop for my machine- it's been sitting in its box since I got the machine, waiting for me to try it out. I have a GF in the USA that has been nagging me (with my permission) to use it as well.

Found a large design for the GDH & loaded it up- put it on some lovely decor linen I bought the other day & used guitermann sulky cotton 30wt variegated thread. This is a beautiful thread, with very subtle changes in colour & as its slightly heavier gave a lovely texture to the design. I am very pleased with the result. Happened to show it to DD when she was here today & she has asked if there is more of that fabric, can I please have a set of cushions made!?LOL I do enjoy the fact that she loves what I make.
So looks like I need zippers now to put in the cushions! Just the excuse I need to go back to the fabric store!

I have a feeling I should be doing Christmas cards & pulling out nativity scenes & decorations-just not quite into the mood as yet!

And it's not that many sleeps to Christmas!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


This weekend has been a very productive one, sewing wise, for me-I always feel that if I finish lots of tasks on my weekend, it's been a weekend well spent.
The weather has certainly helped. We've had gusting winds & rain on & off with intermittent bouts of sunshine-it has been one of those 'wait 5 minutes & it'll change' type weekends. Its also cold-it's not meant to be cold at this time of the year- we are meant to be warming up-have had to pull out the fleecy top & pull up the duvet this weekend. Guess in another few weeks we'll all be complaining about the heat!

Yesterday I embroidered names on 2 towels- these will be gifts for my DD & SIL-I haven't embroidered anything on the hand towel/face cloth/ bathmat-think that can be a bit of overkill with monogramming!

Also did 4 little hand towels that I had in stash with Christmas designs- one of these is to go in my stocking swap. These were so much fun that when I started sewing this morning I decided to do a few more- managed to get 5 into the one hooping, so now a few friends will get a towel as well. The designs I used were an old Amazing Designs set- Christmas Collection IV-apparently it is now not available- these are the cutest designs & really quick to stitch out as well.

Then I made another water bottle caddy. All week I had been trying to think of an alternative to embroider on the caddy, rather than a name, I'm not to keen putting names on things that kids use. I thought of H2Go- then someone told me that was already used by someone who sells bottled water!ARGHHH- why is it that I come up with these brilliant ideas & then find someone has beaten me to it!

After much thought & playing around I have come up with an alternative- EAU2GO-someone will probably tell me that's already in use as well!

Started my stocking for the stocking swap last night- why is it that I always decide to do things the difficult way? Picked out a cream pure wool to kit the one stocking in & its barely a ply of wool....it's super fine- the stocking is going to be very small by the time I finish it! Just the right size for a diamond ring perhaps?LOL

Also finished my string bag- but still need to write the pattern out for it-its one of those patterns that is very flexible.....

Received another postcard through the week, from the postcard swap-one left to come now & then the swap will be complete. I have such a lovely collection of postcards from all over the world & no 2 are alike.These are one of my favourite swaps as they are so quick & easy.

While I'm not using my laptop it switches over & randomly brings up pics from all my photographs-Today I have seen flashes of places visited, family & friends & wonderful holidays-what wonderful memories the pictures remind me of.

This week I had a student nurse with me for a couple of days. A male student nurse. A very good looking, young ,male student nurse!
You should have seen my oldies-the old girls! I need to take him with me more often! One old gal that I was going to give a shower to asked if Jason could do it instead....then said (after I said I was doing it)... well he can do my back!!! The next day I was back at her house as we visit her DH everyday & she calls out to him to come & chat to her in the bedroom while I fix her DH's pills up!!!

Shortly after we visit a very old gent who is about 96 & his DD, who lives nearby, is always at the house when we are there. Instead of handing me the undies & towels around the bathroom door-she is off giggling with Jason. When I go in search of what I need- she comes a running- chucks the things at me & high tails it back to keep chatting to the student!!!

This type of behaviour was evident all day with the old girls! Makes one think- how old do we have to be not to notice a good looking bloke!!!LOL-we aren't dead yet!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Well Under way

Today I finished my Kris Kringle gift for work. The person who I drew had me a couple of years back & bought me the most inappropriate gift for a KK I could ever imagine-even my co-workers were stunned.

Don't get me wrong- I have a great sense of humour,but, I don't think sex toys was appropriate for this type of exchange. If I'd have kept them I would have given them back to her-but I gave them to another staff member who I'm sure had fun with them.

