Wednesday 26 February 2014

Spicing Up My Life!!

Now that I have your attention ...! :0) I don't know about you, but sometimes the day to day cooking of meals can get pretty tedious ... what ingredients do I have in the fridge/cupboard? ... what can I cook that includes some of those ingredients? ... what's QUICK to cook so I don't waste too much sewing time?! Tee! Hee! Hee! Don't get me wrong ... from time to time I'm INSPIRED to cook! Er ... though I confess it's usually when I'm craving muffins at 8:30pm at night to go with my before-bed cuppa ... BLUSH!!! :0) Sometimes, though, I really do feel like pottering around in the kitchen and experimenting with flavours.

Let me say up front that my recipe-following skills are about on par with my craft-instruction-following skills ... they're like the Pirate's Code ... more of a GUIDELINE really! :0) I prefer to play with flavours and decided to do a bit of that today. It all started with some time hanging out around Pinterest. Oddly enough ... I WASN'T looking at recipes! :0) I was enjoying the vibrant colours and flair of some Bohemian/Moroccan decorating and clothing styles. Suddenly I was craving delicious, aromatic Moroccan spices. Hmmm ... what could I come up with using what was in the fridge, freezer and pantry??

First step was to choose a meat ... I know not every meal NEEDS meat ... but I'm married to a confirmed carnivore, so in the name of marital harmony ... most of our meals need to include meat! :0) We've been trying to cut our grocery bill a bit to balance up the increases of other bills, so I've been buying a lot of bulk beef mince and chicken drumsticks ... I have LOTS of recipes for these two meats! :0) Today's pick was the drumsticks, since they were at the front of the freezer. Next stop ... the pantry and spice rack.

A tablespoon of plain (all purpose) flour and some pinches and half teaspoons of my fave Moroccan spices ... turmeric, ginger, all-spice and cinnamon, plus a nice pinch of sea salt. Mix the herbs all about (just like the hokey pokey!!) and tip into a medium oven bag. Pop in the drumsticks, twist the bag closed so you don't end up with flour and spices everywhere (just quietly that is NOT fun to clean up!!) and shake it all about hokey pokey style ... cos that's what it's all about! :0) Make sure there isn't too much loose flour sitting in the bottom of the bag and tip most of it out if there is (I leave a bit in there to soak up excess fat that comes out during cooking), tie off the bag, poke a few holes in the bag so it doesn't pop loudly in the oven, sit the bag on a baking tray to avoid spills in the oven (just in case!!) and cook in a moderate oven for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of the drumsticks. (poke a fork in them to test)

Right ... while the drumsticks were cooking away, I got started on the accompaniment ... a Moroccan-inspired warm rice salad. First (a-la Jamie Oliver!) I boiled the kettle and tipped three cups of boiling water into a saucepan, added three teaspoons of powdered chicken stock and brought it back to a bubbling boil.  You could use liquid stock, of course, just bring it to the boil first. I then tipped in one cup of arborio rice and cooked it until it was just about ready, then took it off the heat, squeezed in the juice of one good size lime, stirred it, popped the lid on and sat it off to the side to finish absorbing the liquid. (I had the kettle boiled ready to add more water in case the chicken stock liquid looked like being completely absorbed before the rice was ready) Then it was time to play ...

I rounded up some tasty ingredients. Diced sweet potato ... which I spread on a paper lined baking tray, sprayed with a little olive oil spray, salted and peppered to taste and roasted while the drumsticks were cooking. Then I roughly crushed some raw macadamia nuts (I thought later these would be yummy roasted with the sweet potato, too), diced up some fetta cheese, halved some Kalamata olives, finely chopped some dates, diced a green apple (I dribbled some lime juice over it to stop it going brown before we got to eat it) and tossed in some dried cranberries. Once the rice was ready, I tipped all these yummy ingredients into it and mixed them all about some more ... tasted ... thought about adding more lime juice, but decided not to.

Ta Da! The finished mix. Lots of yummy bits and flavours. Add the chicken and ...

That's dinner ready. With unanimous votes (all two of us in the household!!) this yummy Moroccan-inspired meal will be making a return to the menu in the future. The best part is ... there's some of the rice salad left for lunch tomorrow. :0) 

Not much stitching happening here this week. We've got a family event away this weekend, so there's a lot of scuttling around getting ready for that. Hope you're all having a great week and managing some time to relax and stitch. OPAMers ... don't forget to update your sidebar lists and email Sweet Peg and me with your final monthly tally ... the end of the month is coming around quickly again. 

