Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Saturday, July 8, 2017

New Colour Combinations

I have not long returned from a long weekend away at one of my favourite places, Main Creek, where I reacquainted myself with a foundation pieced quilt I started a couple of years ago.  Although I have more hand dyed fabric than you could shake a stick at (where does that saying come from?) There were a few shades missing from my colour wheel so this week being lovely and sunny and relatively warm for winter, I braved the chaos out the back and tracked down dyes, pots and all the necessaries to do some dyeing. I also found the two new dyes I had bought at the beginning of the year, still in their plastic wrappers, untouched!  It took me a while to find the fabric I knew I had bought as I was looking for white rolls, but they too were still wrapped in the black plastic they were shipped in.

So after washing the new fabric I decided to do a bit of folding and dye up some multicoloured pieces for another project I have in mind, which will no doubt, end up in a box for years to come.

 I got some lovely crisp even folds using my new iron, which handily turned itself off when I was distracted by other things.

Here they are looking quiet dark and mucky.

 Having lost my original dye spot and even my table I had to improvise with Steve's trestles and a smaller table. It took me a while to sort myself out as it has been a long time since I have had the dye pots out. It was later in the day than I had intended by the time I got started and Helen bought round some silk thread to dye which she wanted for a weaving project so some of the dyes pots sat overnight.

These are the purples and greens from the new red and blue, love them, and realised I dyed them at double the strength I usually do as didn't adjust my quantities for fat quarters. I think some of these will make their way into my foundation pieced quilt.


These two pieces came from the triangle folds, each done a slightly different way but giving very different results. I think I will keep them as whole pieces, they could make lovely table runners.

These are my missing colours (I hope) with a new blue and another folded piece.

And this is just a sample of a meter or more from my left overs, will make a great background for an applique I think.
It is an addictive thing this dyeing, the sun is shinning again today and I would love to keep playing with new colour combinations as the possibilities are just endless, but will resist the urge and get the machine out and do some sewing. Notice no mention of "The room" we will get back to that another time.

OK, so too many to shake a stick at, had to look it up, originally North American used in the 1800 but no reason as to why or what it meant. Another suggestion was how farmers used to count sheep or cattle pointing their walking stick or cane. Being an All Creatures Great and Small fan, I can relate to this and see how the saying could have come about. Please leave me a comment if you know how or why this came about.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

And So It Begins

The office is finished, well nearly and now we can start on my room.  
  Of course it going to be a long haul, The room has been completely emptied, the remaining old furniture stashed away for repurposing in the workshop out the back, wardrobes dismantled and a filing cabinet with years worth of paper work sorted, discarded or put away.  Once all the walls were free of clutter, the lazor light thing comes out to shoot levels and see just how warped and twisted the room really is, and just as we feared, the floor is just too bad to leave in and has to be completely removed and new beams put in. 
Today I will be down between those beams clearing out the old floor boards to be stacked for the fire. We are aimimg to have all the new beams in by the end of the weekend then will have to wait for a break in the weather to get the flooring sheets.  Its a long weekend here in Australia, so lets hope by the end of it we have a flat floor.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Finding a bargain on a Friday afternoon

I know it is not cold, but as soon as the evenings start to draw in and it cools off, we light our little wood burner. It make the house so cosy and I do like to cook on it as mych as possible. Last year I had a green kettle that we got from the camping shop, which didnt last long as this year I found lots of rust inside it. So this afternoon we took a quick trip down the road to a shop we had previously seen some nice heavy based kettles in.  I thought the shop had gone, but it has just changed names, the kettles however had.  But we found a very nice copper plate one, half the price of the ones we had seen before and much better made according to Steve. Very happy with our choice we had a quick look around the rest of the kitchen / homeware shelves and found another gem.  For a long time now I have been looking for a cast iron pot that will fit in the small oven in the wood stove, and there sitting on the reduced shelf was a gleaming cherry red Denby pot. Price, just $46 reduced from $170.  I don't take my bag out with me when I shop with Steve so didnt take too much notice when he paid for our bargin finds.  When I did get home and looked at the reciept, this lovely little pot had been reduced further to $33, I love it even more! Now the forcast rain has set in, the fire is lit, a big pot of pumpkin soup and my whistling copper kettle sits on top.  Looking forward to a cosy night in front of the tv and will wrestle with the ever expanding pouf.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

