Friday, January 31, 2014

Cocktail Wednesday (on Thursday!)

Mr. P and I took the opportunity to head off this week for several days in the Clare Valley trying out wines from some lovely wineries and eating locally sourced food. I've come back 3 kilos heavier and with several additions for our wine stash. I always take plenty of food shots when on holidays and this time was no different. 

This is where we stayed while we were away. A beautiful old farmhouse built in 1870. Lovely to have kangaroos hopping past your back door at dusk and to have grape vines 30 metres from the house.

So,what better way to keep the R & R going than by swapping out wine tasting for a cocktail which was chosen by Thea this week.

Im always a bit dubious when I see healthy stuff in a cocktail but this one has enough alcohol in it to balance out the vegetable content....I breathed a sigh of relief when I had the first sip because I was a little afraid it might taste like a Boost Juice. No fear of that - plenty of nips of alcohol  to leave you in no doubt that you were having a cocktail! 

So this is a visual of what you're going to need:(original recipe can be found here

This recipe calls for white cranberry juice and I couldn't find it anywhere so I just subbed a splash of ginger beer instead. Any port in a storm! I'm amazed by what isn't readily available here that seems to be easy to get in other places. 

And ta da ! Here is my artfully posed shot of a cucumber cosmopolitan.

This didn't taste at all like I thought it would. I was imagining a much stronger cucumber flavour. I stopped at one though ...three standard drinks in every glass means this is decidedly a one off cocktail! Definitely an acquired taste and probably much better with the white cranberry juice. I think my ginger beer addition was a complete fail! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Burning Through the WIP List ....

Last year was not a very prolific quilting year at Maison Pyjamas.In fact, creatively speaking, 2013 felt like the year of the quilting drought.  I only got 6 quilts finished for the year although it seems I had no problems with starting new stuff so my WIP list was looking pretty sick by the time New Year rolled around.  

Like most of  us creative types, I have about a million ideas for future projects running around in my head at any given time. My first order of business though, is to clear some of the things that have been lurking on the list from last year (or the year before, or the year before that) so I can start anything new with a relatively clear conscience. I have signed up for the Finish Along at Katy's, and came up with a massive list for the first quarter. Naturally, right this moment I'm working on one I completely forgot to put on that list ...sometimes inspiration strikes and you just have to run with it. 

But last week I managed to finish 2 of the quilts that WERE on the list...And it feels really good to have those monkeys off my back. 

Indy and Lola's Pom Pom de Paris Dog Quilt is done. This one was easy ...just jelly roll piecing and then simple stitch in the ditch for the quilting. At some point in my life I thought about making chenille teddy bears and bought a brown chenille quilt but since teddy bear making is never going to happen, I backed this quilt in soft chenille because dogs need pretty fluffy things too right?

And, ta da! Mr. P's T-shirt Quilt is also finished.This was an utter pain to quilt. It doesn't matter how much stabilizing you do or how careful you are - ultimately there will be shifting of fabrics. I'm not thrilled with the finish on this one (although I'm in love with the stripey binding ) but this is going to be dragged around the lounge and get dog hair all over it so it doesn't have to be heirloom quality. It just needs to hold together and be warm and be finished because finished is thrilling. 

Finally-I thought I'd show off this weeks effort on the orange peels more to motivate myself than anything else. 13 more done , and 56 left to do...I'm soooooo fed up with these and cannot wait to be sewing them together into quilt blocks just so I'm doing something different. 

So, that's two quilts off the WIP list. I'm currently working on a third and if everything goes according to plan I may be back later this week to show off another finish. A heatwave cometh but I don't think there will be much opportunity for me to hibernate. I have plans that involve outdoor play.

Enjoy your week, and stay cool(Aussies)or warm (Northern Hemisphere friends) as the case may dictate.

Sunday, January 26, 2014


You may recall I lost my mind last week, and bought enough strawberries to single handedly end world hunger. The week before my crazy shopping expedition, the random thought of "Oh it would be nice to have a crack at making jam" had floated through my head, and when my local greengrocers flashed up a super special of 15 punnets of strawberries for $8.00 on Facebook I just took it as a sign that the universe was saying "Go Forth and Make Jam, Dudette"

I've spent the last week consulting the internet and my mother, Patty, and anyone else I thought might have jam making advice. I have a lot to live up to, my mothers strawberry jam is the best strawberry jam on the planet. Just ask Mr. P who manages to steal a jar out of her store cupboard every single time we visit. So basically if I screwed up the jam not only would I be wasting strawberries and sugar, I'd also be totally blowing the possibility that I'd inherited fabulous jam making genes for ever after. Oh the Pressure!

