Thursday 30 September 2021

One Monthly Goal Check In

It is time to see how I fared with my One Monthly Goal for September.

Back here, where I set my monthly goals, I aimed to stitch all the blocks from the Laundry Basket 2021 Mystery Quilt together.
This is what I started with.
This is what I ended with.  Goal achieved.
I still want to add a border.  There were options of an applique border, or a saw tooth star border, but I am too lazy to go that way. I had originally wanted to add a blue and white toile, that I have had in stash for over ten years, but it looked too washed out.  I have decided that I will use a faded red narrow border followed by the blue, which I have also had in stash for about fifteen years, when I bought it as an end of bolt for about one dollar a metre.  It has been used in lots of thing and I still love it.  I am pleased that this quilt will be made entirely from stash.

I actually had the blocks together a couple of weeks ago and had hoped to have the borders added by now, but that didn't happen.

So, that is all my stitching goals achieved for September.  Staying home definitely helps.

Thanks, as always to Patty.  Pop over to Elm Street Quilts, to see what the other ladies have achieved.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Zooming Along, a WOOFA Challenge Finish and Other Stitching

During September I have been fortunate enough to join in on a few Zoom stitching get togethers.  The first was right at the start of the month which I posted about back here.

The second time was a get together of the girls who were supposed to be attending the Bathurst Blog Meet on the second weekend of the month.  Sadly, that didn't proceed for the second year in a row.  There was on line stitching during Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I joined in on Friday and tried to join in on Saturday, but wasn't able to connect.  It was nice to catch up with a different lot of girls on line.
I did get the final block of my redwork completed.  I wasn't able to get any of the same thread, so used a blend of two DMC threads.  As it is the label I don't think that it matters that it is slightly different.

The next Zoom get together was last Saturday, organised by Chookyblue.  There was a good roll up and I was quite productive.

Firstly, as my quilt had been returned from my quilting fairy, it was a good opportunity to hand stitch down the binding.
Ta da!  One complete quilt.  
It just fits on a single bed nicely.
The quilting design is Briar Rose in Winter and I think it suits it perfectly.
And the back, created from the left over fabric. Thank goodness for the extra metre of the floral from Vinnies.  There was just enough.  Now I don't have to add any to stash and it didn't matter that I couldn't get to the shops.

I now just have to add a label before gifting it to Mum for her birthday.  A nice summery quilt for her bed.  The best bit is that today it was announced that from 11 October, if you have had both of your vaccinations, you will be able to visit nursing homes.  Happy dance, as Mum's birthday is the following week.

This ticked two boxes - a finish for One Project a Month, as well a a finish for the WOOFA Challenge.

Now, back to Zooming.........

Once I had finished stitching down the binding it was time to start another project.  Hand stitching is the ideal thing to work on, so I bit the bullet and started the Scrub Stitchin' project from this year.

Some of the girls nearly fell off their chairs when I brought out some EPP.  
It is a lovely cushion designed by Sandy from Shiralee Stitches.  I had prepared and basted the EPP pieces while up there, as we had access to the templates for cutting, but that is as far I had progressed.
It didn't take all that long to have the ring stitched together.  I can't say I enjoyed the curved piecing, and it isn't the flashest on the back, but then no one is going to see it, and it looks just fine from the front.

I'll  applique it down during the next Zoom get together.  I'm not sure if I will include the broderie perse centre or not.  I'll make that decision when I get to that stage.

Once the cushion has been completed I will have to find another project.  I have one in mind that will take quite some time, so I do hope Chooky keeps these sewing days happening so I can get it done.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a beautiful day and I felt like sitting outside and doing some stitching, but what, as I had just completed the redwork blocks?

I decided that it was time to pull out a little cross stitch project......maybe a bookmark kit, as I have a few of those.

Like everyone else, I used to do a lot of cross stitch in the late 80s and early 90s.  Mainly small projects that I either gifted or sold in a local craft shop.  Sadly, I don't really have any projects here to show for it.  There are several kits from that time in my tub that I would like to do, and I do have one half done, which it would be nice to finish.  No hurry, it's waited 30 years, what's a little more time.

The last cross stitch I did was back in 2007, when I bought a book mark kit in Scotland, with a Celtic design, and stitched it while were were on the Isle of Man.
The first kit that I saw in the box of many kits was this little daffodil card.  Rather appropriate for the season, so that is what I decided to work on. I've no idea where it has come from.  I'm guessing I found it on the white elephant stall or an op shop.
I had forgotten how time consuming it is to do a small area.  This is only just over two inches square and took several hours.  Mind you, there are five different greens and five different yellows, so not just nice simple blocks of colour.

