Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Time to move.

With a new babe on the way, it's time for chez clutterpunk  to relocate. In less than two months, we will be packing up our lovely little two-bedroom flat and re-entering the Big Bad World of the Rental Property.

In truth, we've actually got it very easy. Friends have offered us a house two blocks away; an old, unrenovated house with a lots of quirks but lots of space. We know their intentions for the property and therefore know that it will be a secure space for us for 5-10 years if we want, in the local community we're already entrenched in. We're essentially 'staying put', except for our actual living space.

And unlike most rental options, we will have lots of freedom. Freedom to bang pictures into the walls, to make 'improvements', to negotiate directly with the owners, to plant vegies - freedom to put down roots. 

I'm feeling a great sense of possibility, mostly to do with space. There will be:

space to sleep - perhaps with more bedroom options we will iron out some sleeping issues? (ha!)
space to eat - room for a real kitchen table, now time to teach the boys how to sit at one
space to host - a guest room for interstate-dwelling parents, families and friends
space to play - the large backyard is concreted, in true inner-city Mediterranean style, but that's perfect for boys, bikes, chalk and people who hate mowing lawn!
space to hang - with plenty of room for stringing out clothes indoors I can avoid the dryer
space to grow - I'm already planning my above-ground vegie plots, compost and worm farm...
space to create - a room in which the sewing machine and iron can be left out, works-in-progress left undisturbed, and threads, pins and scissors left in reach without ramification.

But I'm a bit apprehensive too. Our family has learned so much from living in a small space together. We've learned to say no to stuff, both by buying less and by letting things go when they are no longer necessary to us. We've learned to be unpretentious hosts, sharing meals with friends sitting on the floor around the coffee table. We've learned to coexist in and negotiate the use of shared space in the dining-living-sewing-guest-TV-playroom. We've learned greater material contentment, and just how rich we are in this world.

But I know my inner aspirational, consumerist self is still lurking under the surface. And I suspect that with the move, and the potential for more accumulation, and the desire to make a new space homely, and the pregnancy nesting syndrome starting to kick in, I've got some big challenges and temptations ahead of me. Can I hold onto sustainable ideals? Will I keep my clutter and consumerism under control? I'd better stay tuned...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My creative space... from frog to prince?

I feel like a bit of a fraud joining in with kootoyoo's creative spaces today, as I've made a big, fat nothing in the last month.

Nonetheless, I can now reveal to you the finished Green Monstrosity, which I finished binding and then delivered to my sister during a visit to QLD last month.

And frankly, after all my concern, I think it's looking pretty darn good, in its home environment.

Once again, check out the glorious quilting work of Karen from Quilts on Bastings:

And here's the backdrop, the rather verdant feature wall that my sister wanted the quilt to blend with.

Still not 100% my cup of slime tea, but for the recipient it seems to work just fine.

And now, I'm going to cruise the webs and see what inspiration for a new project I can find. How about you?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Something in the oven.

Almost 3 months ago, the double glazed door of our two-year-old, just-out-of-warranty Whirlpool oven decided to explode. 

From what I could see, the oven just needed some new front glass, or at most a new door, which I figured would not be an impossible ask of the manufacturer. Our oven was two years old, only just out of warranty, and in perfect working order, apart from the old lack-of-door issue. 


Apparently, ovens are a disposable item these days. I get it, I really do. I mean, it's been two years, and that oven technology, whoah, it's moved on people - who wants to be caught dead with a slow-moving two year old oven? Plus, it looked so 2008. Of course there would be no replacement glass or door for our (clearly defunct) model available in Australia. Of course we would most likely prefer to just 'upgrade' to the next model, the newer, sexier, shinier version. Almost the same cost really, because if we did want to take the distasteful approach of repairing our oven, then we'd have to wait ten years for the parts to arrive by goat from Uzbekistan, and then scalp a kidney to pay for installation.  

