Thursday, September 22, 2016

Date and Walnut Truffles

Life is all about balance. I love baking cakes, biscuits, slices and tarts but I also do a large amount of clean eating cooking as well. Maddi is vegetarian and I'm almost one (with the exception of small amounts of chicken and seafood), so we need to find our protein in other ways. We make a lot of protein balls and energy bars to keep us fueled and eat a large range of plant based proteins. Our biggest vice is chocolate, so when we found the recipe for these scrumptious Date and Walnut Truffles, we discovered we can have our cake and eat it too:
These decadent little truffles are a healthier alternative for us and they curb those cravings for that bar of chocolate or that heavy dessert. Maddi and I have been enjoying one of these after dinner and they are just so good, I had to share the recipe with you. The original recipe came with our smoothie maker but over time, I had adapted it to suit our tastes and the best part about it is, you can adapt it to suit your own as well.
They are filled with luscious dates, walnuts, coconut, cinnamon and cacao but they are also lovely with the addition of chia seeds, almonds, almond meal and shredded coconut (I prefer the desiccated). The quantity of cacao powder is quite large, so adjust this if you like but I love how rich and decadent it makes them. Just remember to adjust the amount of coconut oil you use if you add or subtract ingredients, as you don't want the oil to overpower the flavour but you need enough to combine the ingredients.
There's minimal cleanup as once the prep work is done, everything goes straight into the food processor or blender and your mixture is ready to roll into balls and then into some extra coconut. This recipe makes around 16 truffles and they store well in the fridge, or you can freeze them for up to a month. This quantity suits Maddi and I for a week but half the recipe if you need less.
We have experimented with homemade healthy chocolate or peanut butter cups but I wasn't a fan as the coconut oil was way too prominent for my tastes. These truffles are a wonderful balance of health and yumminess without feeling naughty.
If you would like to make your own Date and Walnut Truffles, you can download the recipe HERE or right click on the photo below and save to your computer for later:
I'm positive you are going to love these Date and Walnut Truffles as much as Maddi and I do. They are packed with super foods, they are easy to make and they are something to look forward to, every night after dinner :)
Happy baking :)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dear Jane- Row A

This gorgeous stack of sampler blocks is Row A of my rainbow inspired Dear Jane quilt. I'm thrilled to have this first row finally complete. I've been working on them for an hour a day over the last couple of weeks and don't they look pretty in a neat little stack?
The blocks in this row are a good mix of easy and intricate blocks but this row really tested me and my patience. I mentioned before that I was paper piecing the trickier blocks to make them as accurate as possible, but it was the applique blocks which caused me the most grief.
I had chosen the freezer paper applique method but I rarely hand stitch these days because its no longer enjoyable or relaxing; I actually dread it. I was neither happy with the process, nor the results.
For me to enjoy this quilt, I had to look at other options and I finally decided to machine applique the blocks. Now I know this is not the traditional method, but I'm sure if Jane had this option way back in 1817, she may very well have done the same :)
I'm looking at my decision, as a modern approach to this quilt (just like the colour layout) and as I have no plans to let the quilt police anywhere near it, I'm happier with the look of my blocks and I'm no longer dreading the applique blocks in future rows.
So, now I can start Row B. The majority of blocks in this row are quite challenging but I'll take it one block and one challenge at a time and once its finished, I plan to sew the two rows together and see how this rainbow colour palette is working.
Happy sewing :)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Orange Kisses

Spring has definitely sprung around here. Everyone is busy working in their neglected gardens or spring cleaning their homes. We are emerging from our winter hibernation, enjoying the great outdoors and taking advantage of the sunshine to venture out and visit friends. I like to have something home baked for visitors, so this weekend I whipped up a batch of yummy Orange Kisses:
These little morsels are just delicious and they have a wonderful, refreshing citrus burst. The biscuits are buttery and soft, with a lovely orange zing. They are filled with an orange buttercream, which really packs a flavour punch and they are only little so your not being too naughty, unless of course you can't stop at one, or two,.....:)
They are quick and easy to make and a plate full will delight your friends. Whip up a batch before your guests arrive or make them the day before so you can spend time on other things. Serve them with a pot of tea or coffee and savour the taste as you sit back and enjoy time spent chatting and catching up . 
If you want to enhance that wonderful citrus flavour, you could also fill them with marmalade but the orange buttercream works well on its own. If your not a fan of oranges, consider using a lemon or lime if you prefer; I haven't actually tried this but I'm sure they would work just as well and be a little different.
They are a popular biscuit in our house and such a lovely little treat. Now the weather has improved, I'm such a batch or two will be made for the picnic basket or the lunchboxes as well.
If you would like to make your own batch of Orange Kisses, you can download the recipe HERE or right click on the picture below and save to your computer for later:
I hope these delicious little biscuits add something special to your next morning or afternoon tea. They sure bring a smile to my face and they leave a  refreshing and cleansing taste to my palette.
Happy baking :)

