Dec 24, 2008

the Christmas challenge - pressie #14

I thought I was done posting about my Christmas challenge gifties but there was one that nearly slipped through the cracks - the Duck Confit. Four duck marylands cooked in the traditional French method of Confit, packaged in jars with recipes, became gifts for my brother in law, father in law and best friend and her French husband. I can say without hesitation that my husband is a legend and has mastered this - my favourite dish. The recipe for Confit can be found in every French recipe book, but it's basically slow cooking meat (or anything really) in fat, in this case duck fat. While this sounds a bit unhealthy (and looks rather unattractive), you do scrape the extra fat off prior to re heating the dish, and it is a very popular way of preserving meats in Europe. The meats can remain encased in their duck fat, which solidifies once cool, for months prior to being dug out and reheated. The result is supremely tender and moist meat. Husband Guy recommends serving your duck confit with braised red cabbage and potatoes roasted in duck fat. YUM YUM YUM

christmas yummies

As part of my handmade christmas challenge I have included some yummies in the mix. First up is my Granny's Rum Balls. Granny passed away earlier this year and I will always remember making these fantastic Rum Balls with her - they are the best I have ever tasted. And even if you don't really like dried fruit or rum like me, these are still really tasty and they get better after a few days.

Ingredients: 1 tin of condensed milk, 8 weet bix/ vita brits, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons of rum (more or less to taste), a cup of mixed dried fruit and dessicated coconut for rolling the balls in.

Method: Crush up the weetbix, combine them with the rest of the ingredients (except the coconut), cover with clingfilm and stand in the fridge for about half an hour. Remove from fridge and roll into golf ball sized balls then coat in coconut. yum.

Another family fave is my Mum's gingerbread - hehehehe - as previously mentioned. Our neighbour who is of German extraction reckons they are the best gingerbread he has ever eaten and was extremely excited today when I presented him with a big jar full! So here is the family secret revealed.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup sugar, 3 cups of plain flour, 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, 125 grams butter, 4 tablespoons of golden syrup, 1 egg - lightly whisked.

Method: Sift dry ingredients in a bowl, rub in butter, add sugar and mix well. Slightly warm the golden syrup and add with the egg to the other ingredients. Knead until smooth and roll out to approx 3 mm thickness and cut into shapes. (If you wish to decorate with currants - do it now) Place on greased baking tray and bake in 190C oven for 10-15 mins until golden brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

Icing: Beat an egg white with enough icing sugar to form a reasonably stiff consistency that can still be passed through a piping bag. Colour mixture with whatever colours you wish and pipe onto gingerbread. This icing will set quite firm so make sure if you want to decorate with sugar decorations that you do so straight away.

Dec 23, 2008

I won!

A huge thank you to Elissa over at Kelani Fabric who has selected me as her second place winner for her Handmade Christmas competition. This bundle of goodies is winging it's way to me - it'll be like Christmas all over again!

Thank you also to Anya of
Hills Creek Quilter who has given me her Butterfly Award. I will be awarding a few fellow bloggers this in the new year.

Dec 16, 2008

little stockings

Since packing up my sewing machine I've discovered that I've become so immersed in sewing that if I didn't do something I'd go mad. And it didn't feel right to sew something that wasn't Christmas related. So as a result I've started making little hand sewn Chrissie Decs.

I've made a couple of these little stockings, this one with my mum's name embroidered on it. And I'm working on making some gingerbread people shaped ones as well.

Dec 15, 2008

the Christmas challenge - pressie #10 (finished)

So here is the finshed bag for my mum that I showed you a sneaky peak of a couple of days ago. The fabrics are from Sanshi Japanese fabrics and the pattern is Meadow from Melly and Me.

And that is pretty much me done for Christmas pressies. I am tooling around making some little hand sewn ornaments but the sewing machine has been packed up to make way for our tree.

Dec 14, 2008

the Sunday Stash

there's not mush-room inside.... hehehehehe

That's about as funny as I get I'm afraid. Today's stash is a couple of cuties that once again I picked up at my local Spotlight on sale. They're in my 'maybe one day I'll have a little girl' pile.

