Monday, October 31, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 31 - Thanks for hanging in there with me

Today was an awesome mail day.  The parcel guy left these on my doorstep this morning.

colouring books
Lark had these on special last week.  I couldn't resist buying up.  Some will go to Moo for a holiday present.  Some will be stashed for future presents.

When I waved my friends off after the Thermomix demo, I saw the white envelope that any Ottobre Design subscriber looks forward to receiving.

Otto 062011

Then when I pulled out the envelope, I saw more mail underneath.  Within that bundle was this...

hot chocolate
It was a gift from Cherie because I sent her some velours for telling me the flavour of the Japanese Kit Kat bar.   Very unexpected and totally sweet!  I'm not sure that I will share with the kidlets.  Well, except for the fact they saw them and will expect to have at least one.  Thank you Cherie!

So thanks for going on this Blogtoberfest adventure with me.  For one lucky reader I'm going to buy you a metre of fabric from Crafty Mamas.
Why Crafty Mamas?  Well, it's where I buy most of my fabric, and Lisa's customer service is fabulous.   It's a good time to win a metre of fabric because Lisa just received her Stenzo shipment.   I'll pick a random winner from the comments on this post next Monday.  (for the record this isn't sponsored in any way.  I want to give away a metre of fabric, and Crafty Mamas is my favourite place to shop.)

Here's Mollie modeling her Amelie dress.

Cloud Amelie front M

Cloud Amelie back M

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 30 - Scraping the Bottom

Nothing exciting to say today.  I'm tired after trying to get two excited girls to go to sleep last night.  The girls didn't go to sleep until midnight!  Moo was ready for bed by 6pm tonight.  The kids also ran around like lunatics in the yard with the sprinkler going, so that would have worn them out that bit more.  No lectures about water usage, we have a rainwater tank. 

I spent most of the day tidying.  I'm having a Thermomix demo tomorrow.  I'm only having the demo, so I can get my Thermo Server.  My friends know this.  They don't feel any pressure, and we get fed lunch.  Because I was trying to organise the house and minimise the chaos created by the kids, I didn't grab my camera at all today.  Although my friend did pop over to take some photos of the girls, Moo, B & C, in some of my creations.  I was secretly hoping that C would send me some of the photos.  So instead you can have this photo of Will showing off a Lego creation.  We love Lego until we step on it.

Will Lego

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 29 - Sweetness!

Weeks ago I signed Mollie and a friend up for a children's cooking class at Sweetness The Patisserie.  The class was part of Crave - Sydney International Food Festival.  I always look in the festival guide when it comes out.  When I saw this class, I KNEW that I had to book a spot for Miss Moo. 

Here are the girls in uniform.

Mollie and B at Sweetness1

I don't have any photos of them creating because I left them to it.  The patisserie isn't really big enough for parents and kids, so I went shopping while the girls learned and created.  

Here they are waiting for their rainbow shortbread to be bagged.  I tasted a tiny piece of Moo's shortbread.  It was delicious, and definitely short!

Mollie and B at Sweetness2

Beautiful and delicious!

Sweetness shelves
I have a confession. I work nearby.  I can easily pop into Sweetness on a work day, but I don't.  It's not because I don't want to, but that it's counterproductive for the weight loss project.

It is worthwhile mentioning that Sweetness also sell some ingredients that aren't easily sourced other places.  A while back I blogged about Fiori di Sicilia.  Gena sells it!  So yes, you can get it in Australia.  She also sells the divine Boyajian citrus oils and dried Montmorency cherries.

Sweetness - The Larder

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 28 - Don't Drink and Blog

tonights drop
Col and I drank this with dinner, a nice big steak.  I can't be assed writing a blog post now. 

I can tell you that I made the most delicious pie/tart for my friend's birthday today.  I highly recommended it.   I would have taken a photo, but there was NONE left by the time I remembered.  Guess that means it was good.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 27 - For my Angel

Mollie spotted these glittery iron on wings a while back.  She's been asking me to make something with them.  Then I bought this cloud print knit, and an idea was born.

