Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gingerbread Whoopie Pies

Love them or hate them, Whoopie Pies took the baking world by storm a few years ago and I fell in love with these part cookie, part cake morsels. With Christmas baking top of my list at the moment, I thought I'd share with you, my Gingerbread Whoopie Pie recipe:
If your a gingerbread fan, like me, you will love these Whoopie Pies. They are packed with all the beautiful spices and flavours of traditional gingerbread and it really smells like Christmas when those signature aromas start wafting around the kitchen.
They are easy to prepare but the dough does require a little chilling time in the fridge, and they bake and cool quite quickly, so they are ready to fill and enjoy with the family or guests in no time.
I like to fill mine with a plain buttercrean but you could also make a lemon buttercream, which works wonderfully with gingerbread.  Give them a light dusting of icing sugar and they are ready to serve.
I like my Whoopie Pies quite puffy so this recipe yields twelve sandwiched pies but you could squeeze a few more from the dough, if you prefer a flatter, more cookie like pie. They last for a few days stored in an airtight container and apparently they are also perfect to pop in the freezer (so I've been told, I don't freeze my baking).
A plate of Gingerbread Whoopie Pies warms the soul and awakens that Christmas spirit. They are perfect to serve guests during the festive season or wrap them individually in cellophane bags, add some pretty ribbon and a card, to give as gifts to neighbours or teachers.
If you would like to try these super yummy Gingerbread Whoopie Pies, you can download the recipe HERE or right click on the image below and save to your computer for later.
I hope you and your family enjoy these delicious little morsels. It just isn't Christmas around here, unless something gingerbread is baking in the oven.
Happy baking :)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Its officially the first of December so that means, in our house, the Christmas decorations go up and we wrap the presents, all ready for Christmas :) It also means there are gifts under the tree and curious people trying to figure out whats inside for the nest 24 days, but its fun :)
I made my Christmas Cake yesterday, so those wonderful aromas are still lingering in the kitchen:
I used mums cake recipe for this one and its from one of those old Women's Weekly recipe cards. My Christmas pudding will be prepared Christmas Eve and put on to boil, bright and early Christmas morning, ready for lunch (this in my late inlaws recipe and its delicious).
I have had a few emails asking for links to certain Christmas projects I've shared so I thought I would do a recap post in case you've missed any or you too are looking for them. All of the links will take you to my original blog post for each project. First off is my free Christmas Planner:
This is my bible over Christmas. Because we start our shopping early, I keep a record of what I have brought and for whom and I have a clear plastic sleeve at the back for receipts and those "on line content codes" for PS4 games etc. I sit down with mum and dad (and my folder) in early November and we work on a menu and who's bringing/cooking what and all the information stays in this one folder and is easy to find.
You can download the free printable HERE and make sure you save the file so you can reprint new pages for each year.
Next up are my free Christmas Mug Rugs pattern. These are so simple and pretty and they make lovely gifts for neighbours or teachers. Both the applique and paper pieced versions are included in the free pattern and you can download the file HERE.
These little Matchbook Needle Keeps are a fun little present to pop into a Christmas Card and send to family and friends. I keep one in every craft bag, my handbags and in the car, so I'm always prepared. You can make a whole batch of these in an afternoon while your nibbling on gingerbread and listening to Carols. The tutorial for these can be found HERE.
Decorating the table for Christmas lunch is my favorite part and a few years ago I made these pretty Poinsettia Napkin Holders. You can find the free pattern for these HERE.
Mum is making our table decorations this year and its all top secret so I cant wait to see what she has come up with :)
I've also got a sweet little Christmas Subway Art print that I love to use as a decoration in my front porch. Its such a cheery welcome to visitors during the Christmas season and its a simple print and frame project. Just visit HERE to grab your copy.
There are a few more projects but these are the ones most downloaded by my readers. I have a few blog posts to share during December with recipes and crafty ideas so stayed tuned for those.
And just before I go, I wanted to re share my Nutcracker pattern:
I just adore this little guy and he watches over our Christmas tree during December. If you looking for a something new to make this season then patterns can be found in my Big Cartel shop HERE.
Or if you prefer an instant download, they are also available in my Etsy shop HERE.
Happy Christmas planning and plotting :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Yuletide Mini Quilt + Your Free December 2016 Calendar

