Friday, 28 January 2011

Moda Bakeshop Progressive Dinner winner

Wow, what a party! A week long progressive dinner with Australia day thrown in the middle - I'm ready for a little kip! Thank you for coming to dinner. Thank you for the stimulating conversation, high praise and good fun. I've had a fabulous time!

The randomly chosen winner of my giveaway prize, a copy of 'Fresh Fabric Treats' and a layer cake is:

Bronwyn who said:
I have loved reading your post!! Just finishing listening to JBT solo on guitar - oh my!! The book looks delicious. 
24 January 2011 08:26

Congratulations Bronwyn! I will be in touch. Thank you to everyone who left a comment. Each and every one of them was read and appreciated! Please forgive me if I don't manage to reply to them all.

To follow up on a few queries:


Camembert is a traditionally French, semi-soft cheese. It is beautifully creamy, with a soft rind. It is readily available in Australia.
I may well have discovered why camembert is such a mystery to US readers. According to this site:

"Unfortunately for American consumers, true Camembert (always made with raw milk) is simply unavailable in the U.S. Why? It must be made with raw (unpasteurized) milk, and any cheese made with raw milk must be aged at least sixty days before it can be sold in the U.S. The difficulty is that raw milk Camembert won’t last that long. It’s aged for just two or three weeks and is at its best thirty or thirty-five days after it’s made... There are pasteurized Camemberts sold in the U.S., however. They are tasty; they just lack the range of complexity of the raw milk cheese."

Caster sugar?

Caster sugar is simply a very fine white sugar. It dissolves easily so it is ideal for meringues, jellies and baking. When used for baking, the smaller crystals caramelise evenly so it produces a fine golden colour in the finished product.
Caster sugar is evidently sold as 'superfine' sugar in the U.S.? If you don’t have any castor sugar on hand, you can make your own by grinding granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor.

A rasher of bacon?

A rasher is a single slice of bacon. Perhaps called Canadian bacon in the States?

Have a great weekend everyone. Bloom x

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Last chance

Just dropping in to give you a little more time to get your name in for the Moda Progressive Dinner giveaway. To accommodate the time zone difference between Australia & the US, my giveaway will be drawn at 5pm US Central Time on Thursday 27th January, which is 10am New South Wales time on Friday 28th January for the Aussies. Please leave your comment on my Moda Progressive Dinner post, not this one.

A reminder about the prizes: 

Each dinner host is giving away a copy of the new book, Fresh Fabric Treats and a Moda pre-cut of their choosing (mine is a layer cake).

Comment on every host's Progressive Dinner post starting on January 20th for the chance to win a fat quarter bundle, fat eighth bundle, jelly roll, layer cake, and a charm pack (a $200 value).

The prizes will be posted in late April or early May when the book becomes available.

Thank you to everyone who has left such kind and thoughtful comments for me. I am quite overwhelmed! 

Friday, 21 January 2011

Moda Bake Shop Progressive Dinner

Welcome to my place, and the next stop on the Moda Bake Shop Progressive dinner! Awww, you've brought me flowers ... AND champagne! Wow, you know where your bread is buttered!
I have donned my favourite little black silk dress and my favourite perfume, which apparently makes me feel lighthearted and radiant - perfect! I have ditched the stilettos - it is my place after all!

The children have been excitedly waiting all day for your arrival - they love company!
The obvious advantage of having you at my place for dinner is that I get to concoct my perfect dinner party!

Where's my Sweetness? Excuse me Sweetness, could you fix some music. Had better make the music homegrown tonight: some Powderfinger, The Whitlams, The Waifs, a bit of Silverchair, Washington and definitely some Thirsty Merc … let’s get this party started!

MusicPlaylistView Profile
First things first – I have to tell you why exactly we are gathered here. You may know that I have several free patterns posted at Moda Bake Shop. Well, in 2010 I had the exciting privilege to be one of several Bake Shop chefs invited to contribute to the very first Moda Bakeshop book. And now the book’s release is just around the corner!
Called ‘Fresh Fabric Treats’ it promises to be a wonderful collection of projects to make from Moda’s precut fabrics. The book is due for release in May 2011.
In lieu of the contributors being able to get together for a celebration bash, Lissa Alexander of Moda, in true inclusive Bake Shop style, has organised a virtual progressive dinner for absolutely everyone – AND THAT’S HOW YOU’RE HERE!