Anyway, {insert rant about the state of the world today and why I think free-market economies are stupid here}. As of last week, we have a functioning oven again. Unfortunately, it is a new one, but it comes with a five-year warranty, accessible parts and servicing, and is definitely NOT Whirlpool.

Which means I can BAKE!

Did I mention pizza?

Going almost three months without our Sunday night neighbourly pizza-fest has been a killer. Last night, with much celebration, we resumed. Multiple delicious homemade pizzas followed by a lemon and rhubarb cake (thanks Lauren for the recipe!).

But now I have a confession.

If our oven DID have to explode and be out of action for a few months, then these few have been the time to do it. Because until just about yesterday, I had absolutely no stomach, energy or enthusiasm for baking anything. 

Because, well... I have *something in the oven*. 

I may have mentioned on this post back in July being in two minds about having more children. Dating suggests that I pretty much made up my mind as I pressed 'publish post'. Anyway, we are happy and grateful to be carrying a little one, and look forward to meeting him or her in early autumn next year. 

Meanwhile, I'm just thrilled to have a baking stomach back. And a baby to hide all that pizza behind.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A 'hi', a 'bye' and a thought or two on binding.

Last night my Beloved made me an offer I couldn't refuse.

"You haven't blogged in weeks! I'm taking the day off work, taking the boys out of your hair, and I'd like you to squander the day on blogging and sewing."

Oh. OK then!

To put things in perspective, Justin knows that I am about to take the boys out of his hair and have another hiatus from the computer as we travel interstate to visit family for a few weeks. He also knows that the horrible crotch hole in his jeans is not going to mend itself before my departure if I don't get a bit of toddler-free time!

So this is a bit of a 'hi' and 'bye' post. But I will be back in early October, oh yes I will.

Meanwhile, I have actually been doing stuff. I've also been not doing lots of stuff, in line with my Slow Project, and have many thoughts to share down the track on the matter. About Slow Parenting, redefining productivity, the Time/Money relationship, embracing my inner Feminist Housewife, that sort of thing. But there's no hurry, now, is there?

On the craft front, it's all been about Quilt Binding.

I've made three lengths of straight-cut binding in the last few weeks, and I've loved the process. This, in spite of the fact that each and every time I managed to sew my strips together in the wrong way and had to unpick. It seems that Slow Learning is another of my Slow skills at present!

I like to bind a quilt by machine-sewing the first side (as detailed in Heather Bailey's tutorial) and then hand-sewing the other side to finish. Slow, yes. Beautiful, you bet.

I definitely don't like to pin the binding down though. So to keep the roll of binding tape under control as I attach it, rather than unfurling in my lap or all over the floor as I sew, I've come up with this method:

Binding tape wrapped around a spool of thread and placed on the bobbin winder. This way it just unfurls as I go and I can concentrate on lining it up with the quilt edge.

And here is another preview of the Green Monstrosity, which is on its way to being fully-bound, having been recently quilted by the superbly-talented Karen of Quilts on Bastings. Her work is so polished, and has lifted the quality of this quilt remarkably. 

This weekend the Green Monstrosity will make its way with us to its natural habitat, my sister's place, where I'm hoping it will slot organically into its surrounds and look, somehow, more subtle. (Why yes, my sister DOES live in a swamp).

Well my friends, the lure of crotch-reparation is just too strong... to the sewing machine I go!

Keep going slow,
x Gina

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My creative space...

We're taking our Slow Project very seriously over here at chez clutterpunk. I'm becoming quite the monotasking expert, almost to the point of stagnation. What, breathe and think at the same time? Dear me no, that would be multitasking!

OK, it hasn't been quite that bad. I have been pootling away on my quilts when time permits, and enjoying it all. The ugly hexes are almost hand-quilted. The green monstrosity has been beautifully machine-quilted by Karen and now requires binding (and banishing to my sister in Queensland, where it shall plague me no more with its greenness). A baby quilt 'commissioned' by a friend is ready for straight-line quilting. The chemo comforter now has a border and is ready for basting.