Dec 13, 2008

the Christmas challenge - pressie #13

I would almost hesitate to say it but I think this is basically my last gift. I have a few more things that I want to do but if I don't get time it won't be a drama. I will show you the Duck Confit and Gingerbread when they are finished and share the recipes with you.

This gift is for my father in law. He is going to install a woodfired pizza oven in his backyard so we can have big Italian feasts so I wanted to make him a special apron. I hunted for a red and white check for that Italian feel and I'm going to hand embroider "Guy's Pizza" across the front.

the Christmas challenge - pressie #12

This next pressie is for my dad - another person for whom it was very hard to think of something to sew - a set of handmade coasters. But even though it was hard to think of something I'm actually really pleased with the idea and the way they turned out. Each coaster is double sided with different fabrics on the two sides.

the Christmas challenge - pressie #11

Pressie #11 is some more Christmas shorts for Little Guy's friends. When their mum's found out that I'd made shorts for him for Christmas they put their orders in!

Dec 10, 2008

the Christmas challenge - pressie #10 (sneak peek)

This one isn't quite finished yet but I couldn't wait to show you a peek of the bag I'm making for my mum. The fabric featured in the Sunday Stash a few weeks ago and is an exquisite Japanese cotton from Sanshi using the Melly and Me Meadow pattern.

the Christmas challenge - pressie #9

Christmas pressie #9 is a variety of tea towels with patchwork embellishment. I will admit to not making the tea towels from scratch but the patchwork is a great way to use jelly roll strips or left over fabric. The tutorial for this project can be found on Sew Mama Sew, although mine aren't half as neat as the ones in the tutorial! This project was a great excuse to use a couple of cute fabrics with kitchen themes that I've picked up recently.

Dec 7, 2008

little boys shorts

This is a little gift for my nephew Ezra, he and little Guy were born 13 days apart so they are very similar in size. I made him shorts the same as all the ones I made for little Guy and gave them to him in a patchwork bag made from offcuts from the shorts material. His mum often takes Ezra walking by the beach so the bag is perfect to carry his toys in for his walk.

the Sunday Stash

My Sunday Stash today has a green theme - a variety of green fabrics that I have collected over the last few months. They remind me of my kitchen which is painted a lime green, but I also think they'd make a cute summer bag.

Dec 2, 2008

a month of firsts

Now not only is this month special because it is Little Guy's first Christmas (groovy Christmas shorts to wear on the day), but it will also be his first birthday on the 27th as well. So not only am I scrambling to finish making all our gifts (about 4 to go I think!) but I'm also busy planning a birthday party and buying birthday gifts.

Fun Fun Fun!

the Christmas challenge - pressie #8

My brother in law and sister in law are receiving a joint gift comprising a reversible apron in this cute material.

As well as a table cloth in this lovely Indian Cotton.

My husband is also chipping in with the handmade gifts by making jars of Duck Confit, they will also receiving one of these.

the Christmas challenge - pressie #7

There are several people in our family for whom making a gift was always going to be a struggle. My 25yo brother is definately one of them. He does love to travel though so I made him a 'socks and jocks' bag to put in his suitcase - to stash his delicates in once they've been worn. The applique is just little hand drawn socks and jocks that I cut out from felt so they wouldn't fray. And I closed the bag with a button instead of a drawstring mainly as an excuse to use another one of the groovy buttons I got from the Haby Goddess.

the Christmas challenge - pressie #6

Pressie #6 is a large Santa Sack and a Stocking each for my Nephews Callum and Charlie. I already had these cute bell ornaments with their names on so I decided that by attaching them to the stockings it was a cute way to personalise them. Now we've just gotta hope that Santa fills the sacks!

Dec 1, 2008

the Sunday Stash

Today's stash is a couple of cottons I bought in a mad stash building frenzy at my local Spotlight a few weeks ago. What can I say! They were having a big sale on their quilting fabric and I went a little wild!

