Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When the Sewing Bug Bites....

I spent the weekend sleeping and eating, with some honest to goodness sewing chucked in. Friday night I caught up with some girlfriends for dinner, and Saturday night we went out to my favourite Chinese restaurant to celebrate a family birthday. On Saturday I was all set to get together with the Not The Farmer's Wife sewing girls for our monthly sewing sesh but a fortuitous message at 8 am , advised me that I had the date completely cocked up. Good thing I saw that or I would have rocked up at Claire's a full week early ( which given my usual Modus Operandi for being woefully late to sewing group , probably would have resulted in her having a heart attack) 

I've been avoiding some long neglected quilting projects for far too long and have added a couple more starts since I last looked at the unfinished pile and then promptly ignored them.  This past week, I decided to take stock of where my projects are at and how many UFO's I have laying around. It felt like I had an overwhelming amount of things in progress but once I got them all out it wasn't too bad at all. 


Marrakesh...sitting in the lounge waiting for me to decide if the centre rectangles need quilting....


Charming Stars has been living on the sewing room floor for about three months ...and has cat puke on it I think...


Miss Elizabeth hasn't been touched in about two months ....


I started this HST quilt a few months ago but progress had stalled.


Holiday Happy has been living in this box for about two years now in a state of unfinished-ness. There's nothing happy about that ....


And my Swoon blocks are driving me slightly mad , but at least they're only a couple of weeks old....

Something magical happened once I had all those projects out - the sewing bug bit and my motivation to sew came back with a vengeance. Happy Day!  

I finished half the HST quilt and decided to go with a more traditional layout for convenience(plus trying to work out setting squares was doing my head in) Yeah, I know I'm a wuss, and I will do setting squares at some point - just not on this quilt...


I picked up the cat puke quilt from the floor and got on with the quilting ....FYI it wasn't as bad as I thought...



And I decided that Marrakesh didn't need any extra quilting, chucked it in the wash and ended up with my first finish of 2015 ....


Here's the front ...


And here is the pretty part of the back ...


Now to sustain the momentum! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

In Search of Chocolate Chip Cookie Greatness

Thank you to everyone who has recently sent me chocolate chip cookie recipes. Because I'm all about evidence based research,  I'm working my way through them and consequently I'm starting to look like a whale. Because making them means you have to eat them too. But Van Gogh suffered for his art and I'm applying the same sort of rigorous commitment to my chocolate chip cookie quest.  And yes - an arse the size of China is a small price to pay for finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie. 

P at The Way I Sew It sent me a recipe which called for Crisco which isn't easily obtainable here, so  I went online and had some sent over from USA Foods In Melbourne. It arrived on Thursday so I set about making her recipe on Saturday. You Americans just love to make shit difficult don't you? The recipe called for all purpose flour and baking powder. Why don't you guys just use self raising flour so you don't have to drag out two containers? That's what I did, because I'm lazy. I also couldn't be bothered doing accurate conversions, so instead of the 3/4 of a cup of butter , I chucked in 200 grams. I'm just not up for stuffing butter into a cup and then digging it out again with a spoon. That's just madness. I did chuck in 1 and 3/4 Aussie cups of flour which is about 50 grams more flour but I figured that would cancel out the extra Crisco. And I put in extra chocolate chips , because you can never have too many right? Then I duly plopped tablespoons onto trays. By the way,you guys can't do maths at all, because the recipe said I would be get three dozen cookies and I only got 18. 

The first batch of cookies went into the oven ...and came out looking like this...someone on Facebook commented that they looked like they were trying to escape. 


The recipe said they would take 8-9 minutes for chewy cookies and 11-13 minutes for crispy cookies. Mine took about 25 minutes. What's up with that ? Its not like time moves slower Down Under. Although I accept that my baseball sized tablespoon plops were probably to blame. And, no wonder my cookies were trying to escape - they were being burned alive- slowly. 

