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January 2013
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March 2013

A Dress To The Nation

Well, almost a dress. If I made  'squee' sounds, I would be making them about my new Posher Frock.  It just need sleeves and it is done. I am very happy, it fits me so well and came together really easily. Making it for the second time was the charm.

Posher frock sleeveless
The hem is swirly and the biased binding was definitely necessary. Now I must think if I want shorter sleeves or longer towards the elbow.  I'm wearing my aqua shoes, next time I'll try my pear green ones. Gilly helped with the photo today.

It's raining and slightly cooler. Huzzah!!


Donkey Magic, Donkey Magic.



Monkey Magic was more popular in Australia than any other country. I loved it, Ahh Tripitaka, I would say in Monkey's atrocious accent.

Yesterday it was Donkey Magic. I am slightly afraid of horses, cows, bulls, sheep, pigs and so on. All large farm animals really. So when Jet's Mum invited me to visit a donkey and a pony I was a little anxious, but I knew donkeys were quite gentle. Jimmy the Donkey, and his constant companion Tonto the white pony, were very excited to see Jet's mum. Jimmy hee-haws his welcome.

Jimmy, Jet's Mum, Tonto

Jet's Mum went into the paddock, but I stayed outside and fed carrots, oats and licorice to Jimmy and Tonto. Tonto could be a bit enthusiastic, Jimmy was more my speed. He was so gentle when he ate the oats from my hand.

Jimmy eats oats
He has a cross on his back, and there is a legend to go with it.

Cross
Jimmy especially liked to scratch his head on the tree when he itched. I am not afraid of lovely donkeys like Jimmy, he is just so cute. I have a soft spot for him!!! Tonto and Jimmy live in a large paddock next to the house where a big family lives. They are never lonely and have lots of attention. Then Jet's Mum and I had brunch and a nice long chat. It was a very good way to spend the morning.

Jimmy, scratches his head
In other cute news, Gilly may have thrown Sandy over for her new fascination: George. She trotted right behind him, could not take her eyes off him. I think it may be because she has never met a dog smaller than her. George is 12 or 13, so he's way too old for her!! Her Winky Wonky eye is much better now too. Thank goodness.

George and Gilly

Peri almost accidentally ate the camera. I usually have a treat in my right pocket, but today I popped my camera there as well. When I pulled it out slowly to photograph Gilly and George, Peri appeared out of nowhere ready to have treat for being a good girl. Luckily she has a soft mouth and is not easily surprised. She was sad though, so I gave her a special consolation treat.

Peri almost eats the camera
The world is tired of hearing it, but it is hot again. Nevertheless, I have cut out all the pieces for my Posher frock I need by Tuesday afternoon. The afternoon part is really important, it gives me extra time. I traced off the bodice pieces because I needed to range across a few sizes. Then I shortened the skirt by 8cm because I'm not tall. I really should have checked more carefully how much material I needed, but in the end I was able to squeeze every piece out of what I had. No weird seams or joins necessary.

Squishing pattern

I have sewed this before, so I raised the v-neck by 3cm and remembered I don't need a zip. I forgot to eliminate the back seam on the skirt, so I'll cut 1.5cm off the other side. I used the long sleeve, shortened, instead of the Imelda Marcos pleated sleeve they suggest for this view.  I play fast and loose with my alterations. I should be able to sew the dress tomorrow. I've bought some biased binding for the hem, as shortening the skirt by 8cm was accidentally the right amount to make the pattern fit, but in case it is too short a biased binding hem will crib back 2.5cm.

We had our first Sewing of the Craftsy BOM 2013. MrsDrWho' theme is chocolate,

BOM 2013 1 MDW
and Jubbly's Mum has chosen travel as hers. We forgot to sew them into a block, I'm not sure which way they like best.

BOM 2013  1 JM
No-one would be surprised to learn that after making my blocks so early, I put them somewhere safe and now I can't find them. Oh dear!!!

Maybe I'll find them before Sewing in a fortnight. I won't hold my breath.......

