Hanging Around the Christmas Tree

You can't take the 'stray out of a cat'. I adopted this boy to give him a better life. He'd been wandering the streets and ended up at the vets. So he's very skillful at opening packages of food. Now he's decided to open the dog's present, a big bag of Ekanuba...tastes better if it's stolen!

This was done so silently...I never heard and
I was sitting close by
The present is now in the garage...But
somehow he has managed to get himself
into the garage too and is eating the Ekanuba...

A Christmas Pinata

Our effort for making a Father Christmas pinata. I gave all the orders and then let the children do the paper mache part. I put myself in charge of decorating and managed to make a bigger mess than them...Such wise people we all were, no one noticed that Santa's hat needs a white end not red.

How to make the Pinata
It's quite easy to make a Christmas Pinata if you have the time... One balloon, two layers of newsprint, cellulose glue and for the last layer use tissue paper. Then you let the paper mache dry in the sun. Next just pop the balloon and decorate the paper mache shape into something christmassy. We chose Santa....

Note: Do not dry with a blow dryer
I was very impatient for it all to dry so I turned the blow dryer on high. This caused part of the balloon to pop out at the top, breaking some of the paper mache. Thank goodness Father Christmas wears a hat so it was easily fixed.
Hmmmm I didn't tell anyone I did it....
I didn't want the paper mache to be too thick. Hence if you use only three layers of paste and paper and one layer of crepe paper it will be easier for little children to break...

All fixed and ready to hang on
Christmas Day. A big surprise
for the little girls...

Making Christmas Coasters

What you will need:
* Four Tiles
* Scissors
* Ruler
* Pencil
* PVA glue
* Water based Varnish
* Christmas Scrap booking paper
* 2 paint brushes
* Mod Podge
This is the tutorial I followed.

Getting ready to start 
Pictures all cut out to fit the tiles
PVA glue (white glue) the paper onto the tile
Use a card to help smooth out the glued picture
onto the tile. Helps to remove any bubbles
Cover in Mod Podge make sure the
glue underneath is really dry or you'll
get bubbles...
All ready to varnish when the
  Mod Podge is totally dry
Varnished...wait till dry before
adding a backing to the underneath
Add glue to back of tile...
Press your cut square of felt onto
the tile. I used a roller...
Finished next time I might leave some
 of the tile showing as a border....

Sewing a Deer Costume

Was this sewing experience an easy task? No it wasn't, everything that was going to go wrong did! My sewing was wonky and untidy, nothing fitted and when I altered the costume it became a bit tight in length  (I didn't measure anything I just guessed).

I added a contrast stretch fabric for the tummy and then the sewing machine hated sewing this fabric too....The applique not the best around the contrast tummy as the machine tension wasn't right. In hindsight I think I should have stuffed the round tummy with Dacron. It would have looked kinda cute!

I used Easy McCall's Costumes M5956 pattern as the base for making my deer costume. I even tried to put the 18" zip in because the pattern instructions said insert a zip in the front. I really must have had brain fog because the fabric was just super stretchy fabric and I wouldn't normally sew a zip in.  So I had to unrip and take out the zip because my sewing was just so messy it was an embarrassment. In the end I added a Velcro opening in the back. Hmmmm...I'm so out of sewing practice no wonder I made so many mistakes.

Would I recommend this pattern?
Yes I would, but I'd make sure I had the sizing and length right before I cut out the fabric. Next time if there ever is one, I won't use very stretchy stretch fabric. But the pattern has lots of potential for making other animal dress-ups.

Sewing pattern was a bit big....
All finished and looking cute!

Hiding Away where Nobody Sees...

Playing with the Christmas balls
I'll just take them all off and the dog
will just eat them...See I'm totally innocent!

Christmas Lilies

Do they make you sneeze? They make me sneeze....

Making a Frog Lid
*1 glass preserving jar
*1 metal preserving band
*Some galvanised mesh (My rabbit hutch mesh)
*Wire cutters,
*E-6000 glue
*Acrylic paint

Here is the tutorial I followed:
How to Make DIY Mason Jar Flower Lids

Frog Lid finished
Why do they  all bloom well before Xmas?
Christmas Lilies, Frog lid, Preserving jar

Making & Eating Reindeer Noses

You will need:
*1 packet Jaffas
* Packets Maltezers
* Printer
* Free clip art
* Cellophane bags
* White card
* Glue stick
Don't make when hungry!


Many cultures have something similar to Perogi (Polish Dumplings) like Won Tons from China, Italy has Ravioli and Japan, Gyozi. My filling for Pierogi is just mashed potatoes and cottage cheese, it's the only one I know and the only one Babcia did. There are so many versions of for making Pierogi dough. This is just one of them and seems to work for me so I keep using it.

I use a Pierogi maker and this was sent to me years ago from a little shop in New York. They were very hard to find way back then. Now I see there are many different ones that you can buy on e-bay. Mine is made by Villareware...

