Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First harvest.

I had my first harvest today from my down-stairs vegetable garden (called so because it is literally down stairs at ground level, three stores below my apartment).

I gave away my first picking to a dear lady who lives in the house that backs on to our apartment block. She is 94 years of age and lives by herself. Every time I am working in the veggie garden she pops her head out of her back door and has a chat. She is super sweet and seems to enjoy our conversations. I picked some parsley, lettuce and a bunch of lavender (from my balcony garden) and called in to her house to give her the goodies.

In total Endive, Rocket, Cos Lettuce and Parsley are all ready for the picking, and I have soooo much that I have put a sign up in our lobby inviting my other neighbours to 'help themselves'. I hope they do because there is just far too much for Jamie and I to get through on our own.

On a side note, there was a big filthy weed growing next to my brussel sprouts. I pulled it out but it stung me on my wrist - you should have seen it! It had all sorts of crazy cactus-like spikes sticking vertically up from the leaves. I now have sore lumps all over my left wrist. Does anyone know what this weed is? I threw it in the greenwaste bin before I thought to take a photo.

Sam xox

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I didn't make this Double Wedding Ring quilt.

Elizabeth and a few others have noticed, admired, and commented on the Double Wedding Ring quilt I have on the bed in my sewing room.

I need to say that I did not make this little beauty. My darling husband gave it to me for my 25th birthday, as I have written about here. We found it on American eBay and got it for a great price. The person selling it had not labelled it as a Double Wedding Ring, so I don't think it had a lot of traffic on the site.

I love it so much. It took me quite a while to have the confidence to even let guests sleep under it, as I think it is very precious. I love the fabrics, the hand quilting, and the secret history it holds.

Sam xox

My sewing room on "Down to Earth".

I am excited to say that my sewing room has been featured in the "This is where I work" series at Down to Earth.

Click here to see the post!

Thank you so much Rhonda for including me and my little room on your blog. I love reading your blog and the variety of topics you write about, the very practical advise you give, and the creative ideas you share.

If any of you are thinking about living a more self-sufficient, mindful, and sustainable life, I would recommend having a look at the Down to Earth blog.

Thanks again Rhonda!

Sam xox

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nice and dry.

Thanks so much for your kind comment regarding our mini-flood. After three days our carpet is now dry and does not smell at all. We have returned the pedestal fans to their rightful owners, and now do not have to walk around the house with shoes on to stop our feet getting wet. The cat seems a lot more settled too!

Jamie and I went to Surry Hills today for an impromptu coffee which turned into breakfast. Surry Hills is an inner city suburb that I rarely go to. It has a very unique style to it that I am not entirely sure how to explain. Somewhat alternative, yet very affluent. As Jamie put it "To be cool in Surry Hills you have to try hard to be not-cool"... lots of people in tweed jackets, thick black rimmed glasses that upon close inspection don't actually have lens in them! Anything goes.

I decided to take my camera along as I want to get some more photography practice. Jamie had the patients of a saint as I made us walk through all the back streets aimlessly, admiring run down terrace houses, graffiti art, and a random cat that followed us for almost two blocks.

This was our day out.

"Tour de Tweed" - annual Sydney Cyclist event.

Sam xox

Monday, June 21, 2010

Liberty of London fabric arrival.

I was so excited when Jamie came through the door with the mail today. Not because there were no bills (although that was exciting) but because he was carrying a small squishy parcel. He pulled a face and asked me if this was mine, knowing full well that it was and contained fabric!

I sat on the couch putting the parcel on the coffee table and stared at it for a second, only a second, then ripped into the package. The Liberty of London fabric I had purchased on eBay had finally arrived (I looove eBay)!

This is what I unwrapped...

Three beautiful pieces. So many possibilities...

These little beauties were sold as a Liberty 'scrap bag', but they are actually all very good sizes as most measure 7"by 13". And the scrap bag only cost me $14!

The Purl Bee has some excellent ideas for Liberty of London fabric. These are my favourites.

Sam xox

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I made it to the front page of Etsy.

Guess what! One of Buckingham Road's photographs made it to the front page of Etsy!

'Fill Your Cup'

To celebrate this I have listed the Tea 3 photographs as a set. This photograph set includes the photographs 'Tea for Three', ‘Fill your Cup’, and ‘and one makes three’. Each photograph is sized 4X6, making them perfect for display in a three panel frame, or individually for extra impact.

Sam xox

Monday, June 14, 2010

Homemade chicken pie.

I would guess that many of you would probably not have heard of Margaret Fulton. However in Australia she is a household name.

Margaret Fulton is our version of Julia Child, the woman who taught Australian housewives that there was more to cooking than 'meat and three veg', and exposed these woman to things like pizza, fried rice, curry and spaghetti! In her original cookbook, Margaret dedicates an entire page to the introduction of pasta. She writes:
"Turn spaghetti in sauce so strands are coated, using a spoon and fork. Spear a few strands with fork, then twirl fork against spoon so that spaghetti coils around the fork. When a neat package is formed, lift from the plate."

I can just picture an Australian housewife practicing this pasta-eating method in the privacy of her 1960's kitchen.

I am lucky enough to own a copy of her original cookbook "The Margaret Fulton Cookbook" which I picked up at a local thrift store many years ago. It is in remarkably good condition and contains many timeless recipes.