I am hoping that AmandaJean at Crazy Mom Quilts has tempted your taste buds already. Since you are now in Australia, and visiting mid-summer, I thought we would start with some antipasto, followed by some great summer salads, and …

rolled chicken with bacon and camembert

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 ½ cups fresh white breadcrumbs
100g camembert, chopped
1/3 cup fresh herbs (chives or tarragon or sage or your favourite), roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 rashers bacon, rind removed
4 large chicken breast fillets

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking dish with baking paper. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and cook until soft. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Add the breadcrumbs, camembert and herbs. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper,

Lay out a large sheet of baking paper on a flat surface. Arrange bacon rashers in a slightly overlapping pattern to form a rectangle on the baking paper. Arrange the chicken fillets, 2 inches in from the edge of the bacon. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture onto the chicken. Using the baking paper to help you and starting from a short edge, roll the bacon, enclosing the chicken and filling to form a roll. Transfer roll to prepared baking tray. Bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours or until cooked through. Equally delicious served hot or cold.

While that’s in the oven, we can chat. The devastating Queensland floods will surely dominate conversation initially. We can talk religion, or even politics if you like? Or perhaps talk of today’s results in the Australian Open Tennis
or the demise of Australian Cricket?
Simply insert witty, but intelligent and meaningful banter here!

But I am guessing at some point we will most likely get around to talking fabric, huh? And being a Moda party, the pros and cons of various precuts will be debated (surely!) … my favourite precut? … tough to choose, but at the moment I am favouring the 10” x 10” layer cakes. I feel they are the most versatile cuts. They can do everything a charm pack can do, but four times over. I can still cut them into 2.5” strips like a jelly roll if I want. And they are big enough to cut for most quilt blocks you can think of.

But quite frankly, I’m not fussy - I think all Moda’s precuts are brilliant. They are just a wonderful, cost efficient way to get a delicious taste of a full range of fabrics.
In keeping with a Bake Shop theme, I like to keep my precuts stashed on a cupcake stand, and in an old enamel cake tin that belonged to my Grandma.

Moda has generously offered up prizes at each of the progressive dinner host blogs. Leave a comment on this post for the chance to win a copy of ‘Fresh Fabric Treats’, hot off the press, and a Moda layer cake, fresh from the oven! I would be very excited to hear where in the world you are visiting from, and what you would love to talk about over dinner.

The winner will be drawn at the end of our progressive dinner on 26th January. The prize will be available to the winner in late April or early May when the book is available.

Are you ready for dessert yet? Two of my all time favourite desserts are the quintessentially Australian pavlova and the velvety smooth, presumably French crème brulee. Since pavlova uses egg whites, and brulee uses egg yolks, it seemed only sensible to make both at once, and give you a choice!

Bloom’s two egg formula
Here is how to make 2 crème brulees and 6 mini pavlovas from 2 eggs!

2 eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 135 degrees Celsius (fan-forced). Separate two eggs. Place whites and yolks into separate small mixing bowls.
For pavlovas:
pinch salt
½ cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon vinegar
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Whip egg whites and salt with an electric beater until soft peaks form. While still beating, gradually add sugar. Continue beating until glossy and stiff. Add vinegar and vanilla. Mix well. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spoon meringue into 6 portions onto baking tray and spread into circles with a spatula.
For brulees:
2 egg yolks
30 g caster sugar
120mL cream        
80mL milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons sugar, extra

Whisk together the yolks and sugar until well combined. Pour the cream and milk into a small saucepan. Add vanilla. Bring to boiling point and remove from heat. Slowly pour onto the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Strain into a jug. Place two ramekins in a baking dish. Pour the mixture into the ramekins, then pour hot water into the baking dish to come about half way up the sides of the brulees.
Bake pavlovas and brulees for 40 minutes, or until the custard of the brulees is just set and pavlovas are firm and crisp on outside. Remove brulees and cool. Turn off oven, open door, and leave pavlovas in oven to cool.