 


Friday Food: No Bake Choc Caramel Slice

This is from my old tattered AWW Beautiful Biscuits book. I saw it has been reissued, which is good. It is an excellent Summer recipe because there is no oven involved. At all. I made this a while ago, in the earlier endless heat, for MrsDrWho. There is just a little bit of microwaving.

It is important to use good 70% chocolate and not cooking chocolate. I fear my chocolate spreading was poor, as it was so hot I popped the slice in the freezer for a few minutes. Very bad decision. The chocolate dulled and was not inclined to co-operate. Luckily it still tasted fine.

I am not sure if the rest of the world has rectangular ice cream wafers, but they are always in our supermarkets. I used a tin that was larger than I needed so I didn't have to trim the wafers to fit. They always break in an irregular fashion for me.

MrsDrWho does not like peanuts or peanut butter, except for in a satay, so I left it out.

 

Choc Caramel Slice   makes 24 triangles

  • 24 ice cream wafers
  • 185g good dark chocolate
  • 15g butter
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 15g butter more
  • 30ml golden syrup
  • 3 tspn smooth peanut butter

Line a tin at least 28 x 18 cm with baking paper and lay out the wafers to make sure they fit. Lay them with the same pattern facing up (or down).

Laying out the wafers
Make the caramel by putting the condensed milk, 15g of butter and the golden syrup into a microwave-proof bowl and  cook on High in 1 minute bursts. Stir after each minute. The bowl and the caramel will be Very Hot. It usually takes between 6 and 8 minutes. When it is a good caramel colour, stir in the peanut butter and set aside.

Caramel

Melt the chocolate and the other 15g of butter gently in the microwave on half power in 30 second bursts. It is best not quite melted and then gently stirred till smooth. Or of course in a bowl over simmering water. Spread the chocolate over the tray line with baking paper, and then lay out half the wafers as before.

Laying the wafers on chocolate
Spoon on the caramel and spread evenly over the wafers, right to the very edge. It doesn't matter if it is not perfect, as later on you can trim the edges and eat them!!!

Caramel spreading
Now arrange the remaining wafers on top, making sure they lie in the same direction, top with the chocolate and  refrigerate till firm, maybe 30 minutes. Stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before cutting. Well, I certainly didn't read those instructions which is why some of mine shattered.  Cut into rectangles the size of a wafer, and then cut each rectangle in half diagonally. A hot wet knife is quite good.

Finishing off
The slice will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week. It is very delicious, I remember eating it when I was little and could eat chocolate.

Choc caramel slice


What Is This Thing Called, Luv?

Luv. Dear. Duck. : all terms used, particularly in shops, by older people. I'd rather be a 'Luv' than a 'Guy'. I resent being called a 'Guy'. A guy is a man. But "What is this thing called, luv?", is a question we all might have asked this morning.

What is this think called, luv
Rain. It rained for about 90 minutes and we all went and stood out in the rain. Looked at the rain in the tub. Ran about when the thunder clapped. Walked in the last of the shower. What a nice surprise to have rain at last.

Water in their tub
Hobart, the Southern Capital, has 600ml of rain a year. That's half of Sydney's total. We are regularly in drought, even though on the West Coast they have literally metres of rain a year. They announce Outside Days at School, instead of Inside Days. You do everything in the rain on the West Coast as a matter of course.

Gilly has had a Wonky Eye for a day and a half. I promised myself that if it was wonky this morning we'd go to the Vet. And so we did. Gilly was so good for Dr Liz. She had some local and dye in her eye which showed there were no scratches. They had to take her out the back to turn her third eyelid inside out with tweezers because she was trying to hide under my dress. She was perfectly behaved. It didn't hurt. There was no grass seed, she has a little conjunctivitis and so we have eye ointment.

Poor Gilly's wonky eye

Peri welcomed her home and they ran about. Gilly must have smelled of the vet. They were happy to be together again.

Peri welcomes Gilly home
Peri and Gilly had a special treat. Their new favourite thing is sugar snap peas. They were on sale for $7 a kilo so I bought some. They snap them up!! You can see the remnants of the dye in the corner of Gilly's eye.

Sugar snap dogs

The weather is hot. I know the BOM says it was 28*C yesterday, but if you stand in the backyard in the full glare of the Sun for three minutes, it's 38*C.