Unlike Julia Child, Margaret Fulton did not have her own television show. She was famous for her writing about cooking, and was a regular feature in the Australian Womans Weekly magazine. These days, Margaret Fulton has a number of cookbook publications under her belt, made countless TV guest appearances, received an OAM, and was recently formally recognised as a National Living Treasure.

Last night I cooked Margaret's 'Chicken Pie' from her most recent cookbook "Margaret Fulton's Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery". It is a 750 page cooking adventure!

There is only one word that can describe this pie. Yum. I will say it again. Yum.

Photo of my pie.

Here is the recipe taken from the book:

Chicken Pie

1 large roasting chicken
1 carrot - sliced
1 brown onion - sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp salt
6 black peppercorns
90g (3 oz) butter
6 mushrooms - sliced
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup cream
freshly ground black pepper
1x375g packet frozen puff pastry
beaten egg yolk to glaze

Put chicken in a large pan. Add carrot, onion, bay leaf, salt and peppercorns. Cover with hot water to top of thighs and bring to the boil, skimming occasionally. Simmer gently for 20 mins. Allow chicken to cool in stock for about 1 hour, then remove to a dish. Joint chicken and remove all flesh from bones. Skin and cut into large chunky pieces.

Place chicken meat into pie dish and cover with a little stock to keep flesh moist. Return bones to stock and boil for 10-15 mins to reduce it. Strain and leave to cool. Measure two cups of stock and chill so that fat will rise to the surface and settle for easy removal. (The remaining stock can be used as a base for soups or sauces).

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a small frying pan and fry mushrooms over high heat for a few minutes. Remove and add to chicken. Melt remaining butter in a saucepan and blend in flour. Add reserved 2 cups stock, stirring to make a smooth sauce. Stir in cream and season with salt and pepper.

Spoon sauce over chicken and mushrooms and mix gently. If you have a pie funnel, place it in the centre. Roll out pastry to size which fits pie dish. From remaining pastry, make strips to go around rim of dish and some leaf shapes to decorate the top of the pie.

Brush top of pie with egg yolk. Bake in a preheated hot oven (200c/400F) for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate (180c/350F) and bake for a further 20 minutes.

Serves 4-6 people.

(I served this pie with asparagus, green beans, and bacon fried together in a pan, and a French baguette stick to mop up pie juice - yum!).

* My tips after making this recipe:
1) You can cook chicken breast and shred it and buy ready made chicken stock,
2) Add more flour to make the sauce thicker,
3) Line the bottom of the pie dish with pastry too - makes it taste a lot nicer,
4) I added boiled carrots and peas when the recipe says to add the mushrooms to the pie,
5) Make an extra one because everybody will want seconds.

Sam xox

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My wedgewood quilt.

I have had to keep this quilt under wraps for a while now... let me start from the beginning.

My dear sister-in-law Ally recently moved to Germany with her husband and 1 year old daughter. They will be there for a few years, and are having lots of fun discovering what life is like living as ex-pat's in a European country. My MIL and FIL have gone on a trip to visit her, and as a gift my MIL made Ally a quilt from the shirts of her late Grandpa, my MIL's Dad. This was not only a very touching project that my MIL undertook, but also an inspiring one.

As we know, fabrics can be reused to make quilts. Woman have been cutting up colourful fabric scraps to make quilts for their home and family for centuries. Feedsacks were very popular during the depression as a source of bright and somewhat easily obtainable cotton fabric. All those 1930's quilts you see with distinct colourful patterns against a multitude of cream muslin reflect those times.
More recently, many of you who follow Nancy's blog will remember her amazing 7-shirt quilt she designed and made.

So my MIL has inspired this quilt I will show you. I forgot to take a photograph of the one she made before she left for her trip, but I am sure if I ask Ally really nicely she would be only too happy to send me a photo of it in its new home! You will all love it.

So here is the big reveal!

I call it my Wedgewood Quilt as it reminds me of English Wedgewood China.

Made from only 6 mens shirts (large & extra large sizes) I managed to make an entire quilt top. The quilt top itself only cost $30 total to make! The central panel is made from 6 inch squares and the boarder is 5 inches. The quilt itself actually turned out a lot larger than I had intended it to be, but you know what its like when you are in the moment, you just keep on sewing. Plus I felt bad having left over fabric.

I added the boarder to use up all the little bits left over, and included that tiny narrow solid blue first boarder to set the centre panel off from the boarder. I am doing very simple hand quilting on it, which is a nice change from my Vintage Quilt, which just seems to be taking forever to finish because of all the little fiddly hand quilting bits. After a while, the quilting on that quilt does not become fun. I backed the Wedgewood Quilt with blue and white striped shirting fabric from a local fabric store.

My MIL enjoyed making Ally's quilt so much, that I think she will make one for herself when she gets back to Australia!

So a very big thanks Merren for inspiring this quilt and letting me copy your design! You always have such neat ideas!

* * * * *

On another note. Thank you all for your suggestions for the 4th of July party! I have told them to Mill and she loves them. Buying and using fireworks is actually illegal in Australia, so we have decided to take Elizabeth's suggestion and light sparklers instead.

Food decided on so far:
Mini hot dogs
Macaroni cheese
Homemade potato salad
Mini apple pies
Red velvet cupcakes

Can anyone tell me what root beer is?

Sam xox