I'm pleased to have the stitching completed and not end up as another cross stitch UFO.  However, I don't know what I will do with it.  I don't necessarily want it to be a card.  It may be framed to add to my little spring display, or maybe form part of a spring mini quilt.  Who knows.  I'd better do something with it or it will end up being a UFO.

After dipping my toe in the water, so to speak, I'll have to decide which cross stitch project I will work on next. Not something to do while zooming though, as I would need to concentrate.

Sunday 26 September 2021

The Big Experiment - Cooking in the Camp Oven

One of the goals I mentioned at the start of the month was to try some camp oven cooking. The big experiment......assisted by advice from my brother and some Youtube videos.

I know it isn't rocket science, but just something that we have never really tried.  We are using heat beads, rather than a camp fire.  Much easier in the back yard and easier to regulate the heat.  
We are using this little doo dad to get the beads to temperature. The theory is that the number of heat beads used is determined by the diameter of the camp oven (ours is 10 inches). You sit the camp oven on two less than the diameter and then place two more than the diameter on top, so in our case, eight beads underneath and twelve on top. 
We also cheated and used Mum's old oven thermometer to check that the oven was hot enough.
We started out with a very basic, traditional damper.  The recipe is three cups of S.R. flour, a pinch of salt and about a cup of warm water.  That's it.  Just mix with a knife and don't knead it.  I was a bit dubious as to how it would go, but it looked the part.
It didn't even look too bad once cut.
And  most important, the proof was in the eating and it was good, if slightly heavier than scones.  Golden syrup and jam were the obvious choice of spread.  I know we should have had billy tea, but our coffee was just as good.

The next plan was to roast a chook.  However, the chook I bought was too large for the pot.  It was a large chook and our camp oven wasn't.  (We actually decided that the next size up, a 12 inch/9 quart version, would be more practical, so were going to go shopping.  However, my brother has several and had one he no longer uses, so yesterday he sent it our way, which was nice.)

Seeing as the chook didn't go ahead (it was cooked in the usual manner in the oven and tasted great) we tried something else.

While we were playing with the rustic camp oven we may as well play with this vintage small pie dish we bought at an antique centre in Uralla some time ago.  The idea is the little handle releases the baking from the pan.
There we go.  One little spinach and feta pie in the pot ready to cook.  It was quite funny seeing Mick put it in the pot, using two wire hooks to lower it in and then get it out, balancing it very carefully.
Another success.  It looked delicious.
The little handle on the pan worked OK, but would probably be better on cakes.  It was also a pain to clean under the handle.  The pie was as tasty as it looked.  This recipe is one that Shez shared on her blog some years ago and I often make it.

The next meal in the camp oven, cooked yesterday, was steak and Guiness stew.  Well, it was actually steak and Tooheys Old stew, using the new to us larger camp oven.
In actual fact, the smaller camp oven would have been better for this meal.  At Chooky's suggestion we added some dumplings to the top.  They look a bit ordinary, as the heat beads started to lose their heat before the meal was cooked.  We now know that next time we want to cook something long and slow to add a few more heat beads half way through the cooking time.  We ended up putting the camp oven in the hooded barbecue for the last half hour.
The end result was still delicious.  We found a nice bottle of cab merlot in the cupboard and sat down to a very tasty and satisfying dinner.  The best bit is that we get to eat the same meal and finish off the bottle of red tonight with very little effort.

Now that we have the larger camp oven, we will probably try a roast in it next weekend.  Watch this space.

Friday 24 September 2021

What We've Been Getting Up To

So what have we been up to while we are still in lock down?

I've been going to work, like normal, whereas Mick has stopped working  again, which is good, considering he is supposed to be retired.  

Mick is always happy pottering away in his shed and has been having a great time playing with his new toy.......which I still haven't shared here......I will.....soon.  He also enjoys playing in the garden and has it looking lovely.

Me, well I'm always happy playing in my sewing room.

