Monday, September 15, 2014

Crochet Chevron and Little Space Dudes Cushion

This project has been on the go since June.  I was trying to create something handmade which a boy of nine years old would appreciate and not be too weirded-out over.

You know how they are.  
All Minecraft and sport and iPod and stuff.  
There is only so much cutesy, heartlfelt, homemade love that growing boys will accept from their MamaBear.  Sigh.  
My Bear is growing up so fast that sometimes I just want to squeeze him tight and kiss his precious cheeks and tell him to be little for a bit longer.
But that is not to be, so I must embrace my maturing young man, and ever so subtly squee at the hints of boyishness which sometimes appear.  
An unexpected hug.
A request for help with homework.
An evening snuggle.
All things which I am sure to miss when he is all grown up.
I digress.

This is a cushion cover which was meant to be for Bear's birthday, but I didn't quite get the job done in time.  In all honesty, the only thing holding up the completion is my evasion of the dreaded weaving in of ends
Why don't I weave them in as I go?  Why won't I learn?!

A dear dressmaking-friend whipped up the sewn cushion cover - my sewing machines have remained in their boxes since selling the shop (that's about 18 months!) - and I crocheted a chevron front in complimentary colours, based on this pattern.  I shook things up a bit by doing some rows in double crochet, some in half double crochet, sometimes one row of a colour, sometimes two.  Man, I am living on the EDGE!

The yarns are all 8 ply crepe - a combination of Patons, Panda and Heirloom in dusky blue, dark red, sky blue, yellow, dove grey, charcoal and grey marle - as I find crepe stands up so well to wear and tear and washing.  As this is a cushion for a boy, that means the chances of it getting marked with boogers and chocolate are high, so regular washing will be required.

Although this fabric appears to be uncannily similar to Michael Miller's Retro Rocket Rascals, it's a Spotlight design which I will call Little Space Dudes, of which I bought the remaining bolt when it was on sale a couple of years ago and it has been made into many a pair of pyjama pants and library bag.  

This cushion is by far my favourite Little Space Dudes project and hopefully one that my little  man will cherish for years to come.

I'm off to weave in those ends and attach the crochet to the fabric. 

Happy September everybody!  Dare I ask how your Chritmas projects are coming along?! x

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

It's a Spring Thing

It's another beautiful spring day here in Melbourne!  Baby and I went on a little shopping adventure, so here's your warning that this post goes on a bit ;)

The sun is shining down on the mini daffodils

The sky is blue

A grape hyacinth is peeking out of the clover

After dropping the Big Kids at school, Baby and I went on a little adventure up the mountain to visit one of my favourite places - Sassafras.  
Up the winding roads, through the forest of towering mountain ash and past all the beautiful old weatherboard houses whose gardens are just starting to pop with hints of spring.  You'll have to imagine some pics as I was driving along a busy, narrow road and couldn't stop to take any!

On any given weekend, Sassafras is brimming with tourists from all over the world but early on a Thursday morning, it's just a quaint little village with some lovely boutique shops.
One of my favourites is the wool store - no surprises there!  And I had planned to take some pictures of their lovely range of Rowan and Debbie Bliss and Noro and more...
 but as we approached I saw a big sign saying 
'Taking photographs is not permitted in this store.'  
Argh! Total PANTS!  
Oh well, I'll just show you what I bought instead :)

Adding to The Stash
This Rowan Felted Tweed was in a bargain basket for $7.50 per ball.  I just lurrrve this pink (on the right) and have grand plans to mix it with the ginger (also pictured), rust and mustard (from The Stash) to make something.  
Maybe a colour block scarf.  
Maybe a striped cardigan for Baby.  
Ooh yes, a stripey cardigan with ribbed edging and little wooden buttons!  
Off to the Ravelry library I go...

I also bought some new crochet hooks as I can't come out of the wool store without adding to my KnitPro stash!  Something I love about KnitPro hooks is that they tend to stay pointier than bamboo hooks. Do you find that too?

The red buttons are going on a blue cardigan which I have been crocheting for about a month.  It's nearly finished and I hope to share a reveal soon!

Another store which is my favourite - coz a girl can have two favourites ;) - is Little Chips Handcrafts, a lovely little Steiner-inspired toy shop.  As well as Waldorf dolls and accessories, they also sell handmade yarny goods, wooden toys made by the owner's father and a range of books, gifts and felty things.  It is just a pleasure walking through this shop and it's bound to bring out the whimsical child inside every grown-up!  

There were baskets of little finger puppets out the front and Baby dug straight into them, taking a shining to a little mouse in a blue waistcoat.  I fell in love with a whole bunch and we ended up buying 11!
From left to right: bunny in a pink dress, brown bear, Goldilocks, Big Bad Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, pig, green gnome, mouse in a blue wasitcoat, owl, fox, duck.

