Friday, April 30, 2010

Fleecie Pets

About six years ago I made a basic 8-colour patchwork blanket out of fleece. I had a narrow strip of each colour left over from that project and of course managed to convince myself that I needed to keep the surplus fabric because I would be sure to find a use for it one day. Imagine my delight when I found this book containing patterns and instructions to make gorgeous little toys out of, you guessed it, narrow strips of fleece!

I had a couple of problems when I started to make my Fleecie Pets. Firstly, which pet was I going to make first...Squealy the piglet, Joe the monkey, Leapy the frog, Hoppy the rabbit, Spangles the cat, Patches the dog, Sniffy the mouse or Fuzzy the sheep? My second, and more concerning problem was that my fleece off-cuts were agonisingly too narrow for the pattern pieces! I managed to solve the latter problem by scanning the patterns and reducing their size a little before printing them out. Crisis averted!

In the end I managed to make five pets, along with some of the cute outfits in time for my 4yo daughter's birthday. The sewing and knitting patterns were very easy to follow. I'm sure it would have been even easier had I been making the full-sized pets, as at times the sewing was a little bit fiddly. I also had a little trouble figuring out how to re-size the knitting patterns (I ended up opting for slightly smaller needles) so the knitted components were a little too big.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Book Review: "Love, Splat" by Rob Scotton

When my kids and I borrowed "Splat the Cat" from the library recently, I had high hopes. As I have probably mentioned before, I am a sucker for picture books with clever rhymes and/or beautiful illustrations. I must admit, however, that I was disappointed with the book. Sure, the illustrations were fabulous and the characters endearing, but I thought the story itself fell short.

During another visit to the library, I stumbled upon the follow-up book, "Love, Splat" and thought I would give Splat another chance. I am so glad I did, as "Love, Splat" is one of the most charming picture books I have read. The story, of course, is centered around Splat, a scruffy black primary school aged cat who is smitten with a pretty and fluffy white classmate named Kitten. The book begins with Splat waking up on the morning of Valentines Day, feeling rather anxious. He has made cards for all of the cats in his class, but his "very best writing" was saved for a special card made for Kitten. Convinced that his affection for Kitten was unrequited, Splat was reluctant to give his card to her. When a flashy rival shows up, Splat feels totally inadequate and decides to toss the card he made for Kitten in the bin to avoid embarrassment. Unbeknownst to Splat, Kitten sees the card go in the bin and we soon learn that sometimes things aren't quite what they seem.

The book's appeal lies not only with the touching storyline, but also with the incredible illustrations. The cats are so 3-dimensional and fluffy looking that at times I found myself stroking the page in an attempt to pat them. The illustrations are beautifully detailed and humorous in their own right. We enjoyed trying to find Splat's rodent companion on each page (one one page the poor mouse is stuck to the wall with sticky tape).

Rob Scotton has also written a series of books featuring "Russell The Sheep" - I think I might just have to go looking for these as well :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Homemade Laundry Powder

About a year ago, I decided to try and eliminate as many chemicals from our house as possible. When researching chemical-free options, I stumbled on Julie's blog Towards Sustainability, which has lots of fantastic recipes and ideas. Along with the bicarb soda shampoo idea, this recipe for Laundry Powder was top of my list for things to try. I have now been using my homemade laundry powder in my front loader for about a year, and it is fantastic! I just make it up using the washing soda and soap flakes (I don't have the time or energy to grate the soap myself!). I haven't found the need to include Borax or stain remover soap. I put white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser every now and then to help prevent soap buildup in my machine (sometimes I might add a drop or two of lavender essential oil for fragrance, but this isn't necessary as there is no lingering vinegar scent at all).

Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I'm a little late with my Menu Plan Monday this week...still extremely busy with work, but feeling a little bit more like cooking this week.

Monday - Risotto Stuffed Zucchini (Corgette)
Tuesday - Pork Curry with Pineapple & Snow peas
Wednesday - Impossible Quiche
Thursday - Pumpkin & Pine Nut Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce
Friday - Lemon & Thyme Chicken Burgers
Saturday - Moroccan Carrot, Sweet Potato & Chickpea Soup
Sunday - Homemade Meat Pies

Monday, April 19, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

I'm continuing the comfort food theme here this week for Menu Plan Monday. I have been absolutely flat out with work lately and have hardly had time to even think about cooking, let alone posting on my blog. Hopefully the work will die down a little this week so life can return to something closer to normal.

My mother-in law recently gave me a copy of this book, so I have decided to dust off the old slow cooker and try a few of the recipes.

Monday - Tomato pizza
Tuesday - Apricot chicken (slow cooker)
Wednesday - Macaroni Cheese (slow cooker)
Thursday - Chickpea curry (slow cooker)
Friday - Potato & Leek soup (slow cooker)
Saturday - Beef borscht (slow cooker)
Sunday - Gnocchi pesto

Monday, April 12, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Back to normal routine this week, after Easter and school holidays.

Not feeling like anything fancy this week. Our beloved cat Spot passed away yesterday. He was 19 years old and had a very full life, having lived in two countries (Australia and Hong Kong) and having travelled in planes, trams, cars, boats, and taxis. Yet despite all that we have put him through, he was always a loyal friend and companion and we will miss him terribly. Getting old is a terrible thing.

So here is this week's menu plan monday:

Monday: Healthy Meatloaf
Tuesday: Spinach & Lentil Lasagne
Wednesday: Tofu, Snow Pea and Asparagus Stir Fry
Thursday: Baked Greek-Style Omelette
Friday: Burritos (no specific recipe for this, just mexican beans, cheese, tomato salsa in tortillas)
Saturday: My husband's night to cook!
Sunday: Roasted Red Capsicum & Tomato Soup