I love this time of the year. The shops are brimming with decorations and gifts, Santa is making appearances in shopping centres and Christmas Carols are playing over the loud speakers. You can almost feel that frantic rush of Christmas building and I love seeing the look of awe on children's faces as this season steamrolls into our lives. Its also time for my new Monthly Mini and this months quilt is sweet, simple, scrappy and sentimental. Introducing Yuletide:
Every year I want to buy one of those big, full, perfectly decorated with matching ornaments, Christmas trees that you see in the shops but our little old tree has a story and has been part of our festivities for 32 years. Our tree is indicative of the average family tree: an eclectic mix of handmade/store brought/ gifted decorations collected over time or made with love.
My inlaws didn't do the Christmas Tree thing when I first met them, and me being me just couldn't have that :) so Les and I brought a tree for our very first Christmas together and put it in his parents lounge room. It spent four Christmas's there and then came to our house where it has been part of every family Christmas since.
Its branches have hidden special secret presents, notes to Santa and the reindeer, snacks my kids didn't want to eat and decided to hide and the occasional cat looking for a good hiding place. Every year it seems lose a little fullness and I'm amazed it still holds the weight of all the decorations that we have collected but for the month of December, its the centrepiece of our living room and our festivities.
Yuletide is a paper pieced mini quilt and its a simple representation of the humble Christmas tree. Its a great use of scraps from your stash which I think adds to the charm of this mini quilt. I chose a lovely aqua and pink palette for my tree but it would look stunning in bold Christmas colours. It finishes at around 14" square so its also perfect for a cushion or table topper. I quilted my mini with a loopy stipple to give it that lovely texture and I finished it off a beautiful gold binding which really frames the tree.
The Yuletide PDF pattern comes complete with full step by step instructions and diagrams,  paper piecing templates and a colouring sheet to help you plan your colours/fabrics prior to starting your mini quilt. There are also optional instructions to add a hanging sleeve or corner hangers.
If you would like to make your own Yuletide mini quilt, from today until the end of December, PDF patterns are available at the introductory price of $4.95 (AU) in my Big Cartel shop, HERE.
Or if you prefer an instant download, PDF patterns are also available in my Etsy shop, HERE.
I also have your free December 2016 Calendar, featuring the gorgeous Yuletide
You can download and print your free calendar HERE.
When our tree goes up on Thursday, I wont be thinking of those decorator style trees I'm tempted to buy, I will be remembering Christmas's past and all the wonderful years we have spent making irreplaceable memories around our sweet, simple, scrappy and sentimental tree.
Happy sewing :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Crochet Questions

Thanks for all the love for my Charlotte's Dream squares from the previous post. Its going to make a beautiful blanket and I've just finished my third square while binge watching "The Crown" on Netflix (awesome series: I cant wait for Season 2)
I had a few emails and questions regarding this project, so I thought I would address them here and the answers may help others. A little note to Guida: you are a no reply commentor, so I can not reply directly to your questions but you can always email me and I'm happy to let you pick my brain :)
Please remember, this is not my pattern and I can only comment on what I am doing and using for my blanket, and I'm no expert :).
I am using the Bendigo Woollen Mills cotton yarn and it is 8ply and it is sold in 200g balls. It is finer than the average 8ply acrylic and nicer to work with. I've used it lots and my squares always finish a little smaller than patterns suggest but as long as they are a consistent size, they all fit together. I'm also using a 3.75mm hook this time which gives it a tighter finish.
I over estimate quantities when buying yarn for a project, I'd rather have leftovers than be hunting down dye lots so I did buy more yarn than the pattern specified and I kept a little record of what I used in this last square, to help and to be sure I had estimated enough yarn.
For one square I used 85g of the main colour yarn, so I know I have enough to yield two squares from one 200g ball.
I used 40g of the white yarn for each square and just over 34g of the light grey (but remember you need extra for borders).
My squares finish at 20", so my blanket should finish at a little over 80" square, including borders.
There are yarn packs available, using the same wool and colours as Deidri, if that's what you prefer and you can find all the information on her blog HERE.
I hope all this information helps and I'm sorry its taken me so long to reply to everyone; its been one of those weeks. It is a beautiful pattern and a lot easier than it looks, so give it a try, I've enjoyed working each and every stitch :)
Happy hooking :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Charlotte's Dream: The Beginning

I'm back in the studio, madly sewing magazine projects at the moment. I can't share these until 2017 but I can share a new crochet project I started last week. I saw the Charlotte's Dream blanket on Instagram and instantly fell in love. This blanket is another gorgeous creation from Deidri Uys and her patterns are so much fun and so easy to follow.
The first step was to select my wool:
I'm a huge fan on Bendigo Woollen Mills Cotton yarn so I decided to choose eight main colours from their range and two contrasting colours (the light grey and white). This cotton crochets up beautifully and it makes a soft and snugly blanket. I decided to use a hook one size smaller than I usually use, to give the squares a better finish.
The pattern requires twelve Charlotte squares but I've decided to make my blanket larger and use a 4 x 4 grid of sixteen squares (two squares of each main colours). It's going to be a large blanket but thats exactly what I want. So here's my first two completed Charlotte squares:
Aren't they beautiful? Its another clever design from Dedri and I love the on point setting of the main flower squares. The border is sweet and delicate and frames the square perfectly and just look at all that gorgeous texture:
This is meant to be a long term project for me, but I love the thrill of a new project and at the start I tend to work on things quickly. I'm sure I will slow down soon and enjoy the process over the coming months :)
You can find the free pattern for Charlotte's Dream HERE, complete with beautifully written instructions and step by step photos to help complete your own blanket.
I'm off to work on my third square, before I have to cook dinner, so happy hooking :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Barn Star Mini Quilt + Your Free November Calendar