(Note to Self: think about naming quilts more tastefully.)

Meanwhile, I've been contemplating the Next Quilt:

The Liberty-obsessed Danielle of Itchin to get Stitchin sent me a huge bag of Liberty scraps to play with. (Thank you Danielle. You must have quite a stash!).

They are sitting in a large basket in the lounge room, and when my boys are sufficiently engaged in an activity I've been running my fingers through the silky scraps and dreaming of projects.

A lot of these scraps are tiny and thin but if used carefully they could make something beautiful. I'd love your suggestions! String quilt? Spiderweb quilt?  Liberty crazy quilt?!

Meanwhile, back to the reality of sharing my slow creative space with two little guys. Recently we've been bead sorting (and snorting, occasionally). It has kept them occupied for more minutes that I could have anticipated, and given me time to dream of Liberty.

Who else is sharing their creative space today? Check them all out at Kirsty's place...

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My creative space...taking shape.

It feels like I've been doing a refresher in primary school geometry in my creative space recently. 

This week I've completed the piecing of these half-square-triangles for a small lap quilt on its way to a sick friend. 
So far, my short patchwork career has consisted of the scrappy, the imprecise and the mismatched. I like it like that. Nonetheless I'm really digging this classical approach to piecing, using a charm pack of French General Rural Jardin fabric and some hankie linen. Matching fabrics - gasp! I even toyed with a symmetrical design, but that was all a bit staid so I've come up with this asymmetrical suggestion-of-concentric-square thing.

Alongside the triangles-in-squares, my circles-in-hexagons are coming along:

I'm half-way through the hand quilting of my ugly hexagons and enjoying the process a whole lot more since I switched my thread from sashiko thread to Perle 8 cotton, which is gliding through the layers far more easily. Thanks go especially to Mary for the helpful suggestions on how to mark the design and reduce thread friction.

Tune in next week for rhomboids, isosceles triangles and dodecahedrons.

What's shaping up in your creative space?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Finding peace in the piecework.

I started a new quilt top on the weekend. 

This one will be for a friend who has a long six months of chemotherapy ahead of her. I hope that a small lap quilt, while not the most practical offering, is something that will bring a bit of comfort, beauty and a reminder that she is loved and prayed for.

I've wanted to try playing with triangles since the first issue of Fat Quarterly came out. So this weekend I chose the fabric from my stash and made a stack of half-square triangles. I decided to cut first, design later. It's just how I roll.

I surprised myself by enjoying the process. Usually my head is racing ahead to the next step and the next, impatiently wishing I was done with the 'preliminary' steps, wanting to see the whole thing come together. Instead, I got into the rhythm of cutting, marking, pinning, sewing, pressing. Perhaps the spirit of monotasking is really beginning to sink in.
I especially loved the pressing. I must have spent an hour last night lovingly ironing imperfectly-aligned points into the appearance of almost-perfection. It was weird. And then I spent a good while gazing affectionately at my little stack of raw-edged half-square triangles. As though they were my children.

Hmmm. It could be the monotasking. It could be the frontal lobotomy. You decide.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Check out my muff!

Now for those of you snickering into your cup of tea, I'll remind you that the word 'muff' remains the term for a handwarmer or hand cosy, whatever other tawdry meanings it may have acquired in modern usage. Thank you very much.

A few weeks ago I received the best request ever. A dear friend of mine, Melski, owner of cold hands and warm heart, asked if I'd make her a muff.

As soon as it was requested, I knew in my minds' eye just what I wanted my hand cosy to look like. There is in fact a patchwork muff project in the book Denyse Schmidt Quilts,which I own and love. I followed  the pattern, which gave clear dimensions and construction tips, but encouraged a very free and approximate approach to laying out the fabrics and designing the outer layer.

Just my type of project.

It was a joy to riffle through my fabrics and find what I was looking for. The bulk of the fabrics are kimono offcuts, which I offset with scraps of brown linen and suiting fabrics. I played a bit with layout and then foundation-pieced the strips onto some muslin - a useful new technique to learn.