28, really
I wore my Mashup dress in public. The straps feel a little insecure and I hitch them up a lot, but as a wearable toile it is a success. Next time I would put a zip in the side and also add a little to the neckline so I could pull the bodice down a bit further to get rid of the gathers on the princess seams. I can see all the bruises on my arms from where Miss Lorelai Gilmore treads on me. I do bruise very easily now.

Wearing my dress

I have a new pattern ready to mash up for a dress in March. I'm thinking of a play on Klingon Kleavage.

Dress 2
I shall make View B with the short sleeves, and leave the high neckband in place. Then I shall put a sweetheart or some such neckline so that there is a cut out where you can see Klingon Kleavage. Should be an interesting design!!

I am ready to start on my Posher Frock to wear in a week. I have decided to use my first Amazing Fit pattern, but I shall shorten the long sleeves, rather than have the puff sleeves the pattern uses. Using the 13th dress length means I can wear my aqua wedges or 'pear' coloured shoes and take my small aqua handbag. I have nothing better to think about.

Posher frock proposal
I am very excited because tomorrow we have our first Sewing of the year where we look at the Craftsy Block of the Month 2013 and all our material and catch up together. Yay!! I must decide what to cook to take with me. Red Velvet Cupcakes, Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Meringues?? I see a theme there. I made Nigella's Meringue Gelato Cake for dessert on Sunday, served with this chocolate sauce. MrsDrWho said the sauce was very rich, so next time I would not make quenelles, I would zap it in the microwave and pour a little overMeringue gateau ice cream

There is still no knitting. It needs to be cooler.


With Me It's Toile Or Nuthin'.

I love Oklahoma the Musical. My mum played musicals on our record player when I was small. It was in a shiny burgundy case with some kind of cream textured decoration. The case was a square barely bigger than an LP and maybe 20cm high. It had a cream handle that slipped out so you could carry it about. We must have listened to records all day, because I never remember not knowing the tunes and at least some of the words.

It is too hot for words, hot and humid. I am about to water the Labradors with the hose again, because the water in the paddle pool has gone past warm to bath temperature. It's 30 inside and we are grateful that there is a cool breeze at last. Just two more days of this and then we can look forward to the low 20s. The children and teachers are so hot at school. The Powers That Be should have remembered that we always get our hottest weather in February. We used to go back to school in the last week of February, but they have fiddled and faddled about so much that now it's the first week and everyone has to be hotter than hot. You can't learn when it is too hot.

Anyway, I am wearing my very wearable toile.  Only one strap is pinned correctly, and the top and skirt are just basted together. It still needs proper lining, and maybe the back darts need adjusting to be larger. And I don't need a zip, which is a bonus. And my dress is so cool to wear. I love it. I am going to make another one. People of the World will be forced to look at my arms and legs.

Very wearable toile
Peri was helping me take the photo. I need to make some upper nether garment strap keepers so that the strap stays safely on my shoulder.

I'm also going to have to do up the inside gate more carefully, as this is what greeted me when I came home yesterday: two happy Labradors at the outside gate!!

Labradors can open the gate


Friday Food: Pork and Horseradish Burgers

I didn't believe the Donna Hay recipe (Feb/Mar 2013) when it said that you could make a burger from pork mince, a garlic clove and horseradish cream. I was wrong. Very wrong. It made the most delicious-est burger, juicy and full of flavour.

I thought there was too much aioli in the apple-slaw that went with it, but that's my personal taste. Next time I'd use half and half with plain yoghurt and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. If you need to make the apple-slaw early, then a squeeze of lemon juice could stop the apple from rusting. Apparently I have no photos of making the apple-slaw, you're on your own!!

I only had some ordinary local cheddar, so I used that. No watercress was to be found so it was chopped up celery leaves instead.

I would just caution that the hamburgers do tend to fall apart, as there's not much binding them together, still they are fast and easy and tasty: not much more one could ask for really.

