Monday, August 31, 2009

Breakfast at a café: I

This one landed at the lavish end of the scale for sure.  I don't know if I remember everything on the plate, but it included two poached eggs on thick toast, bacon, a cafe-made hash brown, smoked salmon, chutney, greens, mushrooms, I can see a strawberry...
No lunch was required.  Unsurprisingly.

There is something rather nice about breakfast out at a café on a weekend.  Certainly one eats more lavishly than one might at home.  And there's the company, and conversation, and it's all rather civilised, not to mention having the day ahead of you still.
Here's a recent breakfast:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The best chicken stuffing (seasoning) imho

The best stuffing for chicken I have ever tasted is, in my humble opinion, my mother's recipe.  (Stuffing or seasoning - what you put in the bird's cavity before roasting it).  It's dead simple, and I've never seen a formal recipe for it anywhere, or tasted it anywhere else but when it's been made by Mum, or another one of my family.  It's not one where I can give exact quantities, but you'll get the idea and be able to make it yourself.  Quantities also depend on the size of the chook you're cooking.  If you make too much, cook the leftover in a small ovenproof bowl, but it will probably need less time than the stuffed chook.  (If the stuffing in the bowl burns, that was probably too long...).
Start by setting some butter to melt - maybe a couple of tablespoonsful?

You need bread: maybe two or three slices of fresh bread, whizzed in the blender.
A couple of rashers of bacon.  Take off the rinds and chop or whizz the rest (I put the rinds on top of the bird, where they crisp while it cooks and often don't make it to the final plates of dinner...)
Parsley.  I like a bit of this, maybe 1/3 of a bunch (four or five decently bushy stalks) - whizz in the blender, stalks and all (the flavour's in the stalks and the greenery adds green).  Also nice when picked from your garden.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix - the melted butter will bind them together.  You want it just sort of holding together, not sloppy with butter. 
Don't get fancy-schmancy with adding more herbs, or anything else (except maybe a little coarse-ground black pepper).  Just try this once the simple way.  You can make fancier stuffings/seasonings, but this one, simple as it is, is hard to beat.  Fill the cavity of the chook, and roast it as you normally would (a chicken with stuffing always needs longer than a chicken without).  Another family habit is to cover the chicken with bacon when you put it in to cook.  Take the bacon off when it's nearly done so it can brown up nicely.   See?

Friday, August 28, 2009


I just liked this, the simplicity of the colours, the contrast of the feather's delicacy and the rustic, weathered verandah floor boards.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quilt binding essentials

When I'm binding a quilt, some things are essential:
This Clover design is my favourite sort of thimble; this is my second one.  The first (eventually) needed replacing as the leather had stretched too much.  Binding clips (less stabby than pins), thread and a needle (I prefer crowbar-sized ones for binding, just because I do).  The lid is useful too - it corrals the thread and binding clips as I go.  I know some people don't enjoy binding, but I do - usually watching a film or TV program, or listening to an audiobook, as it's not exactly the most complex bit of a making a quilt, but it's soothingly repetitive.  And satisfying when you put in the last stitch.  Oh, and then remember you're not finished, there's the label to go....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Operation Art

Operation Art is a brilliant initiative, a judged exhibition/competition in which works by children are selected to hang in children's hospital wards and other public areas to brighten them up and encourage healing in a cheerful environment.  The exhibition of entries tours regional areas: I caught it at the Lewers Gallery in Penrith, where it's on till 6 September 2009.  Definitely worth seeing - I wish I could have photographed the exhibits (a CD of images is available for sale to schools etc).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Recent travels: Surry Hills

From reading various Australian home magazines such as Home Beautiful, Real Living, and Inside Out, there were a couple of shops I'd had on my to-visit list for a while.  A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to toddle over to that part of Sydney - Surry Hills - and see them.

One was DavidMetNicole (?sp).  Often mentioned in the mags, with quirky vintage items.  Not a large shop; and to me, the prices were high.  The assistant was charming, and I enjoyed browsing, but $100 journals covered in bus destination blinds (much as I love bus destination blinds) are a bit out of my budget.  They had vintage Scrabble tiles, and vintage rubber stamps, and a bunch of interesting things to be inspired by, but I don't know that I'll be returning.  Love the aesthetic, but I think I can find a lot of similar sorts of things from other places, less expensively (they had an identical spice rack to one I'd found in an antiquey-junk shop a year or two ago for $30, marked in their shop at around $90).
At Doug up on Bourke I mooched and browsed and mentally decorated more than one house I'd love to live in.  Industrial-commercial-rustic antiques/vintage items, and lots and lots of them - dozens of stools, tables, desks, all sorts of items, and at generally acceptable prices (according to my scale).  If I was decorating a house from scratch, this is the kind of shop I'd like to go to for furniture, rather than some shiny-new shop (well, Ikea excepted).  It's the kind of place where you enjoy observing the history of things, as well as the browsing.  They had bus destination blinds too (over $500 each - I'm so glad I picked one up for substantially less than that last year; part of my luck was that the route had historical significance for me but wasn't of much interest to others, as the places are not trendy locations - weren't then, aren't now).
Bird Textile was across the road from davidmetnicole and I invested in some of their scrap packs (which are sold by the weight of the fabric).  Lovely Australian designer original fabrics.
And then I went home, back from the inner city to its outskirts.  Some Saturday I'll plan more and do a bit of a Surry Hills trawl.  There are a lot of interesting shops there, homewares and also food shops in the Danks St area of Waterloo (I drove through that on this trip, but couldn't find parking so I drove on).  Bird Textile had a handy shop-crawl map of Surry Hills put together by local businesses; although it didn't look like they were all within walking distance of each other, and thus parking does become an issue.
It was a good day, good to get out and about to somewhere different and see and be inspired by new things.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fresh fabrics from Australian designers: II: Loot