Mind you, deep down I almost felt like returning the favour, but I just couldn't do that so made her a gift like I have made others in the past-maybe I should slip in a dildo or something as well...a gentle reminder that I know it was her.

Anyway the gift is done now-a towel that has her name on it, a bag-which I made more beachy as I know she likes to head off to the beach-a little zippered matching purse & a water caddy to keep her drink cool.

We have a $30 limit on the gift (can't be less)-but I know that everything I have made so far has not come to that- unless of course I add in my time for making it, then it would be more than that. The towel & fabrics have all come from stash- this is where I find having a well rounded stash of everything sewing/craft related to be so handy (I'm sure DH would not agree)-I can usually just put my hand on whatever I need at the time!

My hunt for the elusive machine cross stitch designs lead me down a different path today-I came across some smocking designs- the sort with picture smocking in the middle-it was like a light going on.

Hmmmm.....I think I can get that to work in my Aida cloth bands- its a simple stitch-shouldn't be too hard to set up....so I downloaded 2 designs. (I know I said I wasn't going to buy anymore while the $ was down-but this was an emergency!LOL)

I lengthened the design & decreased the width slightly to fit it within the confines of the band & it turned out beautifully-I'm really pleased with the result. Never even test sewed it first!

Yesterday I went to the Gluten Free & Allergy expo- what fun we had-(I went with my sister & her friend)- we ate or way round the expo-everything was gluten free, which is great for me & gives me the opportunity to see what's new out there & what's available locally or online. I came home with lots of free samples, lots of purchased goodies & an electric pizza oven! I certainly didn't go with the intention of buying much at all!

Tried out the oven at lunchtime today with one of the bases the vendor gave me when I bought the machine- OMG was that pizza good- nice thin, crust that was crisp & not a soggy bit in it! My white corn tortillas should work well in there!

Tried a recipe I downloaded from the Morning Show (channel 7)-it was for a banana bread-I had rescued my 6 over ripe bananas from DH many times through the week when he thought they needed throwing out.

This recipe was a disaster- threw the whole thing out. The recipe called for 150mls macadamia nut oil-I think it should have been way less than this-it was just an oily glob, no matter how long I cooked it for. Guess you live & learn.
In the early days of my cooking GF- just about everything ended up in the garbage-was all pretty terrible- these days its a rare occurrence....oh well, I won't make that one again!

Beginning to wonder if summer will arrive anytime soon- the weather certainly hasn't been hot has warmed up on a few days,but no HOT days as yet.
Christmas preparations are well underway & I think I may even be organised this year!
What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinselitis

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christmas Traditions- the pudding

Its 6 weeks to Christmas, time to start preparations.

Firstly, my great-grandmother's Christmas pudding.

Today is the day I had to marked as the day to get it done. The fruit has been soaking in brandy since last Monday night-I'd given DH instructions to give the bowl a shake each time he walked past it- I doubt he remembered, just not on his radar-but when I was at home I did give it a good going over.

My DDM (dear departed mum) cooked this recipe every year from before I can remember-my father's mother cooked it before that & her mother before that....it's been a family tradition for a good many years.

My Grandmother, when we were all younger ,used to put a brand new 2 shilling piece in the bottom of our bowls, put the pudding on top & then load the whole thing up with custard & cream. I remember the excitement as we found the 2 shillings (20 cents in today's money) along with three pence's & six pence's....our money was worth something back then & the coins were all silver so they could go into the pudding. On a good slice of pudding you could get enough money to last you the 6 weeks of the school holidays as a big bonus to pocket money.

I well remember my next older sister digging her spoon through the pudding- on a second slice- declaring that there was no money in it & she didn't want it then-she still laughs about this even today!
Some years back I showed an interest in repeating the family tradition of cooking the pudding & my DDM shared the recipe & the tips for making it with me & then presented me with a set of coins to go into the pudding as well. By this time we were well & truly into decimal currency & the new coins are not suitable for putting in it.

Over the years my coins seemed to get less & I've had to beg & buy some replacements to keep my numbers up......but a few years back I came up with an idea that sees the return of all my coins-in fact it has my sister doing what she did as a child in her quest to have a slice with a coin in it!

I trade scratchy lottery tickets for the coins. I put 25 six penny pieces in & 1 threepence (seems those are the ones I find harder to get more of). For the 6d piece I give a $1 scratchy, but the lucky finder of the 3d gets a $5 scratchy (I call this inflation!)