On A Roll

The weather has been glorious over the easter holidays, which sadly are coming to an end, but decisions have been made and the office is charging ahead. Yesterday we went to Marshalls Timber and the very patient salesman there pulled out all the slabs of spotted gum so we could select two lenghts to make our desk. This will be a big feature in the room as it will take up one whole wall and we have invested heavily in this mighty slab. Today while I spent another two delightful hours at the dentist it was deliverd, yep,it was too heavy even in two pieces for us to man handle off the roof of the 4wd. As I write this there is the sound of the sander and a cloud of sawdust hovering in the back yard as it becomes one beautiful piece.


More book cases and a few other bits and pieces are needed to finish the room so another trip to ikea is needed, lets hope it is less eventful than our last one and I remember to get the etag for the right car.


If this momentum keeps up, we might start on my room this decade 😁


Friday, April 14, 2017

A Progress Report

Don't get excited. There has been no progress on "The Room," wonky eyes and feet are hindering our activities somewhat but we are still moving forward in a hazy hobbling sort if way. Here is a peek at the bedroom which we have been sleeping in for some months now, still very sparse as needs the niceties added but I have a proper wardrobe with doors!

The office has been stripped bare and is undercoated ready for a top coat this afternoon. We have finally found some beautiful wood to make a desk that will be built along the wall under the window. Getting this huge thing in the room will be a bit of a conundrum, thank goodness we made that cutout to let the light through to the hall as that is where it will have to be lifted through.

I dragged my cutter and bits and pieces out from the deep dark back rooms to get ready for the easter egg hunt on Sunday.  It was nice to sit a while and play with paper and glue.
We have had the NBN installed! Didn't expect it to happen for years yet, and of course we broke our old modem a few weeks ago and replaced it with one that is of no use to us at all now!  It all went surprisingly quickly and easily, internet and phone was off for a few hours, plugged in and turned on the new modem and all working perfectly, although not at the speed of light as promised as the fibre only goes to a node in the street somewhere so still copper to the house unless we want to pay hundreds to have it upgraded, it will do for now. The only down side is that my old mac that I use with my cutting machine, and the only one operational at the moment cannot cope with the new system so I get a spinning beach ball if I connect to the internet, thought I had found the problem after doing a search by turning off some ivp6 or something, but after a few minutes of behaving, got the blasted ball again. So any spelling mistakes here are down to  ipad typing error. I have typed most of this twice at least! Till next time.

Computer update, have found more pesky ipv6 thingys so now have a working computer and have managed to spell check.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Long Story About Bread Makers

I have been making bread for a very long time and in the past 20 odd years have owned two bread makers, both Sunbeams the first being a Bake House and the second a Smart Bake. I cannot remember what happened to the first one, it may have broken down or I may have just upgraded. The smart Bake I know I have had for many years, 10+ I recon and have had to replace the bread pan once before as the seal breaks down and the whole pan had to be replaced and they ain't cheap. It has been a work horse and used many times a week and done a great job but the seal has been leaky and horrible for quite some time and I have been using the Kitchen Aid stand mixer to make my dough.  We all know what great machines these are and mine gets used on a regular basis, but I wouldnt want to use it to make the quantities  of bread I usually do. In fact I had noticed the silver pin that holds the head of the machine on, was working its way out. A quick google search and a screw driver solved the problem but I am in no doubt that my breadmaking had caused  the screw to come loose. 

So this morning I had a list of jobs to get done, the first being to fix the pin in the kitchen aid then see if the seal in the bread pan could be fixed, sort answer, no, it came out of Steves workshop looking very sorry for itself. So the question was do I spend more money on a new pan or replace the bread maker completely.  A quick look at the yellowing plastic, non existent menu and a very grubby and corroded bottom made it an easy decision. That's where the easy bit ended. I thought I would replace it with another Sunbeam, either the Bakehouse or the Smartbake should do. There was only $20 difference in the price and both seemed much cheaper than I thought.   Of course no shop stocked both models so it was a bit of a run around to compare the two.  

