Friday, February 28, 2014

Piggy Cup Cakes

A few years ago I made some "Piggy Cup Cakes" for a bake stall we had at school for James class and apparently they sold out in record time.  With Sienna's birthday coming up (which was last Thursday) she wanted me to make the Piggy Cup Cakes for her class.  As usual the cake finishing off ended up with me at 9 pm at night trying to ice the cakes only to discover I had run out of icing bags.  I tried using a zip lock bag however when I squeezed it the bag split and icing came pouring out everywhere....a few words were said which I can't repeat here and then a frantic call to my neighbour to get some piping bags.  The bags didn't fit the nozzle I had so I just iced the cakes with a knife instead of doing fancy swirls and this was probably better in the end.

Sienna was thrilled with the cakes and took them school with her on Thursday.  One thing I have learnt is that I need to bake the cakes and freeze them a couple of days before and do the icing the day before.  I can't be too hard on myself given I was making her Rag Quilt and also my sister was in hospital for breast surgery so it was a busy week and stressful week.  Here's the little Piggy Cup Cakes which Sienna was so delighted with.  I think they look a little bit of a cross between a dog and a pig however 8 year olds won't be judging that, they will be eating them.  Although Sienna said that one little girl at school didn't want to eat it because it looked so cute but couldn't resist because everyone was saying how great they tasted.




Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sienna and her Flannel Rag Quilt

Sienna's birthday was yesterday and I gave her some presents in the morning but saved the Rag Quilt that I had made for her until the afternoon.  James was wanting me to give the Quilt to her in the morning because he was excited to see her reaction as he knew she would love it.  There's enough going on in the morning with opening presents, getting ready for school, making birthday pancakes for breakfast that I didn't want it to be a two minute open and put down to enjoy other things because I wanted it to be special.

She knew she was getting the "special sewing project" after school and when we got home James wanted to be the one to hand over the Quilt.  I actually wanted to give it to Sienna myself given that I had made it, however James was so excited and wanted to be the one to give it to her that I figured I could take photos of her reaction and we would all be happy.  So here's some pictures of Sienna getting her present which she had to close her eyes while James brought it out because it wasn't wrapped but I did tie a ribbon around it and put a card on top.  James is wishing he had one himself as he loves how cosy and warm it is so I'll be on the hunt for some "flannel fabric for boys" to so in the next couple of months.  Here's Sienna's beautiful reaction to the hand made Rag Quilt which is adorable to say the least.  I got such enjoyment out of making this for her and I loved that I was able to capture her excitement as well.














Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sienna's Flannel Rag Quilt

Sienna's turns 8 tomorrow and for the past couple of months I have been thinking about making her a hand made gift.  I was looking on Pinterest and thinking about Owls which are her favourite thing but couldn't quite work out what I wanted to make.  Last week I was visiting a friend and she showed me the rag quilt that her sister had made for her son and I decided that I would make one for Sienna.  The traditional rag quilt is made up of squares however you can also do strips.  Given the short time frame I had because I had left it to the last minute I decided that doing strips was going to be achievable vs the squares.  Note:  This fabric is "Flannel" and it's needed in this particular quilt to get the effect.  I also used a really thin but very soft wadding/batting because you want the overall softness when cuddling up to this quilt.  The problem is with Flannel is there is not a huge range of fabrics like their is in normal quilting fabrics but I was very happy with these that I had purchased from a specialty quilting shop.  I did pop down to Spotlight yesterday to see if there were any boy type fannels with the hope of making one for James however there was only really baby fabrics in the flannel.  Spotlight quilting fabrics are generally much cheaper than the specialty quilting stores but I started out with the quilting store for my first attempt.  I used a rotary cutter and cutting mat and a "walking foot" as there are 6 layers of fabric doing this quilt.  If you are a quilter you would probably already own a walking foot however they are not cheap as I bought mine many years ago and I think it was $70 but my normal sewing foot would have struggled I think.  The walking foot helps get the fabric through.



I bought the fabric last Friday and cut it all up on Saturday afternoon and Saturday night in between attending a 6 year old birthday party in the morning and a School Bush Dance in the evening.  I was on a mission to have this quilt done for her birthday which was basically 5 days away with 2 of those days being the weekend when the birthday girl would be around so I was cutting it very fine indeed.

