Jacaranda time

It’s spring in northern New South Wales.

In this sub-tropical climate, that means new leaves, green grass and above all, flowering trees. Our route southwards has been decorated with blossom, most notably the spectacular orange blossoms of Grevillea robusta, the Silkoak tree, and the gorgeous misty purple of the Jacarandas.

Yesterday we passed through Grafton, the Jacaranda Capital of Australia, and home of the annual Jacaranda Festival. Sadly, we’re going to miss the event itself as we’ll be virtually home again by then, but the trees are already in spectacular bloom throughout the city. It was pouring with rain as we passed through, so all my photos are taken through the car windscreen, but I think you’ll get the idea anyway!

We’ve travelled something over 1400km (870 miles) since Sunday, with still a way to go. It has been wet every day of our trip so far, so I have no spectacular views to show you; the landscape has been shrouded in mist and cloud, or dense rain all the way. I’m carrying my camera with me, so if an opportunity to capture something does arise, I’ll be ready, but it’s not looking too hopeful!

I’m hoping for a few dry spells at some stage, but given the forecast this may be too much to hope for :-/  It’s going to be a soggy old camping trip…


ScrapHappy October

More ScrapHappiness, more pastels again, and this time I’ve made a serious dent in the green pile!

Once again, it’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host  ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

This month I made scrappy blocks in pale green and pale red, and I really like how they look. The red especially contrasts very well with the strong red of my earlier scrappy block.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month?

Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at):

Usually has a scrappy post:

Gun at https://rutigt.wordpress.com (in Swedish and English)
Titti at http://tittisquiltlek.blogspot.se (in Swedish only)
Heléne at http://quiltochsom.blogspot.se (in Swedish only)

Sometimes has a scrappy post:

Eva at bambisyr-evaj.blogspot.com (in Swedish only)
Sue at sewingmagpie.blogspot.com (in English only)
Nanette at http://stitchandsow-homeandgarden.blogspot.com.au (in English only)
Lynn at https://thetialys.wordpress.com (in English only)
Norma at https://shesewsyouknow.wordpress.com (in English only)
Lynda at: https://pixilatedtoo.wordpress.com (in English only)
Birthe: http://birthesrom.blogspot.no (in Norwegian only)
Turid: http://densyendehimmel.blogspot.se (in English and Norwegian)
Susan: https://desertskyquilts.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Cathy: http://nanacathydotcom.wordpress.com (in English only)
Debbierose: https://sewrosey.wordpress.com (in English only)
Tracy: https://itsatsweetsday.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Jill: http://nicepieceofwork.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Claire: https://knitnkwilt.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Jan: http://thesnailofhappiness.com/ (in English only)
Karen: https://mewithptsd.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Moira: http://quiltedsnail.blogspot.com/ (in English only)
Sandra: https://daffodilwild.wordpress.com/ (in English only)
Linda: http://kokaquilts.blogspot.co.nz/ (in English only)

See you again, same time next month!

Barbecue pulled pork, double quick

A while ago, I wrote extolling the virtues of my Schlemmertopf clay pot.

Sadly, a few months ago my $3 purchase cracked and fell apart when I put it on a surface that wasn’t quite insulated enough. Conflict between screamingly hot Schlemmertopf and room temperature metal trivet = catastrophic breakage. I’ve learned my lesson: the clay pot and its lid should always be put down on a thick layer of folded towel/oven mitt/pot holder. Having experienced the joys of clay pot cooking, I wasn’t prepared to do without one, so eBay to the rescue, and I’m now the proud owner of a Römertopf, the gold standard of clay pots. It’s much the same creature, except that it has the virtue of a glazed interior in the lower half so is much easier to clean, and it doesn’t retain odours so much as liquid from the inside doesn’t seep into the clay.

Well. We had the family coming round on Saturday night. What to feed them? I’d seen a Food Channel program on various US Southern-style barbecue dishes which didn’t actually involve a barbecue. It was all about flavour: rubs, sauces, long slow cooking. I wondered if some of the long and slow bit could be reduced by using the Römertopf.

