Monday, December 19, 2011

Au Coeur De La Maison

I finished this cross stitch for Mum on the weekend called Au Coeur de la Maison which according to Google Translate means "The Heart of the House". The pattern is from a French cross stitch book by Marie-Anne Rethoret-Melin's Sweet Home : Petites maisons à broder au point de croix which I bought earlier this year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Broccolini with Jamie Oliver's Asian Dressing

I was half watching Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals earlier this year, and the "Asian" inspired dressing caught my attention. "Asian" recipes by Western chefs always amuse me, like adding soy makes a dish Asian, but I must say the flavours of this dressing is pretty authentic!

One of my favourite vegetables is broccolini, and this dressing is perfect for it. Blanch the broccolini until tender and drain. For the dressing, mix finely chopped red chili, a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of soy sauce and juice of half a lemon (Jamie uses lime). The measurements are approximates so adjust the quantities to your taste.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Magpie Family Update

Yesterday evening the magpie family was making quiet a racket so Mum went out to the garden to give them some bread. I'm not sure if Baker's Delight wholemeal loaf is magpie food, but the parent magpie took it gratefully.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bird Silhouette Cross Stitch

Mum is obsessed with all things bird so when I saw this free pattern from Martha Stewart I had to make one for her. We are surrounded by many trees so there are always lots of birds chirping in the garden. This magpie family lives in the tree next door but they are always in our garden checking things out!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Paper Crafts

I've been anti-social and unmotivated, but I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things. I've recently discovered a new blog How About Orange which is filled with craft goodies that has inspired me to make a couple of paper projects.

I made this paper ball re-using backing from bound documents from work. To save time I photo copied the template directly onto the cardboard (remember to adjust the paper weight setting so it doesn't jam the machine) and after some fiddling, voila, a fantastic paper ball! Mum said it looks like a hydrangea so now I'm thinking about making them in purple and mauve. On the topic of hydrangeas here are some blooms this year, the colour is not as rich as previous years but just as beautiful.

The blog's gift bow tutorial was great too, and I used double sided printed music sheets. Instead of staples I used double sided tape which works just as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hopetoun Tea Room

Mum had promised to take Dad to the Hopetoun Tea Room at Melbourne's historic Block Arcade to celebrate his 73rd birthday, but we were too full for cake after lunch at Red Spice Road (the pork belly is SO scrumptious). We ended up going today, and Mum and Dad had the Black Forrest Cake while I opted for the Toblerone cheesecake which was so rich I was full for the rest of the day! Perhaps it could be a new diet craze - just one meal a day which consists of Toblerone cheesecake?

One of our garden doors was worse for wear so Dad made another one! I guess I inherited the DIY gene from him :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Shoes!

'S' is my favourite letter of the alphabet because I love SALES and SHOES! Wittner is having a sale so I couldn't resist buying new shoes today! I couldn't decide whether I preferred the black or the red Minako sandals so I bought one in each colour. It's ok, they were on sale!
Mum bought me these beautiful peony roses yesterday (in pink of course!) which are my favourite.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Melbourne: World's Most Livable City

I've been feeling rather blah hence I haven't done anything too exciting recently. It's currently around 18*C in Melbourne and the sun is out and everything is lovely. I've just taken these photos from the office ... yes, of course I'm working!

Not a great view if you are afraid of heights!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mixed Berry Muffins

I haven't tried any new recipes lately and the only thing I've whipped up are these mixed berry muffins which always turns out well. The recipe is from Women's Weekly Home Baked cookbook, and I added extra berries because we really like berries! I used Texan size muffin tins and made an extra half recipe to get 12 muffins.

The following is one recipe:
  • 3 cups (450g) self-raising flour
  • 1½ cups (330g) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, beaten lightly
  • 150g melted butter;
  • 1 1/3 cups (330ml) milk
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 300g mixed berries

Preheat the oven to moderately hot (200°C/180°C fan-forced). Lightly grease 8 pans of Texas muffin trays (¾-cup (180ml) capacity) or spray 8 large disposable muffin cases and place on an oven tray.

Sift flour into a large bowl; add the sugar then the combined vanilla, eggs, butter, milk and rind. Stir quickly with a large metal spoon until just combined; do not over-mix. Add the berries and stir through gently.

Divide the muffin mixture among pans. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Newspaper Print Tote Bag

Spring has arrived in Melbourne as the birds start singing at 6.00am (which is really 5.00am - thank you Daylight Saving) so there are no sleep ins for me.