I went for a lining of red fleece and four layers of wadding, which hopefully will keep dear Melski's hands just that bit more snug.

Of course it wouldn't be a handmade gift without the label hand-stitched on as an afterthought!

Dear Melski, who said bad circulation couldn't be stylish?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Slow Project: monotasking

{Credit where it is due - I'm hijacking Ellie of petalplum and her Slow Project here}

When I wrote about my attraction to the Slow Food movement a few weeks ago, I came away with a sense of cognitive dissonance.  

I pay plenty of lip service to the slow life -  slow foodslow cloth,  slow fashion,  slow transport. I have chosen to be 'slow' at this stage of life by refusing to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities with the main gig - parenting.

But I'm still an adrenaline junkie, and I love to multitask.

I guess the adrenaline habit is hard to kick. Particularly because our mainstream culture is all about thriving on adrenaline. We're addicted to:

 instant gratification

I feel that I ought to be 'using my time well' (which means doing more than one thing at a time). I parent, cook, craft, ride the bike, have 'me time', socialise and blog with a sense of urgency, as though I'm lagging behind somehow or going to miss a deadline. I try to do them all simultaneously. I'm always looking for ways to get a bit of blog-post-reading done whilst paying bills via iPhone whilst pushing the boys on the swings whilst chatting to my mother whilst jotting down the shopping list and designing the next quilt. WHY?

There is. No. Deadline.

Furthermore, it seems that multitasking may well be a flawed concept altogether. I like this quote from Carl Honore, author of In Praise Of Slow:

"The latest neuro-scientific research suggests what most of us already suspect: that the human brain is not very good at multitasking. Sure there are a few simple or routine tasks we can perform at the same time, but as soon as you have to engage the brain, you really need to focus on one activity at a time. Much of what passes for multitasking is nothing of the sort: it is sequential toggling between activities.  
Changing attitudes is hard because our culture is marinated in the notion that doing more things at once is somehow deeply modern, efficient and fulfilling. But change is possible."

Anyway, I'm taking action. Well, inaction, more precisely. For the past few weeks I've been monotasking. 

I've stopped checking the phone incessantly. I've stopped switching the TV on for the kids so I can 'get something done', and trying to either get them involved or accept the fact that it is just not going to get done right now (and does it really matter?). I've opted to either read, OR blog, OR sew of an evening, instead of trying to do all three in front of the telly. In fact, it has taken ten days to write this blog post, because I've let myself be interrupted and let go of the artificial, self-imposed deadlines. Does anyone care? No. I'm attempting to redefine my ideas of a successful day... did we get some sun and air? Get appropriately fed and watered? Do something creative? Hang out with some other people? Have a good cuddle? Relate well or at least give it a red-hot go?

That might all sound a bit sickly-sweet and like I should go and polish my earth-mother halo (in a mindful, meditative, living-in-the-present, enjoying-the-journey kind of way).

And frankly, I'm feeling so darned good right now, I just might.

(Insert gratuitous shots of kidlets in 'Hudson', wearing their Dillpickle Beanies)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

My creative space... circling.

It has begun. The quilting of the ugly hexes.

I've opted for hand quilting, and decided on a simple design of intersecting circles. 

Simple in theory, anyway. I'm finding it slow going, but not really in that pleasant, lulling, meditative way I had hoped. It's taking a while to get a hang of lots of things: marking out my design; burying knots; holding an unwieldy quilt on my lap; working the needle through those layers.

And then there is the stitching itself. I started out quilting with thin cotton quilting thread and trying to do small, even stitches. After realising that I wasn't catching the backing with stitches smaller than, oh, about a metre, I decided to embrace the large stitch and go for more of a sashiko look. This looks much better to my eye, and doing a better job of actually quilting the layers together. 