That’ll be a yes… Result: tender, juicy, tasty pulled pork in 2 hours rather than 4. I did a Memphis-style version, using a dry rub rather than coating the meat with a wet marinade. On the side I served a home made barbecue sauce which, incidentally, is da bidness with ham, chicken, cheese, sausage…. well, you get the idea.

Oh, and the bread roll is home made, too…

Memphis-style pulled pork:

1 x 2kg (4½ pound) boned pork shoulder with all the fat and skin
¼ cup smoked sweet paprika
2 tblsp packed dark brown sugar
salt & pepper, good grind of each
½ – 1 tsp finely chopped red chilli, to taste
2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
Mix all these ingredients together. Take your boned pork shoulder, and fillet off the skin, reserving it for later. Score the remaining fat, then rub the meat all over with the seasoning mix. Put in a dish, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. 2½ hours before you serve, soak your Römertopf in cold water for half an hour, and remove the meat from the fridge. Place the meat in the soaked clay pot, fat side up. Put it in a cold oven, then set at Gas 6/200°C/400°F for 2 hours. Remove from the oven, shred with 2 forks and leave to absorb the juices while you prepare the rest of the meal. Serves 6, with leftovers if they’re not too greedy.

I scored, oiled and salted the skin and roasted it in the oven on a rack, over a tray of white and sweet potato, pumpkin and carrot. The rendering fat basted the vegies and the crackling was thin, blistered and mega-crispy. Oh man…

Barbecue sauce:

½ cup packed dark brown sugar
½ cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp smooth French mustard
2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
salt & pepper
½ – 1  red chilli, finely diced, to taste
½ small brown onion, finely diced
1 tblsp pomegranate molasses*
knob of butter
Sauté the onion and chilli in the butter. Add the sugar and tomato sauce, the mustard, paprika, salt and pepper and blend together with a wooden spoon. Add the apple cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses and stir in. Simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then place in the goblet of a stick blender and blend on full power till smooth. If the mix is too thick, you could add a teaspoon of water or sherry to slacken it. You want a consistency that will stick to the spoon and need to be shaken off, rather than a runny sauce. Serve on the side with the pork. It will keep for a good while in the fridge in a jar, due to the amount of sugar and vinegar in the mixture, which act as natural preservatives. But I can tell mine isn’t going to last, judging by how lavishly it’s getting used on just about every meat and sandwich right now…

*You could leave this out if you don’t have any, but it adds a tremendous tangy sweetness. Worth hunting out for all sorts of uses.

Anyway, the meal was enthusiastically consumed, and best of all, I still have leftovers of both the sauce and the pulled pork. You could do it the long way, in a roasting pan with the meat tightly covered with foil, roasted long and low. That’d be just as tasty.

It’s just that I prefer a slightly more instant gratification…


SAL 53: a time to dance

And a happy dance it is!

The big blue sampler is done. I realised I’d be away when the SAL after this one is due, and I didn’t want to wait for the session after that before I finished it, so I pushed on hard and got it done. It’s been a long time coming (I started it at the beginning of April 2016), but it’s complete at last. I suspect this one’s going on the wall in my sewing room 🙂 It will be quite strange not having it waiting beside my chair, especially after the fairly intensive stitching of the past few days.


And after:

I’ll be sitting out the next SAL, as the Husband and I will be on an adventure down south in New South Wales with the motorbike and trailer, catching up with a load of friends at our touring bike club national rally. Once I’m back though, I’ll be starting something new and completely different!

Do go and see what all the others are working on. As always, be aware of time differences for this multi-national group, and if there’s no post up yet, try again later 🙂

AvisClaireGunCaroleLucyAnn, JessSue,
CindyHelenStephLindaCatherineMary Margaret,
Timothy, Heidi, Connie, Jackie

The next SAL is on 29 October, but I’ll be away, so I’ll see you back here on 19 November. 

PS: Some of you might find this post familiar, and you’d be right. It was posted early in error when WP ignored the timing I’d put into the scheduling, for some reason. I took it down as soon as I spotted it…

ST&D, postcard 3

This is my final postcard, and I thought I’d do something a bit different.