I also have to keep an eye on the family who will sneak up into the kitchen to see if they can find some stray coins sticking out of the pudding & claim them as theirs! It has created a lot of fun & the safe return of my coins. No one gets to take pudding home with them as I can't be sure that it's a moneyless slice or that they will return the coins for the scratchies.

My DDM used to do a Christmas cake as well & I did for a number of years but it seems they all prefer the pudding to the cake & as its left for me to eat I can well do without it.

Mum used to plan an at home day to do the pudding & the cake- it would take her longer to prepare- I can only guess how long it must have taken my GM & GGM who would have done the whole thing by hand! It takes about an hour to prepare everything then 6 hours to boil it- I have never trusted my DH to watch it after the pork episode some years back.....we don't even want to go there, other than to say- Summer, roast pork left to cool with no cover & Aussie blow flies when you leave the doors open.......he didn't eat roast pork for years after that episode!

The pudding is now hanging under the stairs where it stays until Xmas morning when it gets its final boil-I'm pretty sure you could just zap a slice in the microwave but I prefer to boil it as the coins arc in the m/wave.

Some 10 years ago I was diagnosed with coeliac disease & the pudding wasn't suitable for me the way it was, so, after playing around with it I now make it GF & no one can tell the difference. I tried making 2 puddings for a while but I missed grandma's-its just so good!

So here is the recipe for my G-Grannie's Xmas pudding-if you make it please email me & let me know how you went with it.

Grandma's Xmas Pudding

*halve or quarter quantities for a smaller pudding-reduce cooking time to 4/2.


250gms plain flour & breadcrumbs

500gms butter, brown sugar, currants & sultanas

250gms mixed peel & raisins

125gms slivered almonds

9 eggs

150mls brandy

1 dessertspoon each of nutmeg & mixed spice

1 level teaspoon carb. soda.

1 metre of calico to tie the pudding into & some silver trinkets or silver coins if you want to add these.
Be careful if you are giving the pudding to littlies & check their slice before you give it to them. Do NOT use decimal currency coins in the pudding.

Large boiler & trivet or saucer for the bottom of the pot.


put all the fruit & almonds into a large bowl- pour the brandy over, mix well, cover with gladwrap & leave at least overnight-shake the bowl when you think about it.

In a large bowl (I use a kenwood chef & it all just fits)-cream the butter & sugar. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir in the fruit mix. Add breadcrumbs, sifted flour, soda & spices. Mix well.

Tie in a cloth & boil 6 hours the day it's made & 3 hours on the day served.

TIPS- these are most important to ensure it turns out- the family secrets to a great pudding!

Dip the calico/cloth into boiling water & wring it out (gets rid of the size if its new fabric & helps in the next step- you need the cloth wet)

Place the cloth in a colander (I have one of those large green tupperware ones- absolutely perfect size)-drape the cloth over the colander then rub the inside with some of your plain flour- this helps form a skin on the pudding.

Place the mixture in- don't forget to add your coins or trinkets if you are using them, gather the cloth up, tie tightly using string, leave room for expansion above the pudding & where you tie it.

Make a loop out of the ends of the string & tie the corners of the cloth together- these are what you'll hang it by.

Have the water in the boiler BOILING (I can't stress this enough, it must be a rolling boil)- only fill it about 1/3 full- you don't want it spilling out when you immerse the pudding (ask me how I know).Place the pudding in- note the time.

Check the pot every half hour or so & add more water as the level drops-add boiling water each time (I bring the kettle to the boil & add that straight away).Always keep the pot on the boil.

After 6 hours remove from the pot- its hot & heavy, so be careful. Hang until you need it.

On the day that you are going to eat it. Add water to the boiler, put your trivett or saucer in the bottom first ,bring to a rolling boil, add the pudding & cook a further 3 hours-adding more boiling water as needed.

If the water is not boiling the pudding will absorb the water & will make a soggy pudding-its still edible, but soggy.

Enjoy with cream, brandy sauce, custard or ice cream.....

For the GF method
Use GF plain flour & breadcrumbs & add 1 dessertspoon of xanthum gum. make as above.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

All Wiped Up-Tea Towels

This week has seen me embroidering on tea towels....it started while we were travelling-I managed to do 3 by hand- applique Christmas ones from the Heart to Art series by Nancy Halvorsen. I had picked up the Peppermint & Holly Berries book when in the US earlier this year and had ear marked the 3 teat towels to do. I love to decorate the house at Christmas time & always have Xmas themed tea towels & hand towels out.