 

Pork and Horseradish Burgers with Apple-slaw    serves 4

  • 80ml aioli or posh mayonnaise
  • 1 red apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 green apple, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 500g pork mince
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) horseradish cream 
  • 4 bread rolls, halved
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 1/2 cup shaved manchego or cheddar cheese
  • 50g watercress

Put half the aioli, the sliced apple, salt and pepper into a bowl and mix well. Set aside.

Put the pork, garlic and horseradish in a bowl, season as desired with salt and pepper. Mix very well and then form into four evenly sized burgers.

Making the burgers 

Preheat a pan or BBQ  to high heat and then brush the halved buns with oil. Cook, cut side down for a minute or so until they are lightly browned or charred.

Buns
Brush the burgers with oil and then cook for about 4 minutes each side, or until cooked through.

Burgers cooking

Spread the rolls with the remaining aioli, and top with the burger, apple-slaw and watercress.

Assembly

This is an easy recipe to halve or double and so quick to make. The horseradish cream is not too hot, nor too bland. It is a pretty good burger.

Burgers and slaw


Silence in the Library? No!!

4:50am and we were all awakened by a bump, a bang and then lots more bumps. Gilly rushed out to save us all, Peri decided it was not too urgent and sauntered out. The Doctor Who bookcase, previously unstable in August, decided to spring apart. Both bottom edges diverged and books cascaded down. Luckily into the lounge chair. MrsDrWho offered to come and help me, but it is going to be too hot until next Wednesday at least (29,29,29,30,30,24,24) I have another smaller bookcase which can sit on top and be very stable. Thank goodness it's not a real emergency. Oh and I have finally added Weather as a category, being obsessed with it, endlessly!!

Oh dear
I saw Dr Harry giving dogs diluted chicken stock ice blocks to keep them cool on hot days. Peri and Gilly only like their ice blocks until they have eaten the three tiny pieces of dry dog food. They spent some time tonight on two new ones, but I can see I need flat rectangular take-away container blocks with tiny treats spread right across the centre. I would post a video, but it has been hours and Youtube is still processing it. Instead, here are some photos.

Peri and the ice block
Gilly and the ice block
The Labradors met their new friend Raffa again on their morning walk.

One new friend Raffa
And then, joy of joys, they met a new new friend called Ted. There was much running about and sniffing and playing. Our walk was almost 40 minutes and so Peri and I were very tired when we got home. Gilly was full of beans, being a youngster.

Two new friends, Ted and Raffa
Wearing my two dresses has made me realise how urgently I need a sleeveless dress. I bought a See & Sew pattern for $3 and I am planning to use it to modify the pattern I know fits me and add straps. I have some material that only cost $3 a metre, and if I end up with something vaguely wearable I will be very happy.

Mash up dress
I think I will try to put a lapped side zip as one needs to be a circus contortionist to do up a zip in the back. Since I don't have to make a cake at all tomorrow, it is for next Friday, making a dress is my only goal.

The GardyGardeners expressed a wish for a doily the same as the one I knitted my mum. I tried to borrow the book from The Library again, but they told me it was being 'weeded' out and it wasn't available until 6th December this year. Well, I popped in and saw one of the lovely Librarians yesterday and behold, the book arrived today and I have it in my hot little hands. She gave me permission to photocopy any pages I needed in case someone decided to weed out their only copy again. There are two or three things I like and so I will do that, but I am never going to knit a bedspread in fine crochet cotton, so I feel happy to copy just the few things I like.

Almost weeded out
It is dark outside already at 9pm. We have another seven weeks of Daylight Saving, and though I shall be sad when it is over, we are looking forward to the cool of Autumn and the extra hour of sleep.


Only Pools and Horses

24, 27, 28, 28, 28, 29, 26. It's going to be quite hot for the next week. It was hot today, so hot that I was happy to drive the long way home and wait at red lights because the air-con in my car is so nice and cold.

Peri defies logic and bakes in the Sun, whilst lying on the black foam, which also absorbs the heat. It's a hard job, but someone has to do it.

Peri relaxing in the sun
Gilly was so hot and the paddle pool water level was low. I filled it up again, but I know why it was low. Gilly is always busy digging a hole. Digging holes is her speciality at the moment, especially after a dip in the paddle pool. She concentrates so hard.