Monday, September 5, 2016

An Hour With Dear Jane

The completion of my Chatelaine Sampler quilt, left a huge void in my quilting life. I missed sewing those little cuties and creating a masterpiece in a 6" block, so I went on a hunt for a new project. Years ago, I started a Dear Jane quilt in strong, dark country colours but that fabric palette no longer appeals to me, As much as I wanted to make a Dear Jane, I needed some fresh inspiration and a valid reason (haha), to completely restart this gorgeous quilt.
I found beautiful two colour Dear Jane's, which I loved, I found a lot of vintage inspired ones which were pretty and then I found a blog called That Quilt, which had a layout for a rainbow Dear Jane and inspiration struck:
Once I saw the layout of colours, my first instinct was to rush out and buy some new bright fabrics or a bundle of rainbow solids and get started. I had to stop myself because how will I ever use the fabrics I have in my stash, if I overlook them for each new project? I have some very pretty fabrics tucked away in the cupboard and I thought I could make them work in this quilt.
I think that's why I love samplers so much; they are meant to be scrappy and they tell their own story with the fabrics we use from the stash that we have accrued through our years of quilting.
I have chosen a scrappy palette of small print fabrics, for my rainbow inspired Dear Jane quilt:
I've allocated the first hour of each of my sewing days, to work on my Dear Jane quilt. You'd be surprised how much you can achieve in as little as an hour a day. Some days I piece, other days my hour is spent cutting fabric or drafting blocks. I'm redrafting each of the blocks as I go and I've decided to paper piece as much as I can, to ensure these little 5" (unfinished) blocks go together as precisely as they should.
I'm also preparing the applique blocks and popping them into individual plastic bags, so I can take them with me and work on them while I'm waiting for Cohen to finish school or while dinner is cooking.
I'm determined to finish one row of blocks at a time and then piece the rows together, as I complete them.  For my first attempt at this quilt, I worked on all the blocks that appealed to me first (aka the easy ones) and then I was left with all the harder ones. If a block takes two or three of my one hour sewing sessions to complete, that's perfectly fine, I'm in no rush and each one motivates me for the sewing day ahead.
My completed pile of Row A is small but I have all the applique ones prepped and I have the remaining three blocks cut and ready to sew over the coming days. I don't expect to complete this quilt quickly but I am going to enjoy each and every step of its journey.
Here's the look I'm hoping to achieve:
(Google image from Twiddletales)
It's a modern take on a beautiful, classic quilt and I love it. Hopefully mine will look just as pretty and colourful as the diagram, one hour at a time :)
Happy sewing :)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Rosette Mini Quilt + Your Free September Calendar

Did you enjoy the Olympics? How beautiful is Brazil? I watched more events than in previous years and was inspired by the athletes passion and commitment; they are amazing! I loved watching the diving, the gymnastics and the equestrian events and its a little sad its all over. The next four years will pass quickly and then it will be time to watch it all again in Tokyo.
It's also time for my new monthly mini and your free September Calendar. So, let me introduce you to the gorgeous, Rosette:
Like all young girls, I was obsessed with horses and ponies and I loved reading the Jill's Gymkhana book series by Ruby Ferguson. I had grand dreams of pinning an ornate satin rosette to the bridle of my chestnut horse, after winning gymkhana's just like Jill.
I'd practice in the backyard with my horse (a stuffed school sock, tied to a piece of dowel from dad's shed) and home made jumps that I could soar over. My equestrian dreams fizzled quickly when I actually rode a horse and it scared me so much, I never tried again :(
I find myself, holding my breath when I watch equestrian events. One feathered touch can bring down a jump or an irregular rhythm can ruin a dressage competition. Its all beautiful to watch and since I will never win a rosette of my own, I decided to make one as a mini quilt instead.
Rosette is a quick and easy paper pieced mini, finishing at around 14" square, which is a lovely size for a table topper or a cushion front. It would also make a lovely quilt, if you made multiple blocks and joined them with some simple sashing.
I picked a lovely bright palette of navy, red, teal and pink, which seems to be my favorite combination of late and they all came from my stash. I quilted my mini with my favorite flower design and I added a few connecting loops this time, just for something different.
The pattern includes full step by step instructions, diagrams, paper piecing templates and a colouring sheet for your fabric/ colour selection, plus optional instructions for hanging your mini.
If you would like to make your own Rosette mini quilt, from today until the end of September, PDF patterns will be available at the discounted and introductory price of $4.95 (AU) in my Big Cartel shop, HERE.
Or if you prefer an instant download, patterns are also available in my Etsy shop, HERE.
And I also have your free September 2016 Calendar, featuring the gorgeous Rosette:
To download and print your free calendar, just visit HERE.
I may not have a wall of beautiful equestrian rosettes but I do have a lovely wall of mini quilts, so that's close enough for me :)
I hope you love Rosette as much as I do. It was a fun little quilt to make and for me, it will forever be a reminder of those wonderful backyard gymkhana's which brought so much happiness to my childhood.
Happy sewing :)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Playground