Then while we were in Wagga Wagga I found 2 really lovely tea towels with Aida bands on each end of them....so I thought I'd give machine x stitch a go on these. The 2 towels were a bit pricey at $14.90 each, so you'd not be getting a set of 3 as a gift from me!, but for someone special-absolutely perfect. The shop owner had one on display & I thought how lovely it looked- little did I know that this would hook me!

Picked up 10 cotton ones in Melbourne & found I had a stash of tea towels, after embroidering on a whole lot a couple of months back!

When we returned home from our road trip I managed to get a few free days to get in & get some done, by the time I returned to work I had done 17 tea towels.....I ordered more from a really great shop in Queensland- ordered them Thursday & they arrived Friday-6 more with an Aida band at one end...what is it with me that I just have to keep on adding to what I have?LOL

I have scoured the net for simple machine x stitch borders & have found nothing- they are either too wide for the band or way too involved with a million colour changes, which I'm just not into.
Machine x stitch was one of those things I tried when I first started with the embroidery machine- found it too tiresome with all the colour changes & jump stitches & never really did more than about 2 designs.

Now that I want simple kitchen borders I can't find any anywhere- even had my friends looking & asking for me as well. There is a market there I'm sure for designs for the machine that will fit in the width of an Aida band.

My attempts at producing x stitch designs in my software have been a dismal failure-so many stops & starts it drove me crazy & it never looked any good when I finished- I knew there was a reason I didn't digitize! Just proved it with this attempt.

I found a couple of designs & played around with them & was really pleased with the outcome, mind you not enough to do a large x stitch at any time in the future, but definitely on these towels!

One thing I did do was a piggy back hooping with 3 of the tea towels. I have done this in the past with small terry hand towels.

This technique works when you are doing small items or long narrow ones like the borders. I have not done it with bath towels simply because the weight of the towel tends to pull on the stabilizer & its too much bulk to deal with around the machine.

You need to hoop up your stabilizer only-load the design into the machine & with tea towels-move the design to the far left of the design field-baste out the position or check if you have an orbiting feature for placement.

The bulk of the item needs to feed over to the left or to the back of the machine if you have placed the design at the top of the hoop. So make sure the design orientation is correct. baste the item to the stabilizer.

When I'm doing the Aida insert ones I do my basting stitch in a dark colour on the stabilizer as it will show up through the little holes & make placement much easier from the right side. If you line up the needle with a hole in the Aida it will stitch out pretty much like hand x stitch- a blind man on a galloping horse would be pleased to see where it doesn't go in the little holes! Stitch out the first design.
Send the second design to the machine & move the design so it stitches out next to the first one but not on it-check with the orbiting feature if you have one,baste onto the stabilizer, then baste the item to the stabilizer as above.Pin the excess of fabric back out of the way to leave the stabilizer clear before you start.

The next design should come in on the far right of the hoop & you repeat as above- the bulk of the towels will go to the left, the fabric under the machine border will be pinned back out of the way.

Doing it this way saves re-hooping after each stitch out & saves on stabilizer as well-when you are only using such a narrow strip anyway. I did try patching the hole with a sticky stabilizer but found that the tension on the stabilizer was not as taut as I like-so played around & worked out this way. Anything to save time!

So my stash of emroidered tea towels is growing- the cotton ones are all embroidered as well-just with designs I had purchased & never got around to using at the time....so now I have lots of ready gifts on hand!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Driving miss daisy....

We've been on a road trip! this was all quite unexpected & done in haste, as I was told I had 8 days too much leave (I found that hard to believe when I just had 10.5 weeks off & only came back to work in august!) but who am I to argue about going on holidays-so rather than be paid out for them I checked out the roster, said there was enough staff & I'll have 10 days please & off we went-all that quick!!!

We left Sydney & drove to Wagga Wagga where we stayed with my friend Marge (of the cupcake postcard) & spent 2 days with her.

Wagga has certainly changed since the days when we lived there- the main street is so pretty with trees planted up on the footpath & lovely wide pavement to walk along. The gardens are looking all a bit sad since we lived there- with all the water restrictions no one has the lovely green lawns that once adorned all the homes- more dusty & dry looking these days. Its hard to maintain beautiful green lawns on water restrictions.

After leaving Wagga we headed down into Victoria leaving the freeway & meandered across country through the top of Macedon, passing Hanging rock & the Organ Pipes (beautiful countryside through here) winding down towards the coast to Warrnambool where we stayed the night in readiness to the Great Ocean Road drive.