OK ... off to play Polly and put the kettle on for a before-bed cuppa ... minus the muffins since dinner was so yummy and filling! :0) Enjoy the rest of your week! Til next time ...



Saturday 22 February 2014

Back To Stitching - YAY!

Well ... after a week of being kept out of my sewing cave due to residual rodent reek (EEEEEUUWWW!!) I was FINALLY able to get back in to play with my fabrics and quilting bits yesterday ... in a very small window of time between comings and goings! For my official 'day off' from work (I usually work four mornings a week) it sure was a busy day ... no rest for the wicked, don't they say? Boy ... I must have been SOOOOO wicked ... hope I enjoyed it! Tee! Hee! Hee!

I was called in to work for a time-sensitive report to be dictated, typed, edited and sent, along with a couple of 'need-to-be-done-before-Monday' tasks that couldn't be done on Thursday due to my boss being in Brisbane for meetings, I raced home and dived into my now-not-so-smelly sewing room, prepared and attached binding to my very WISPy WISP, before hitting the road again to catch up with the Quilting Angels at the home of the Fabulous Fiona. Aaaaahhhh!!! Time spent relaxing, chatting, drinking tea, being treated to yummy home-cooked morning tea and lunch, plus some stitching time really did the trick in recharging my batteries. Thanks for playing Hostess With The Mostest, Fiona! Somehow a visit to your place always helps me unwind. :0) A quick stop back at home for dinner with my Beloved Geek Boy, then it was off to The Quilters Angel for our fortnightly Friday Night Sit N Sew group. This is a fun bunch of gals and we always spend more time laughing than stitching ... although ... Nikki (Miss Brandygully herself!!) who dropped in to stitch with us, and yours truly did manage to get some Secret Squirrel Stitching done between bouts of hilarity. (Let's just say that potatoes are dangerous when headbutted! Tee! Hee! Hee!) So while it was all go, go, go, I had a lovely, productive day.

I can't yet show you any more of the Secret Squirrel projects, but I CAN show you some sneaky peekies of the WISPy WISP I'm back working on. It's a quilt that I love and designed ... hmmm ... one ... maybe two ... or longer!!!! ... years ago. The quilt top was finished, I had it professionally quilted and ... put it in the cupboard cos I got sidetracked by deadline-dependent projects! And there it stayed til recently when I mentioned it to Marion and hauled it out to show her. Needless to say, a few people have smacked my wrist for getting it so close to finishing and then NOT!! :0) So after the binding was attached yesterday, here's what I will be stitching this weekend ...

Yep ... more of one of my favourite French General ranges, "Rural Jardin". And you can probably guess that the stitcheries on the quilt all have a French theme ... like the Arc de Triumph in the photo ...

... and a sidewalk cafe. All stitcheries have been designed to look like polaroid camera snaps taken during a holiday in Paris ... and funnily enough (not really!!) The name of this quilt is "Holiday In Paris". :0) I've got the instructions partly written, but want to do something a little different with them, so they got put on hold until I had the time ... and attention span!! ... to come back to them and do them justice ... which apparently hadn't happened yet! Tee! Hee! Hee! I'll be dragging them out again soon to continue writing them ... as soon as the binding on the quilt is sewn down. That WILL be a red-letter day, won't it! :0) In the meantime ... what other 'French-inspired' features do you think I might have included in my quilt to make up nine 'holiday snaps'?? Can you guess?? We'll see! :0)

Okey doke ... I'm off to play Polly, pop on a DVD and get stitching on that binding, not to mention tackling the last little bit of hand stitching for my Secret Squirrel project ... stay tuned! :0) Hope you're having a fantastic start to your weekend ... overcast and cooler here today ... not only is it good stitching weather, I'm hoping it means we've got some rain on the way, cos we sure could use it!! Take care and happy stitching to you all! Til next time ...



Sunday 16 February 2014

OPAM Update!!