This little fox with his cute smile may be my fave
Or maybe this owl with his white wings...
Or maybe the Big Bad Wolf!
As Baby had some birthday money from her great-grandmother, I thought we'd do an experiment and let her choose something to buy.  I popped her on the floor and let her loose - hoping she wouldn't just pull everything off the shelves and rip down signs as babies tend to do.  Much to my delighted surprise, she went straight to a basket underneath a table and grabbed this doll...

Baby's new doll in a plaid dress

Baby picked it up, giggled her little vibrato giggle and walked off with it - it was so cute!

That patch on her face is where Baby has been sucking :)

With her leftover dollars, I thought it was time we upgraded from My First Root Children, to the full story.  I'm not familiar with the whole book but the illustrations are so sweet and colourful and filled with little children and flowers and bugs, all in a beautiful art nouveau style.

Sweet illustrations, all about nature and the seasons
New best friends!
Now Baby is sleeping and the afternoon is getting on - all those MamaBear duties are starting to sing out.

It has been a lovely day! x

Fable Table: Portuguese Chicken Rolls & Homemade Wedges

I know, I know, there's a whole lot more cooking than crafting going on here at the moment, but with three kids and two adults to feed, there's always cooking to be done and crafting just has to wait!

This was one of those 'can't pass up that bargain' kind of inventions - Baby and I were at the supermarket doing our Wednesday shop - on a super strict budget, unfortunately (I like to go wild at the supermarket!) - and we came across a packet of one dozen of those little bake-at-home rolls, marked down to $1.12.  Bargain!  Just yesterday, Bear and I were talking about how delcious summer will be with barbecued chicken and chunky salads stuffed into rolls so I thought I'd make a less summery version as it's only just come spring, after all.  So, here 'tis!

Makes 12 (serves 3 - 4)

You'll need:

12 bake-at-home rolls or any petite rolls, really
500g free range chicken thighs
half bottle Nandos Peri Peri Marinade (we just used the standard one but there are loads of flavours to choose from)
1 brown onion, sliced into rings
2 big handfuls of baby spinach
1 kilo potatoes
vegetable oil

1. Peel potatoes and chop into wedges or chips or whichever shape your family finds the tastiest (coz the shape matters, right?).  Put into a baking dish, cover with water and set aside. 

Side note: I've found that since buying organic potatoes from Woolworths, they don't turn brown after they've been peeled - can someone tell me why?!  But I keep them covered in water, just in case.

2. Pop the chicken thighs in a bowl or baking dish and coat with half a bottle of marinade.  Cover and put in the fridge.  The longer they marinate, the better - ours marinated for about 6 hours.

A few hours later...

3. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.

4. When making chips and wedges, I like to microwave or steam the potatoes first as this ensures they're cooked through before cooking on the outside, which can happen quite quickly in a hot oven.  So, drain the water from the potatoes, leaving a tablespoon or so to create steam, and microwave them for about 8 minutes.  Drain off the remaining water, splosh a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil over the potatoes and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt.  Put them into the oven and let them bake for about 20 minutes before you start cooking the chicken.

5. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a frypan over medium heat and fry the chicken for about 8 minutes each side.  Once the chicken is almost cooked, slice it up in the fry pan and toss in the onion and spinach. 

6. Stir it around and let it cook for about 3 minutes. 

7.  While the onion and spinach are cooking, pop the rolls in the oven to warm up.

8. Remove the rolls from the oven, butter them and pile them up with the chicken mixture.  Serve with your homemade wedges and mayonnaise.


The whole family wants this meal again, it's not terribly expensive and there are a few vegetables involved so in my book, that's a win!

Some notes:

This meal idea would work with pretty much any favourite flavours. I'd like to try a korma curry version and a sundried tomato pesto version.

As well as potatoes (which simply can't be beat!) we also make wedges out of sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot.

I tend to prepare potatoes early in the day and set them aside in water til we need them, as peeling potatoes always seems like such a laborious exercise after 4pm!  Do you find that too?!

I hope you enjoy this most recent yum-fest x 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lunch of Champions

Geez I love it when the kids are little and they eat everything!  
Or at the very least, they are willing to try everything.  
No preconceptions, no opinions or schoolyard murmurings to affect their food choices.

Baby is a good eater and is happy to try anything.  So until she starts demanding croissants and party pies (bless their pastry-loving hearts), this is a typical lunch.

Cheese, banana, mandarin, and Vegemite on corn cakes

Lunch has been assessed and the cheese is the first to be devoured

A face full of banana

Onto corn cakes with our favourite, Vegemite!