The great ocean road is one of those trips that everyone should do once in their lifetime- Wow!!!
we pulled in at all the little vantage points along the way to take in the view, see the rugged coastline & have a break from the driving & to take many pics....many, many pics.

The twelve apostles (I think there are not 12 anymore as a couple fell into the sea-I certainly couldn't count 12 of them) were quite amazing- bus loads of tourists here & it was well set up with parking & an under road walk to get to the coast & the view.

One place where we pulled in had a boat ramp-the sign said only 4WDs beyond this point...sheesh it was nearly a shear drop into the water from the cliff above (we walked to have a look)-I think putting the boat in & out could be quite tricky at this place! It was so steep I didn't even try to walk down the ramp!

Our next stop was Melbourne to visit with our son & his family- they are living in St. Kilda- an interesting mix of people to say the least & we did many trips on the trams. I did not drive in Melbourne- just couldn't come to grips with driving with the trams beside me or behind me- maybe next time.

While in Melbourne we went out to the Dandenongs to go on Puffing Billy- what a fun trip that was- I'm sure its the only train where they encourage you to sit on the window ledges & hang out of the train. Our Grandson was in his element- he choo- chooed all the way & sang his train songs! Took some coaxing by his father to get him to sit on the window ledge with him.

After leaving Melbourne we drove to lakes entrance- not my favourite place of the trip- although DH was sure he saw a penguin- he insisted it was (yeah, right!!!) I took some pics with the zoom- penguin, shemguin -it was a cormorant!!!!LOL

Once I headed the car up the coast towards Syney I was like a horse given its lead to go home- instead of staying another night on the road we drove right on home-long drive, weather overcast & drizzling most of the way-but its so good to be back home again.....until the next time.

One thing we did decide on was that we don't travel by car well together & Dh's idea of buying a caravan & touring Oz in it has been finally put to bed (not that I ever wanted to do it).

I've told him he wants to drive long distances, go right ahead- I'll fly & meet him there!LOL

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fabric Postcards & a yarn or 2

Today I've been making fabric postcards. These are so easy to make & so much fun-little mini quilts. The one of the cupcake is for my friend, Marge's birthday-she'll be 82 next week- she'd shoot me for saying her age, but I know she'll never read this blog!

Marge & I used to work together some 30+ years ago- I was a newly finished RN & she'd been working for a long time-she has been a wonderful friend over the years. I have decided to make her a bag similar to the one I made Sandie & fill it with Crabtree & Evelyn products as I know she loves nice, pretty, smelly things!

Marge also appreciates what I make & with any crafty person- show some appreciation & you'll get more handmade things than you know what to do with.

In the swap I am participating in, I had to make 4 postcards to send-there are lots of tutorials & blogs on the Internet on how to do them, in an in depth way, so I'm not repeating instructions here.

A quick explanation of how I go about making them-I just play with fabrics, trims, threads, whatever grabs my fancy at the time- place them on some fabric a little bigger than 4x6 & play until I'm happy-then stitch it down with whatever stitches & threads I feel like. Some of my sewing friends say they never know if what they are doing is right, or what to do- I think these get over thought a lot of the time- unless you are doing some really arty swap & have a theme.

I use a postcard back that I downloaded years ago, & add all the details for posting- I also always give my work a name. Marge's is "Eat dessert first, Life's short!" I put the back through the printer & use June tailor's Quick Fuse-these are the perfect size to make postcards from. Sandwich it all together & satin stitch or serge around the edges to hold it all together & they go in the mail as is-never had any problems with them being posted 'naked'.

The Aussie $ certainly took a dive this week & as such I have curtailed my spending on US sites- I'm not even buying from Aussie sites that sell in US$'s- boy has it made a difference.

Pay pal is giving a shocking exchange rate, so I'll be avoiding them as well. Looks like my bank account will benefit from all this upheaval. I'm sure a lot of ebay sellers will notice a difference & those that sell in US$'s here in Aus.

Thankfully I ordered fabric & a book a couple of weeks back when the exchange rate was reasonable-now just waiting for them to arrive.

The book I ordered is by John Deere and although there are times I'd really like to know how to digitize for the embroidery machine, I bought the book to have a better understanding of how its done. One day I may start to do my own designs but at this stage I want to edit in a better way & understand all the software a bit better.

My knitting is progressing-slow but sure. I'm at the stage where I'd like to start a new project but I prefer to only do one at a time, that way I don't have UFOs all over the place.