Other than that, when it rained last weekend I went and pulled out this little box.
It is only about four inches square and holds a little 100 piece puzzle.  Mum bought it at the church white elephant stall a few years ago.  However, it just sat in her room for a couple of years and I know she would not be able to manage it now, so I brought it home.  Mum loves jigsaws.  When she was a dressmaking teacher in the 1950s and boarding in a lady's home she would do jigsaws.  She had some lovely ones of paintings of English castles. They are here now.  I may get them out and revisit them.  For someone who was not at all sporty, during the hot summer you would always find Mum sitting at the dining table, watching the cricket on the tele and working on a large jigsaw.  
Mick and I sat down to this little one and had it completed in an hour.  There was no picture to guide us, just the shapes of the pieces.  It was a nice little interlude.  I think another puzzle will come out soon.  Our only problem is that we only have one big table in the house, so it is a bit tricky to have one set up for any length of time.  We'll see how we go.
I've been reading.  My goal was to read at least one book this month.  Well, so far I've read five and the month isn't over yet.

Robert Goddard is an author we came across either at an op shop or book exchange and have found a few in our travels.  They are all mysteries, but not your normal formula.  I have a couple more sitting next to my chair to read soon.  We'll keep an eye out for more of his books.

Neither of us have ever read an ebook, always having plenty of "real" books to keep us amused.  However, Mick is in a bit of a dilemma, as he is running out of reading material.  He is a prolific reader and the op shops and library are all closed to the public at the moment.
I decided it was time to have a play around with the ebooks at the library.  I had read on a blog about "The Thursday Murder Club", so thought it would be a good one to start with, but it was only available on hold.  In the meantime, I grabbed whatever came up quickly, so read this old Pryne Fisher book.
I was pleased when my requested book became available much sooner than anticipated.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  As the review said, it was funny and clever.  The sequel "The Man Who Died Twice" has been released, but it is on reserve until March 2022.  I'll get to it at some stage.

Mick has even read one ebook.  However, he finds the font too small on his phone or the ipad, so is just using his laptop.
We've been baking again.  Also, as one of my goals this month I had said it would be good to revisit some old favourite recipes that I haven't made in years.
Firstly, one afternoon I wanted something quick and tasty, so made some pikelets.  This is also something that I haven't made in years.  There were too many for just us, so a plateful was also sent to our lovely next door neighbours.
I had some carrots in the fridge that needed using, so carrot cake was the perfect way to use them up. Carrot cake is also something I haven't made in years.  This recipe is one I pulled from a Family Circle back in 1983, shortly after I left school.  It is as yummy as I remember.

There was far too much of the cream cheese icing, so we then made some muffins.  The same recipe as we used for the raspberry and pear ones, but this time we used apple and walnut.  Yummo.  We reckon we may try apple and ginger next time.

I have also revisited two other old recipes.  Meatballs in Beer Sauce and Spanish Chicken. It's been fun dusting off the old recipes.

So, all in all, we have not had any trouble filling in our time at home and are really enjoying it.  Having said that, we do realise that we are in a very fortunate place in our lives to be able to enjoy this time at home.

Thursday 23 September 2021

Spring Has Sprung

Here it is, three weeks into to spring and I've hardly posted at all. That is not to say that things haven't been happening.
Our wattle tree was putting on its best show at the start of the month for Wattle Day.
The fragrance was divine and the bees were loving it.

The weather has been all over the place, as it typically is at this time of year.  We have had glorious days with the temperature up to the low 20s C, only to then have cold fronts come through and it plummet to not even reaching double digits and a dusting of snow on the hills in the district.
The winter display on our little kitchen shelf has been put away.
To be replaced by a more spring like offering.
Our weeping cherry tree, which we have now had for two years, put on a nice show, as did the ring of mixed daffodils around its base.
Back in autumn we visited Canowindra and I bought a packet of white daffodil bulbs.  They are blooming beautifully, with two blooms on each stem, which is unusual.

We have planted our tomato seedlings in pots and they are getting a bit of a start in the green house.  The snow peas are growing nicely, but only three ordinary pea seeds germinated, so they have been replanted and are now just starting to poke their heads through the surface.
The cherry tree blossoms have just about finished now, just in time for the crab apple to put on its show.

What we have really enjoyed is mornings that are warm enough to eat our breakfasts out on the back verandah, which receives lovely morning sun.

In normal times we always say we are not very good at staying home, but it really has been nice to be at home at this time of year.

We have had a few walks, when the weather has been nice, but not as many as we should do.  Living on the edge of town, we can wander through suburbia, or we can head up the hill behind our house and be in among the paddocks.
The view to the west is glorious.
Some gum trees will be covered in blossoms before long.
It's hard to believe that there are suburbs just down behind the first hill.

Well that's enough for today.  I'll share more of what we have been up to shortly.