Nov 29, 2008

Pay it Forward

This is a nice little idea which I got from Life with Evie, the first 3 fellow bloggers who reply to this post will receive a cute handmade gift from me. What they have to then do in turn is make a Pay it Forward post on their blog and then make 3 gifts for their first 3 respondees. You must have a blog to be eligible and you then have 365 days to make and post your gifts.

So in the spirit of Christmas and Pay it Forward, who would like a little gift from me?

Nov 28, 2008

a birthday bag

Happy Birthday to my mother in law who turned 60 this week. As previously mentioned I was making her a bag. I'm really pleased with the results. It was my first time using wooden handles, which made it a little tricky to move around the machine to finish the bag off. It was also my first time creating flowers by freestyle applique. This was the second time I'd attempted a bag patter out of a magazine and hopefully next time I will remember that they are not always the easiest or clearest patterns to follow. My only drama really was sewing the lining and bag body together while adding the handles. The wooden handles (great quality handles by the way from Kelani) made it almost impossible to attach the lining and body in the regular way, due to the size of the bag, which was disappointing. But we got there in the end - so Happy Birthday Patsy!

Nov 24, 2008

the Sunday Stash (on Monday)

Ok I'm a tiny bit late this week but my excuse is that we went away for the weekend. We went to Sydney to see the Monet & the Impressionists exhibition which was wonderful. And then for added excitement we went to the Taronga Zoo on Sunday. It was Baby Guy's first trip on a plane - let's just say that he flies much better than his mother does!

So my stash this week is a bundle of fat quarters I picked up at a great little quilting store in Beenleigh, south of Brisbane. I just love the way it's now ok to mix spots with stripes and patterns. I think this stash is going to become my mother in law's actual birthday pressie - a cute little bag.

Nov 16, 2008

the Sunday Stash

Here's my first entry for the Sunday Stash. Four fat quarters I purchased from Sanshi Japanese Fabrics at our recent Quilt and Craft show in Brissie. These beauties are destined for a bag for my mum for Chrissie. I just love the texture of these Japanese cottons, just a little bit thicker than regular cotton.

Nov 14, 2008

a pretty purse

It's my mother-in-law's birthday in a couple of weeks and the girls are going for High Tea tomorrow, so I thought I'd whip her up a little purse as part of her pressie. It's made from Amy Butler's Daisy Chain fabric and modelled off Pink Penguin's camera case, embellished with some vintage buttons I purchased from the Haby Goddess. To make the purse, cut 2 pieces of fabric roughly 3 times the height of the purse and one piece of batting. Sew together around the edges, wrong sides together, leaving a gap for turning. Trim corners and turn right way out, top stitch around the edges to close the gap and to give a nice look. Fold the bottom of your rectangle up onto the middle of the rectangle to create the body of your purse, then stitch down the sides to secure. You can then 'quilt' the purse if you want. I used my sewing machine to make 3 button holes and hand stitched the buttons on. Alternatively you could also use a magnetic clasp or only 1 or 2 buttons. Another option would be to change the shape of the flap (pointed or rounded perhaps).

Please let me know if you would like me to create a proper tutorial to better illustrate the process.

Nov 13, 2008

the Christmas challenge - pressie #5

I think I'll call this next pressie the Kitchen Kit. It contains a table cloth, 4 placemats, an apron and 2 tea towels with patchwork detail. I got the idea for the tea towels from a Sew Mama Sew tutorial. And the pieces are all presented in a patchwork bag made from the tutorial on the Pink Penguin site. I was going to make the basket up in Chrissie fabric but I thought if I used the co ordinating fabric it could be used to hold bread rolls or cutlery etc on the table.

the Christmas challenge - pressie #4

I made up these 4 Christmas stockings for Little Guy and 3 of his friends. They are made out of flannel so I had to find flannel backing - not so easy in summer in Australia! They're lined with red cotton and have some batting in for support.

Nov 8, 2008

Mel's crazy bag

My friend Mel has been admiring the bags I've been making, so I thought I'd whip her up a little shopping bag. It's pretty crazy as it's made from Jelly Roll strips which is perfect for me as I can't cut straight! But you could make it from strips cut from fat quarters or left over pieces of fabric. It's a great 'stash-busting' idea. I did however make the bag reversible so if the stripes are a bit much, she can always go with the polka dots.

