Wednesday, 27 July 2011

what is it about hexagons?

i'm having a love affair with hexagons at the moment..i'm putting them on cards as well as on the tea towels that i blogged about earlier..i am using recycled vintage dressmaking patterns that i source from op shops as the background paper avoiding the folds..then i:
  • paper piece the hexagons using vintage fabric to get a crisp shape
  • iron them
  • remove tacking stitches and paper
  • sew a vintage button in the centre using embroidery floss and tie it at the front for extra detail
  • adhere the hexagon to the card..

phone camera quality photos!

i will be offering these for sale at the same market where i am hoping to sell the tea towels..i am also making teacup, cupcake and bird cards..busy days ahead! jane

Monday, 25 July 2011

show and tell

just a brief post to show off my very first sourdough loaf made today from my starter..i wasn't sure how to proceed once the starter appeared ready to go but joanne at zeb bakes very kindly held my metaphoric doughy hand particularly with regard to the levain..i used her cheese 'n' roasted onion bread but with no cheese and onion for two reasons..first i wasn't sure how the loaf would turn out and i didn't want to add to the waste if it was inedible..and secondly i wanted to see how the dough behaved, and taste the finished loaf, without embellishment..

the uncut version!

anyway i am reasonably happy with how it turned out and it is's not too dense and it tastes good with a hint of sourdoughness..i really want to make more..very soon.. jane

Sunday, 24 July 2011

cherry and daisy

many years ago in another life i had a job that, among other things, entailed interviewing families..this meant lots of driving especially at night..i noticed that i was finding it increasingly difficult to read street signs without getting out of the car and literally peering up at the sign..because of this problem i began to harbour anxious fears that i was going didn't occur to me immediately that all i needed was a pair of glasses..

cherry hexagon

basting stitches and papers need to be removed before being
 hand sewn onto the tea towel

daisy hexagon

paper piecing required followed by the same stages as
the cherry hexagon

this week in between lots of gardening and shed tidying i've been trying out a few ideas for embellishing linen tea towels that i plan to sell at a market in 5 weeks time..i decided to make hexagon rosettes and i've embroidered the central hexagons to reflect the fabric design..this entails quite fine stitching and i've been struggling with my eyesight again..

it's time for new glasses or i will have to throw in the (tea) towel!  :) jane

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


last sunday i met a friend of mine at a trash and treasure market in order to catch up and indulge our shared interest in sniffing out a bargain..we did our usual trawl up and down the rows of stalls and bought a couple of treasures..but several objects were picked up and put down because they were either too expensive or after careful consideration deemed not quite right or just not thing in the too expensive category that i looked at and had to walk away from was a brown glazed english ceramic hen on nest (in two parts) priced at $65..i love chooky things so i felt a bit sad but i didn't regret my decision not to buy it..

walchester brown chicken egg storer

on monday afternoon i had to go out briefly to buy more pet food for my neighbours two cats that i've been looking after for the last five weeks..because i was on a roll with a project i am working on i decided to go to the local butcher instead of the supermarket which is further away..while i was out i popped into the op shop for a quick look not really expecting to find anything because i had been there on saturday..but to my great surprise there sitting on a shelf was a chook not that dissimilar to the one i had seen at the market..but it was priced at only $9 and so of course i bought it..i don't tend to subscribe to 'it was meant to be' but in this instance the serendipity was quite uncanny..i wonder how many of you have similar stories..jane

Friday, 15 July 2011

find it, wash it, sew it

i love to search out all sorts of cotton only vintage fabrics and todays finds are of the sheet and pillow case variety..but i also collect vintage aprons, tablecloths and embroidered linen and i use them all in quilts..

todays op shop finds hanging out to dry

i like to leave washed and folded piles of recent finds on my work table for a few days  for visual pleasure before i store them for future use..

this weeks earlier finds washed and folded

and because i love the process i make all of my quilts using the english paper piecing method even for a quilt of this type made with 10cm squares..the finished quilt below will measure 170cm x 170cm and it is close to that size now..

quilt pieced with vintage sheets, pillow cases and a couple of aprons

and then when that's done i will start hand quilting but i first need to baste the quilted top, the cotton batting and the backing fabric together..

vintage sheet backing fabric

when the quilting is done i will then bind the quilt but i want to wait until it's quilted before i make my final binding fabric choice..jane

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

wild thing..

