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1  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / UFOH - NO! oh yes! on: October 28, 2015 02:03:18 AM
This is what I have been working on the past few weeks. I am really in love with her, even though I feel a little cross eyed after french knotting her dress! I've had this image saved for years and I am glad I finally got around to it, I love it!

2  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Goat skull on: October 12, 2015 01:54:48 AM
I finally decided to make myself a hoopla! After about three years of embroidery I finally made one for myself. The main skull part I whipped up in a couple of hours. The horns took what feels like an eternity. The line work in the horns isn't perfect, if I were making it for someone else I probably would have unpicked and restitched them a million times. But I don't think the imperfections are too noticeable. Anyway, I am really happy with it over all, I think I want to make myself a whole collection of skulls now.

Thanks for looking!
3  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Frankenstein and Bride hoopla on: September 23, 2015 03:37:12 AM
It is mine and my boyfriends anniversary next week, and he is always commenting on the fact that I haven't stitched anything for him so I made this for him.
It is rather fitting for us, he is a big big horror fan (compared to him, I am only a moderate horror fan!) and I call him my monster. so. this is as cheesy as it gets for us.
I finished the hoop with black lace and a dark green trim, I think it really pulls it all together and brings a bit more interest to such simple stitching. Stitched entirely in back stitch, black thread between one and three strands depending on the thickness of the lines.
I am really happy with this and hope my boyfriend likes it!!

Close up of the stitching and trim
4  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / Halloween OTT? on: July 25, 2015 01:43:54 AM
Since it seems now is the time to be talking about Halloween swaps (YAY!) I thought I would bring this up.
The 2013 Halloween OTT was my first ever swap, so I am definitely hoping it happens again. There is way too much stuff going on in my life to organise it, but hopefully last years organiser can do it again.
Who else will be coming back for another round?
5  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / slow cooked middle eastern lamb and quinoa salad on: July 14, 2015 12:58:49 AM

Slow cooked lamb:
First of all, the marinade. Crush a whole bulb of garlic. Mix with 1/4c ground cumin seeds,, 1T ground sumac, zest and juice from one lemon. A liberal amount of salt and black pepper. Score the fat of a lamb leg (I used a half leg - bone in, butt end. It weighed about 1.25kg, and was enough for both of us to have a big dinner and left overs the next day.
Then comes the hard part. Well, the first hard part. Seal in a freezer bag and leave to marinate in the fridge for AT LEAST two days. I'm serious. Let it soak up all that awesome delicious flavour.
Hard part; part two. Wake up ridiculously early (6.30am for me!) chop up a couple of carrots and an onion for the bottom of the cooker. Add that sweet delicious meat, fat side up. You could sear the meat if you wish but I had no time and it really doesn't need it! Add two cups of vege stock. I just used it because I had never used a slow cooker before and wasn't going to be home for ten hours and didn't want to risk the meat drying out! I would cut that quantity to 1c next time I make this.
Set slow cooker to low. Go to work, spend nine hours cooking for other people, all the while dreaming of your lamb. Return to an amazing smelling home.
The meat had been cooking for about 10 hours at this point, and was super tender. I tasted, adjusted seasonings, then removed lamb from cooker. I drained the liquid into a pot and discarded the vegetables. Add the lamb back to the slow cooker. The meat was literally falling apart every time I touched it, it was glorious! Simmer the liquid over a low heat until reduced to about 1/4 of the original volume. It will be syrupy and full of flavour!

While that was happening I had a salad to prepare!
First of all was the cumin labne: Stir 1T ground cumin seeds through 1c plain greek yogurt. Tie in a kitchen cloth or muslin and sit in a sieve. Sit sieve over a small bowl and leave in the fridge for about two hours. All the liquid will drain off and you will end up with a thick, spicy yogurt. I LOVE labne, I also like to add vanilla beans, cinnamon, honey etc etc to make a sweet one to go with fruit.

Pickled red onions: So easy! Bring 1/2c pale vinegar (I had apple cider, white wine vinegar etc will also work!) with a few big tablespoons of sugar and maybe 1T salt. Finely slice red onion. Add to vinegar mix, remove from heat and leave until ready to serve. These turn out bright pink and taste absolutely delicious on everything! Everyone should have a jar of these in their fridge at all times.

Then I simply had to put my salad together. I made it up as I went along and it was delicious.
2c cooked quinoa. (I used mixed, because it looks prettier!)
Coriander, mint and basil leaves.
Lemon zest. (preserved lemon would have been ace, but sadly I had none!)
Chopped roasted pistachio nuts.
Pomegranate seeds.
Finely sliced red chillis.

I didn't make a dressing, just tossed it with the juice of one lemon, 2T sesame oil and 2T of the pickled onion liquid.

Time to put everything together! I pulled the lamb apart, which was so easy, all I needed to do was nudge it with my spoon and it would melt. Pour over the reduced liquid and let that soak right up.
Top salad with pickled onions and labne. Sprinkle with dukkah (I bought mine from another favourite - but much more affordable! - middle eastern restaurant.) Add a lemon wedge on the side for extra flavour, pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy!