I had some lovely greeny-aqua fabric with images of the Eiffel Tower on it in white. But it was just too bright and too aqua for this quilt, except perhaps in small quantities, where the print would be lost. So I played that old, old quilter’s trick, and turned it over. Using the back has toned down the colour beautifully and given it a textured, vintage feel. The idea of using this Eiffel Tower print led me to the remnants of a piece of very beautiful fabric given to me by Lynn at Tialys. I found a section which was large enough to become the front of my ‘Un Souvenir de Paris’ postcard. It’s not very teal-y but it plays nicely with the background, and I blanket-stitched it on with a peacock green thread to add definition between the postcard and the background. One of my remaining stamp transfers toned well with the butterfly in the corner, so that was stitched onto the back, together with a fabric air mail sticker from a piece of fabric generously donated by Margaret of The Crafty Creek.

I also want to let the whole Ovarian Cancer quilt group know that I had a phone conversation the other day with the Director of Fundraising for Ovarian Cancer Australia, during which she told me that our quilts are incredibly popular at their fundraising events, that they raise hundreds of dollars when the quilts are offered at the live auctions, and please don’t stop making and sending them!

So, ladies, huge congratulations on your efforts, and while you’re still happy to make blocks, we’ll be able to make excellent use of them 🙂


ST&D: A couple of corners

Squishy season has arrived, I’d say…

Today I received these beauties, two of the four corner blocks for Signed, Tealed & Delivered. Don’t you absolutely love that wonderful cream background fabric, with its line illustrations of postcards? It was an inspired choice, I feel. Thank you so very much, Sue, they’re really lovely, and now that they’re here, I can start laying out the blocks on my design wall. Of course, I’ll be tweaking things endlessly right up to the last moment, but I do love to watch the quilt top growing as the blocks come in.

Next week is my last opportunity to get my final postcard block done before we go away, so I’d better start thinking. I’ve been diverted from it by starting to put together curtains for Miz Lizzie the caravan; two pairs done, two more to go. She’s in the workshop right now, having her fridge serviced, so I can’t put them up and admire them yet. Soon – early next week, probably.

I must remember to sort out a travel sewing kit for the trip. It’ll have to be small, space is tight enough on the motorbike as it is. Hmm. Maybe hand quilting one of my hatbox blocks….

Oh, and the new steam iron is great! That ceramic sole plate is a bit of a game changer…


Another Grawlix

You may recall an earlier post on the subject of Grawlix.

The meaning of this word is the use of symbols (for example, *%!#$&!), to indicate the use of salty language without actually being offensive. I had occasion to reach for this word again today.

See what I mean?  This is, or was, my trusty steam iron. Getting elderly, no longer immaculate as to sole plate and needing to be decalcified a lot more frequently than before, but still reliable. Except today. I was pressing curtain fabric. Yes, I’ve finally started making curtains for Miz Lizzie the caravan, and the fabric is exceedingly wrinkly from being folded up and stashed away. I set the iron down on its heel and turned away to pick up the next piece when I saw it  s l o w l y  toppling towards the edge of the ironing board. Well, normally you’d lunge for the toppling item and rescue it, but this is a steam iron in use, remember, and the minute I started my lunge the brain went “Ding ding ding, it’ll be boiling hot, you moron”. So I had to stand and watch as it hit the floorboards with a loud smack, exploded into several pieces and boiling hot water poured out. The next thing I lunged for was the power switch. Luckily I have everything plugged into surge-protected power boards at waist level, so I didn’t have to grovel in the hot water to reach the plug, a fine recipe for electrocution.

So I spent about an hour doing online comparisons of various steam irons, and am now the proud owner of a nice new one, with a bigger water tank, a power cord 3m/10ft long, automatic cut-off when not used for 3 minutes, and best of all, a ceramic sole plate that I can scrub clean without damage. It’s such an excellent all round improvement that I feel the need to unveil my latest motto.

Accident?  What accident? I needed a new iron!