So here you go Mel. And I promise to make you one of my nicer bags in the future!

the Christmas challenge - pressie #3

Here is pressie #3 - it's for a 2 yo girl child of a friend of mine. Another wall hanging but this time with hand sewn sequins, buttons and beads.

This hanging features some more of Nikki Tervo's cute handmade buttons including large yellow stars. Inspiration for this gift came when I found the fabric in a remnant bin, I just knew I'd find something to do with it!

Nov 3, 2008

a lurvly bag

Just a little aside to show off the Melly and Me Dolcetto bag that I made for myself out of the new Amy Butler Daisy Chain fabric. This one is for me because I love the shape of the bag and I adore the Daisy Chain fabric. Thanks to Melly for her advice too.

Nov 1, 2008

Sew Mama Sew - Holidays at Home

As part of Sew Mama Sew's annual Holidays at Home celebration I thought I'd join in with the fun. Being in Australia our Christmas is a little different to that in the Northern Hemisphere. Christmas day is really hot and humid (about 35C) and we usually have a storm in the afternoon. Our day is spent usually eating cold meats and salads, drinking cold wine and beer and having a swim in the pool of an afternoon.

One of my favourite Christmas traditions is making Gingerbread with my mum. We make christmas trees and stars and bells and the traditional men. One year I iced the Men and Women with the appropriate 'bits'. Mum was amused but warned me not to bring them out when my grandparents were around. But when she wasn't looking I slipped a few of my rude gingerbread onto the plate and she didn't notice until she saw my grandfather examining his gingerbread lady a little too closely! Anyway thankfully they thought the whole thing was a scream and we always make sure we have a few naughty gingerbread people tucked away now in memory of my grandparents.

You can find the Sew Mama Sew Holidays at Home discussion at

Oct 31, 2008

the Christmas challenge - pressie #2

Ok, pressie #2 is for a 6 month old boy child - it's a Paddington Bear cloth book. These are available from heaps of places as kits and are so easy to assemble. My little Guy has about 4 of them!

Oct 30, 2008

the Christmas challenge - pressie #1

ok here we go in the 2008 Christmas challenge - pressie #1. Now in the interests of trying to retain some element of surprise I will be keeping the names of the recipients of the pressies a secret.

Pressie #1 is for a girl child of a friend of mine, it's a set of wall hangings. The fabric is new from Kokka (available from Duck Cloth) and the cuuuuuuute button is from Nikki Tervo Designs. Nikki Tervo does awesome handmade buttons from her home in Brissie. I picked this little gem and a couple like it up at the recent Brisbane Quilt Fair. Nikki's website is

Oct 29, 2008

the Christmas challenge

So my challenge to myself, which is now going to be a public challenge, is to make as many of my Christmas gifts as possible. Men, women and children, no one is exempt from my homemade enthusiasm. But the gifts can't be dodgy, they have to be comparable in awesomness (thanks Barney) to the usually brilliant Christmas gifts I buy in the stores. I have been stockpiling materials and ideas for the last few weeks and I have even started the mammoth task. Husband Guy, whilst at first being sceptical of my challenge, is now helping with ideas and is even offering to contribute!

So those of you who will be receiving gifts from us this year - please be gentle - they are all being made with love :)

Oct 19, 2008

C'est Bon Restaurant

Husband Guy and I went out for dinner last night to one of Brissie's newest restaurants - C'est Bon.

For entree I had tarte tatin √† la tomate … tomato and caramelised onion tarte tatin, topped
w goats cheese lightly drizzled w pesto and Guy had salade de canard confit ... green salad w duck confit, caramelized apples, pine nuts and avocado topped w a light mango and ginger vinaigrette. For mains I had coq au vin… free range chicken marinated in red wine w potatoes, mushrooms and bacon and Guy had carr√© d’agneau… boneless rack of lamb w a ginger and coriander jus, garnished with darphin potatoes and green beans. To drink we had a bottle of 2005 Santenay ‘Champs Claude’ V.V. (Lucien Muzard).

