A Day In The A Blue Mountains.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I welcome you to take your time and browse , visiting my bush garden and discovering the wonders of my city within a national park; Blue Mountains National Park. Via my blog you will travel with me through the successes, trials and tribulations of gardening on a bush block. I share with you my patchwork & quilting, knitting, paper crafts, cooking and life in general.

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Call Of The Desert

Going where to find yourself?

There is nothing like a trip to the desert.

Mr HP is busy with maps, itineraries, equipment, and making lists.

Much to my chagrin I've been laid low with the 'flu for the past two weeks.

But the truth is, I can't wait to be in the desert...

But before that...we have to tackle a windy and cold spell predicted over the next twenty four hours.  (A good reason to delay our trip by a day).

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Then I Ran Out of Icing Sugar

...so I Googled: "how to make frosting without icing sugar"  and I took a risk and made a most yummy butter frosting that used caster sugar, milk, flour, butter, and vanilla and here is the result...

As you can see...the cake was a great success...

The cake had to serve sixteen people so I used a double batch of the Foundation Cake recipe and used a 27cm round springform cake tin to bake it in.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Nobody Told Me There'd Be Days Like This.

I've over-committed.
I'm exhausted.
I've so much to do, like bake a cake I promised for our family's monthly birthday get together tomorrow.
All week I've fantasied the cake I would bake and decorate for the occasion.
Perhaps a flourless Chocolate Torte...gluten free, layered, then topped with chocolate ganache.
Or maybe a Citrus Hazelnut Cake drenched with a fruit-of-the-forest syrup.
At the very least, I expected  I'd bake my becoming-a- trade-mark Black Forest Brownie cake.
Regrettably, I don't have the stamina for any of the above mentioned cakes.
Sometimes it just has to be a plain, no fuss, cake with predictable butter frosting.
In my early days of wife-dom and motherhood, time-poor  and pre-gluten-free days, my favourite cake to bake was the One Stage Foundation Cake. This cake recipe was easily adapted to make at least six other versions of easily sliced, (when baked in a loaf tin), freezable cakes or deserts.
The beauty of this recipe is that it's as simple as dumping all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beating until a thick, smooth, creamy batter is achieved (two or three minutes) and then baking for around thirty minutes. And voila, a cake.

So that's what's in my oven at the moment.

Here is The Recipe.

One Stage Foundation Cake.

125g margarine or butter (I only ever use butter)
2 x 60g eggs
75ml milk (substitute with soy, lactose free, nut or any other milk you wish)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
125g (1/2cup) caster sugar
185g (1 1/2 cups) self raising flour, sieved (I never bother)  ( I have successfully used Orgran brand of self-raising gluten free flour for gluten free cake).


Place all ingredients in given order in a mixing bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth (2-3 minutes) or with an electric mixer until evenly combined (2 minutes).  Use cake mixture as desired.

Bake in a preheated oven (190oC) for30 minutes.

Here are some variations:

Chocolate Cake

Replace two tablespoons of flour with two tablespoons of cocoa (powdered).

Sultana Cake

Add two tablespoons of sultanas and some mixed spice to the ingredients before mixing.

Tea Cake

Add a teaspoon of mixed spice to the ingredients before mixing.  While the cake is still hot out of the oven spread some butter over the top of the cake and sprinkle with a mixture of caster sugar and mixed spice (or cinnamon sugar).

Cherry and Walnut Cake

Add 1/4 of a cup each glace cherries and walnuts to the ingredients before mixing.

Apple Cake

Add a can of pie apples (425g) and a teaspoon of cinnamon to the ingredients before mixing.  This cake may take a little longer to bake.  Finish off the top as for the tea cake.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Grease a ring tin well and place well drained pineapple rings (from a can) around the bottom of the tin.  Place a red glace cherry in the centre of each pineapple ring.  Sprinkle with brown sugar if you wish (this gives you a nice caramelised top).  Pour cake batter over and bake as a above.  Serve cake upside down as a desert.  Hot and with cream.

Hopefully I'll post some photos tomorrow.