After a morning walk, I made another tote bag on Sunday (I know, I know, why do I need so many bags? If you know the answer, could you please tell me?!) I bought half a yard of newspaper print cotton/linen fabric from Yozo Craft a few months ago and I had left over blue and white stripe fabric from the cross stitched bird tote I sewed in August. I sewed a pocket on the inside and added a magnetic button clasp. I used thick interfacing for the straps so they will be super strong and won't crease.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bling Baby Beanie

My friend M from Hong Kong is expecting a baby in November so I've knitted a beanie for the baby. It's actually my third attempt as I didn't like the baby yarn on the first two beanies I made. I ended up using Sullivans 4 ply marino baby wool, and it was so soft and silky to knit with. No doubt the baby will be the height of sophistication like her mummy so I added a bling buckle and a pink bow. I followed this pattern using 3.25cm needles.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rose Macaroons

In celebration of my favourite colour (if you haven't picked up on that - it's pink), Mum and I made rose flavoured macaroons on Sunday. The recipe is from Women's Weekly's Macaroons and Biscuits cookbook, and we added 1 teaspoon of Pariya Persian rose water into the macaroon batter.

I was rather particular about the size of the macaroons so I used a Mathomat (I can't believe I still have it; not that I used it much during school, but it has come in handy for scrapbooking, and macaroon templates) to draw 4cm circles on the baking paper (remember to have the side that you drew on at the bottom).
The macaroon was a deeper shade of pink on the inside and there was just a sweet fragrant hint of rose.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Christmas Sequin Baubles

My friend D who lives in Sydney probably rolled her eyes and thought I was a complete nutter when I told her that I have been making sequin baubles for Christmas. Well it's only three months until the holiday season so why not start preparing now? Not that we celebrate Christmas but I do put up a tree each year. I like what the season represents - a reminder of what is important in life - spending time family and friends (oh ok, I do enjoy hunting for bargains at the sales too).

I'm going for a silver theme this year so I've started making sequin baubles as I find it rather therapeutic pinning beads and sequins into Styrofoam balls. I'm using a variety of silver beads, stars, sequins in various sizes and alternating between pinning the sequins in a concave and convex pattern to give the baubles texture. I've also dipped the pins into a little PVA glue for extra hold.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Pink Tulle Gown

I remember way back in the 1980s (yes way back then) when Mum and I watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time. I was in awe when Glinda the Good Witch appeared on screen wearing a huge pink gown, and I've loved tulle ever since.

I was browsing through Etsy a few weeks ago when I came across a dress from AmyShope which I just had to have. The lovely Amy agreed to make me a pink dress with extra layers of tulle (6 rather than 4) for extra puffiness. I was thinking about having 10 layers but Amy said that 6 was more than sufficient, and she was right as I would have ended up looking like I was on "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" (gasp! - no I am NOT getting married, calm down). The dress was made to my measurements (my first haute couture) and arrived within 2 weeks of my order.

Since I have no special occasion to wear this gown and I bought it purely because of my love of tulle, it's currently hanging in my room so I can admire it like a piece of art. As Sheldon Cooper said in the Big Bang Theory: "What's life without whimsy?"

Barbie Dolls: In the Pink and Glinda The Good Witch

Monday, September 19, 2011

Savoury Muffins

I'm been enjoying the great outdoors the past couple of weeks hence I haven't been cooking or crafting as much. On Saturday I walked from Heidelberg to Eltham Train Station with a Meetup walking group. It was suppose to be 17km, but after heading in the wrong direction (3 times) we ended up covering 19.1km! The previous Saturday we walked from Darling Train Station to Federation Square in the cold (6*C) and rain and covered 12km. Needless to say, I've been a bit tired but feel fantastic.

Mum and I baked these muffins on Sunday since I complained that the blueberry and raspberry muffins we usually make are no longer exciting. The savoury muffin is super easy and very tasty.