My secret projects are completed and on their way to the magazine, all in time for the deadline. I'm not exactly sure when I can share them with you but as soon as I can, I will. Its been a busy few weeks in the studio and its now time for things to return to normal. Its also time for my new Monthly Mini Quilt and your free November 2016 Calendar.
This month I have something a little different for you, so without further ado, here's Barn Star:
This design came together because I had a plan for our garden. Over the Christmas break, Les and I will be repainting the exterior of my studio and the back wall, which overlooks my vegetable garden, is huge, blank and begging for something to spruce it up; I want to paint a large Barn Quilt in this space :) Now, I thought this was an amazing idea but you know men; Les was skeptical, so I decided to show him just how stunning they actually look.
We did a little research on Barn Quilts and my plan began to grow on him. So I set to work, designing a quilt block to paint and decided it would be fun to make in fabric first, so it had to become this months mini quilt. This quilt is a combination of a modified Ohio Star block, enclosed in a gorgeous Calgary Stampede block. It will be perfect for my wall space and until the holidays, I have this mini quilt hanging in the studio for inspiration.
Barn quilts are painted onto pieces of wood and they are generally a single quilt block. They are large, bold and stunning, and the vibrancy of the solid colours make them visible from afar. The design is usually made up of squares, triangles and rectangles, making them easy to paint and they are hung on the barn, the house or any other outside building.
The PDF pattern for my Barn Star mini quilt includes everything you need to know to make three quilt sizes (14", 21" and 28") so you can choose which size suits you best. Its a quick and easy mini to piece and its another great opportunity to grab your stash of solids and have a play. Its also a great little quilt for beginners as there's nothing tricky to sew and they will learn some basic techniques.
I used a traditional red, white and blue palette for my mini but its such a lovely design and it would look gorgeous in any colour combination.
The Barn Star PDF pattern also comes with full step by step instructions and diagrams, and I've included a colouring sheet to help you plan your colours/fabrics prior to starting your mini quilt. There are also optional instructions to add a hanging sleeve or corner hangers.
If you would like to make your own Barn Star mini quilt in any of the three sizes, from today until the end of November, PDF patterns are available at the introductory price of $4.95 (AU) in my Big Cartel shop, HERE.
Or if you prefer an instant download, PDF patterns are also available in my Etsy shop, HERE.
I also have your free November 2016 Calendar, featuring the gorgeous Barn Star:
You can download your free calendar, HERE.
I hope you love my Barn Star mini quilt. I'm off to the hardware store for some wood, paint, tape and rollers, ready to start my own painted Barn Quilt for that blank studio wall, while hubby is still on board with the whole idea :)
Happy sewing :)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Five Things I'm Loving Right Now :)

I'm super busy in the studio at the moment, sewing projects that I can't show you just yet, so I thought I'd do a fun little post on five other things I'm loving and making time for, right now (in between long hours at the machine).
1. SPRING
Who doesn't love Spring? Its the season of new beginnings after a long cold winter  We've been busy planting new garden beds and preparing the vegetable and herb gardens. The apple trees are blossoming, the perennials have doubled in size and beginning to flower and everything is looking bright and pretty.
I'm starting to take my projects outside to bind or setting up the laptop in the patio to write patterns, as I absorb all the beauty this season has to offer.
2. THE WEST WING
Maddi and I LOVED the "House Of Cards" TV series which then led us to "The West Wing". I did watch some of this when it first aired, in the 90's but I'm really loving it this time around. Both shows have given us a better, if not dramatised, understanding of the current US Election and how the whole process works. 
I love these old shows and Maddi has worked part time at Sanity (DVD and Music chain) for the last two years, so she has accured an endless supply for us to watch; it's one of those job that is beneficial for both of us :)
3. OLD PATTERNS BOOKS
Mum is culling her sewing room and she gave me these old crochet pattern books. I remember looking through these as a child and picking things for mum to make. I can't wait to get started on my own projects from these books, particularly the lace doilies, I'm just waiting on a new hook to arrive in the mail.
Mum was taught to crochet by a German lady who lived next door to my grandmother. If mum had trouble with a pattern she would have to wait until her weekly lesson, for some help. It is so different for me, I can watch a quick You Tube video or Google a tutorial and I have instant answers. Thank goodness for the internet and all those generous people who share their knowledge :)
4. THE WHEEL OF TIME SERIES
Reading is huge in our house. It would be rare to find any of us without a book in our hands at some point during the day/night. I love big book series (Game Of Thrones, Harry Potter, Outlander etc) and this fantasy series ticks all the boxes.  There are fourteen books in this amazing series and I'm slowly making my way through them all, getting totally lost in the pages and staying up way past my bedtime.
5. DATE NIGHT
One thing Les and I have consistently made time for this year is Date Night. Doing such a "grown up thing" was a little difficult at first but our kids have their own lives and social engagements and we found ourselves just sitting at home waiting for them to return.
Its become an enjoyable habit now and Saturday night is usually dinner and a movie or dinner and Netflix. Its great to take off our "parent caps" for a few hours and just be a couple. Plans are made, problems and dreams are shared and the best part is, I don't have to cook and the food doesnt come on trays and no one asks if we want to "upsize".....bonus :)
So that's my fun little post on what I'm loving right now. I'll be back soon with my next monthly mini but for now, its back to the machine for me :)
Happy living and loving :)
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