Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Felt Sandwich

I've long realised that my craft projects have a food theme. I wonder if I'm constantly craving food, but instead of indulging in it, I choose to create ones I can't eat as a substitute. Or is this 'food' a substitute for something else? Hum... way too deep so I'll continue with the self denial!

I made this sandwich a few of years ago when I checked out the Myrtle & Eunice blog (pattern here) but always felt it was incomplete with only lettuce, tomato and Swiss cheese. An easy filling would be a piece of ham using pink felt (but I don't like ham, you know what they say about processed red meat), my friend Bernie suggested tofu cubes, and Paula said a sandwich is incomplete without onion rings. Great suggestion ladies, but tofu is way too healthy and onions make me bloated (sorry for sharing). A former colleague commented that my sandwich looked a little 'dry', or perhaps he was referring to his sense of humour? So to keep it fresh, I wrap the sandwich in grease proof paper and keep it in a snaplock bag.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Chinese Dragon Cross Stitch

It's the Chinese Year of the Dragon so I cross stitched this dragon using DMC 321. The pattern is from a French cross stitch book by Martine Chan called "Shanghai : Souvenirs de voyage au point de croix" which is filled with Chinese inspired designs. I've back stitched the dragon with gold thread which can't really be seen, but it gives it a slight shimmer.

I've been cross stitching the dragon wearing these fabulous red Jigsaw wedges - I love them!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Magpie Update

It was a beautiful Australia Day in Melbourne today! We had our daily visit from our baby magpie which Mum has named Billy (not that we know it's male, but Billy it is!). He tapped his beak at the window, and Mum quickly went to the cupboard to get him a little piece of bread. Oh dear, I'm afraid Billy is not hunting for magpie food. We're not helping Billy by feeding him, but he is hungry and Mum can't ignore animals in need. What to do?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Zealand Sheep Cross Stitch

I bought a New Zealand cross stitch bookmark kit by CraftCo at the Lakes District Museum at Arrowtown. The original pattern was entitled "New Zealand Lamb", but I have personalised the bookmark to say "New Zealand, South Island December 2011" in memory of our trip.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 10: Trotts Garden & Rakaia Gorge

On the last day of 2011, we visited Trott's Garden located at Ashburton, Mid Canterbury where we toured the garden and had morning tea.

Our last stop of the tour was Rakaia Gorge where I particularly liked the red building in the distance.

Being new years eve, we had a celebratory dinner followed by a performer who sang golden oldies classics. There were no fire works at Mevthen so it was an early night for me.
We returned to Melbourne the next day so this is us looking pretty relaxed. The scenery was breathtaking and the pace was very relaxed (probably too relaxed for me) as I personally would have preferred more walking. Overall I give the tour 7 out of 10.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 9: Mount Cook & Methven

Believe me when I say that Mount Cook is hiding behind those clouds. We had pretty good weather throughout our trip and it had to rain on the day we visit New Zealand's highest mountain! Oh well, at least the statue of Sir Edmund Hillary gets to see it everyday.

I haven't enhanced the colours of the photos taken during the trip, so Lake Tekapo's water is turquoise, and the wild lupins are as Mother Nature intended them to be (have to give her cheers for her great colour sense).

The Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1935.

Close to the Church is one of New Zealand's best known public monuments, a bronze statue of a New Zealand Collie sheepdog.

On our way to Methven our bus was involved in an accident! I felt the bus slowing down and about to turn right into a gravel road. The next second, bang as the car travelling behind decided to continue straight ahead. Thankfully no one was injured, but the car did spin 360* and its left side was damaged. A word of advice to drivers, don't try to over take a bus because our much larger vehicle only sustained scratches!

Methven was deserted when we arrived in the late afternoon, but we found a supermarket where we bought fresh local raspberries.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Homemade Plum Jam

Our friend Grace grows the plumpest and juiciest plums in her well maintained garden, and gave Mum around 3.5kg last week. We (well my parents, I just make the bottles look pretty) have been making jam every year for quite a number of years now, and find store bought jam just full of sugar.

The recipe is from the Australian Women's Weekly's The Book of Preserves book published in 1990 (wow, 22 years!)
  • 28 medium (2kg) blood plums
  • 1 litre (4 cups) water
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 6 cups (1/5 kg) sugar 

Make sure your saucepan is clean or your jam will taste like what was last cooked in the pot (anyone for sweet and sour pork plum jam?!) Even though this pot is just for jams and sweets, Mum still cleans it with a wedge of lemon to make sure it's super clean.

Cut plums into halves, remove stones. We wrap the stones in a muslin cloth and boil it with the plums. Combine plums and water in large saucepan, bring to boil, simmer, covered for 1 hour.

Add juice and sugar to saucepan, stir over heat without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil, boil, uncovered, without stirring for about 30 minutes or until jam jells when touched. Pour into hot sterilised jars, seal when cold. Makes about 8 cups.

I get to do the fun bit! Last night I wrapped lids with paper doilies, tie with cotton string and I stamped each jar with a bird stamp I bought from Typo which is one of my favourite store filled with stationery and little bits and pieces of creativity.

Day 8: Moeraki Boulders, Oamaru & Twizel

We left Dunedin and stopped at the Moeraki Boulders which are spherical boulders lying along Koekohe Beach. They were such an odd sight, measuring between 0.5m to 2.2m in diametre, where some were smooth but others resembled tortoise shells.

These deers were enjoying the sunshine and taking it easy; I hope they don't end up on the dinner plate! (Who could eat Bambi?)

We spent the afternoon at Oamaru's historic district which was built between the 1870s to 1890s.

We ended up taking a very slow train ride which took less than ten minutes, but at NZ$5 a ticket one can hardly complain!

The train stopped in front of two red sheds where some blue penguins have made a "nest" in a wooden crate in the left shed.

We walked around the Benmore Power Station before heading to Twizel where part of The Lord of The Rings trilogy was filmed. Not that I'm a fan of the books or movies, but I can see why New Zealand was selected as it is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 7: Gore, Dunedin and Larnach Castle

On the 28 December we left Te Anau and headed to Dunedin via Gore and Balclutha. Gore is the "World Capital of Brown Trout Fishing" and New Zealand's "Capital of Country Music", but since we didn't see any fish, musicians (or locals for that matter) around, I'll have to take their word for it.

Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and it was pretty quiet for a city its size when we arrived around lunch time. We drove by Baldwin Street which claims to be the world's steepest residential street. You know what they say "location, location, location!"

Baldwin Street
In the afternoon we headed to Larnach Castle which was built between 1873 and 1887. Despite its grandeur and beautiful grounds, the house's history is filled with tragic deaths, infidelity, suicides and legal battles so it's a reminder that money certainly doesn't equate to happiness (and that rich people are really messed up).

What would have made the tour more interesting is the mention that the house is supposedly haunted! I didn't feel a presence (though I didn't like being in the conservatory room which overlooks over the entrance), but going up and down the narrow spiral staircase to the tower did make me very uncomfortable. Whether it was the claustrophobia or that I couldn't see if someone was coming down, it was an eerie and unpleasant experience.

View of Dunedin from the tower

The tower spiral staircase is wide enough for only one person and it was pretty creepy. Oohh, check out my red Merrell shoes which are super comfy!

View going down the tower spiral staircase

We had afternoon tea in the ballroom (which is supposedly one of the rooms where paranormal activity has been reported). The scones and biscuits were unfortunately less than exciting.