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 200g shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons of corn kernels
  • 1/2 red capcisum (chopped)
  • 4 spring onions (chopped)
  • 200 shaved ham (chopped)
Mix everything together and scoop generously into muffin tins. We ended up making 9 Texan sized muffins and the aroma was just mouth watering.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lemon Cupcakes for Fathers Day

We don't celebrate Mothers or Fathers Day in our family because we feel one should value and spend time with one's parents as much as we can, rather than making them feel special for one day of the year. Nevertheless I did bake lemon cupcakes on Sunday to celebrate sweetness life can bring. Mum ate most of the the mini cupcakes in the belief that she was only eating a small portion of a regular size cupcake...but if you eat 7...
  Mum wanted me to take a photo of her African Violets for this blog as she is very proud that it has bloomed 22 flowers!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Coin Purse

My purse has a rather small coin compartment, and since I'm more of a cash rather than credit card kind of girl (well, I am Chinese after all), I needed a separate coin purse. I bought a couple of packs of cotton/linen fabric from The Rabbit and the Duck stall at Markit a few months ago so I finally put the fabric to good use. I didn't line the purse (I'm sure I'll regret it!) so I just used super strong interfacing. My zip attachment has improved so I'll be sure to whip up more of these handy pouches.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pariya's Persian Goodies

I adore browsing at David Jones' food court and discovered these goodies last week. We've had Pariya's Rose Fairyfloss and Saffron Nougat before (both absolutely delightful!) so I decided we needed to sample Persian Confetti Frosted Pistachios (which are pistachios sugarcoated with cardomon), and Sun Dried Persimmons (best served with cheese, or use in breads, biscuits and cakes). The pistachios are so yummy, and the flavour of the persimmon was mild though a little tart.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Maneki Neko Cross Stitch

I finished a Maneki Neko or "Beckoning Cat" cross stitch on the weekend from Japon Au Point De Croix by Anne Sohier-Fournel who is one of my favourite cross stitch designers. When the left paw is raised it attracts money, where as if the right paw is raised it retains money. I figured I'll rather have more money! I changed the eyes to have them open rather than closed as Mum said you should see the money coming in.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tote Bags

A girl can never have too many bags! I'm so pleased that my new tote bag has turned out well, i.e. symmetrical and has not fallen apart! I bought the cross stitch kit from Spotlight, a bargain find for just $3! I used beige cotton/linen fabric for the outer bag, and blue stripe cotton/linen fabric for the lining. We had discussed the importance of interfacing at one of my Sewing Meet Up groups so I used iron-on interfacing for each piece of fabric so hopefully it will be super sturdy.

I made the following Japanese shashiko tote last year from a kit which I bought from the Quilt and Craft fair 2010. The bag already had the handles sewn to it so all I had to do when I finished the embroidery was sew the sides.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Donna Hay's Vanilla Cupcake Kit

I'm a snob when it comes to pre-packaged cake mixes and don't consider it real baking, but the packaging of Donna Hay's new kits looked so appealing I just had to try it (I guess it's the lovely egg shell blue packaging which reminds me of Tiffany's... and who doesn't like Tiffany's?). The kit comes with a batter mixture, icing mixture and cupcake paper (hey, I only got 11!) so all I needed was butter, milk and eggs for the cake, and butter and milk for the icing.

I was pleasantly surprised with the end result. The cake's texture was light and fluffy with a delectable hint of vanilla. I've devoured 3 cupcakes so I'll try to have a healthy food week.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Butter Chicken Puffs

Mum and I made butter chicken puffs from the new Womens' Weekly Pies Savoury and Sweet cookbook we bought on Saturday morning. It was the first time we bought Patak's Butter Chicken paste and it sure was yummy (though a little sweet).

The recipe requires: 20g butter (but we used olive oil instead so I guess our butter chicken wasn't that buttery); 1 small brown onion; 250 grams of mince chicken, 1 small carrot grated; 2 tablespoons of butter chicken curry paste; 2 tablespoons of frozen peas; puff pastry and 1 egg.

Cook the filling by adding the butter (or oil), onion, mince chicken, carrot, curry paste and frozen peas. Cut the puff pastry into 11cm circles (I had to chuckle as I was using a Chinese bowl to cut French pastry to make an Indian style dish!).

Add about 1 tablespoon of filling to the pastry, fold the pasty in half making a crescent and use a fork to seal the crescent. I used my new silicon pastry brush (pink of course!) to apply the egg wash. Use a pair of scissors to make 3 snips to the pastry.

Pop the puffs into the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. How do you like my new piggy kitchen timer? Why do I need 8 timers (there is one on the fridge too)? Wellll... I sometimes have a couple of different things baking in the oven that requires two cooking times...but I guess that only justifies 2 timers right?

We ended up making 16 puffs rather than 12, but that just means more butter chicken puffs to go around. Besides Mum and I always do a "taste test" before we serve them to Dad, so officially we did make 12!