Round Two and Three went a little better...although I got distracted by Pinterest and Cupcake Mania on my iPad so some of my cookies got baked for 15 minutes and some were in there for about an hour, so I had all the colours of doneness by the time I was finished. 


I must say,that even though Crisco is not actual food per se, (I checked the history of Crisco and I kid you not they used to make candles out of the original incarnation) the cookies were pretty bloody good, and I reckon I can tweak this recipe ( and take a vow of not being distracted by games on my iPad) and if I measure things a little more carefully, maybe this could be the recipe of my dreams. If I can get over the guilt of using Crisco. But I'm not backing off on the extra chocolate chips because that would just be wrong. 

Happy Mother's Day to all of you. I spent a fabulous afternoon in The Jungle with my Mum having lunch. Mum's are just awesome aren't they? 





Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lucky Dip Dining

I was talking to one of my work colleagues last week,  who mentioned she was dropping in to one of her favourite restaurants on the way home from work to pick up the worlds best yiros and flat bread. I’d heard of the restaurant and commented about how I wanted to go there one day.  I got an enthusiastic response about how their yiros was the BEST, and made a mental note to talk to Mr. P about going there one day.

Saturday night I decided I wanted sushi but the sushi restaurant was closed. So I made another mental note to go there for lunch the next day but it got me to thinking about my conversation earlier in the week which led to another thought that we have all these fabulous cheap restaurants in our city and I'm not making use of them. Every time someone mentions a restaurant or dining experience to me, I mentally file the thought away to go there someday and never actually follow through.  

So I spent some of my Saturday night on the internets, looking up places I want to eat at then I made a list. I printed out the list , cut them up , folded them and put them into a jar. Then I cheated and pulled out the one for the sushi restaurant because that was the thought that started all of this so therefore it deserved to be first.


So Mr. P and I went off to Kintaro Sushi Train for lunch (which is Tazz's fault because she took me there for the first time  a couple of months ago and I seriously fell in love with their food ) 


I'm also rather enamoured with the idea that food whizzes past me on a conveyor belt and I just grab whatever looks good. 


Which can be a bit of a double edged sword really, because it all looks good . 



It can be a bit like playing Russian roulette with food because you might see something delicious coming towards you, and there is every chance that someone else closer to the item is thinking the same thing and will grab the very thing you were looking at so longingly before it gets to you.


You then have the choice of rugby tackling the unsuspecting thief to the ground to retrieve what you wanted , (which is anti social behaviour and probably arrestable) or to go  back to watching food whizz past you while you look for something else that takes your fancy. I chose the latter. 


Mr. P and I managed 11 plates between us before we felt we'd sushi-ed ourselves out. I did gross him out by eating sashimi, so I felt the day was a double success. 


Not exactly cheap - 11 plates of sushi and two cokes set us back $51.00 for lunch but totally worth it. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Living La Vida Loca

I was starting to wonder whether I would ever post again, but here I am like the proverbial bad penny, wracked with guilt at having neglected my blog for so long. Starting a new job is hard work -far harder than I had imagined. After three months of feeling like a fish out of water, I'm only just now learning how to swim properly. And just when I think I have things sorted, I find something else I don't know or that I'm not sure about, and I feel like the new kid all over again. 

I spent the first few weeks of my new job travelling to the ends of the earth for training. For someone who has never travelled further than 15 minutes to work, an hour each way in bumper to bumper peak hour traffic was a truly horrendous experience.  It was wonderful when I started at my permanent office, cut my daily travel time by about half and started to get in to some sort of routine. 

Gone though, are the luxury days of fluffing round at home in the mornings, casually chucking myself into a shower and getting ready in 20 minutes and then leaving at 8.40am for my 10 minute drive to work. The corporate world demands I swap jeans for business pants ( or even scarier - a dress!), shoes that don't slip on, and  a lack of pony tail as my go to hairstyle. I even wear makeup everyday. And as gorgeous and grown up as I look-all of this takes extra time, so sipping my morning latte while I check blogs prior to going to work is also a thing of the past.