I chose to make a tunic from the Farbenmix Amelie pattern.  This is a super simple pattern.  There are no sleeves, but at the same time the shoulder is covered.  It is really perfect for hot days in Sydney.  I also made a size 146/152 because Moo is just a shade over 140, and I was worried she'd outgrow the top too soon.  She'll be able to wear it as a dress now.

Amelie front

Wings on the back

Amelie back

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 26 - Daisy Skirt

I picked up my overlocker today.  It's good because I was starting to get withdrawals from not making any clothes.  I've had this skirt cut out for Moo since August. 

Pattern:  Farbenmix Caroline
Caroline is a cute tiered skirt with leggings.  The leggings come in three lengths.
Fabrics:  Mad Sky Daisy print for the skirt and Stella in lime for the shorts.

Caroline skirt

The leggings underneath

Caroline shorts

Close up of the gathering

Caroline closeup
I'm not sure if you can see the difference in the gathering between the top tier of gathering and the lower one?  The top one looks nicer, little gathers with even spacing.   With the bottom tier, I made a couple of mistakes and was too lazy to fix them.  So what is the difference?

For both tiers I used my ruffler foot, but with the upper tier I made sure the gathering stitches were on the seam line.  With the bottom tier the gathering stitches were too far from where I was sewing the seam because I'd forgotten that I'd cut my pieces with a 6mm seam allowance. (sometimes I use a 1cm seam allowance.)  The gathering stitches were over 1cm from the edge, so too far where the seam was stitched.

My second mistake was that I didn't use my walking foot when I sewed together the middle and bottom tier. I just did it on the overlocker.  So the two factors combined gave me uneven gathering that looks really flat.  When you use a walking foot, it doesn't compress and push the gathered piece as much as a standard presser foot.  It is also important to make sure your gathered piece is on top, so that you can adjust and make sure the gathers stay even.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 25 - New socks

It's all Mary's fault.  After I posted my rainbow socks, she pointed me in the direction of these socks.

new socks

Hopefully I'll have some crafting to share with you soon.  Tomorrow I go back to Chatswood to get my overlocker.   I sew so many things out of knit fabrics that I've really missed it.  I really want to make myself a few short sleeve t-shirts, but can't! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 24 - Fruit & Veg Shopping

Monday is usually fruit and veggie shopping day.  I buy most of our fruit and veg from the farm shop at Warrah.  Not everything is grown there.  The shop manager gets organic produce from the markets to supplement what the farm grows.

warrah sign

It was a hot day here in Sydney.  A taste of summer for sure!  The kids had a cool drink and sat under the tree while I did my shopping.

moo and will

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 23 - Dinner with Friends Again!

Today we did a fair bit of cooking.  We made more choc cherry Power Balls.  I made another fruit loaf because Mollie really liked the previous one.

another fruit loaf
I also made those peanut butter brownies again because we had guests for dinner again!

ed & steve
Ed LOVES peanut butter and chocolate, so I sent all the brownies that we didn't eat home with him!

Mollie did some crafting with glitter today.  She was really happy because she loves things that sparkle!

mollie crafting

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 22 - Dinner with Friends

Today we had friends over for dinner.  I didn't manage to take any photos of the meal, but it wasn't anything that exciting, just a barbecue - hamburgers, sausages, coleslaw and potato salad.  Although the pavlova did look spectacular.  It was so yummy that Col and I finished it off after everyone went home.

empty plate
Really, we had to finish it off because there is no room in the fridge for it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 21 - Adding to the collection

I had to buy Bill Granger's new book.  I always like his recipes.   I don't think I've had a "fail" from any of his books unlike Donna Hay.  I get suckered into her styling, but I never have faith that her recipes will work, so I've stopped buying her books.

everyday asian

I also bought In The Mix which is a new Thermomix cookbook.  It does have quite a few recipes that I wouldn't make, but there are definitely a few that I will try out.  Plus I like reading about how to make all sorts of things in the Thermomix because it gives me ideas for things I'd like to do myself.

in the mix

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 20 - My Diet Tip

If you love to bake, bake for others.  Almost every Thursday after school we go to the park.  I like to use it as an opportunity to bake something because there are many mouths, and if there are leftovers, I can take them to work on Friday (just don't tell my coworkers that I didn't bake especially for them).