And for dessert we totally lashed out and had the degustation - pear poached in cassis liquer, chocolate mousse, creme brulee, creme caramel and a breton biscuit with rhubarb. This was accompanied by a bottle of 2004 Monbazillac Cuvee du Chateau (Grande Maison). YUMMY YUMMY.

All up a good time was had by all and the baby stayed home with Nanny and Grandad (bonus!).

Oct 18, 2008

the not so easy tote

This tote came close to causing me to throw my sewing machine out the window. The pattern came from a lifestyle magazine and it was supposed to be an easy reversible tote. Not so. I'm concerned that if I couldn't make it work with my pretty good sewing skills I've no idea how a novice would have gone. Oh well I made a few adjustments (the bias binding around the handles) and here is the finished product. Pretty cute, big enough just to chuck your purse and keys in to run up the shops, just don't look at my workmanship.

Oct 12, 2008


Shanks to Jodie from the Haby Goddess who has tagged me. So here goes, 7 things you may not know about me:

1. My favourite colour is Blue.

2. My 2 dogs are named after chefs from the Iron Chef tv show - Hiroyuki Sakai Iron Chef French (Yuki) and Roksaburo Michiba Iron Chef Japanese (Sabo).

3. My favourite movie is Varsity Blues, starring James Van Der Beek from Dawson's Creek.

4. My favourite food is Duck Confit.

5. I worked in a lolly shop for 6 years.

6. I have a degree in Psychology.

7. And...... I love all things French.

Now the really sad part is that I'm not sure I know 7 other blogs so I am tagging Ayumi from Pink Penguin and Kristen from Cheeky Beaks Life and Craft.

Oct 10, 2008

haby treats and an overdue pressie

I've just received my first order from the Haby Goddess (aka Jodie) - these sweet pincusions, pins and some groovy retro buttons. Thanks Jodie they are all just as sweet as they looked on your site

And before I forget, I need to show you this great wrap skirt I finally finished for my friend Mel's birthday. It's only a month late but I hope you like it Mel.

Oct 9, 2008

I love Amy Butler

I've been a bit of a fan of the Amy Butler fabrics and patterns for a while now but have never been game enough to try one. Well the other day my mum bought me a pattern and I was extremely pleased to find how user friendly, straightforward and luxe the directions and finished product were.

So here it is my first and DEFINATELY not my last Amy Butler bag - the Birdie Sling.

what started it all

So what started all this sewing business back up again for me was my son's need for some summer shorts. And figuring that I'd sewed before I thought I'd start up again.

So here are the completed shorts. Note the Camo ones have cargo pockets (so cute!) and the dino print have a co ordinating camo pocket on the back.

the other guys in my life

I must confess there are 2 other guys in my life - our 2 Golden Retrievers - Yuki and Sabo.

They are both 3 years old. Yuki is possibly the largest Golden Retriever ever - well he's the biggest I've ever seen and my family has so far owned 5 Goldens. Anyway he is blond and athletic (2 things I am definately not) and suffers from eldest child syndrome (he still remembers when he was the one and only and wishes it could be that way again).

Sabo is small, nuggety and a bit obsessive. Sabo has baby dog syndrome with a healthy portion of OCD.

Anyway they are the 2 other guys in my life and will henceforth be referred to as 'the boys'.

introducing.... and my 2 guys

My name is Bree and I must confess I have 2 guys in my life. Well 2 Guy's actually. My husband Guy, 30, and my son Guy, 9 months.

Until recently I was a blog virgin, never read one and certainly never created one. But I'm still on maternity leave and I started to get back into sewing and starting to find all these blogs on the net with people documenting their creativity. And I thought 'why not'.

And as for the 2 Guy's, I know some people think it's really dorky or a bit stuck up to name your child after yourself, but in my husband's family this is a tradition that dates back a long way and he was really passionate about keeping it going (and I didn't want to be the one to wreck a 150 year tradition). So my little one is Guy the 6th and the name really suits him too.

So anyway my blog will be like a lot of the other 'a bit about life, a bit about sewing and craft' blogs but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
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