Socks are calling me.....I really enjoy knitting them & have a few patterns saved to try over the hotter weather. Ravelry has certainly re-sparked my interest in knitting and on the downside has given me access to more patterns than I could knit in 10 lifetimes!LOL

In my yarn stash I have some beautiful silk lace weight yarn to knit up (bought while the $ was still up, thankfully!) Not sure what pattern I'll do with it- but it has to be something special. One is Schaeffer Andrea pure silk in Virginia Apgar colour & the other is Handmaiden lace silk-I think the colour was lily pond or water lily- something along those lines. Both are beautiful & feel wonderful.

Did you know its only 11 weeks to Christmas this Thursday- time to start thinking about a few handmade gifts. These days I make everyone in the family something-I never used to- it started when I did them all monogrammed towels one year. Now each year I try to think of something useful that I can make for them all-just a fun gift more than anything.

DD has told me they need some more bath towels, so they'll get a set with their names on them-easy peasy-not so sure about the boys they did mention that they did not need more towels!

DGS- I found the most adorable pattern in a get creative magazine for a tee pee-what fun for a 4 year old! Hopefully I'll find enough fabric in stash- if not I will just have to go to the fabric store! More on this as it progresses.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

King Parrot & Cockatoos

I was out in the garden early this morning & look what I found at one of the feeders- a beautiful male King Parrot. The colours on these parrots are just beautiful & although wary & watchful I did get some nice shots of him before he flew away......now hopefully he'll call again & we'll see the return of the rainbow lorikeets & rosellas.

Once they get used to the feed being out we can have 30 or more of these birds in the backyard at once ,they make a lot of noise ,but oh, so worth it.

The cockatoos seem to know when I fill the feeders- it's almost like they have a sixth sense that seed is about-this morning there were 4 in the yard, swinging on the feeders, sitting in the trees & dive bombing across the backyard- they even get in the covered feeders that are really too small for them! There have been times when we have 8-10 of them in the yard- the noise level is horrendous with them all squawking & fighting over the feeders. I did notice that one of my geraniums has been be-headed again. I'm not sure what it is with my geraniums this year, but the cockies have taken a like (dislike) to them & keep stripping them!

I took a couple of pics of the one cockatoo coming down the rope of a feeder- sneaking down, thinking I wouldn't notice that he was heading for the seed- talk about a poser- he stopped half way down, more or less to give me a photo op with him!

After he made the move to the feeder his mates all flew in for a go as well-no doubt now that I have left the backyard it will have many more out there!!!

Yesterday we had our DD's dog, Ella with us for the day. DH picks her up & brings her around for the day- I'm not sure who is keeping whom company but they have a mutual adoration society going! Ella hates cockatoos. You only have to say "there's cockies in the yard Ella" & she's outside chasing them out the yard-doesn't bark- just bounds about frightening them. Mind, if one bit her she'd know it! Funnily enough she leaves the other birds alone for the most part- it's just the cockies she chases!

Here is Ella- with a flower on her ear! LOL no telling me she hadn't been in the flowers!LOL For all her size she is a big sook- although you wouldn't want to come in the yard on your own! her size alone is enough to frighten most people off.

Today is our GS's 4th birthday. We have spoken to him this morning- they are flying up from Melbourne tomorrow & we are having a bit of a get-together to celebrate. We've also promised a trip to Symbio to see the animals & a visit to Toys R Us to buy a birthday present!

GS was explaining to me how he could stop the kangaroos from scratching him.....you see the last time we were there an over zealous wallaby wanted all the grass clippings GS was holding & scratched him to get at them- mind you it didn't really hurt him ,but, not being used to them it frightened him. All the while Grand dad is saying move out the way- what a great pic this will be- not realizing poor GS was being 'attacked' by the wallaby! You can see where his priorities were! I told GS that he was a year older & a year taller now, so he'd be bigger than the wallabies this time! He has a plan, no doubt he'll want to try it!LOL

Yesterday I made GS a pillow case for his stay here-this may become a regular gift as I remember doing this the last time for his arrival, then another one where he picked the fabric. (see previous blogs)

Now he is into space & astronomy in a big way so I found some suitable fabric, in my stash,a design & made him another one-he can take this home with him. Pillow cases make a great gift for little kids I've found.

I have a chuckle to myself when I look at the pic-all you see is a snippet of the bed- the rest of the bed is waiting for me to tidy up before they arrive & looks a mess!!! No pics though!LOL