It really isn't often I spend so much time and effort making dinner for myself at home. So when I do I make sure it is extra special. I am already planning another trip to the butchers so I can make this again!
6  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Circus bear on: June 18, 2015 06:01:10 AM
I stitched up this little guy for arstycandice in the circus swap. All photos are taken by her.

I spent a lot of time working on this guy! I blended about five different shades of brown plus black and white to make his fur look textured and realistic as possible. His pom pom is turkey work (I recently learned this stitch and I love it!) his tutu is lace. The stripey fabric of his hat is also layered underneath the white fabric I stitched on to give a subtle striped background reminiscent of a circus tent and the back of the hoop is also finished nicely in the same fabric. The hoop itself was soaked in lots of strong coffee then stained with my stamp pads to give an antiqued wood type look.

And a few close ups!

And here is one in progress shot, I stitched from the outside in, and then just started stitching wherever the hell I felt like, so the colours were blended evenly all over him.
I left his face until last, because I was so scared of mucking it up. But I think I did it alright!

Thanks for looking!  Grin
7  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Ratatouille on: June 17, 2015 03:51:24 AM
For dinner tonight I have made my boyfriend and myself a delicious rataouille, a French recipe that is essentially an eggplant, zucchini, tomato bake. It's so good Pixar made a film about it!  Cool

2 large eggplants
2 large zucchini
2 large capsicum, one red, one green
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes (could easily substitute 2 large tomatoes!)
150g tomato paste
100ml dry white wine
1 brown onion
4 cloves garlic
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
zest and juice of half a lemon
6 pork and fennel sausages (these are not mandatory, nor are the traditional! Just delicious!)

My first step was dicing everything into small, even cubes.

Then fry everything off individually in a large frying pan. It is important to keep them separate to develop the individual flavours of each vegetable at this point. Just add a good slug of a high quality EVOO to your pan, and keep at a medium to low heat.

I fried them in this order:
Onions and garlic, with a little bit of thyme.
Capsicum, with salt, pepper and a little bit of caster sugar to bring out the sweetness.
Zucchini with salt, pepper, lemon zest and more thyme.
Eggplant with salt, pepper, garlic, thyme.

When each vegetable is soft and lightly browned, add them to a casserole dish. Give it a good stir to mix the flavours together.

While I was frying my veg, I had the tomatoes, tomato paste, more garlic and thyme, lemon juice and wine simmering in a small saucepan. Making a little saucey thing.
Pour tomatoes over the veg, give it a quick stir and cover dish tightly with foil.

Bake for at least two hours in a low oven. (Mine was at about 140'C)
The flavours are even better the next day, so luckily I have made enough for lunch tomorrow as well.

When I am eating this by myself I would usually serve it with crispy roast potatoes and crusty bread, but since my boyfriend is a little more carb conscious than I tonight it is served with a simple spinach and goats cheese salad. And of course, a glass of good wine!
8  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Crazy mushroom hoopla on: June 02, 2015 07:37:47 PM
I made this hoopla for StainedMushroom in the ongoing wish swap.

It took many, many long hours of stitching, but I think the end result was definitely worth it! I used a variety of different stitches to create a lot of texture, including chain stitch, satin stitch, french knots and turkey work. It was quite hard to capture in photographs, but most mushrooms were stitched with a blend of two - three colours for the caps and another two - four for the stems and gills.

It has found a very happy home with StainedMushroom, I am happy she loves it just as much as I did!
(Photo credit to StainedMushroom, hers turned out much better than mine!)
9  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / tiny haunted house (take two) swap? on: April 27, 2015 04:41:36 AM
When I am bored and wasting time on craftster sometimes I dig into the old swap archives to see the wonderful and inspiring things you folk have been sending to each other love before I joined this website! Tonight I ended up on page 32!! of the swap gallery, and this swap caught my eye!

It's an OTT swap, but instead of swapping any tiny thing, you craft a haunted house for your partner (in any medium you choose!)
I know this is maybe more appropriate for Halloween, but I believe spooky should be year around!

Alternatively, if there isn't much interest in a haunted house swap, we could just do general tiny houses, based around our partners interests. Here are a few more links to galleries!
Tiny fairy tale house swap
Tiny house swap

Please show your interest and put forth any ideas or inspiration you may have for this swap! I would be happy to try my hand at organising, though if anyone else would prefer they are more than welcome to it.
10  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / satin stitched stag head. on: March 04, 2015 05:54:19 PM
It is not very often I complete crafts for myself, but with this piece I was super motivated (read: sick in bed almost all week and literally couldn't do anything but stitch!) and I am so excited to get to keep it for myself!

I started off by seeing something similar on pinterest, finding a stag head silhouette, sectioned it off, decided on my colour scheme and went from there. I've never done this much satin stitching in my life, let alone on one project!! I definitely noticed my stitching getting a lot neater as I progressed, though I still think I have a long way to go to get it as smooth as I want it to be.

I really like the delicate white on white background, it stops the empty space looking too empty, without detracting from the embroidery.
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