Needless to say, sewing was something that just wasn't on the priority list during my "settling in" period. Couple exhaustion and brain drain with the fact that I have been opening the door to my sewing space for months and just chucking things in the room will nilly , and that it was getting nigh on impossible to move around in there without the imminent danger of a mountain of stuff falling on me and burying me alive, and you have a set of circumstances guaranteed to kill any creative thoughts that might dare to pop into your head.

So this past weekend, I sucked it up, tied a rope around my waist (so Mr. P could pull me out mountaineer style if one of the piles collapsed) and ventured in to the danger zone. And when I triumphantly emerged , I could see carpet again. I did the happy dance around every square inch of that space ( and chucked in a moon walk for good measure) 


This led to the idea that it was high time to stop laying out quilt bits on the floor and screeching angrily at the assortment of furry things that share Maison Pyjamas every time they stampled on them , and so my portable design walls finally became a reality. 


There has not yet been a quilt finish for 2015 , but it appears I have found the motivation to start something new. Although, speaking of finishes, I have managed to quilt the Marrakesh quilt , and put the binding on ...but I still cant make up my mind whether I'm going to do some quilting in these centre rectangles, and if so what I'm going to do -so it technically remains unfinished. 


Super E has started school since I last put in an appearance here, and is loving it. I can't believe he's old enough to be at school because it just seems like a few months ago that he was learning to crawl around my kitchen. We headed off to the Lego exhibition a couple of weekends ago, which was like heaven to a small boy with a Lego obsession. 


And during the dying days of Summer we made sure ice cream featured heavily in our adventures. 


 I am currently on a mission to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world. Last time I got this obsessed with finding a perfect recipe it resulted in me trying 20 lemon cheesecake recipes until I found the perfect one. Attempt No 1 on the chocolate chip cookies  wasn't bad but wasn't exactly what I was after so attempt No 2 will be made some time this week. Do you know how many recipes out there tout that they are the "Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever"? 


 I consoled myself by making cupcakes....




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Party is (Almost) Over

So...it's been a month since I showed my face round here and it's high time to get back into some semblance of a routine, both online and in my actual life. The break has been lovely though, since we've celebrated Christmas, ushered in a New Year and Mr. P and I have enjoyed an overseas holiday in my rather prolonged absence. So what's been going on here at Maison Pyjamas?

A few days before Christmas I managed to play nice with some gingerbread and put together this Christmas Tree under the watchful tutelage of the Gingerbread Ninja, Ms. Tazzie. And while it looks a little like the Leaning Tower of Pisa - it is still holding together even now and has given me hope that perhaps I can do an annual Gingerbread Christmas Tree or even cookies since my interest in icing cookies was definitely piqued by this project and Tazz's +++ confidence in me. It was like having my own personal gingerbread cheerleader (but without the pom poms)




Christmas Day itself was a very relaxed affair. We had lunch at a local hotel, and then headed off to my brother and sister in laws for the afternoon where we played a spirited game of pictionary, which served to reinforce my belief  that nobody in my husbands family can draw for sh**. This was my sister in laws rendition of Darth Vader (which nobody guessed correctly although one bright spark did suggest "Bondage Hamburglar" ) 


Then it was off to my parents house to spend time with my family where the only game we played was drinking cocktails and taking incriminating up to the minute videos to put on Facebook for perpetuity. My sister and I were being really silly and the family photo album inherited some more really bad pictures like this one, in which I can't appear to make up my mind whether I'm going to mimic a chipmunk or a pirate. I think Sister of Pyjamas was going for a demented Jack Sparrow look which she nailed perfectly.


I  made huge amounts of  jam from apricots that were hanging over our side of the fence from the neighbours house and since it was unlikely that 20 year old male uni students were about to go Nigella and make their own jam I gave them a few jars as payment for providing me with the apricots. Everyone was happy.