Today's creation - Peanut Butter Brownies with Reese's.  I've had these Reese's sitting around for a while, and they needed to get out of the house instead of into my mouth.

The recipe is from The Boastful Baker.

Will's having an ace time.

having fun at the park

Here are the crazy kids.

friends at the park

And the mums (minus me...I was taking a sneaky photo)

at the park

It was such a beautiful day to be outside that we got home at 6:45.  Oops!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 19 - Busy Day Wednesday

Wednesdays are my "child free" day.  Will and Mollie are at school.  I don't normally work on a Wednesday.  I love having a bit of time to myself, but today I had to take the car for a service and rego inspection.  The car service place said if I had the car to them by 7:45 that I'd have it back by lunch.  This meant that I had to be up and out of the house by 7:30.  The service centre runs a shuttle to Parramatta station, so I thought I'd take that and have a good look around Westfield, but last night Col suggested that I walk instead.  I'm so glad he had his thinking cap on.  It was a pleasant walk, so much so that I walked back.  Hurrah for some exercise!

I spent a fair amount of time looking in shops which is such a luxury without the children.  After a while I needed something else to do, and I walked by a hair salon, so I walked in and got a hair cut.

today hair cut
This might not seem like a big deal, but it is.  I haven't had my hair cut in over a year.  I just never seem to find the time to do it.

When I got home, I saw this week's Good Living on the table.

good living
Col picks it up from the newspaper at work at the end of the day.  So sweet that he thinks of me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 18 - Socks

Here are the socks I was wearing today.

rainbow sock
I like fun, colourful socks.  Am I scraping the barrel for something to post?  Uhm yeah!  No crafting today.  I had work.  Picked up the kids.  Got my allergy needle.  Went to our friends' place.  Came home and did the dinner/bath/routine.  I'm hoping I can manage something more interesting tomorrow, but it is a fairly hectic day again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 17 - Ribbon Bracelets

A few months back I saw these super cute ribbon bracelets featured on the Farbenmix Inspirations blog.  They've been on my to-do list ever since.  So while my overlocker is away at the spa, I've been looking for projects that use only a sewing machine.

ribbon bracelet

Want to make some too?  I'll tell you how I made mine.
woven fabric
Steam-a-Seam 2
Spray Starch (optional)
Resin snaps + snap press
coordinating thread
lighter to heat seal ribbon ends
sewing machine
bias tape maker - 18mm and/or 25mm

1. Cut strips of fabric.  If you are going to use a 25mm bias tape maker, you need to cut 50mm (2") strips.  I don't cut the strips on the bias.  I cut them across the grain.  If you want less fabric showing on the edges then cut 36mm wide strips, so you can use an 18mm bias maker.  Most Farbenmix ribbons are 15mm wide although some are narrower and a few are wider like Florafox.   I cut most of my strips 50mm wide, but next time I think I'll go for 36mm.

bias tape makers

2.  Spray strips with starch.  Iron dry then use the bias maker to make the "bias".  I like to use starch as it gives the fabric nice body and the folds press sharply.  Then cut the strips into 21.5cm long pieces.  Iron each end in by 0.5cm.
In the photo below you can see the ends of the fabric strip are ironed in.

cut strips

3. Cut a 24cm piece of ribbon.  Use a lighter to heat seal the ends (not like in the photo below.  My lighter ran out of fuel.)  Then iron the ribbon.  Make sure the iron isn't above a wool heat setting.  The ribbons have a tendency to shrink when a bit of heat is applied to them.  Since I used Steam-a-Seam to adhere them to the fabric strip, I needed to pre-treat them with the iron.  Cut a piece of Steam-a-Seam to fit the ribbon.  Press onto ribbon then place the ribbon onto the fabric strip centred over the opening.  A bit of ribbon should overhang on each end and will be wrapped around to the back (you can see the backs of some of the bracelets in the bottom photo).  Steam ribbon onto the fabric strip. 

