Tuesday 29 May 2012

A Trip To France!!

Alas, no, I'm not jumping on a plane to fly off to this romantic destination ... but it got your attention, didn't it! Tee! Hee! Hee! My imaginary trip to the home of the Eiffel Tower and the Fleur de Lise is the result of a request from my bloggy buddy, Miss Chookyblue. Chooky was popping her slow-cooker on over the weekend and wondered if any of her bloggy buddies had any good slow cooker recipes. I told her one of our faves is "Burgundy Beef With Cheese and Herb Dumplings" and she asked if I cared to share ... and since we can't all travel to the Burgundy region in France to indulge our gastromic extravigances, I thought you might like to take your taste buds on a French holiday instead, so get your pencils and notebooks out! :0)

Burgundy Beef With Cheese & Herb Dumplings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 750g diced beef (I have a lovely local butcher who does the dicing especially for me! :0D)
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2 large chopped cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons plain (all purpose) flour
  • 300ml Burgundy red wine (I think grape juice would work if you don't have wine available)
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 large potatoes chopped to bite-size chunks
  • salt & pepper to taste

  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 75g butter/olive oil spread
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • handful of finely chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley, basil, rosemary) or 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
  • salt & pepper
  • 5-7 tablespoons of water (I add 5 spoons to start and add more as needed so mix isn't too soggy)

1. Preheat slow cooker if necessary (as per manufacturers instructions)
2. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onion, garlic and diced beef and brown, stirring to avoid sticking or burning for about 5 minutes.
3. Stir through flour until beef is coated, pour in wine and stock and stir well. Add tomato paste, salt and pepper, stir well. Add chopped potato. Stir and bring to a simmer. Transfer to slow cooker and cook on high for five hours before adding dumplings.

1. Place all ingredients except water into a bowl and mix to combine. Gradually add water and mix to form a soft but not sticky dough.
2. With floured hands, shape dough into 8 balls. Give stew a stir to avoid any sticking, then place dumplings gently in cooker and replace lid. Cook for a further hour or until dumplings are cooked through.
3. Serve generous portions into shallow bowls with a couple of dumplings each and ... Bon Appetite, mes amis! :0) Sorry about the terrible French accent! Tee! Hee! Hee!

I hope you enjoy your own version of Burgundy Beef With Cheese And Herb Dumplings ... I would love to hear what you think of it! :0) And don't forget to hop across to Chookyblue's blog to find some links to even MORE yummy slow-cooker recipes! Hmmm ... perhaps I've found ONE thing I don't mind about winter, after all! Tee! Hee! Hee!
Hope you're all having a fabulous start to your week ... OPAMers ... Don't forget it's nearly THAT time again, so remember to update your sidebar lists ASAP and email your final tally for May through to Sweet Peg or me. In the meantime ... I wonder if I have any diced beef in the freezer for tomorrow night's dinner! :0) Til next time ...


Sunday 27 May 2012

BRRRRRR!! Winter's Arrived!!!

They don't call Toowoomba "The Fridge On The Ridge" for no reason and yesterday saw us shivering with the lowest May temps on record ... something I sure could have done without!!!!! So with the cold weather, there was mad digging in the cupboard and a special 'wash day' today ...

Yep ... all the scarves were washed and hung out to dry today ... did I mention I really HATE to be cold!! :0) With the temps outside dipping, you can imagine that I've spent as much of my weekend as  possible INSIDE! :0) So I finished writing up the instructions for ...

A fun and funky pinwheel table runner.

Don't the bright purple, blue and pink colours really pop against the white?! :0)

This fun, quick project will be displayed with the "Domestic Bliss" range of fabrics at my Home-Away-From-Home ... Quilters Angel. And if you buy your fabrics from the lovely Marion and Steph ... you will receive the instructions for this project FREE!! Fabulous gift idea for friends and family. I think I must have been channelling the "Queen Of Table Runners" ... Sweet Peg!  :0)

Another finish this week was for my nephew's upcoming birthday. He turns two and is mad keen on 'diggers' and all things big, yellow and construction-orientated. In fact, one of his most recently enjoyed playdates was when my brother packed up an impromptu picnic to be enjoyed whilst watching some big machines in action ... he's such a boy! Tee! Hee! Hee!