Gilly is very busy
There may have been a little horse play ( a lot of horse play) with the hose to cool them both down: two wet Labradors. They ran down the stairs and far away from me!!!

Two wet Labradors

They look wonderfully slim when their fur is all wet and sleek.

Today I did some baking for MrsDrWho's morning tea turn tomorrow. I made red velvet cupcakes and piped on the swirly cream cheese icing. I am obsessed with passionfruit right now and so I also made some passionfruit cupcakes with a few white choc chips thrown in for good measure. MrsDrWho has taste tested them and they are both fine.

Baking
The Kaffe Fasset quilt is one step nearer to completion. It is too hot to be under it or near it. Maybe 24*C tomorrow is my only chance.

Kaffe Fassett almost done
I've also started quilting last year's Craftsy Block of the Month. In random order. And not very well. If you are not interested in quilting-as-you-go please skip this long and boring (for you) part!!

Quilt as I go BOM 2012
I layered the backing, cotton batting and the block and then quilted away with a 3.5 length stitch. I tried to remember to leave an unquilted border around the edges. When they are all done I will trim the backing and batting to 1/2  inch. Then I will sew a 1 1/2 inch lattice, just between the two blocks, using two 1/4 inch seams. Then I'll flip it over and the backing and batting will meet in the centre. (I hope) Finally I plan to sew on some biased binding to cover the join. On the front it will be two rows of stitching down the lattice. I think I will use a patterned fabric so if my stitching is crooked it won't show up so badly.

Oh and I found Dress Length #13 at the bottom of the Christmas material tub.

Dress length #13
I need to make a start on February's dress because I have been invited to the Posh Opening of the new Cancer Council Centre. The Governor and Federal and State Ministers will be there. I am beastly careless about that, but I was thinking of using my apple material: an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Actually, I am hoping the afternoon tea will be fabulous!!! We had Leukaemia Support Group at the new Centre today. It is always lovely to catch up with everyone, My great achievement was to work out how the boiling water dispenser worked, otherwise we would have been cup of tea and coffee-less. My Hb has been a little low. I like to think that it is the hot weather depleting my resources. I shall just keep thinking that. It goes up and down. I'm expecting it to go up again next time.

Over the last few months I have been working my way through the eight seasons of Monk on DVD from The Library. I am now awaiting the final two discs. I don't want it to be over. I have thoroughly enjoyed every episode. I might have to eke the last six out at the rate of one a day and then watch the final two episodes on the seventh day. Then it has to go back to The Library.

The Gardy-Gardeners aren't coming tomorrow, so we'll all have a little lie in and then maybe I'll think about cutting out my new dress.


Friday Food: Squash, Coconut, Chilli

Friday Food on Saturday. I had lots of appointments this week, visits to make and the weather was hot and we went for a nap yesterday after The Labradors' tea and that was it basically. I even had photos ready on my camera for three things, but I was too tired to make the effort.

We have all had a rather long nap this afternoon too, and I made a fresh batch of this recipe for my tea. I used sweet potato instead of pumpkin or squash and dried chilli flakes. I used plain ordinary curry powder because I haven't replaced my curry pastes after The Fridge Incident last year which I may, or may not, have mentioned. I used a whole tin of coconut milk even though I halved the recipe. I love the sauce element of everything and sop it up with rice or bread. Yum!! I find that the sauce thickens on refrigeration so it's nice to have a little extra.

This recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Three Good Things book which finally arrived at The Library for me. He is also on TV as I type this with his Bread episode of Everyday Food. I am tempted to try my hand at a sourdough starter.....

 

Squash, Coconut, Chilli    serves 4

  • 800 - 1kg squash, pumpkin or sweet potato
  • 2 tbspn vegetable oil of your choice
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced, I used red
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 mild chillis, deseeded and sliced, I used 1/2 tspn dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tspn good curry paste or powder
  • 400ml tin coconut milk
  • lemon or lime to serve
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a pan over a low to medium heat and gently cook the onion for 10 minutes or so. Stir occasionally. It will cook down and go nicely brown and soft.  While the onion is cooking, peel the squash/pumpkin/sweet potato and cut into bite-sized chunks. After 10 minutes add the garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes.

