Monday, December 28, 2009

My very clever Mother

I am so lucky and blessed to have a mother who is so artistic it almost wafts off her when she walks. She scoffs at such statements, but she never ceases to amaze me at the beautiful things she makes.
This Christmas I have been so lucky to receive home made gifts. These shall be heirlooms. I'm going to show two of the gifts in this post. The first is an embroidered brooch.

It is a lovely round, silk button about 2.5 inches across. The silk is orange shot with purple and Mum has picked those colours out of it. This is going to look fabulous with a hand dyed scarf that her late best friend dyed for a wedding present to me. A fitting tribute to another amazing artist.

My other gift is a hand embroidered needle holder, shown here front and back.

Not only is it exquisite in its detail, it is full of family jokes and personal touches. The rose climbing up the right is Leonidas, which is my favourite rose and was in my wedding bouquet. I LOVE irises, famous for it. The bees are a family joke, as are the pansies (don't ask, noone would ever think the jokes funny but us!). I also love that spring and summer flowers are all in together in a way that could never happen in reality.
And to think that after making this, she decided that she should learn a bit more about embroidery techniques!I am so lucky to have such a loving, clever and patient mother, who has always been willing to show her stubborn daughter how to do things too. Thanks Mum xoxo

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I love Christmas Day. I love the preparation, the gift making and choosing, the planning and the creative outlet of it all. I love the religious significance of it.
This year, I also enjoyed enormously setting a table for 14-16 people. The magnificent cloth is a 6m length of craft cotton bought on sale from Snotfight. Yes, OK, sometimes they come through for us. My mother doctored the crackers, adding big bows and chocolates to the outside and much better presents to the inside. The miniature water pistols were particular favourites. Gorgeous serviettes from Whare in Christchurch, my table decorations as previously blogged, and the mandatory glasses of chocolates finished it all off.We had a sumptuous feast of traditional foods. I received some hand made gifts that will merit their very own posting, but not tonight. I hope that wherever you were and whatever you ate and whatever kind of table setting you had, you had a wonderful day. M xxo

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pre-Christmas dinner

Terry presiding over our Pre Christmas table.
On the 23rd December, MrC and I were joined by our dear friends Ross and Terry for Christmas Dinner. This because they are escaping to Oz on the big Day, so we exchanged presents, ate ham and had a lovely time. I forgot crackers, though. But I was happy with the table - a length of Christmas craft cotton topping the table cloth made for a festive feel.

It was a cutey little ham, perfect for a small number. I glazed it with wholeseed mustard mixed with orange marmalade, yum. A simple meal, it is summer here after all and the full excesses of traditional Christmas food are too much for me! The platter on which the ham is sitting was made by my mother in her pottery days. For dessert we had trad pudding with lemon brandy sauce. Noone got a photo of it, but it tasted great. Ross and Terry loved their shirts, I hope to have photos to upload. Perhaps I'll do a whole post one day on the shirts I have made them through the years...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Pavlova Obsession

No I don't have a thing for Russian ballerinas, I have a thing for that Antipodean specialty, the Pavlova. It is so underrated, this dessert of the Gods. Its sheer simplicity makes it a base for so many exciting variations. It makes me want to weep seeing a perfectly bland pav sitting there with kiwi fruit slices or even, heaven forbid, strawberries on it! ERK!!!
I have a few secret taste combos that I am stingily not sharing, because a gal has to have some secrets. But I did want to show this pavlova that I made for our department's Christmas function. This function takes place at my boss Pen's divine 1920's home, and as Pen is a Culinary Goddess of the highest divinity, only a chosen few are allowed to bring food across her threshold. I am one of the blessed, and this is due to my pavs.
This is the photo I took just before we left
Isn't she pretty! A topping of raspberry coulis, a ring of cream and topped off with some of my signature butterflies. I laid her ever so carefully in the back of the car, which is completely flat, and David drove off ever so carefully. In spite of this, somewhere along the way, the raspberry slid sideways, taking the cream with it, and the whole thing looked like a train wreck. I was gutted. However my ever positive co-workers jollied me along and we carefully slid most of it back into place. The way in which it was demolished with many groans of pure ecstasy I think really showed that appearances are not always everything.

Never one to miss a learning experience however, my Christmas Day pav will be garnished at the venue!

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

...And nothing much is stirring around here but me! Tomorrow is the Big Day, we have a 6 metre table to decorate, so I thought I'd get it done tonight, to free up tomorrow for food preparation.
The other night I wired up loops of ribbons,
stuck little apples onto wires, and I found wonderful gold rococo tree decorations that I stuck to wooden skewers. These are an important design element as the table cloth has a lot of that in it.
Then it was outside to raid our one and only fir type tree, and start building a base. Note pavlova cooling gently in the background. Pavs are always better cooked the day before.