All gone!  Except for some mandarin... which the dogs polished off while no one was looking.
Happy second day of Spring friends! x

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fable Table: Little Hummingbird Cakes

This unseasonal burst of sunshine has got me bouncing about with productivity!  I've been cooking and cleaning and washing and generally pottering about for a couple of days now, feeling every bit the domestic diva.  However I won't be breaking out the summer frocks just yet as there is a still a wintry chill in the air.  Sounds like the perfect weather to bake a little something, don't you think?  
Something sweet.  
Something fruity.  
Something sunshiney and yellow.  
Something to celebrate the glorious warmth which is waking up the world outside.
Ooooh, Little Hummingbird Cakes it is!  Moister than a muffin but denser than a cupcake, these are little cakes.  And they are delicious!

Little Hummingbird Cakes

Make 24

You'll need:

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
3/4 cup raw caster sugar
1/3 cup shredded coconut

100g butter, melted
200ml coconut cream
2 eggs
grated rind of half an orange

1 large banana, mashed
200g tinned pineapple, chopped into little pieces

1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar and coconut.
3. In a small bowl, whisk butter, coconut cream, eggs and orange rind until well combined.
4. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and fold together until not quite combined.  Now add the mashed banana and pineapple and stir to combine.
5. Drop spoonfuls of mixture into cases and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

Done!  When your little cakes have cooled, plate them up with a dollop of cream and a dusting of icing sugar.  Now go sit in the winter sun with a cup of tea and your fave magazine and enjoy x

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hello World!

The sun has finally peeped out from behind the clouds and I feel as though it symbolises the end of this lurgiest of all lurgies which I have been suffering from for the past week.

All cooped up, unable to function as MamaBear, this has been one testing chunk of downtime.  Alas, much sleep and a few choice meds later, things are on the improve and this beautiful, sunny day is just what my soul needed to encourage its restoration.

It's times like this that I find it comforting to cherish the simple things... and so, I give you some happy snaps!

These girls - they're over-the-top-happy at all times and they're darn cute.  Note the need for new socks ;)

This beautiful bunch of flowers which Baby and I picked from the front yard includes many of my favourites - daphne, forget-me-nots, mini daffodils, erlicheer and snow drops.

These shoes, that colour, that sparkle!  Baby's first pair of shoes and simply perfect for picnics.

Waterlogue - have you used this app?  I love it!  It can turn an ordinary photo into a sweet watercolour painting.  This is one of my fave creations :)

Note to self: next year, get the flu jab!

I hope this hint of early spring has you smiling!  And for my northern friends, I hope you're enjoying the last, lazy summer days x

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fable Table: Coconut Banana Pancakes with Cheat's Caramel Sauce

Something cheeky happens when I'm home alone and I get the baking-bug... 

something indulgent...

something selfish...

I eat my experiments.  

There's no one around to taste test, you see, so it's up to me.

There's no one home to ask 'Whatcha bakin'?' or 'Can I try some?'

There's no one here... to stop me.

There it is.  My secret is out.  It feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders (and funnily enough, piled onto my hips!).

In all honesty, I do usually have something left of the baked-kind for the kids when they get home.

I may just skate around the truth when it comes to original quantities, is all.

It feels lovely when they walk in the front door and say 'Mmm what's that delicious smell?'  

I get a little flutter in my belly and a smile in my heart.

It makes me feel very MamaBear.

Anyhoo, today's experiment is a little variation on one of our Fable Family Favourites, Pancakes with Caramel Bananas.  Instead of frying sliced bananas and using them as a topping, today I added the sliced bananas to the pancakes as they were cooking.  

Needless to say as there was caramel involved, it turned out very tasty!

If you'd like to have a go, here's how to do it:

Whisk together 1 cup of coconut cream with one egg then add 1 cup of self raising flour and 1tbs dessicated coconut.  Whisk with a fork until combined.

Melt 1 tbs butter over low-medium heat in a large frypan.

Dollop spoonfuls of pancake mix into pan (I usually fit three to four pancakes, depending on how much it spreads).

Place thin slices of banana onto each pancake (make the slices no thicker than about 3mm to ensure it gets the chance to cook through).

When bubbles start to appear in the batter, flip your pancakes over.

Cook for another minute or so then pop them onto a plate.

Now for the Cheat's Caramel Sauce:

Put 2tbs butter and 2tbs brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 20 seconds.  Stir to combine then microwave for another 20 seconds.  Add 1tbs cream and stir thoroughly.  Voila!  

Pour sauce over your pancakes and serve with vanilla ice cream (or tear off giant chunks of pancake, ungracefully slosh them around in the bowl of caramel sauce and devour like it's your last meal  - whatever takes your fancy).

Now can you see why I eat my experiments?  Luckily for the rest of the Five, I'm watching my sugar intake (today, at least) so there is plenty left to share with them when they arrive home.

But if I didn't have any left, no one would be any the wiser.  Just saying ;)