But boy, am I finding it hard work. Physically hard. There is a large amount of friction going on. There must be something weird going on with my particular concoction of fabrics, batting (can't remember what sort) and sashiko thread. The three circles I've completed in sashiko-style took around half an hour each! 
Thoughts? Suggestions? Is this just part-and-parcel of doing something new?

Anyway, with all the effort being expended, I've decided I need to keep the energy levels up. This morning I made a rather large batch of cinnamon scrolls, using brioche dough from my no-knead artisan bread book.

Heavenly. What do you think - do I get one for every sashiko circle-of-pain I complete?

More creative spaces to be seen at Kirsty's place.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

When is a quilt not a quilt?

No, it's not a riddle. I'm just curious. Precisely how many lines must you sew through layers of fabric in order to call something a quilt rather than, say, a several-layered blanket? And how big should it be?

Crucial questions I know, and one I've been pondering with my delightful new friend* Clementine as she's watched me sewing this weekend.

I decided to make a little bunting quilt this weekend, guided by the simple tutorial at a pretty cool life which I checked out after being inspired by Caroline last week.

There are approximately seventeen million and three newborn babies due to land in my immediate vicinity by mid-October (all via different wombs, I'm pleased to report). I have grand, if stupid, intentions of making a little something for each of them. Now that I'm a quilting wannabe, the first idea that pops into my mind is to make a wee little baby quilt for each. This is of course a ludicrous idea. Nonetheless, when I saw this tutorial I thought I may as well knock one down: 

I haven't done much appliqué, but I really enjoyed doing this (all without any fancy-pants fixatives). The little bunting flags will fray a bit once washed which I think will look sweet. 

I backed mine with flannel, so it's soft, warm and not so precious that it can't be chucked on the floor as a play rug.

Actually, mine has three layers of flannel. One in the middle, one on the outside, quilted together... and then another one on the outside when I decided that I didn't want to bind the quilt, and instead used the 'pillowcase' method of bagging, turning and top-stitching to finish.

This is why I don't think it's a legitimate quilt. The top and bottom layers are not sewn together at all through the middle - gasp! - but merely around the edge. And there is no patchwork. Maybe it's a SHAM!

Whatever. It works. The whole project was quick, fun and very much repeatable. Clementine has given it a 5-carrot rating.

One down, seventeen million and two to go...

*Clementine is, of course, a Dandelion creation, lovingly made (replete with apron!) by Beck.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My creative space... random acts of patchwork

After my little whine last week about my lack of space for quilting, I did actually get around to basting my ugly hexagon quilt. And then I stopped. It seems that I only like to think about one step ahead, and I have not yet decided on the pattern, or the method, of quilting (let alone whether I will straighten the edges, give it a border, bin it in disgust or what have you). 

Meanwhile, having finished last week's little filler project, I had to find a new filler project to help me procrastinate. I opted for a bit of patchwork and quilting practice. I raided the scrap piles and decided to make a tea cosy, inspired by a design in this darling Japanese patchwork book, the design of which I approximated. Very approximately.

Perhaps it was my approximating... perhaps it was the design... but it's one HUGE cosy.  I'm afraid it won't keep my poor little tea pot very toasty at all:

It certainly holds far more potential as a husband-cosy....

After fitting it on various objects, both animate and inanimate, I've opted for the toaster-cosy. It fits perfectly. I'm not sure that my toaster really needs a thickly padded, quilted cover... I guess I'll think of it as an elaborate dust-cover instead.

In terms of quilting practice, it was excellent, because it reminded me of the importance of accurate cutting, accurate seam allowances, accurate basting, using the walking foot, accurate quilt design drawing and slow, careful stitching. None of which I did. That's why I've cheekily blurred those photographs!

I think I might be hand-quilting those hexagons....

 But first, I'm off to visit some creative spaces via the lovely kootoyoo.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

7 things that will fascinate your socks off.

In the last week, Sonia from a Light Shade of Green and LJ from With My Own Two Hands have told me seven interesting things about themselves, and in the process passed on the Sunshine Award to me. 