I had 6 different fabrics which were divided into 2 blue, 2 pink and 2 aqua patterns and then some white in between each set.  I cut the 6 fabrics into 5 inch strips and the white fabric which was to go in between the colour sets into 3 inch strips.  The seams for sewing the rag quilts are not the normal 1/4 inch seam but a half inch seam.  Therefore the finished strip allowing for half inch seam either side means a 5 inch wide strip less the 1 inch seam allowance (half each each side) comes back to 4 inches of fabric finished.  With the white strips, they were 3 inches wide less the 1 inch seams (half inch each side) back to 2 inches finished.  I ended up with 18 pieces of the different fabrics cut into the 5 inch wide strips.  So in other words from each fabric I cut 3 strips each (5 inches wide x the length of the fabric) and I had 6 different fabrics which gave me the 18 pieces for the 5 inch wide colours.


The main thing you have to get your head around with this quilt is that your seam is above on top of your finished piece and not under the finished piece which is the normal method for sewing seams together.  So with normal sewing we are putting right sides together ie the good fabric right sides together but with this quilt you are actually putting the right sides of the backing fabric together and the right side of your quilt is what you sew onto and not the wrong sides of the fabric.  Confused...........it's pretty simple but you have to think about it when you are pinning your work so you can start to sew your seams together.


I used one design of fabric to cover the back which was coloured circles on white and that little bit of coloured fabric comes through in the finished seam which looks so pretty.

There are lots of instructions on the net or just go to Pinterest and type in "Rag Quilt" and you'll find lots of ideas and instructions there.

So a recap of what you have to cut.  Strips for the top of the quilt (coloured above).  Strips of wadding/batting for the middle and then strips of your backing fabric for the back.  You are going to made a sandwich of backing fabric (lay the good or right side of the fabric facing the floor, then pop your strip of wadding/batting next and then pop on top your coloured piece of fabric facing up.  Then pop a few pins into the middle of this sandwich all the way to the bottom and set aside.  I used about 4 pins on each sandwich strip to hold it together.  Continue doing this to all of your pieces the same way.

Then next you want to sew a straight line down the middle of each of your sandwiches which basically holds these 3 layers together.  Go through and one by one sew a line down the middle of every piece you have.  You are still operating with single strips of fabric only now everything is 3 layers deep.  Once you have done that place all of your pieces in the pattern you want on the floor and I just repeated my pattern with white in between each colour.  Once they are in the pattern you want it is just a just a matter of joining one piece to the next in that order.  NOTE:  remember joining them is different to how you would normally join pieces together (see above for explanation).  There were 18 pieces of coloured 5 inch strips and if you allow 2 minutes to sew a line down the middle for each piece that's only a bit over half an hour so this process is pretty quick.  I then did the same to the smaller white pieces of fabric.


I starting out doing a little TV blanket for Sienna however it ended up being the length of her bed so I just went with that as I had bought the fabric and had cut it all out. She can put it on top of her bed or drag it out to the lounge to keep warm in winter watching a bit of TV.

The thing that takes the most time and effort is using your scissors to cut all the seams to near the sewing line.  Your hands get pretty sore as you are cutting through 6 layers of fabric and 2 of them are wadding/batting.



Once all the strips are sewn together and clipped along the seam line you can sew a seam half an inch around the entire quilt for your boarder and then clip that as well.


Once it's all finished pop it into the washing machine on cold and I just put it in on the quick 30 minute cycle with no detergent.

Once it has been through the wash, pop the quilt into the dryer with a tennis ball and put it on low heat and dry away to your hearts content.  This is the process that finishes the quilt off by getting all those snipped seams to ruffle/frill up.  This is one of those things that drying your quilt on the line won't do.  I actually popped 3 tennis balls into the machine in the end and I guess it knocks the fabric about and makes those seams come alive with the lovely edge that you get when it's finished. NOTE:  Stay by the dryer and every ten minutes clean out the lint filter because there will be lots of fluff.  Half way through I took the quilt outside and gave it a good shake as well and put it back into the dryer with the tennis balls.  Just a reminder that you should be handy to your dryer while your quilt is in the dryer to clean out the fluff and also make sure there is no lint/fluff in your dryer before you pop your quilt into it.