Very little sewing has taken place since I finished work 6 weeks ago.  I'm mid way through quilting two tops and am hoping to finish at least one this week, and then we'll see about the other. I've taken laziness to a whole new level during this break! Normally this would have me feeling like a slacker but I'm too relaxed to feel any guilt. 

I saved the best stuff for last - Mr. P and I have just come back from Langkawi, Malaysia which is seriously one of the most magical places on earth. Rather than wax lyrical about the beauty of this island , I'm going to let my pictures mostly do the talking. We saw in New Year on Pantai Kok beach, did a fish spa, went on a terrifying cable car ride, and I have decided that while wild monkeys look cute in theory , when they are up close and personal (with the possibility they might jump at you to bite you) they are decidedly less so. 


Plenty of cocktails, retail therapy,( I added to my extensive shoe and handbag collections big time) relaxing and eating also took place. I have noticed that in previous holiday snaps I tend to take about a bajillion pictures of food so I deliberately concentrated on scenery this time around. And yes- thats really me up there on that horse. 


This week is all about getting ready to start my new job next week, catching up on the washing from our holiday and getting some sewing done.  After spending the last 13 years slapping around in casual clothes for work I need to organise some sort of decent wardrobe of clothes that doesn't focus on jeans and cargo pants as a staple for workwear. Shoot me now.



Friday, December 12, 2014

Being A Lady of Leisure

I've been on holidays for 12 days and have spent it doing pretty much whatever I wanted, which so far has involved a fair amount of sweet stuff all. Usually I'm trying to pack 30 hours of stuff into a 24 hour day so being able to move at a snails pace if I choose has been seriously refreshing. This being (temporarily) unemployed thing is working out pretty well.

The first thing I did was go on holidays for a week. And drink cocktails with Little Miss Sunshine. In Queensland. That's really far away from where I live. 


Dessert and cocktails in one glass is very special (or a sign of alcoholism..or laziness - I'm not sure which) so this one gets its own photo. Citron vodka and a pine-lime ice cream combo. I highly recommend it. 

I had high hopes that LMS would have given up on the idea of trying to get me to eat vegetables and salads and my first meal was very heartening in this regard ....yes..chocolate is a meal. And there's fruit in there so this is actually healthy. 


However it was all downhill from there . I was force fed REAL healthy food. Every time this occured I had a (not so) subtle whinge about how my body was going into shock from lack of Maccas...




And eventually I turned my captors over to the dark side. 


Stockholm syndrome in reverse. Those psychology classes really paid off...

I had the amazing pleasure of meeting one of my long time blog friends, Michelle from Rag-Tag Stitchin' for brunch and she is about ten times as awesome in person as she is in emails and on her blog. This was one of my favourite parts of the week because it was just so much fun. 



See that gingerbread house? That's living at my house now. Hand made by Michelle herself. Look at those little gingerbread man buttons! That pattern is for quilt labels and is one of Michelle's too. And the hanging plaque was made by one of Michelle's super talented friends. I was thrilled and blown away by this little parcel of goodies. Thankyou Michelle. 


We went to the farmers market on Sunday at o'dark o'clock - seriously who leaves the house at this time of the morning for FUN? Freaking crazy people - that's who. 


And since I was still half asleep I can't recall much of what we saw but I'd woken sufficiently by the time we got round to these so I took a picture...


Queensland is an awesome place - or it would be if not for the sucky humidity which made my hair look like this for my entire stay ...


So once I got home I decided the time was right for a bit of a change. I've left the purple behind and gone for something more grown up. 

  
And finally - Drumroll please ....a couple of you suggested that my big exciting news might be that I was pregnant. Come on people - I'm 48 - that's not very likely and if I was I certainly wouldn't be celebrating it. So without further ado or stuffing around,  the second thing I've done since being on holidays was to buy my dream car, which screams mid life crisis but I don't care. I was too busy being a sensible sole parent when I should have been buying one of these and now I don't have to be sensible anymore.  




That is all -  you can go back to doing what you were doing now. I'm going for a drive....