Now if you are not in the market to buy a bread maker or want to know the pros and cons of said machines you will find this very boring so just skip to the end and have a look at some bready pictures.  If you are a machine user, you may find this helpful and I would be interested in hearing your experiences, woes and bread making delights.   

The reason for the seemingly low prices is the awful quality of these newer models, they are just flimsy pieces of rubbish! The lids on both machines still come off for cleaning but are attached with a molded plastic hinge arrangement that doesn't look like it will last long at all. None of the plastic parts looked like they fitted well and I could see a lot of cleaning nightmares ahead.  The main point of concern is the bottom of the bread pan itself, this is the only part I have had wear out on me and it would be nice to be able to replace just the seal rather than the whole pan.  The Bakehouse does have a clip that holds this mechanism in place which makes you think that it would be possible to do just that, but the rest of the machine left a lot to be desired so went into the no basket. Next we looked at the Smart Bake model. They had made a few changes but none that would improve the performance of the machine and definitely not to the welded seal on the bottom of the pan, this, with the overall drop in the quality left us wondering what other options there were.  There were a few "mini bake" machines but I couldn't see them standing up to the constant use I know my machine will get. There was a Panasonic model that was a little more expensive but no one had any in stock and I knew nothing about these machines. There was also a very smart stainless and black model with an extra despenser and was considerably more expensive. So we went home for something to eat and do a bit more research.
Armed with a bacon sandwich and  a coffee I began the online maze of videos and reviews. The panasonic was coming up with great reviews and on watching good ol you tube, I found out that the additional dispenser was for yeast, and, the reason it came with two bigger lidded cups was to allow you to make sour dough starters, not that sourdough purists would agree with the method shown, but, you can see where this is going can't you, I was hooked.

Back in the car and off to do a deal. Was very happy with the discount we managed to negotiate with the very friendly Colin who was practically dribbling over my boxed machine as he described eating his wife's home made bread and pickle. 

With new beast sitting proudly on the kitchen bench I had to ask myself if it was a worthwhile investment as I usually only use the dough setting, which on my first look at the menu I couldn't find! Had I made a real blunder here, surely you could make dough! I then realised that the whole second menu was dough settings, 12 of them in fact along with a jam and compote setting. So which one to use for my tried and tested hot cross bun recipe?  After consulting the chart in the trusty manual, I had another Oh no moment when it I realised that all the programs started off with a 30 to 60 min rest period, what was that all about? How was i going to get through a big baking day when the settings were taking in excess of two hours each!

  I put in my ingredients in the order suggested in the panasonic recipes, dry ingredient first followed by wet which is the exact opposite to what I have been doing for years now, but seeing as my first venture was not even using a recommended recipe, I thought I had better follow some the book. I put the yeast in the special little dispense in the lid, and the fruit in the other then had to wait patiently until it decided everything was at the right temperature to start. The result, beautifully soft bouncy dough that made the best buns I have had for a long time.  While waiting for this beautiful dough to appear, I had a more thorough look at the manual and found a pizza dough setting that has no rest time at the beginning and is finished in 45 mins. This will work great on my big bake up days and I think will become the most used program.  

We then realised we had no bread apart from the buns and it was too late to do another loaf, so I decided to do the whole process in the bread maker using the timer so we could wake up to a fresh loaf. In the past I had had some very disappointing results and I think this is why I had given up on everything but making dough. If this worked it was going to be a great time and energy saver as we now have an off peak meter and, although I am not working full time this year, still don't get as much time in the kitchen as I would like.  As you can see, a lovely crispy white loaf awaited us this morning. Ok it still has that weird bread maker shape but the taste and texture were great.

So there you go, I did warn you it would be a long read. Lets hope this one last me the 10 years plus I go from the sunbeam. Oh and I did find that you can buy the spindle in the bottom of the pan as a spare part, not have to replace the whole thing, so hopefully will not be so costly.