But this weekend I could delay no longer, as Mr. P was driving me nuts asking "Have you made the jam yet ?Have you made the jam yet ?" ( very reminiscent of kids on car trips constantly asking "are we there yet, are we there yet" and about as annoying) so I put my big gal panties on and dragged 2 kilos of strawberries out of the freezer. Then I called Patty one last time for moral support ,closed my eyes and made the recipe up out of my head based on the other 4536 recipes I'd read this week. 

I chucked 2 kilos of strawberries and 1.5 kilos of jam sugar in a pot with three vanilla bean pods and squeezed the juice from two lemons in there and stirred occasionally for what felt like hours but in reality was about 30 minutes. Then I did the cold plate test and voila! I had wrinkly stuff happening on the plate. That means its ready. And I only called my Mum once to get emergency jam advice during the process...

It's good stuff... totally jam-tastic.  

I ended up with about 2 litres of jam...and half of one jar is already gone. I promised to share with other people but now I'm not so sure....because this stuff really is the bomb. (it's OK Little P - your jar is already safe and sound and stashed) I'm doing the happy dance because it looks like I inherited the jam making genes after all. And that's another one of life's little adventures I can cross off my list.

Back to sewing! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cocktail Wednesday -It's Back.....

After a brief hiatus (during which I still managed to drink alcohol - I just didn't blog about it) Cocktail Wednesday is back. I'm looking forward to trying new cocktails, sharing disasters (Thea - bacon in a cocktail is off the menu this year because its just plain wrong) and probable cirrhosis of the liver by the years end. 

Little Miss Sunshine picked the cocktail this week, and decided to go all fancy on my arse with something exoticly unpronounceable. Caipirinha (which apparently is pronounced kie-purr-REEN-yah) is made from Cachaca which is also reasonably unpronounceable when you're in Dan Murphy's trying to find it. The Plebeians at Dan Murphy dont know what you're talking about when you ask whether they have any cachachahachahaha either,(nor do the think you are hilarious when you say it )  so best to write it down like I did and show them.  

For the uninitiated, Cachaca is a sweet white Brazilian rum that apparently is so much better than Bacardi and about 30% more expensive. My advice is to spring for the good stuff if you decide to give this one a go because its little more than a load of rum and a squish of lime juice. 

So here's the lineup....rum, ice, caster sugar, and a lime. 

Take your exceedingly expensive lime ($15.99 a kilo here at the moment) and cut it into quarters, and then put it in your cocktail shaker or another handy receptacle and add about two teaspoons of sugar. Don't skimp on the sugar because its the only thing in this cocktail that will stop your face from puckering up like a cats bum every time you take a sip- trust me on this. Smash the crap out of the lime and sugar releasing the juice and a good amount of oil from the lime skin. I didn't take pictures of this part because I didn't want photographic evidence of assault. 

Add 60 mls (thats two ounces for my Northern Hemisphere friends) of the Cachaca and further assault the entire concoction by shaking it together to mix. Put a load of crushed ice into your glass and pour the lot in on top including the squished limes. 

Sip- almost die...take another sip. By the third sip your taste buds will have gone on strike and you'll be starting to enjoy this. In fact , you'll enjoy it so much you'll make yourself a second one which will render you incapable of the power of recognisable speech because thats 120 mls of rum you just imbibed in under 30 minutes....

I'm going to have to up my game with photo styling my cocktails...Marg has a great picture of her cocktail next to a pineapple and the best I could manage was putting mine near my manky pen and pencil jug...

Seriously though - this was pretty good...and would make a lovely aperitif. Just remember to keep stirring that sugar through as you drink it. 

I'm giving this one a 5/5 , mainly because I was happy for quite some time after I drank two of them ! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ahhhhh- Holidays

I spent the early part of last week ordering plantation shutters and custom made sliding plantation doors for our house. When I told Mr. P the final tally I just said it really quickly so it didn't sound like one of us was going to  have to sell a kidney to pay for it. He totally bought it. Then I went completely nuts and bought a new bed for our guest room because I have big plans for a complete revamp in there over the next couple of months. This extends out to a double but gives us a ton more space when we don't have guests. Genius. 

I had lunch and a sewing day with the delectable Loz last Tuesday who is also on holidays. Since I was in the area I popped into my favourite mettwurst shop and loaded up on manufactured meaty goodness. I gave one of these to one of my nephews who is also a mettwurst addict but I've managed to eat both of the others in the week since.... 