I'm such a sticky beak. I love reading about the details of other bloggers' everyday lives, whether they are fascinating, embarrassing, thought-provoking or down-right mundane. Blog awards drive me a bit barmy, but I do like the ones that afford the writer an opportunity to reveal something new about themselves to blog readers. So I'm graciously (if a bit cynically) accepting my award this time and divulging seven (fascinating!) details of my life to youse all:

1. The night that I met my Beloved, Justin, I went home to my flat-mates and declared that I'd met the guy I was going to marry (even though we hadn't so much as exchanged phone numbers). 4 years of long-distance relationship later, I did. I'm definitely a victim of 'love at first sight'.

2. If I still ate M&Ms (which I don't, sadly, given that they are not Fairtrade, although I may occasionally indulge when they are offered as I hate to see wasteage!), I would eat them in strict colour order. Brown-Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue. I really, REALLY wish they'd brought out purple M&Ms. It would complete me.

3. I'm a Jesus nerd. After some soul-searching in my early 20s, I decided that I  believed in the historical person of Jesus, and found the evidence for his resurrection compelling, so I chucked my lot in with the Bible Bashers. It's a crazy life... but I'm still 100% sold.

4. My middle name is Clare. No 'i'. One 'e'. Get it RIGHT, electoral roll!

5. In past employed lives, I have been an orchestral musician (cello), an administrative assistant, a pastoral worker, a librarian assistant and an editor. I think the last one is the best fit. Meanwhile, I find mothering a hard-enough occupation and will probably leave thinking about other stuff until I'm at least 40, thank you very much!

6. I'm still not sure, given my history of PND, and my desire to live a sustainable life, that I should have any more kids. But I feel like our family isn't yet complete. It's complicated. 

7. Until 2.5 years ago, I thought craft was for repressed losers. 

OK, so now I'm passing the baton to 7 more blogs, some of my regular reads. Don't feel like you have to join in, but at least I would love to know even more about you guys... 

Saturday, July 17, 2010


A little finished project goes a long way in terms of helping creative and domestic frustration subside.

This lovely little bolster cushion was made from an Anette Eriksson kit. It is destined for chez Dillpicklebecause as I made it I could visualize it living on Anna's couch. Plus, she just made my boys some lovely beanies. Hope you like it, Dilly.

 I met Anette at the recent Daylesford Craft Experience and fell in love with her stylish designs.  This one is a  half cross stitch design, very easy to execute. I've never done any cross-stitching but it's pleasantly simple, especially on the lovely open weave of hessian fabric. It's also easy to backtrack if you make mistakes.

Having said that, I did manage to overlook a major error early on, resulting in a need to drop an entire letter from the text in order to keep the symmetry. Can you spot it?

Do I care? Non. It's well-hidden by the cursive text, still aesthetically pleasing, and hopefully not too many Francophiles will be visiting Anna to hurl croissants at her in disgust.

I can highly recommend such a project for anyone else experiencing the work-in-progress blues.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My creative space...

Thank goodness for small, hand-held projects.

This one* is helping me to stem the tide of creative frustration as I am denied the space to get on with the 'real' projects - the quilts. The ones that require head space for design-tweaking, floor space for basting, table space for cutting, space in the day for machine-sewing, space away from practical demands, household routines, small children, outings, social gatherings. None of these spaces are available to me right now.

But this little blue hoop with lovely tactile hessian and wool thread are. So they are my creative space this week.

More spaces via kootoyoo.

*A lovely cushion kit from Annette Ericksson, the doyenne of stitching on hessian.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Decluttering the groceries, 2010: Slow Food

Back in March, I boldly declared my meal planning intentions as a way of helping my family to nurture sustainable, responsible eating habits. With two small children, one extremely fussy and limited in his food choices, I was seeking a way to streamline our meals, our shopping, and our time. My hope was to avoid food waste, minimize time in the kitchen, and eat seasonally. I subsequently trialled the Table Tucker method of meal planning, which advocates bulk shopping, fortnightly menus, and only cooking three nights a week.