Remember it's okay to give yourself permission to scale back on expectations of yourself every now and then!

Friday, 6 June 2014

When All Else Fails...

Read The Instruction Manual

My Alphabet Quilt is coming along nicely, but not without some angst.
I decided that I will do some free motion quilting on this cot quilt but in my haste thought I knew it all and happily quilted away on my sewing machine without realising the boo boos I was creating.
For some reason I assumed that if I used the selection free motion floating on my sewing machine menu and the open toe stippling foot, then there would be no need to drop the feed dog.

Initially I had even assumed that I needed to use my walking foot.  Just WHAT was I thinking?

After many frustrating attempts, failures, and unpicking metres and metres of thread (wasted, I might now add), I decided to very CAREFULLY read my sewing machine handbook.

I realised I was making two mistakes:  
1.  I had not adjusted the tension. 
2.  I had not dropped the feed dog.

Once I realised I needed to make these adjustments I did some practice runs on large rectangles of sandwiches and made this hold-all from one sandwich I had FMQed. 

My Alphabet Quilt is now quilted, but far from perfect.

It's amazing isn't it, how we can fool ourselves into thinking that a panel of fabric will save time.
I bought this particular panel on special in 2012 and while I do adore it, once I started quilting I realised how time consuming it could be because if I let my perfectionism take over I would actually be hand quilting each letter of the alphabet.  It took a lot of obsessing before I convinced my self that there is just not enough time to do this.

As you can see, my finished FMQ is not the smoothest flowing finished product, so again, I have to allow myself the reasoning that for a beginner it's okay.

So here are a few hints for those just starting out on FMQ on their sewing machine.

SOME Very Basic Free Motion Quilting DOs & DON'Ts


DO read your machine instruction manual very carefully and follow it to the tee.
DO pre-wind as many bobbins as you can before starting your project
DO clean and re-thread your machine before starting your FMQ project
DO change your machine needle to the appropriate size, my machine suggest a size 80/12
DO spend as much time as practical making some sandwiched rectangle to practice your FMQ
DO practise 
DO be adventurous  


DON'T clutter your sewing area
DON'T sew too slowly - once you've mastered FMQ a little, you'll find sewing faster will actually give you a better, more even result
DON'T be afraid to invent  new styles for FMQ
DON'T give UP practising FMQ
DON'T give up

I found this video helpful  (and this) to get me started.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Tardiness Results in Post Out of Synch

I haven't been very good with my blog posts lately.  Life just seems to get busier and busier.
My sister  visited us in May, for her sixtieth birthday celebrations. She lives two and a half thousand kilometres away in sunny Queensland.  She spent four weeks with us , sharing herself  between her siblings.
We celebrated by having a Sound of Music themed party.  My sister, always the family clown, had a couple of changes of outfits...her first was, Liesl sixty years on, yes, that's right, sixty years on and the other was Maria as a nun.   Here is "Sister Maria" receiving the quilt that I made her. She loved it and she was so surprised to see what I had done with her blocks.  She couldn't wait to get it home.

And here she is as Liesl sixty years on.

Other Sound of Music cast members to attend included Whiskers on Kittens, Me (a name I call myself), lots of boys in lederhosen costumes, Baroness Elsa Schrader, and Maria as a novice.

Since then, I've tackled my next quilt project for Mr HP's niece's third baby.
G is for giraffe, and...girl.

Here it is ready for pinning.

And here is the backing.

Aren't these lambs just so cute?

It is a rather simple quilt, and I'm counting on getting cute appeal from the fabric itself.
Cheating I know, but what inspired me to keep this quilt uncomplicated is the expectant mother, who I know will allow her baby to use this quilt however she wishes.
You see, this Mum already has twin girls, and almost five years ago I also made the twins quilts. The two quilts made for them were almost identical, and I know that both girls love their quilts and treat them as security blankets.
You know, this, I think, is the highest complement for a quilt maker.
I like to see my quilts being enjoyed.

Oh, and by the way, baby number three is due 8th June, so I better get cracking...

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