Loot from the Stitches and Craft Show 2009:
Not exactly fabric, but certainly craft inspiration: Mixtape:
A pack of oddments and a big fat quarter (love those nests!) from Pippijoe:
A fabric piece (can you see an emerging bird theme??) from Surface Art:
The background fabric in this shot (which I've used in all the pictures here) is, like the scrap bundle, from Kristen Doran Design:
Another bird, and some delicious red/cream trees from Ink & Spindle:
A scrap pack and several small pieces (oh my, another bird!) from Cloth:
These scrap bundles were acquired on a recent trip to Surry Hills in Sydney, where I found Bird Textile:
Note to all these businesses: a quilter like me rather does like scrap bundles/oddment bags and so forth.  Little of a lot collections.  Since these often hand-screened fabrics are generally more expensive than commercially printed/mass-produced fabrics, I like being able to buy a variety of scrap pieces.
There's a rather nice quilt waiting to emerge from that lot, don't you think?
I also acquired/assembled this little collection:
...from Amitie:
A couple of the designers said that the latest thing (owls having been done a lot) is going to be donkeys.  I'll take their word for it.  Think I'll work with the bird theme.  Hmmm.  Reminds me of the daily china around here.  And I think I remember buying some Australian designer bird-themed fabric at the Sydney Quilt Show, too.  It will be added to the mix for the quilt, methinks.

Fresh fabrics from Australian designers: I

At the Stitches and Craft Show today I spent the most time on the third floor, where the smaller stalls were with wonderful work from craft businesses designing fabric and softies and more.  Here are some of the ones I browsed:

Madeit handmade marketplace:
Sprout Design fabrics (Rebekah Chichero):
Pippijoe printed textiles (Caitlin Klooger):
la rara (Lara Raymond):
Amitie quilt fabric shop:
surface art printed textiles:
cloth printed textiles:
ink & spindle hand printed textiles (Lara Cameron, Bianca van Meeuwen and Tegan Rose):
kristen doran design, hand printed textiles:
For a list of all the retailers at this year's Sydney show (with links): click here.
Stay toooooned for some pics of my loot....they sure have revitalised the Stitches and Craft Show, it had dropped off my radar, but it's now right back on as an August unmissable.  Amitie was on the second floor, as a not so small business retailer: I also browsed Just Patchwork on the ground floor - she has some fabulous jelly rolls cut from shop stock, and they're corkers (I'm going to play with an Anna Maria Horner Good Folks range one).
I also really enjoyed the only opportunity I've had to see the recent documentary on craft in the US: Handmade Nation.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's happening?

Making : what feels like uphill progress; also a little time for this poor neglected (but not forgotten) blog

Cooking : no-brainer food

Drinking : diet Coke

Reading: intermittently execrable, intermittently adorable student fiction.  And then aiming to find constructive things to suggest.

Wanting: an end to unnecessary frustrations

Looking: at photos of Melbourne from last weekend.  I have this quilt idea...

Playing: not much.

Wasting: mental energy on things that won't change

Sewing: is on the agenda for the weekend

Wishing: things that won't change, would

Enjoying: the things the kids say and do

Waiting: for the latest Diana Gabaldon book, An Echo in the Bone (about a month away)

Liking: the unabridged audiobooks of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series.

Wondering: what it would be like to have a dragon like Temeraire as a companion.  The garden isn't big enough...

Loving: family and friends

Hoping: that the films I'm looking forward to seeing - Young Victoria, Julie and Julia, The Lovely Bones, The Time Traveler's Wife, etc, will live up to my expectations.

Marvelling: at the convict-sewn dress worn by Mrs King, Governor King's wife, in the early years of the colony of NSW - it's part of the Persuasion/Jane Austen clothing exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria

Needing: peace and quiet

Smelling: the perfume I wear every day, Tea Rose by Perfumer's Workshop.  Been wearing it for many years.  Never tire of it - it catches the planty-green of roses, as well as the florals.

Wearing: the necklace and earrings I bought at the Pompeii exhibition shop at the Melbourne Museum last weekend.  They had some really lovely pieces at affordable prices

Following: up reviews of the films above from Roger Ebert and Salon

Noticing: jonquils and daffodils

Knowing: if the jonquils and daffodils are about, then strawberries will smell sweet and taste good

Thinking: too much and to little effect

Feeling: frustrated (I think you've worked that out?)

Bookmarking: more sites than I may ever have time to revisit

Opening: emails, as time permits

Giggling: not enough

Borrowed the meme from Meet Me At Mike's.