When I spotted this panel at my HAFH I knew it was JUST what I needed for the special birthday boy's gift. :0) There are diggers, concrete trucks, utes ... even some porta-loos! Tee! Hee! Hee! The lovely Fiona from Bubz Rugz (and one of my fellow Quilting Angels!!) did some wonderful free-motion quilting on this for me, outlining the shapes - THANKS FIONA!! I finished stitching down the binding this weekend, so it will be ready to be mailed off to the birthday boy this week.

And when it came to choosing backing fabric, I couldn't have found better than this fun flannel ... MORE diggers, trucks and tractors! :0)

As well as these two finishes ( YAY! Two to add to my OPAM list!!) the cold snap prompted the beginning of a new project ...

... Some yummy flannel fabrics laid out to make a warm, cosy flannel blankie for my Beloved Geek Boy! My own flannel blankie has been used so much that it's starting to look a bit more SHABBY than CHIC, but I've never got around to making one for GB. A situation soon to be rectified. :0) This funky range of flannel also has a fabric with jungle animals on and would make fabulous flannel jammies for a little person ... just give Marion and Steph a shout to order some for your very ownself! :0)

Right ... I think I've earned a cuppa, don't you?! :0) So I shall toodle off, add my finishes to my OPAM list (end of the month isn't far off, gals!! So get those sidebar lists updated and emails off to Sweet Peg and I!!) then pop the kettle on. Hope your weekend has been productive, too. Til next time ...



Monday 21 May 2012

Feeling Blissful!!

Well ... I bet you're surprised to see me popping up here AGAIN!! I think I'm setting a new record for the number of blog posts I do in a week ... but don't get too used to it, I'm sure I'll slip back into my tardy ways very soon! :0)

I promised a couple of posts back that I'd share some photos of what I've been working away on lately. So, after a slightly frustrating hour in the back yard ... trust me to pick a windy day to take outdoor photos!!! ... and with the ASSISTANCE (???????!!) of furry kids Wombat and Lily ... I'm back to keep my promise to you. On a side-note ... goodness knows what the neighbours would have thought if they peeked out their kitchen window while I was faffing about with quilts, teacups, bunches of lavender, birdhouses and dogs!!! They'd probably start to think I'm a bit ODD ... oh wait!!! .... TOO LATE! Tee! Hee! Hee!

Firstly ... I showed you the finished top of my "Blissful Butterflies" quilt a while back ... well ... I got it back from the quilter a little over a week ago and ... brace yourselves ... I've finished writing the instructions!!! WOO! HOO! Yay me! :0) I just have to finalise the cover photos (hence the foray into windy-day photography!) and double-check the requirements list and it will be ready to release ... YAY! :0) In the meantime, I thought I'd share some pics with you, my blogging buddies. Ready???

Here she is in all her pink glory! :0) I am THRILLED with how quilter-extraordinaire Rosalie has quilted my butterflies ... cross-hatching in the applique squares and a simple-but-sweet butterfly meander all over the remaining squares and outer border ... PERFECT! Not too fussy, so the pretty applique butterflies are the main attention-grabber. And while I was out playing with the camera in the yard, I decided to take a few 'arty' pics, too. :0) This is something I actually struggle with, as taking anything other than front-and-centre pics goes against all my newspaper Journalist/Photographer instructions ... but I'm trying! :0)

A close-up of one of the applique butterflies ...

I'm pretty happy with how this out-of-character pink quilt has come together and can't wait to see other people enjoying making their own version of "Butterfly Bliss". Once the final proofing is done, I should be ready to add it to my web site on the weekend ... fingers crossed! :0)

The other project I managed to finish in the last week was an iPad pouch for my sort-of-sister Tiffy. We're all pretty excited for Tiffy ... she has secured a place as a councellor at a summer camp in the States ... what a fabulous opportunity for her to see a bit of the world and spread her wings! :0) However ... she WILL want to keep in contact with us all and so has bought herself an iPad to email and chat live with us ... she just needed a pretty pouch to keep it safe. So I whipped this up ...