Onions, chilli, garlic

Add the curry and cook for two minutes more. Then add the squash and stir to coat with the curry and onion mixture, cooking for 2 minutes more.

Curry and sweet potato 

That's pretty much all the attention you need to pay to the pan now. Pour in the coconut milk, season with salt and pepper and stir. Allow to come to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20-25 minutes. The squash should be tender but not falling apart.

Coconut milk and simmer

Serve with rice, salt and pepper to taste and a squeeze of lemon or lime.  This is great as a lunch or quick weekend meal, or it could be served with some fish or chicken. Hugh suggests adding a green vegetable 8-10 minutes from the end and a scattering of coriander on serving.

Sweet potato coconut chilli


RugLabs

We have no style at our house. When I watch TV shows and read magazines it is all Shabby Chic, Retro and Minimalism. Our style is Someone Gave Us Two Lounge Chairs, I lIke Green Walls Which Match My Star Wars Poster and I Have A New Bargain Rug That Won't Show Labrador Dirt. And here it is, avec Labradors.

New rug and Labradors
It is acrylic, which means I could carry it myself, and instead of being $100, it was $39. I used a voucher which made it $29. Our house is not faux wild animal skin friendly being a 1930 building, but I chose the colours that would camouflage Labrador dirt and bits and bobs. Peri and Gilly like their new rug a lot and have lain about on every part of it.

We had a phone call from The Vet this morning to ask if Peri could donate some blood for a sick dog. I was having my hair cut at noon and two hours was a long time for Gilly to pine and howl at home alone, so she went too!! The nurses were happy to babysit her while Peri donated blood. They were so excited to be at the vet and went happily with the nurse with nary a backwards glance for me. They were both very well behaved and Peri received a bag of special food for her efforts. She is sharing it with Gilly!! I think Peri is very brave and very clever to sit still for so long and not wriggle. I'd wriggle.

Peri and Gilly, blood donation
This year I am being 'inspired' by the Craftsy Block of the Month quilt rather than following it faithfully. I have made four 12 inch blocks. One of the striped ones is in reverse and the crosses don't quite met perfectly in the centre but I like them. I managed to find an aqua blender fabric the same as the two green ones as my background so I am very pleased.

2013 first 4 blocks

MrsDrWho starts school proper tomorrow, all the children arrive and of course the weather is hot. Our new four terms means that children and teachers will be at school in the hottest weather for longer. I am still a little bah humbug about it all. She needed new containers for desks to designate colours and hold zooms and rulers etc. There were none to be had at a reasonable price in seven colours. I thought I could probably make some kind of cover for the $2 Target jugs and I made a prototype:

Prototype and colours
I refined my pattern and sewed some very successful covers that are reversible. I have enough material left over to make one more reversible set and then one more with a contrast. They are very economical and washable!!

Covering
I cooked some Kiss biscuits to ameliorate MrsDrWho's return to school. I made twenty eight, so that's four weeks at one a day, or one week at four a day. I used my mum's raspberry jam and lemon icing. There was a plain biscuit left over so Peri and Gilly had that.

Lots of kiss biscuits
I've returned MrsDrWho's iPad which she lent me over the holidays. I played all of Angry Birds Rio. I feel modern and up to date having conquered the whole thing. Of course anyone who says they are modern and up to date is demonstrably not.

We've had some lovely cooler days in the last week and Peri especially loves the nip in the air. There has been running in and out, jumping and chasing, and playing Tug of War with the reindeer. Peri doesn't usually like toys, but she was quite taken with Gilly's reindeer and so there ensued a long and exuberant Battle Royale. Peri was triumphant.

Animals go crackers over the reindeer
MrsHouseOf bought us all a surprise gift, one that has me humming the Darth Vader theme tune every time I have a cup of tea!! Use the force, Kettle!!!

A gift
Tomorrow the Hydro is turning the power off from 9am until 4pm-ish, and so I am going to decamp. I couldn't stay home all day with no cups of tea. Peri and Gilly are staying home with a bone.