Errr... it didn't last.

There were a few practical reasons why. Shopping and storing in bulk makes sense, but for a family living in a small flat without a car, it was a challenge. Cooking in advance and freezing or refrigerating meals sounded great for freeing up time, but space again is an issue and I found it hard to get into a rhythm with it. I appreciated having the decisions made about what to cook, but found myself feeling a bit creatively stifled. I'm not sure we really wasted less food either. I've learnt that food waste is as much about figuring out what to do with left-over bits and pieces as it is about controlling what I buy in the first place.

The big nail in the coffin, however, was this. Trying to streamline and minimize the place of food and food preparation actually goes against my ideals about how food fits into family life. Just as I've embraced slow fashion, slow transport and slow cloth, I am at heart a Slow Foodie. Slow food is about embracing time-honoured processes, cooking from scratch and avoiding commercially-produced foods, respecting seasonal produce, taking an interest in how things are grown and harvested.

Although I find cooking around my boys frustrating, and I find the constant rejection of my meals wearying, minimizing time in the kitchen is not the answer. If I want my children to one day appreciate fresh, local, seasonal, fair produce, have some skills and intuition in the kitchen, and enjoy the nurturing and celebratory aspects of sharing meals, I need to persist in enjoying the process, instead of trying to relegate cooking to yet another annoying chore.

And so, I'm embracing my inner Slow Foodie, and with it, going back to my fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants style of not-really-planning. We're back to making trips every few days to the local shops for a few items at a time - pasta, flour, a bit of bio-dynamic meat. To help take some of the decision making away, we're back to getting seasonal 'mystery box' of fruit and vegetables delivered weekly, and using this as the basis for what goes on the table. Sometimes I figure the week's menus out in advance, sometimes I go day by day, and either is OK. I'm trying to use up every last bit of the box before the next delivery, which has meant caramelizing onions, stewing fruits and making random 'stock' with whatever is lying around. We're getting better at using stuff up and being creative with the odds and ends. Most of the time, my kids hate it... sigh. But   they always have, so what's the difference?!

organic chicken carcass and withered vegetable stock...a house specialty! 

We're also getting into the baking... lots of biscuits and cakes, and going strong so far with the artisan bread.

Letting the boys help does, of course, have its downsides...


I have many grand plans for making lots of stuff from scratch. I'm inspired by so many of the wonderful, resourceful, home-cooks I see in blog land... particular favourites include Apron StringsBountifullyDillpickleecoMILFFrog Goose and Bear, With My Own Two Hands, and new-to-me CityHippyFarmGirl and Slow Living Essentials.

Meanwhile, I gotta run. I have rhubarb to stew, pesto to pound, parsnip to stare at uncomprehendingly, cauliflower curry to simmer and a meal to figure out for our plain-eating visitor tonight. Ahhh, inconvenient food... how I've missed you!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My creative space...where to from here?

It's been a little while since I've managed to join in with kootoyoo's creative spaces round-up. But I really, really wanted to get amongst it today, because I need your thoughts on my hexagon charm quilt.

I've pieced all the hexagons I'm going to piece, leaving me with a small cot-sized patchwork top. I either love it or hate it, but I'm not sure which it is yet!

Now I was thinking about backing the top without a border and leaving the edges tessellated. But as I've been looking at it (kind of in horror) I've realised that there is nowhere for the eye to rest. Because there is no dominant colour, no repeated pattern, no focal point to draw the eye, I've found my eyes bouncing around the quilt top. I like the effect, but I wonder if it might be better to add a plain border to tone it down a bit.

What do you think?

Can you see this with a border?
Do you think a border would tone down the quilt? Should it be toned down?
What about the edges, straight or as they are?
Do you find this quilt horrendous or fabulous? (I can't decide...)

Opinions much appreciated (although of course I will disregard them and do my own thing :))

More creative spaces at Kirsty's house.