I know! I know!! TWO posts in one day ... the roof is probably going to cave in! :0) I just thought I'd pop back and do this before I forgot ... AGAIN!! I should have done this a couple of weeks ago, but somehow the days slip through my fingers like sand ... quite poetic, don't you think?! :0)

Right ... this is to say a great big ...


... to the 95 creative clever-clogs' who have joined my sweet Partner-In-Crime, Sweet Peg and me for all the fun and creativity of ...

The One Project A Month Challenge began six years ago and it's been a fun experience to see so many clever, creative, talented people join in the very low-stress challenge of aiming to take time out from busy lives to spend time being creative to finish at least one project each month. The projects you gals share with us are AMAZING!! It's always so inspirational to take a blog-hopping tour through the OPAM participants' list ... which is now back on my sidebar for the new year. Please take a minute to check that:
a) Your name is on the list if you signed up with either Sweet Peg or me
b) That the link attached to your name actually directs people to your current blog.
(also ... if your blog address changes during the year, please let us know so we can update it)
It's lovely to see so many "Repeat Offenders" joining the OPAM fun again and a big WELCOME to the "First-Time Offenders" who have decided to play along this year. I hope that being part of OPAM 2014 not only reminds and encourages you to take some time out for yourselves to recharge your creative batteries, but that it also makes you feel part of an encouraging, world-wide sewing circle that is cheering you on in your creative endeavours.
If you meant to join Sweet Peg and I but didn't quite get around to emailing one of us before the closing date ... drop an email and we'll sneak you onto the list ... after all ...
Right ... I'm off to hunt-and-gather some lunch before tackling some computer chores. Enjoy your week!! Til next time ...

PS. In case you haven't visited Sweet Peg's blog for a while ... she did the January prize draw and announced the winners last week, so pop across to see if you were on that list! :0)

I'd Rather Be Sewing ... BUT ...!!!!

Yes indeed, I'd rather be sewing ... machine sewing or hand stitching ... but it seems all things are conspiring against me ... SIGH!! Why, you may ask ... well ...

I'd planned to spend some time in my sewing room this weekend putting binding on a LOOOOOOONG-term WISP ... a very WISPy WISP you might say! :0) ... and maybe start cutting blocks for a couple of projects I'd like to finish before we go away in a fortnight. There's just one TINY problem. A tiny SMELLY problem!! A DEAD MOUSE in my sewing room ... PHEEEEEEWWWWW!!!! I know you all know THAT smell that I'm talking about!!

My Beloved Geek Boy was as brave as any dragon-fighting knight and ventured into the Pit Of Smells to seek and dispose of said smelly dead critter. To no avail!! SIGH! He searched high and low, but couldn't manage to pinpoint the burial site ... though he DID open the sticky, stubborn window to let some fresh air into the Pit Of Smells to try to clear it out. He thinks perhaps the vindictive furry critter ate some bait and has died under the house, under my sewing room and that the smell will clear quickly. My delicate proboscis and I will wait and see!

So ... you'd think I'd just switch to hand stitching, right? WRONG!! After two weeks of lovely mild weather that hovered in the mid to high 20's during the day and 15-16 degrees overnight, we've suddenly been thrust back into summer's oven with temps in the high 30's and icky, sticky humidity ... it's that "knickers-stickin' " humidity that sucks my energy away ... and makes it too hot to sit under my sewing lamp to hand stitch ... SIGH!!! Did I mention that an LED Ott Light Lamp is top of my wish list?! :0) We are having the strangest summer here on top of our "hill"!! I think it's the swapping and changing from hot to cool and back again that's doing my head in!!

So what's a girl to do? I still needed a stitchy/fabricky fix, so pulled out my most recent fabric adoptions ... I 'adopt' them from Quilters Angel and give them a good home! Tee! Hee! Hee! I'd been eyeing these beauties off for a while, drooling, dreaming and scheming on how the budget would stretch to allow their adoption ... lay-by is fabulous, isn't it! Tee! Hee! Hee! Want to see my new 'babies' ?

... some YUMMY, fresh green batik fabrics ... AND ...

... some DELICIOUS dark green/teal-y batik fabrics. Aren't they just so SCRUMPTIOUS?!?!? :0)

These delightfully delicious, gorgeously green batiks were part of a range Marion and Steph received a few weeks ago. Many of them (and there were even MORE than this in the range!!) will be packed up into kits for two new quilt projects that will be available through Quilters Angel soon, so stay tuned! But if you're like me and just LOVE batiks ... there are a few of them in the shop for you to 'adopt'. :0) My pretty greens will become two new patchwork skirts ... I live in my purple skirt ...