Here's the finished quilt which I love and I know Sienna will love it.  This afternoon I showed the quilt to James while Sienna watching TV in another room and he loved it.  He said it was so warm and wanted one himself and he knew Sienna would love it.




See the colourful circle fabric as my backing fabric.  These circles are on white.


The finished quilt can sit on her bed although it's only as wide as the fabric bolt so there's no real overhang like a doona but it does cover the length of her bed but this will be her morning TV blanket.  I'm thrilled to bits with how it turned out given that I bought the fabric last Friday and didn't start sewing it until Monday.  I was busy yesterday so didn't do any and this morning I spent a few hours finishing it off so I can give it to her for her birthday tomorrow.  I have to go an ice 3 dozen piggy cupcakes now so haven't got time to proof read this to see if it makes sense but wanted to post the pictures.  I'll revisit it tomorrow just to make sure but for now....I know my birthday girl will be up at the crack of dawn so I had better ice those cakes, go and watch The Block and Biggest Loser and get some sleep.  Yes, I love my reality TV.  I love the square rag quilts but this one is quick and easy and is just as effective.  Just imagine if all those rows were 10-12 squares and how much more joining would that be so the strip version is pretty quick.  One day I might make the square one but for now I'm so happy with this one.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Home Made Bread

I love making Turkish Bread and Foccacia which is pretty easy and my experience with home made white bread is in my opinion a bit heavy.  I want to be able to make a white loaf of bread that is as soft "Bakers Delight" white loaf.  I am yet to find it so if someone has the softest white bread recipe let me know.  A lot of bread is good for toast but a bit heavy to put two slices of bread together with a sandwich.  With all that being said, I found a recipe this morning that I thought would give a try.

Mix the dough and pop it in a greased glass bowl.

First rise.

Punch down the dough.

Pop it into a loaf tin for the 2nd rise - it has to rise to the level of the top of the loaf tin.

Baked for 20 minutes in the oven.

A Golden loaf of bread.

The finished loaf.

In terms of the look of the loaf I loved the look of it and the crust.  I did have a ham and salad sandwich using this bread and it was nice but I think it would be a nicer "toast" loaf but we are getting more like what I'm after but not quite there yet.  This was probably one of the better white loaves I've made but some more research is required.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Home Grown Corn

Back on the 1st December Sienna and my father in law from Melbourne planted some corn and here we are about 10 weeks later and the corn told us it was ready to eat.  I am simply amazed at this type of nature.  I knew the corn was nearing readiness last week however, last night when we were in the garden half of the corn was leaning on it's side literally meaning it was ready for us to pick.  I had recently researched how to tell when corn would be ready to pick and it said that the tops of the corn that hair like grass would go brown and dry and that the corn would be at an angle beckoning to be picked.  When I read that I thought how clever it that, but had just imagined that the actual corn cob would lean more on a right angle telling the gardener it was ready however it happens to be the entire plant.  Thinking about it makes sense because these are heavy veggies on a rather thin stalk.  See half of them leaning over to say "I'm ready pick me, pick me".  So cool......




What surprised me even more was I was taking photos of Sienna and James in front of the corn on Thursday afternoon and the corn were all standing upright and then last night when we were in the garden noticed that half of them were leaning over.  It was the funniest thing for me to witness and I think the whole process is so clever.  You don't need an app for that, the corn says "I'm ready".  Without waiting any further we promptly cut off two cobs of corn and the kids ripped them apart for our little photo shoot.

It was pitch black by this stage so I had to try and keep the kids still because the shutter speed was so slow and my ISO was pretty high.  Both of the kids were holding the cobs of corn up saying "Look Mum it's like the Statue of Liberty".  Then they tried to do a "007 James Bond" pose with the corn before it was time for me to cook it and put it on our pizza's.  Let me tell you, this is the best corn I've ever tasted and it was such a fun experience watching it grow and learning about another veggie in our gardening journey.