As you can see ... I've played with not only the fabrics left over from my "Blissful Butterflies" quilt, I've also adapted the design into a stitchery. This pouch will be part of a future pattern, so if you're like me and embracing the iPad (or an e-reader of some sort!) stay tuned to be able to buy the pattern to make your own pouch! :0)

And that's it from me today. I HAVE been playing with a little something else, but I still need to do a bit more twiddling and fiddling before it's ready for pics. I hope you're all having a fabulous start to your week and look forward to hearing about what YOU'VE been up to over the last little while in your creative life. :0) Enjoy the rest of your week ... I'm off to pop the kettle on! I bet that surprises you no end! Tee! Hee! Hee! Til next time ...


Saturday 19 May 2012


You didn't think I'd be back again THIS quickly, did you?! :0) I had some requests for a closer look at some of the applique elements on my quilt, so thought I'd pop back in to give you a closer peek ...

"French" ... a combination of blanket stitch applique and back stitch embroidery ...

"Amour" ... the same combination of techniques ...

"Eiffel Tower" ... you can't have a French quilt without it, can you! :0) Blanket stitch applique with chain stitched antenna thingy (that's the technical term of course!!!) on top.

"Fleur De Lise" ... one of these in each corner of the quilt, but each blanket stitched in a different fabric.

"Perfume" & "Merci" ... French perfumes are another French icon that just had to be included and throw in a few French good manners. I think this is my favourite block on the quilt ... could be because I love the look of old perfume bottles! :0)

"Bonjour" & "Bag & Shoes" ... The French language just seems so smooth and romantic ... even if you're just saying "G'day!" Tee! Hee! Hee! And high fashion is another element associated with France ... plus ... what girl DOESN'T like a sweet handbag or a gorgeous pair of shoes! :0)

So ... there you have it ... a bit closer peek at my "French Amour" quilt ... and as the name suggests ... I'm still loving all things French! :0) Hope you enjoyed the peek and don't forget if you'd like to make your very own version of my "French Amour" quilt, you can buy a pattern from my Tag Along Teddies web site ... once I get my Beloved Geek Boy to upload it today!!!!
(EDIT: The web page finally played nice and I've uploaded French Amour to the web site!!)
OR ... you can contact Quilters Angel and Marion and Steph can fix you right up. Oh ... they also have a limited number of kits done up for "French Amour" in the gorgeous "Rouenerries Deux" fabrics by French General that I've used for MY "French Amour" quilt. Then again ... you might like to make it up in pretty pastels for a girly girly look, or some red, white and blue for a patriotic French flavour ... the possibilities are endless!!! You can see why I keep creating new designs!! :0)

OK ... I'm off to hang out my washing before the neighbour lights his fire for the afternoon ... just another thing I hate about winter ... having to dodge the neighbour's wood smoke to get my washing dry on the line in the fresh air ... SIGH!!!! It's not even winter yet and I'm looking forward to spring!! Whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope you have some fun stuff scheduled. I'll be back with the promised peek of some new projects soon ... promise! :0) Til next time ...



Friday 18 May 2012


For those non-Aussies (and for those who haven't seen 'Crocodile Dundee'!! Tee! Hee! Hee!) the echoing cry of "Cooooooooeeeee!" is a traditional way stockmen used to stay in contact with each other when working in scrub or situations where they couldn't SEE each other. Since it has been a week since I last posted, I thought I'd better employ the ol' Aussie "Cooooooooeeeeee!" to get back in contact with you all again! :0)

This week ... as I seem to be always complaining! ... went by in the blink of an eye and I've been very busy ... I promise!! :0) I just haven't managed to get around to taking PHOTOS of what's been keeping me busy ... but I promise I will on the weekend when I have time to take a breath.