 ... so I've decided to duplicate it in other colours ... and I don't at all care that my brother tells me I'm a left-over hippie! Peace, man!! Tee! Hee! Hee!

So ... not much happening here on the quilty, stitchy, fabricky front ... just moping around with a peg on my nose doing 'grown up' chores around the house. What are you up to this weekend? Hopefully you don't have smelly deceased rodents plaguing you. :0) Whatever you're up to ... have a fantastic day. Til next time ...



Saturday 8 February 2014

Still Here & Stitching!!

I'm still here ... really I am! The days just seem to have scooted past me way too quickly and it's over a week since I've popped in for a visit ... Sorry!! :0) I've got a really good reason for my absence, though ... I've been busy stitching!!

A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Marion gave me a challenge ...

... what sort of stitchery project could I design using these soft pink and grey Tilda fabrics and just five thread colours??? WOW! Those of you who know me and have been visiting my blog for a while will be laughing your butts off right now, cos you know these colours are the opposite end of the colour wheel to where I usually choose to work. See ... I TOLD you it was a challenge! :0) But you know what ... after scratching my head, doodling in my sketch book and cruising around Pinterest looking for inspiration (well that was my excuse for all that time spent looking at pretty photos! Tee! Hee! Hee! ) I was on a roll! Not only did I come up with ONE idea ... I thought of a collection of THREE projects to make up in these softly shabby chic colours. Now ... the projects are still Secret Squirrel but I can give you a quick sneaky peeky ...

... some sweetly shabby rosette flowers and a shabby chic ruffle ... are you getting some hints about the direction my designing took?? I bet when you see the finished projects you'll still be in for a big surprise! :0) I have to say ... even though these colours are not my usual colour palette, I am LOVING how the projects are coming up and can't wait to share them with you. I promise to keep stitching so I can share them with you soon. Steph's cracking the whip to keep me on track, so it shouldn't be too long before they're ready! Every day-dreamy designer who has A.D.O.P (Attention Deficit ... Oh!! Pretty!!) needs someone to crack the whip and keep them on task or no new designs would every get finished! I'm pretty lucky to have Steph!! :0)

If you're looking for a project to stitch in front of the TV right away, though, you need to pop across to visit my mad-mate and blogging buddy Toni at the Red Boot Quilt Co. Toni is an incredibly clever designer and her speciality is quirky appliqué projects ... I am SOOOOOOOOOO in love with heaps of her designs!! :0) During the Winter Olympics, Toni is sharing a SUPER CUTE quilt featuring the quirkiest and cutest polar bears you will ever see! 

Isn't it FANTASTIC!!! I just makes me smile every time I look at it! :0) Head over HERE to see how you can get the pattern to make this quilt for your very own self ... don't forget to say a big THANKS to Toni for sharing!!

I'm off to keep stitching away, but wanted to give a shout out to all of the farmers who are battling with drought at the moment. It's one of those 'silent' disasters that face our primary producers so often. My Beloved Geek Boy and I lived in Bourke in north-western New South Wales for seven years and GB and I both grew up in rural areas that reply on primary industries, so we've seen first-hand how drought affects not only farmers, but the rural communities around them. I was sad to see a report on the news tonight about the severity of the drought in the Bourke area, but  encouraged to see a convoy of hay arriving to help landholders a little. The feed had been sent from the south of the state that had been fortunate enough to have some good rain. How wonderful to see farmers doing OK helping their fellow-farmers who are doing it tough! Now if only the government would stop worrying about being 'politically correct' and get its act together to lend a hand!!

My blogging buddy Chookyblue and her family are doing it pretty tough at the moment in rural NSW and she has been sharing photos on her blog, including the one above of feeding their sheep that I've borrowed, to try to increase awareness of just what our farmers are facing. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers ... and wherever possible, buy locally produced and Australian made products ... it's a little something city/town dwellers can do to help.

Right ... off to play Polly and get back to stitching. I promise not to be gone so long next time. :0) Enjoy your weekend, whatever you have on your agenda. Til next time ...



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