I have spent a lot of time siting around waiting at appointments recently and spent some of the time knitting some snowy white dishcloths, yeah I know, quite mad but I might as well be doing something while sitting.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Oh January

I don't know what it is about the month of January but I go into a state of apathy. When we lived in the U.K. I blamed it on the short days and cold weather but now we live in Australia so that can't be the reason. Now it is just too hot to do anything but flop around the house and moan about the temperature.  This is a bit of a problem as it is also holiday time when I should be full of inspiration and energy but to be fair it has been a stinkingly hot summer. February is finally here so no more excuses.   Ready for a bedroom update? We are nearly there!  The floor was laid and finished over Christmas, took far longer than it should as the lacquer was taking three to four days to dry between coats instead of twelve hours. There was plenty of heat around so we are blaming humidity.  After Christmas I traipsed through every bedroom furniture shop in and around Newcastle trying to find something that would fit and we both could live with, an almost impossible task. In desperation we drove to the central coast and found something. It only arrived this past Friday and we picked it up yesterday.    Last week we decided the wardrobe we had bought many years ago and had stored out the back was not going to work.  It was going to have to be an IKEA free standing one and a complete change around of the layout of the room, honestly this one room has caused  us more grief than any other so far! As I now don't work one Tuesday a fortnight, we took off to Sydney after our baby sitting duty was finished.  Anyone reading this that lives locally will know that it probably wasn't the smartest move due to being a really hot day, the car guage read 45c at one stage and the fact there had been a crash between a truck and a crane that had the highway closed to all north bound traffic. Not a problem for us on the way down and would be cleared by the time we were coming home you would think. Well no, the road surface had been too badly damaged in the fire caused by the accident. By late afternoon a contra flow had been set up, yes it did take that long, and from what I can gather, a bush fire broke out on the alternative south bound traffic route. It was a day of chaos and frustration for anyone traveling on the highway that day.  We were lucky in that we only sat in crawling pace traffic for about fifty minutes having decided to wait until later in the evening before attempting to get home.  Of course, after such a hot day came the the rain, only light but we still had to buy a tarp and tape to wrap up the boxes, wood and water are never a great mix. It was well after nine by the time we got home and as some of the boxes weighted 60 kg, that stayed in the back of the ute for the night.  Normally with our IKEA shopping sprees, everything is ok but this time we had missing screws, bits that weren't the right finish and we cracked a corner on a door panel, so yesterday saw another trip down the dreaded highway to put all to rights and pick up the bedroom suite on the way back. Fingers crossed, we now have all we need to finish the wardrobe and get the furniture in and we can finally move rooms. Let's hope the next one doesn't give us as much grief!   No sewing or creativity has been happening here, even my little pile of triangles did not get finished for Christmas. I did however make these shopping bags from all my patterned hand dyed half meters for gifts at school.  
The next room we attempt will be my new work room, seems a long time coming but hopefully future posts will see a quicker transformation of an old room into a lovely organised place to create.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Getting there and lots of triangles

The tricky floor is sorted, we have used the left over boards and the new lot will be delivered on Tuesday.  We are aiming to move into the new bedroom for Christmas then start the big demolish job in the new year, yes it will be hot but we never seem to make things easy for ourselves.  
  I have been working on a few Christmas projects this weekend and have a table full of little triangles, or half square triangles as they are commonly known.  I have found a new way (for me) to make these, have a look here. I will never be drawing diagonal lines again, this works brilliantly and is very accurate.
Christmas seems to have crept up on me yet again, I will never get used to a summer Christmas. Only a couple of weeks left of the term, cakes are made, the tree will go up late again, hopefully after the dust has settled from the floor sanding yet to come, and I have plenty of sewing to get done in my little space in the office.  I have stocked up on dyes, a new red and blue has been added to the collection, and have ordered fabric ready for some dying fun during the holidays, in between stripping the front bedroom and watching the tennis 😐

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A few weeks of contrasts

Progress on the bedroom is embarrassingly slow, the main hold up bring this little beauty. We now have to get the new floor to match through the rest of the house, but we are about to unload a flooring sheet from the roof of the ute and, fingers crossed start to get the sub floor down.
There has been some progress thou, I now have a completely white room.
In contrast to all this whiteness, I did a one day workshop up at Maincreek recently and the ladies produced an amazing array of colour and patterns.
A few other colourful things are happening here and now that school work is settling down after a hectic few weeks, I hope to get back to doing weekly posts.