One exciting thing that I CAN share with you right now, though, is the launch of a new Tag Along Teddies Pattern ... YAY!! My "French Amour" quilt is now available as a pattern in paper or PDF format!

Ta Da! It's taken a little while to finalise the pattern-writing side of things, but it's all done now ... though it hasn't actually been added to my web site yet due to a bit of a hiccup with the system ... some setting has changed in one of the auto 'updates' and I couldn't get into the nuts-and-bolts of the site to add this newest pattern ... but I'll put it on my Beloved Geek Boy's "To Do" list for the weekend! :0) If you can't wait that long, though, just email me with your order and we'll sort it out from there. Let there be NO barriers to stop us gals from shopping when we want to! Tee! Hee! Hee!

The other option you have to buy my "French Amour" quilt pattern (as well as many other patterns in my Tag Along Teddies range!!) is to contact Marion and Steph at my Home-Away-From-Home, Quilters Angel at Highfields. I was out there today to play ... WORK ... with the other Quilting Angels and just HAD to take a photo of my 'baby' displayed in the shop ...

OOOHH!!! How exciting to see another of my quilt-babies displayed at my Home-Away-From-Home! :0) And even in this little snapshot of a small part of the shop, you can see that it is jam-packed with goodies. If you're within driving distance, you really should come for a visit sometime ... and it you let me know you're coming, I'd be happy to meet up for a cuppa and a browse ... it's such a HARDSHIP to show people around Quilters Angel! Tee! Hee! Hee!

I'm now off to do something about dinner (maybe dialing the pizza shop is as much as I'll manage to do! Tee! Hee! Hee!) but I promise to be back this weekend with pics of a couple of finishes ... one is another new pattern that is ALMOST ready to launch and the other is a giftie. I'll keep you in suspenders for a little while now! Tee! Hee! Hee! Hope all of you, my blogging buddies, have had a good week, even if YOUR week went whizzing by as quickly as mine! :0) I hope there was at least a LITTLE bit of time set aside for you to create and relax this week ... if not ... make sure you treat yourself to some "YOU" time this weekend. Til next time ...



Friday 11 May 2012

Sittin' & Stitchin' !!

That's how I'm spending a VERY rare Friday at home ... and I'm LOVING it! :0) Friday is officially my day off work, but with two Fridays a month dedicated to the "Quilting Angels" and many others spent running errands or catching up with friends and family, a full, UNINTERRUPTED day at home is indeed a rare treasure. So ... how do I spend a WHOLE day at home? Here's a clue ...

... some of my fave movies, some hand-stitching, a mug of chai latte ... oh ... and a few little sweety treaties ... just to help keep my strength up to stitch, you understand! Tee! Hee! Hee! The stitching is the beginning of a new design project ... yep ... butterflies feature again. :0) And you can see that I'm not really a 'Chick Flick' kind of chick ... more of an 'Action/Disaster Flick' kind of chick! Hmmm ... not sure what that says about me! Tee! Hee! Hee! These are some of my faves and you could add all of the "Mummy" movies with Brendan Fraser, the first, third and fourth Indiana Jones movies (wasn't all that fussed on number two!!) and a couple of "Die Hard" movies and I'll be in movie Heaven. :0)

I'm off to enjoy that chai latte ... and the sweety treaties! :0) ... and watch another action-packed movie. How do YOU like to spend a day at home?? Are you good and spend it catching up on the housework? Or are you like me, and curl up on the couch with stitching and movies?? What are YOUR fave movies?? I'd love to hear ... and promise not to tease if you DO like girly 'chick flicks' ! :0)

Whatever you're up to, I hope you're well and that the coming weekend holds some time for you to relax and get creative. Til next time ...


Tuesday 8 May 2012

Comfort Food & Prize Winners!!

Oops! I said I'd be back "On Monday" to do the OPAM draw ... I seem to have misplaced a day! :0) You see ... it was a long weekend here in QLD and so Monday felt more like a SUNDAY ... and I forgot!! Sorry for keeping you all in suspenders for a day longer than planned ... I hope you'll forgive me! :0)

OK ... who voted that the cold weather was allowed to show up and where to I go to protest!!! SIGH! Yes, it's that time of year where the thermometers here on top of our 'hill' start to dip below the 10 degrees mark and this summer chick thinks about hibernating or moving to Fiji! :0) So what's a girl to do ...