place ribbon

3. Stitch ribbon.  You can use a straight stitch or a narrow zigzag or any other cute stitch that will stitch the ribbon.  I usually use my #10 foot on my Bernina which is the edgestitch foot.  It has a centre blade which I line up with the side of the ribbon and then I move the needle to the side.  Zoom, zoom and the ribbon is stitched down.  Me being me used a coordinating colour in the bobbin, so the stitching on the back matches the fabric, and I changed my needle threads to match the ribbon.

4.  Attach the snaps.  I have to admit that I originally only had one socket snap, but it made the bracelet too big for the kids.  I added an additional socket 2.5cm in from the socket snap at the end (see photo below).   That way the bracelet can fit big and little people.  If you wanted to make them for little people only, you could take 2.5cm off of the measurements for the fabric strip and ribbon and just use one socket snap.

lotsa ribbon bracelets

If I haven't been clear about anything, just ask me!  Sometimes the way my brain sees things is different from other people, or perhaps I just got tired of proofreading.

Mollie has already claimed a couple.  A couple are for the daughter of the woman who gave me all those ribbons and trims.  A few are for Will, and the rest are for the kids' friends if I can manage to stash them away until Christmas/Chanukah time.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 16 - Summer is coming

Kids are happy.  They love mangoes.  I have to admit that the main purpose of this post is to rub my friend's face in the fact that we have mangoes because for the past 7 weeks I've had endure photos of our dearest friends' trip around Europe.  Jealous much? 

Now they have to face winter in Chicago.  Enjoy the cold mates!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

-Blogtoberfest Day 15 - Ribbons & bits

When others know that you sew, sometimes you get nice little gifts.

lots of trim

velvet flowers

pretty flowers
Mollie's favourite trim

pink trim
A mum at school gave me a bag full of trims and ribbons.  Some I won't use, but there are plenty of good things in the bag.  There are lots of pretty flowers and Mollie is in love with all the little sequin things like butterflies and hearts.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 14 - Date night

One of my perks of working where I do is that I get a box of products each month.  I end up getting more stuff that I will ever use, so my friends end up with bits and pieces.  The things that I won't use or my friends don't want go to work with Col.   Tonight I handed Col these bits to take to work.

date night essentials
Col's comment, "it's the perfect date night for Dan (his coworker who I am sure doesn't read this blog).  Dinner and he'll smell great*."

*Lynx Directions
  1.  Twist top to reveal nozzle.
  2. Spray to smell great.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 13 - Balls

I saw this recipe on, and the mention of dried cherries had me sucked in.  I love dried cherries. 


I changed the recipe to suit the ingredients that I had on hand. 

100g dried cherries
100g sultanas
100g cashews, toasted
100g raw cacao nibs
30g maple syrup
Desiccated coconut for rolling as needed

Weigh the cacao nibs into the TMX and process 10 sec/speed 8. Throw the rest in except the coconut. Blend 10 sec/speed 8.
With damp hands, roll into tablespoon size balls and roll in coconut.

Tenina advises to let the balls sit for a while.  Don't eat them right away.  I totally agree with this.  The flavours meld nicely after sitting.

The first time I made these I gave them to a friend.  She likes this type of stuff.   She's pregnant, and I thought these would make a nice little pick me up because they are full of good stuff like antioxidants.  And I used organic ingredients (except the cherries).  Of course, I had a mental discourse about "should I or shouldn't I?"  "will she like them?"  "am I being silly?"  In the end I just decided to do it.  I'm trying to push through my introvert tendency to over-analyse everything.  I want to evaluate all possibilities, so I spend too much time thinking and not enough doing.  I've decided that more doing is good.  I think about my friends often, and I like doing things for them which is why I made more today.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 12 - Does your mom stalk you online?