I have no confidence making my Pierogi by hand, I have watched it done a few times and I am not so clever......I don't have magic fingers that turn out perfectly shaped Pierogi so I use a Pierogi maker. This is a bit time consuming and my dough tends to dry out near the end....But I make six at a time and my little Pierogi look very uniform in size which pleases me and I don't feel like a failed Pierogi maker!

Pierogi Recipe
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon softened butter
2 eggs lightly whisked
3/4 to 1 cup warm milk
Mashed potatoes and Cottage Cheese
I used approx 12 Agria potatoes and 250g Cottage Cheese (I added more for taste)
Judge the amounts you want by tasting your filling. You'll know how you want it to taste...

*Sift dry ingredients together
* Mix butter and eggs add warmed milk
* Combine dry ingredients and wet, knead on floured surface
* Roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness
* Now your ready to cut out with circle cutter
* Add the filling
* Make sure edges of Pierogi are sealed
* Drop Pierogi into boiling water they are ready when they float to the surface
* Now fry Pierogi in butter with chopped bacon, onions and serve...
* Freeze the excess Pierogi, this recipe makes a few....

You  also can make Pierogi by cutting out the dough
 with a glass. Next put the filling on the dough circle
 and fold in half, seal then boil.... Just to be different
I made them once using Won Ton wrappers!

Christmas Raspberry Vodka

I'm having a sort of Polish day, I wanted to cook Pierogi but have settled for making Raspberry Vodka. I usually don't use measure anything when making Raspberry Vodka. Today I'm trying out a different recipe. I should have started this process earlier so it would be ready in time for Christmas.....

These days though I spend more time admiring the lovely red raspberry coloured vodka than drinking it. If you know how to make Raspberry Vodka and have missed something please tell me....

Version one:
Though I've used sugar this time I have also made Raspberry Vodka with out sugar. It really is a matter of taste...To do this I just add vodka to my raspberries placed in the glass jar. Then I keep it for three months. Next I strain the raspberry/ vodka mix and bottle it, now it's ready to drink.

Here is today's effort version two: (in the pics)
One large bottle of Vodka
2 cups Raspberries
1/2 cup Caster Sugar (fine white sugar)
1 large glass preserving jar
Muslin or filter for straining raspberry vodka
Method: is written up on pics...

Here is version three for making Raspberry Vodka:
I used this version a few years back to make my raspberry vodka. It is more time consuming, so I'm really interested to see if the above recipe tastes the same with much less effort....

To start with you put the raspberries into a sterile preserving jar with a lid (I don't measure). Add some good quality vodka (the higher the alcohol content the better) to cover the fruit. Cover the jar and let it sit for a week in a cupboard, or somewhere dark. Next you pour off the vodka and tip this into another sterile glass jar.

Now place your raspberries gently into another sterile jar, layer with sugar and then cover the jar. When the juice reaches almost the top of the fruit pour the raspberry juice off into another sterile jar. You can keep repeating this process over and over until you get no more juice from the fruit. Of course you use a few jars so it's takes time, but four glass jars is probably all you will need.

Next mix the raspberry coloured vodka and raspberry fruit syrup together, strain through sterile muslin (now it will become a clear liquid) and add this mix into a glass bottle. You can add more vodka to the bottle too.  Let it sit for awhile in the fridge and don't forget to turn the bottle every now and then.....
To serve:
I pour the Raspberry Vodka straight into a nip glass (do they still call them that?) and you drink it straight.
If you eat the vodka soaked raspberries left in the jar you may get 'drunk'. I ate a vodka soaked prune once from Dziadzia's flavoured prune/plum vodka bottle and it made me feel a bit tipsy. Mind you his base vodka was almost 100% proof he used to make the vodka it himself out of potatoes....

Version one method & pics:
Raspberry Vodka was my choice...
Pierogi is a big effort I'll do that next time
I used frozen Raspberries, but fresh is better....
They are not in the shops yet. You will need to
 defrost the raspberries
2 cups of Raspberries
Make sure everything is sterile...
Jar, spoon, muslin, bottle
I used 1/2 cup of Caster Sugar
I don't use the cheapest vodka just a
middle priced one...
You won't believe this I bought a new jar
 to do this. When I shook the raspberry vodka
 mix it leaked at the lid....
I keep the jar in a dark cupboard for
12 weeks or so. When it's ready I strain the
 raspberry vodka mix using a sterile muslin
cloth. Then I add the strained raspberry mix
 back into the Absolute Vodka bottle. It's
ready to drink now!

Fixing The Christmas Nutcracker

My battered 80's Nutcracker men needed fixing. They no longer have their golden threads to hang by and are very battered and used. Gosh they've seen a lot of life good and bad!

Because this was a 'spur of the moment' quick fix it job there was no golden thread to use, just plain old jute....I guess you could spend a lot more time making the join much nicer than what has been done here. Perhaps you could put a small bead to hide the glue join and use a golden thread...