This is the middle piece being built in a rectangular dish so it can hold three candles.
After a lot of sticking in of objets, voila!
Almost complete. all that is needed is a few burgundy glass baubles poked in, and as they are still on the tree I'll do that tomorrow. It's for colour balance - the cloth is black with poinsettia in it, and has a lot of darker reds. These decos have a more tomatoey red thing going on and the burgundy will help balance the colour.And here they all are, two smaller, rounder ones with one candle, and the main, larger one with three.
This is what I love about Christmas, and I can't wait to take a photo of the table all set up tomorrow afternoon.

A tattoo is for life

Greetings all. I know it's Christmas Eve and the are plenty of more topical things to talk about but I just want to share this. While out helping AlohaAroha at Expressions Bridal exhibition, I met a woman who had this tattoo on her upper arm:

She very kindly let me take a photo and said I could blog about it, but I didn't get her name.
Isn't it cool!!! The bits you can't see are a ball of knitting wool, and just disappearing around the right side is a dressmaker's dummy. This is the first tattoo I've ever seen that makes me really want one like it. I am a wooss from waaaay back, but a discreet needle and thread tucked away somewhere hideable...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A beauty tip

Christmas preparations are well under way, and I am having a trial run tomorrow night for two good friends.
In our family we serve a lemon brandy sauce with the Christmas pudding, and so I've been zesting and squeezing lemons. The fragrant tang is still on my hands, and my skin is soooo soft. I know lemons have oil in them but I didn't appreciate just how lovely lemons can be. I feel like I've had a luxurious manicure instead of being in the kitchen cookin' up a storm!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Update on my baby

My baby was not fixed with a clean up after all. When I got her out to use again, the same thing started happening. I was convinced it was the pedal not the machine causing the problem, and borrowed Mum's 1030 pedal to test it. She ran like a dream with the other pedal. It does my head in that the technician didn't even bother to check the pedal!!!! So now I am stuck with one working pedal for two machines over Christmas, which is going to get interesting.
Anyway the moral of the story is, stick to your guns with these blokes.

Here she is! The image is blurred to protect her identity ;-)

Cupcake heaven

You may have picked up on how much I love to make cupcakes. Since my first posting about them, I've won a bake off, improved the butterflies and branched out into other patterns. I've collected enough cupcake wrappers to stock a cake shop for a month (baking pogeybait) and may have to photograph them all and do a post about them just to prove it (and to show them off!)
And so it was a matter of the utmost delight to receive a cupcake stand from my fabulous boss Pen this week for Christmas:

Isn't it adorable!!! It holds 18 cakes and comes apart so it is easy to transport and store.

Of course, an empty stand is just an invitation to a baker with the next day off to create:

Also I am thrilled to have found a recipe that doesn't sink in the middle, and the texture of the cake is much improved. Amazingly this recipe breaks all the rules - much the same ingredients but you put everything in together and beat the bejeezus out of it. No creaming, folding faffing around.

Featured in this selection are stand alone papers in green and pink each with white polka dots, and two types of rococo papers: black with silver and white with black.

In the background is draped the throw I made at quilting camp. To think I was going to make curtains out of it, what a waste!!! :)

Craftageddon it

A while back, Joie and I noticed that those around us at work kept wanting to buy the things we make. So, we figured why not have a craft fair at work. Raise some money for a good cause, and make a bit of Christmas money ourselves. In the end, seven staff and mothers of staff signed up, and we got some reciprocation from a related department too. We had a fair at our office, then the following week I went over and helped run one at theirs. Together we raised $360 for the Downtown Community Ministry of Wellington
Here are some of the wares:

There was heaps more too. Don't you just love Joie's fishnet and red stiletto Xmas stocking, bottom left?!

Quilting Camp

They call them retreats but I can't shake the feeling I ought to be sitting in the Lotus position and ohmming at a retreat. On 4-6 December I headed off for a weekend of intensive creating, socialising, eating and shopping. Heaven!! Excellent company, inspiring things being created all around me.
In the one weekend I assembled an entire 25 block, two border quilt top:

Not a great pic, I used my camera. I also quilted a single sized top, made a coffee plunger cosy, a bag in a bag and a sheer throw to put over a buffet.

Recognise the blocks? The finished quilt is just over 6 feet square and will end up on the end of the bed of my friends Eileen and Robert.


I'm clearly not as prolific a blogger as I thought I would be. Since my last post, we thought, hmm, that's a nice townhouse, and bought it and moved in nearly two months ago. As you do. End result is that we now have a nice big, sunny room to sew and compute in. Wasted as a master bedroom! :)
Too much has happened since then so I'll stick to the bits I remember and want to share!