Mine does. I made this fruit loaf on the weekend, and I put a photo on Flickr. 
fruit loaf
This morning I get this email
Sara your fruitloaf looks like a beautiful challah bread. I mean it is gorgeous.
Love Mom
(for you non-Jews challah bread is a very delicious bread with egg in the dough. It's so nice toasted.  Now I think I am going to have to make some because I am way too lazy to drive to the eastern suburbs of Sydney to procure some.  I really dislike driving in the eastern suburbs.)

Does it bother me that my mom checks up on me? Not at all. It means I can be lazy. I know I can just put photos on Flickr, and she will see them. She never misses a cute photo of one of her grandchildren. I think that is the main reason she is stalking me. She just wants to see Will and Mollie, or maybe she's just bored at work.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 11 - Mushie top for Moo

mushie top

I've had this top cut out since I went away in August, but I didn't get to sew it until tonight. The pattern is Farbenmix Antonia.

I'm glad I made myself get up and sew, but unfortunately my overlocker is still being painful. I thought the trip to Chatswood had sorted it all out, but it is not happy sewing thicker seams or fabrics. I never had this problem before. That's all I have to say because I'm cranky at the moment.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 10 - Cold Turkey

cold turkey

My crack smokin' bird fell off of my bag and his pipe broke off. He's going to have to go cold turkey now.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blogtoberfest Day 9 - the Costco obsession

I love Costco. I feel like I shouldn't love American consumer experiences, but it's in my blood. I can't help it. If you are new to my blog then you wouldn't know that I am American by birth and Australian by choice! I grew up in America and was always used to being able to shop around for the best price. I suffered severe sticker shock when I first moved to Australia. Things have changed here to a certain degree with the strength of the Aussie dollar, but with a smaller population and distance from other places, consumer goods just cost more.

I signed up as a member months before the Sydney store even opened. It did help that the sign up office was in the same centre as my "local" Spotlight.
costco card

When Costco opened on July 21, I swore that I would avoid the shop for a few weeks until the crowds died down, but in the end I didn't even last a week. For the first month it was open, I think I went once a week. Now I've cut back to once a month. I tend time my trips for when I know it will be less busy like close to opening time in the morning or after school in the afternoons. I never go on Saturday or Sunday.

I get asked if I think it's good value. Obviously I find value in shopping there, but if you are good at shopping sales at Woolies and Coles, you can better deals with their sales sometimes. For example, Lurpak ran a promotion with Woolies where you get two blocks of Lurpak unsalted butter with a loaf tin for $5.99. At Costco a 3 pack of Lurpak is $10.29 ($3.43 each) which is a lot cheaper than the normal price at the shops which I think is about $4.70. If you buy a lot of homebrand/store brand merchandise, you might not see the same value.

Organic milk is a good price when they have it in stock. It's $3.99 for 2 litres instead of $5.12.

They also have American products like Hershey's syrup, Dawn dishwashing liquid, Dr. Pepper, Monterey Jack cheese, Hershey Kisses, Ghiradelli chocolate, dried sour cherries, etc. I really like the organic salsa. It tastes heaps better than any of the store bought salsas in Australia. It's also a great thing for me when watching my weight as it adds flavour without too many calories.

Kirkland is Costco's "homebrand". Usually their homebranded items are very good quality.

I also like buying bigger size things, so I don't have to buy as often. I don't mind having a 300m roll of Glad wrap or buying 48 rolls of toilet paper (stashing it around my house can be challenging). And the best "big" thing, a 500g bag of Cheezels!

There are clothes, books and homewares. I tend to always have a look at books when I go. The book prices are similar to Big W's book prices.

What don't I buy? In general I don't buy meat because none of it is organic, and lots of it is grain fed, so I choose not to eat it. They do have free range chicken, but I prefer organic chicken. They have free range eggs which I would use in a pinch, but yet again, I prefer organic. It is the same with fruit and veg, but if something is a good deal or I can't readily get it organically grown then I will buy it.