Plenty of sewing and crafting this past week. My postage stamp blocks are all done - just waiting to be trimmed and then made into something that resembles a quilt top. 

I reupholstered two sad looking chairs that now look completely happy. So am I.

And I did some more work on my orange peel applique blocks. I am over the halfway mark and sliding down the other side. I even got brave and starting pulling the freezer paper out. 

Thursday was the day that little old Adelaide was the hottest city on earth, so I stayed inside and taught my niece to be how to make bunting. No pictures because this is for the big wedding that's coming up in November and everything has to stay a secret. Feel free to imagine bunting in lieu of pictures. I'm in cahoots with my niece to be on another secret project for the wedding at the moment too....this must be what it feels like to be a super spy!

My greengrocer had a super special on strawberries on Thursday so I bought a few punnets.

This is what 7.5 kilos of strawberries looks like with the tops cut off...

I made strawberry pie with a strawberry coulis ...and ate about a kilo of strawberries in the process. The plan is to make jam with the rest. 

I made two lots of fudge -one went to live in the bin 

the other in my stomach. 

My Littlest Nephew celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday.  Happy Birthday Nephew of Pyjamas! You totally rock!

I did a ton of other stuff too....but this post is already stretching the boundaries of length and I'm sure a few of you have probably already fallen asleep. 

Before I go I want to share some mail I've had over the last few weeks from some very generous and thoughtful people.  

From Terri - a lovely white fat quarter of fabric. So cute- Thank you Terri! 

 Karen at Laughter in Quilts had some gorgeous embellished tea towels on her blog a while ago, and was kind enough to offer to send me some plain tea towels so I could create my own. Look at this pile of gorgeousness! I'm going to have so much fun making these look all pretty.

And Cardygirl - who should seriously give up her day job to go into stand up comedy- very quietly and pointedly sent me this ...which had me in fits of laughter every time I saw it for about three days afterwards. 

Looks like I have my ginger bread house covered for this year. And I think I can put this together using superglue without the sides melting. Just have to be careful not to add too many rhinestones and crystals to it so it doesn't implode from the weight. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Finish Along -First Quarter 2014

Katy over at The Littlest Thistle is hosting the FAL for 2014 and since I have WIP's coming out my wazoo I figured I'd better come up with a plan for finishing stuff. There is nothing like publicly committing to finishing things to get you off your arse and moving. Plus I can procrastinate for ages with this FAL because we only have to 'fess up 3 monthly.

So here, in no particular order, are the projects I'm vowing to finish in either January, February or March. Goals and I tend not to be friends but I'm determined to get rid of some of this stuff - sorry, finish these works of art -so I can start other cool stuff .

Dresden quilt 
If you started following my blog after October 2011 you wont have seen this one. It's been a completed top for so long now it's pretty much an antique. Unfortunately I only have pictures of the blocks so you'll have to imagine this with pink sashing. This one needs to be quilted ( And I've sent this out to the quilter - sue me if you think that's cheating) and when it gets back I have to put the binding put on.

Hexagon Flower Garden Quilt
I started this quilt in October 2011 but didn't finish the top until last October...This one is going off to the quilter too for me the only thing that has to be done is put the binding on...I reckon I can blitz these two projects. 

Triangle Quilt
Started this one in February last year - quickly got sick of it because it had bias edges and when I put the first 5 rows together it resembled a Mexican wave...I unpicked the lot and have so far managed to sew two whole rows back together. This is going to require a bit of patience. Don't expect the points to meet up!

Tshirt Quilt
Poor Mr. P's Tshirt quilt - started with such enthusiasm, and then chucked in a corner when it was less than half quilted. There is probably a few hours quilting left on this and then it'll be close to done. 

Postage Stamp Quilt
Started as a way to use up my scraps which appeared to be breeding in their plastic tubs. I did three trial blocks  and then ignored for about four months until January 1st. This has been getting a lot of attention since new year so I'm quietly confident this may be my first quilt finish for 2014.

Pom Pom De Paris Dog Blanket
Once upon a time (last November) I decided on the spur of the moment to make Indy and Lola a new dog blanket because two of their other ones were so putrid I had to throw them out. I got to the "finished a flimsy" stage on the same day and then and totally piked. Indy and Lola don't care about fancy quilting so in theory this one should be a snap to finish!