Serve the pavlovas with whipped cream and summer berries.

Before serving the brulees, sprinkle sugar over the top and place under very hot grill for about 1 minute (or use a kitchen blowtorch) until caramelised and golden.

Now, the evening is not complete until I introduce you to your next host: the lovely and lively Vanessa Christenson over at V and Co. I have followed Vanessa’s blog for years now. She has great style, a brilliant eye for decorating, particularly on a budget, and can always be relied upon to create the most original and gorgeous of projects. She also has a brilliant sense of humour and is the most wonderful story teller. Many a belly laugh can be had over at her blog. Please be sure to visit her next and say hello.

And now, for the ultimate dessert?!

Every reader who visits each of the hosts on our Progressive Dinner and leaves a comment will go into the draw to win the ultimate prize from Moda: a copy of ‘Fresh Fabric Treats’ and an amazing fabric bundle consisting of one of each of the different sizes of precuts. Yes, you read correctly! One of each: a fat quarter bundle, a fat eighth bundle, a jelly roll, a layer cake and a charm pack. This bundle retails at well over $200 retail.

The winner will be drawn at the end of our progressive dinner on 26th January. The prize will be available to the winner in late April or early May when the book is available.

You can find a complete listing of all your most amiable dinner hosts here. Please be sure to show up on their doorstep, and enjoy the feasts and prizes they have to offer! And leave a comment for each host for your chance to win the major prize.

It has been delightful to have your company for dinner! Before you go, I will pour you one last champagne and we'll sit for just a moment and enjoy this from US-born, Australian-raised John Butler. Peace to you and please come again soon. Bloom x

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Freshly baked

Have you got your party frocks pressed and ready for our Dinner Party?
Just dropping in to let you know that my Moda Bake Shop Progressive Dinner spot for January 20 will be online at 8am Central Time for US visitors, which is actually 1am January 21 for us Aussies! Just as well we are good for a late night party here in Aus! See you then ...

Monday, 17 January 2011

What's cooking?

The lovely team over at Moda Bakeshop are cooking up a storm again. 
Lissa Alexander of Moda, in true Bakeshop style, has organised a virtual progressive dinner, and YOU'RE MOST CORDIALLY INVITED!

Dinner will be served beginning January 19, 2011 and ending January 26, 2011.  Please join us for lots of fun, great food, a very exciting announcement and chances to win fabulous prizes fresh from the oven! Here is the full list of hosts. You are most welcome to knock on my door on January 20. I'd better get cooking!
January 19
Oda May of Moda Bake Shop

January 20
Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts
Roslyn Mirrington of Bloom
Vanessa Christenson of V and Co

January 21
John Adams of Quilt Dad
Monica Solorio-Snow of The Happy Zombie

January 22
Kimberly Walus of Bitty Bits and Pieces
Melissa Mortenson of The Polkadot Chair

January 23
Natalia Bonner of Piece N Quilt
Vickie Eapen of Spun Sugar Quilts

January 24
Rachel Griffith of P.S. I Quilt
Lissa Alexander of Moda Lissa

January 25
Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts

January 26

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Need to spruce up your sewing space?

You may remember my debut project for Australian Homespun back in November - a sewing machine cover that you can read all about here.
Well, the companion article has just been published in Issue No. 92 (Vol 12.1). It includes patterns to make accessories to accompany the cover. There is a simple little pincushion ...
 ... a sewing machine mat, with lots of pockets along the front for holding all your tools...
 ... and a handy removable thread catcher:
For my overseas friends, if you are keen to purchase Australian Homespun, here is a listing of overseas distributors.
And for readers looking for the 'tape measure' twill trim for this project, I purchased mine from Hatched and Patched. They will happily do mail orders.