you make my heart sing
you make everything
i said wild thing

that's what the troggs sang many years ago..and my heart sang too on sunday when i made gnocchi with 'wild' greens (the weather held out long enough for me to pick the nettles) and when yesterday i was able to make bread from a sourdough starter after 'wild' yeast took up residence in my flour and orange juice starter paste.

i have encouraged stinging nettles to grow in my garden for several years and i have used them many times in warm 'weed' salads, in spinach pies, soups and many other dishes..i have been wanting to use them to make gnocchi and pasta but i just hadn't got around to it until i was inspired by a nettle gnocchi posting by zeb bakes..additional inspiration came from a link to llynlines in the aforementioned posting.

wild things from my garden 
a bit too chunky nettle and sweet potato gnocchi 
first tomato sauce
i enjoyed making the gnocchi but there were two main problems..first, the next time i make them i will use a floury variety of regular potato instead of sweet potato because while the gnocchi were tasty they were a bit on the dense side despite a delicate hand in preparation..i also made them a bit on the too chunky side as you can see in the photograph..the next issue i had was with my first sauce so i made it a second time and added kalamata olives, capers and aged balsamic vinegar to the garlic, chilli and home bottled tomato puree and i garnished the dish with very thin crisp bacon (it was eaten before a photo could be taken) to add some salty piquancy in order to counteract the richness of the dish.. 

years ago when i was living in a small town in the north of greece i made bread a few times..the elderly woman from whom we rented our house noted my interest and told me about a method of making yeast from basil, water and flour..however, according to her it had to be basil blessed by the priest..she brought me a sprig from the church the following sunday after our discussion and i duly made a flour and water paste with the basil pressed into the top and left it in a warm place to do its thing as she had did do its thing and i made bread with the 'mother', each time, keeping a small amount to use for the next loaf..i couldn't help questioning (well, i could, but i didn't want to) the blessed basil and i made a perfectly adequate starter from unblessed basil much to her chagrin..(on her instruction i also made a starter with chick peas which was very pungent) i wanted to bring original 'mother' back with me to australia when i returned a few years later but unfortunately i knew customs would not let her in the country so she had to stay in greece.. 

sourdough loaf with 'mother' discards
the green in middle is an artifact of the photography

since then i have been wanting to experiment again with sourdough bread making but it is only recently after some blog inspiration that i did a bit of research and used this recipe to make a sourdough starter..on day 4 the recipe calls for half of the mixture to be thrown away each day when the starter is fed..i'm not too good with waste so i put each days 'mother' discards in another bowl and hung onto was quite active looking yesterday so i decided to make bread with be on the safe side i added a half packet of yeast as well..i used cold water for a slower rise and i did less kneading than usual..i used to knead my bread a lot on the premise that the more kneading the better..however, i have since read that this over works the gluten and results in a softer loaf..that's ok sometimes but i've been after a chewier loaf with a didn't look very perky when it went into the oven but as you can see from the above photo it rose quite well and the crumb has a nice density and moistness and the crust is chewy with hints of crispness here and there..just how i wanted it..  

apologies for the variation  in text..i was unable to remedy it..jane   


Saturday, 9 July 2011

i'm snap happy..

now that i have my advanced diploma in sending photos from phone to computer so i just couldn't resist photographing these nasturtiums because they offer some cheer on this cold and about to rain sunday..

even nasturtiums like a cup of tea!

they were part of a rescue mission i carried out vegetable garden is suffering from abuse by neglect as a result of a recent trip away and a cold..a few things have got out of control..namely flanders poppies, stinging nettles and i want them all in my garden but not at the expense of everything else so i did a serious bit of thinning..but before i relegated the nasturtium tentacles to the compost heap i rescued the flowers..if the weather holds out a bit longer i want to get at the nettles and make some 'zeb bakes' gnocchi..will let you know how it goes weather and gnocchi wise..jane

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

i need a rest..

and a cup of tea! all up it has taken me about 8 hours of tenacity to set up my mobile phone to send photos to my computer with phone calls yesterday and today to my telephone service provider, my mobile phone service centre and to my computer service centre as well as a couple of visits to the mobile phone retail outlet..i cannot believe how difficult it's been..i wonder how many of you have had similar problems.

 i found this child's chair in an op shop for $10

this one cost $2 at an op shop and i painted it this happy colour.. 
anyway i am very happy that in future i can adorn my posts with i am going to make a big pot of tea and have a rest on something more comfortable than these chairs and read the magazine with my 'colour me happy' patchwork over me because it's really cold on my blog to do list is to buy a camera..i am optimistic that becoming conversant with it's idiosyncrasies will present no such problems as those i've just experienced..jane