Chenille Baby Blanket
I have so much chenille lurking around Maison Pyjamas I'm drowning in the stuff. I've just pulled the fabrics for a baby blanket for one of the girls at work who is having a baby in a couple of months. Lets see if I can get this to the mother to be before the baby starts school.

My list looks pretty full but with three weeks holidays stretching in front of me I feel like I can achieve  at least some of this...and there's still plenty of time to link up if you want to play along.

Finish Along 2014

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Counting Down

I'm having holidays from the start of next week (for three glorious weeks) which means I'm counting down the days until my release. Holidays are kind of like getting temporary parole.  I'm planning to be a lady of leisure, get some tradies round to quote on jobs that need doing round the house, read books, cook and bake, eat chocolate and sew a lot.

Meantime, since New Year I've been in my happy place, making minor adjustments and decor changes around Maison Pyjamas. 

I convinced Mr. P that he could make a 44cm x 44 cm Ikea shelf unit fit into our very thin very tall 46cm x 46 cm laundry cupboard. (even if the door space was only 42cm wide) The new shelves are a much better use of space.

To his credit my amazingly talented husband put this together inside of the cupboard because that was the only way it was going to ultimately fit. Imagine if you will a man with hands the size of footballs trying to put together a shelf unit inside a cupboard. Mr. P loves a challenge and he totally rocked this one.  

I finally got a shadow box to put some of our holiday mementos in. Now I just have to hang it on a wall somewhere...

My Christmas present from Mr. P was this fabulous egg chair (He even went to the trouble of wrapping it which took about 15 metres of Christmas paper) 

But it was missing I made some cushions. First finish for 2014 and only 7 days into the year! Can totally see myself curled up in this rocking gently while holding a cocktail in one hand and a book in the other or perhaps just cocktails in each hand. Whatever. 

And Ive been no slouch in the WIP arse kicking stakes either ...lots of postage stamp block progress happening here this week, with a vague thought that I may be able to make some progress on the long neglected triangle quilt while I'm on holidays too. 

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Hello 2014

Looking at 2013 from the flip side I'm pretty sure the universe was forcing me to make some really hard decisions that were long overdue. And while the changes resulted in some emotional times on and off, 2013 was a year of huge personal growth for me. I've mastered the art of being able to let some things go and move on. So ultimately the hard lessons were worth it. 

Looking back at 2013 I didn't do a whole lot creatively speaking. It was definitely slower going on the sewing and quilting front than previous years while I dealt with the other stuff that was going on in my life. In fact, sometimes the going was so slow I had to re-read my sewing machine manual to recall how to use it. But things still got made, and I'm not unhappy with the final tally for the year.

Clamshell mini, needle books, mini totes, sewing diary, and chenille bathrobe.
I made two superheroes quilts, lots of baby blankets(I've started handing out contraception at work), Irish Chain Quilt, Gelati Quilt, Briar Rose Quilt, Beep Beep Quilt 
I nailed the "starting things and not finishing them" deal though. I rock at that. I should probably finish a few of these before I start  any of the new projects that have caught my fancy for 2014. 

I bought fabric for my lounge chair re-do and ignored it . That's two years its been waiting for me to get my act together....

I ran away from home several times. I visited Little Miss Sunshine twice and then went all the way to Vietnam. More running away from home is planned for this year. 

No major renovations disturbed the peace at Maison Pyjamas in 2013. Stay tuned though for what I'm sure will be the great bathroom disaster of 2014. My bathroom is the perfect time capsule of  1979. The house is currently getting some long overdue projects done so it looks a bit fresher. My linen cupboard is finished. Good organisation thrills my heart just a little bit more than is normal I think. 

Can anyone explain why it took us two years to go and buy a flatscreen bracket so this could go on the wall in our bedroom instead of taking up 3/4 of the dresser?

And I'm determined the front garden will be getting a significant makeover this year too. Yes- I know I say that every year but this year I really mean it! 
Our fur babies continued to require emergency vet visits that cost us the equivalent of the national debt. I've just accepted that our animals are accident prone and that I'll continue to fund a new Mercedes for my vet every year.

And I grew flowers from bulbs for the first time. 

I'm currently growing tomatoes and strawberries too. I haven't had a strawberry yet because Lola keeps sneakily eating them off the plant before they get ripe enough to get picked. Who knew dogs liked strawberries? 

Lots of other plans and projects in the wind for 2014 but my main claim to fame so far for 2014 is that I haven't brushed my hair. My hairdresser is going to have fun with that later today. Happy New Year to you all.