To Fix a Nutcracker Ornament:

* Drill a hole in the centre of his hat top, use a small drill piece
* Squirt a small blob of melted glue from the glue gun into hole
* Next attach a piece of pre-cut string and push the ends into the glue
* Let the glue dry and then hang your Nutcracker onto the tree

Once again ye shall hang on the 'Christmas Tree'
This year the small tree has become a
 'Nutcracker Tree', last year it was a
'Bird Tree'...
My 'Elf on the Shelf' she's a 1970's gal!
Full of mischief and fun and in need of
some cotton and thread...

Run, Run,Gingerbread Man

I'm making gingerbread men and I've never made big gingerbread men before.  I really should have rung my mother for the recipe. She is very good at making them, she makes them for her great grandchildren....Except, the impatient daughter I am got the recipe online instead of using my mother's recipe.

The recipe I used is changed slightly to include ginger as the only spice. I can tell you when I find a recipe on line my whole family cringes because I have had a more disasters than success...

This recipe is fine it's been child tested....I can imagine it would taste very nice with all the other spices added too. It was so tasty for the boy he was up in the middle of the night drawing, designing and decorating his own gingerbread man for himself.

The Gingerbread Man Recipe can be found here. For my version I did everything the same except for adding 1 1/2 TB of ground ginger instead of the other spices. Then I substituted Golden Syrup for the molasses.

Also  I could have used my gingerbread house recipe too I forgot about my effort here. I guess I have Christmas brain (too much to think about and everything is happening so fast).

I got a bit carried away with the icing. I
used icing writing pens and water icing.

Freezing those Garden Greens

Funny how you can pick heaps of spinach and then when you freeze it there is hardly any at all....
This year I planted a big leaf type spinach (I've forgotten the name). I know it was a Yates seed brand.

   Freezing Spinach
* Pick the Spinach from your garden or buy some fresh

* Wash the spinach then blanch it (bring a pot of water to the boil)

*When the water is boiling put the spinach in for 2-4 minutes

* When time is up remove spinach straight away it should be just soft
* Put the spinach in a colander and then run cold water over it or soak in a bowl of ice cold water

* Then remove the spinach and spin in a  lettuce spinner or squeeze in a sterile towel

* Chop up the spinach if you like

* Package the spinach in a air tight plastic container pop the lid on and place in freezer

* You can also package in plastic bags to freeze I just didn't have any to use...

My Spinach is  all ready to freeze. I just need to put a
 lid on the container and store in the freezer

A Walk in my Garden

Seeing that I have no sewing to post about......Yes I feel guilty when I see all the lovely sewing all you wonderful blogging people achieve, I am so impressed.

So today I'll take you on a walk in my garden...... I don't have many roses now, and I've given up pruning them I never get good blooms.  My daughter now prunes them and they seem to love her. The first four rose bushes are really old around, 16 years old. I transplanted them from my old house. Gertrude Jekyll is my newest 'David Austin' I bought this one for it's perfume.

My garden is just a garden, nothing is really ever planned. For a while it was mostly New Zealand natives, except they grow and grow so huge. You end thinking you are somewhere up the Port Hills sitting in dense native bush. I've now culled all the native bush at the back of the garden including the 'snail hotels' (Harakeeke Flax). The backyard plot is now a vege garden.

Next time if I ever have to set up a garden again I'm going Japanese, very simple and serene with no work (well I think that). Enjoy my garden and Roses!

Heart of this yellow rose,
 it was planted in remembrance of
someone special who used to
 sing the song 'Heart of Gold'
This is one of my favourite roses it just does
it's own thing and climbs like a big bush
I planted a second one last year...
Prickly but has a beautiful scent that wafts
gracefully everywhere
Blue Moon is very impressive at the moment
Bought it because it reminds me of the song
'Blue Moon'
Gertrude Jekyll  has a gorgeous perfume..
Just bought it so it looks a little sad! 
This one has a nice old fashioned rose perfume...
Such a pretty pink it's full of blooms this year
A few Bearded Irises...and the rose
'Dublin Bay' in the background, it's a climber
But the pruner thought it was a bush so it's
 sulking and not looking the best...
The King Protea....

Feed the Birds....

Hungry Blackbirds....I think it's time to buy some netting! But netting is so ugly and the big brown dog will just pinch it and cause havoc in the garden. This all reminds me of a wonderful story I used to read to children......

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood, Perhaps I need a little mouse to help me save my strawberries from the big fat Blackbird!

The birds have eaten them all. This is
 the worst year for birds in the garden. Maybe
I'll paint some stones like strawberries then
the the birds will think there are no edible
  strawberries down there. I saw this idea on
 Pinterest. I wonder if it would work?
My seedlings have sprouted in my paper pots
They are mostly green beans
My table is finished It has new legs. My son gave
 me this feedback. "It looks okay but you could
have painted it another colour." I defended my
 choice of  yellow paint. I was being frugal and
saving dollars. Anyway there is an indoor
outdoor flow going on here. I bet he would
 loved it if I'd painted the table blue...

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