... but make herself a cuppa and curl up to munch on some old favourite 'comfort food' ... Girl Guide Biccies!!! I don't know what it is ... maybe it's a secret ingredient!! :0) ... but no other biccies are quite as tasty as the good ol' Girl Guide biccies. We hadn't had them for a few years cos the little girl in our neighbourhood who used to knock on our door to sell them to us moved away ... winter just wasn't the same! :0) BUT ... my dancing buddy Lynda's daughter is a GG now ... YAY!! BICCIES! Tee! Hee! Hee!

So ... while I was slurping my cuppa (quietly of course ... manners!!) and enjoying my GG biccies, I got around to the random choice of winners for OPAM's April collection. Firstly, a big WELL DONE!!! To you all! April saw our second-biggest tally for the year so far, a whopping ...

634 Finishes!!

WOWSERS! You gals must have been stitching up a storm! I say "you gals" cos my poor tally stands at a big fat ZERO for April ... SIGH!! Busy month, lots of welcome visitors ... and then the UN-welcome visitors in the sewing cupboard!! ... all added up to not-much-sewing here. Ah well ... NEXT month! :0) Thank you to all of you who emailed Sweet Peg and me with your finishes ... much appreciated! Congrats to you all for the finishes and for those of you like me, I hope you at least managed to steal a bit of time for yourself to sit and relax with some stitching ... or knitting. :0) That's what it's all about, after all.

OK ... without further ado, the prize draw winners for April are ...

CONGRATULATIONS! Gals! Drop me an email with your snail mail  addresses and a little surprise will be coming your way by camel train! :0)

And now ... I'm off to sneak a few more GG biccies ... oh dear! Perhaps it will be a gym visit on the agenda for tomorrow! Tee! Hee! Hee! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend and that the rest of your week includes lots of time to sit, stitch and dream! :0) Til next time ...


Saturday 5 May 2012

Sewing Room Shamozzle!!!

I'm still here, though you haven't heard a 'peep' out of me for a week now. The truth is, I haven't had anything much to share with you cos the sewing room is still a shamozzle in the aftermath of the war on the invading ant army. My Beloved Geek Boy thoroughly routed the invading enemy ... despite being slightly phobic about ants due to childhood misadventures with army ants!!! ... but the mopping up operations are still underway.

You see, those %&!%$#&~! ants had made themselves VERY much at home in between every layer of paper, under every bag, between pages of books  etc, so EVERYTHING had to be taken out of the cupboard, shaken, sprayed, wiped, brushed and put to one side so the cupboard could be completely emptied. While the 'emptying' phase has been completed, the clean up of dead bodies (only ant bodies, thank goodness!!) and 'putting back' phase was put on hold for this weekend, so that's what we're tackling now. This is what my work table looks like at the moment ...

As you can see, there isn't a lot of room left to work. :0) There also needs to be a bit of carpentry tackled by GB to replace the old shelves in the cupboard ... one had collapsed and this seemed like the perfect time to replace dodgy old chipboard with something stronger ... and cleaner! :0) So ... it could be a while before I have much to show you ... although I HAVE been doing a bit of hand stitching at night on a smaller version of this ...

... to make a lap quilt for my sort-of-sister Tiffy, who was eyeing off my "Blissful Butterflies" quilt when she visited at Easter.

I've also been doing some blog-hopping for OPAM ... did all you OPAMers remember to update your sidebar list of finishes and/or email Sweet Peg or me with your tally? A lot of you did ... THANK YOU! :0) ... and I am still working my way through replying to you all. I'll be doing the prize draw on Monday, so you have til then to email me. In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying the start of your weekend ... a long one here in Queensland, so hopefully the sewing room will be sorted enough over the three days that I'll actually be able to get back to sewing. In the meantime ... have fun everyone!! :0) Til next time ...


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