This issue of Australian Homespun also includes my personal profile, an unnerving but privileged opportunity! Considering my profile photo is now in every newsagent across Australia (yikes!), I thought I should at least share what I look like with you. This is me, suitably soft focussed to disguise the age lines!
My sincere thanks go to Catherine and her Homespun team for inviting me to publish my projects. If you'd told me 5 years ago that I would be writing and publishing patterns, I would never have believed you. What an exciting time it has been! 
An enormous thank you too to everyone who has been so supportive of me through my blog. I'd not have had the confidence to try pattern writing if not for you! Bloom x

Friday, 14 January 2011

Queensland floods

It seems trite to consider blogging about anything as everyday as sewing or gardening when so many Queenslanders are suffering right now from devastating floods this week. There are many photos of the destruction at news sites here and here, and a moving personal account here.
There is sickening news today that one body was found 80 kilometres from where the person disappeared, and that in reality, some of the 50 people still missing may never be found.
There are many stories too of courage and heroism in the face of danger, and of the amazing resilience of the Australian people. This photo gallery is wonderful testament to this. 

Of course the blogging world has swung into action and there are many ways to help:

The lovely girls at Gumtree Designers have launched a wonderful appeal to contribute 'New Beginnings' sewing kits to the many crafters who may have lost all their possessions. You can find all the details here.
Toni at Make it Perfect is coordinating a list of bloggers willing to auction items for donation to the Queensland Government Flood Relief Appeal. The auction will commence on Monday 17th January, and will be open for 1 week, closing on Monday 24th January. Details can be found here.

To those personally affected by this disaster, our thoughts and prayers are with you. We hope that you are being amply provided and cared for.

Friday, 7 January 2011


My list of prospective handmade Christmas gifts was long. The tally of gifts completed was very short! The one handmade gift achieved for Christmas 2010 was this little sweetie:
It was made for one of my nieces. It is an Ooshka Babushka by The Red Thread. The face panel is pre-printed, and very cute!
Miss Babushka was favourably received by my niece, with all other bedtime companions ditched and replaced (at least for a time) by her new dolly. Gotta love that!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Hello 2011!

Well hello to my lovely cyber friends! My best wishes to you and your families for Christmas and a happy and healthy 2011. My apologies for not getting them to you earlier! The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, well away from internet connections.

The harvest of our lupin crop was completed on Christmas Eve. The yield was disappointing, with much of the crop unable to be harvested as it had been flattened by wind earlier in the season. We may just recoup our costs. 2011 will surely be better?!

Finishing harvest so late meant a 4.00 am start on Christmas Day to travel to the coast for Christmas. At least the traffic was quiet!

Christmas with our coastal cousins means lots of food, lots of noise, good coffee, bushwalking, beachwalking ...

... and even a bit of fishing:
A few days with family was followed by a visit with old friends further down the coast near Narooma.
It is so easy to take the beauty of the Australian coastline for granted. There is a stunning landscape at every turn!

There was time to enjoy some of our amazing birds & blooms. Some hastily snapped native orchids in the bush ...
... and some drop dead gorgeous birds, which come in to feed at our friends' back verandah: a stunning King Parrot ...
... and the inimitable Rainbow Lorikeet.
We visited the historic little village of Tilba, and had fish and chips on the beach at Bermagui. Unfortunately, this was closely followed by a violent, but thankfully short-lived bout of food poisoning for me, just to mix things up!

We then had a couple of days in Canberra across the New Year, catching a free NYE concert of The Whitlams, one of our favourite live bands.
I went to see the Ballet Russes exhibition at the National Gallery. It was very beautiful, and I loved seeing the textiles and construction techniques of these now 100 year old costumes. Someone had amazing foresight to have purchased these costumes for the Gallery way back in 1973. At that time, they were stuffed in a box, heavily soiled with makeup and sweat.
The conservation that many of the costumes has undergone is truly remarkable. This exquisite 'Costume for a Squid' was in confetti sized pieces before its conservation treatment. Quite remarkable.
Of course, there was a day of Canberra shopping for Miss 15, and the inevitable visit to Questacon for our excitable 12-year-old boy. Unsurprisingly, the free fall slide was the highlight for him:
Miss 9 was intrigued with the patterns she could make at the more artistic Recollections exhibit:
So after 10 busy days away, and 1800 kilometres in the car, we are now officially returned home for a rest!

Happy New Year everyone! Bloom x
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