I'm working on a few big projects at the moment and one of them is a gorgeous quilt for one of our Australian magazines. I can't share any of it with you until its published but I really wanted to show you the fabrics I've chosen, to bring this new design to life. You may have seen them already but if not, here's the beautiful Playground fabrics by Amy Sinibaldi for Art Gallery Fabrics:
For this quilt, the design came first and then I was on the hunt for the right fabrics. As I soon as I saw these, I knew they would perfect for my quilt. The range is gorgeous and I'm in love with the dainty floral designs and the beautiful colour palette.
From sandboxes and tyre swings, to hopscotch and Ring O' Rose's, the Playground fabrics depict the simplicity and beauty of childhood. I love the plum and blue He Loves Me prints and these will feature a lot, throughout my quilt.
The lighter fabrics are super sweet and will add some lovely contrast to the design, plus a couple of them are perfect for a little fussy cutting.
I love them all but I think this Jumpsie Daisy one is my absolute favorite:
There's a lot of work in this new design, some of it quite complex but seeing it slowly coming together and how beautiful it's becoming, keeps spurring me on :)
Happy sewing :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Chatelaine- Free BOW Sampler Quilt Fabric Requirements

Thank you so much for all your lovely comments and emails regarding my Chatelaine Sampler Quilt. I'm so thrilled you love it as much as I do. I did have a few inquiries regarding fabric requirements and thought I would address them now, as my quilt is finished and I can make a clearer calculation.
I gave you so many options for making this quilt so I'm using my quilt as a guideline for fabric requirements. I'm always generous when calculating fabric yardage but there are a few variables you need to consider:

  • Paper piecing and using templates makes it trickier to estimate yardage. You need to allow a little extra, just in case, as we all cut and piece differently, especially with paper piecing.
  • You may substitute some of the Bonus Blocks in your quilt, which will require less fabric than some of the more complicated blocks.
  • I have given a couple of easier options for some of the blocks, so this will affect your requirements.
  • You may choose more or less blocks for your quilt. I used 83 blocks, set on point (3A in the On Point Layout File) and I used the border option HERE.
It's important to remember to use my fabric requirements, as a guide only. I have divided the requirements into sections ie. blocks, layout, borders and binding, so you can see where the fabric is allocated and make adjustments accordingly.
I used a mix of Bonnie and Camille fabrics from their Vintage Modern, Marmalade and Scrumptious range, using Jelly Roll strips, fat quarters, charm packs and a little yardage plus the lovely white homespun.
You can download the Fabric Requirements file, with both metres and yards HERE.
I think I have covered everything you need to know, to make your own Chatelaine. If you have any questions, feel free to email me and I'll do my best to help. And email me some photos of your blocks/quilt....I would love to see them :)
Way back in 2007, I started my first ever sampler "Sylvia's Bridal Sampler". At the time it was a free pattern on the internet, so kindly shared by Jennifer Chiaverini  It sparked my love of pieced blocks and I learnt so many new techniques. My grandma always said "give when you receive and teach when you learn".  Chatelaine is my way of giving back and sharing free patterns and imparting what I have learnt from that very first sampler quilt :)
Thank you again for being a special part of my Chatelaine Sampler journey xxx
Happy sewing :)
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