Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Xanthe's 4th Birthday

Sunday we celebrated Xanthe's 4th Birthday.  My little girl is growing up so fast.  I love that when I went to help her get dressed for her party she proceeded to tell me "I am 4 now mummy, I don't need your help any more".  She then proceeded to dress herself and do her own hair (with no less that 4 clips), something I knew she was capable of but have failed to convince her do previously.

We started the day with presents in bed and french toast for breakfast. 

Then our friends joined us for a simple lunch time BBQ party in the back yard.  It was such a lovely day and such great company, we partied on till almost dinner time.

The kids made their own party hats.

Went on a Scavenger Hunt.

and played and played all day.

Xanthe was thoroughly spoilt and had a wonderful day, as did we all.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Picnic Quilt Top

I have been working on this quilt top since March, when we had our first glimpse of spring weather, unfortunately things have not progressed on the weather front, but I finally finished the quilt top.  I would have finished a couple of weeks ago but the loss of my machine also stripped me of my sewing mojo.  A kind friend lent me her machine and while it felt much better to have a machine in the house I was not hugely motivated to sew.  My machine is now back and so is the mojo, which is a good thing as I have a rather large to do list at the moment.

This quilt was inspired by a quilt of Rita's from red pepper quilts.  I originally planned on making it random in colour layout like Rita's, but my husband saw it all laid out on the floor (ready to sew after hours of arranging) and said it was too crazy colourful.  His exact words were "it looks like someone has already chucked up on it!".  So I reorganised the blocks into a rainbow like arrangement, which I equally love, in an attempt to tone it down.  Perhaps I will make random layout quilt once I accumulate more scraps.

We have a very old woollen blanket that has seen better days.  I thought it would make a great batting for a picnic quilt so the quilt top is sized to fit that.  As you can see this is another scraps quilt.  I have really been enjoying working with scraps and lots of colour this year.   I cut each strip a 1/4" extra long so I had room to trim up the blocks (tip from Rita at red pepper quilts), this really helped to have square blocks which made the final piecing really easy. With lots of careful pinning almost all of my corners are matched.  Each strip was cut 6 3/4" x 2 1/2", to leave me with a 6 1/2" x 6 1/2" block once trimmed.

In hindsight their was probably to much work in the piecing for a picnic quilt.   Especially one that is going to be quite well used (abused) by my 3 young girls.  But I have come thus far, so hopefully in the near future (before summer is over) we will be picnicking on a finished quilt. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Yum Yum Balls

Another rainy day here in Switzerland, so with Xanthe turning 4 on the weekend and needing a small special treat to share with her playgroup (Waldspielgruppe) friends later this week, we decided to make some yum yum balls.  The name says it all these are super easy (no bake) and super yummy.

This recipe was passed on to me by a dear friend Abby and I am sure she won't mind me sharing.  So this is how you can make your own yum yum balls.


1 packet Marie biscuits (or similar plain sweet biscuit)
3 Tbsp cocoa
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
1 tin sweetened condensed milk
approx 1/2 cup desiccated coconut for coating balls.

Mixture with everything added, just starting to mix.
1. Crush the biscuits, I find in the food processor is the easiest but make sure to leave a few larger chunks for texture.  
2. Tip the crushed biscuits into a mixing bowl and add cocoa, desiccated coconut and the sweetened condensed milk and mix well.
3. Form small balls of mixture (heaped teaspoon), by rolling it in your hands (yes this very messy), and then roll the balls in the rest of desiccated coconut.
4. Place in a sealed container in the fridge to store (at least a week if they last that long).

Makes around 50 (depending on how big or small you make your balls)
I am sure these would freeze well but I have never tried.

I hope you enjoy, we will be making some more next week to wrap up prettily with some fudge, as thank you gifts for all the various activity teachers.  Our school year is very rapidly coming to an end.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


So we were super lucky to have 2 weekends in a row away.  Even luckier to have Scott's parents mind the girls so we could have a child free weekend in Venice. 

Venice was wonderful.  I can now understand why it was so hard for Mum to give me advice on what to see or do.  Venice in its entirety is the experience, it is so beautiful, historic and different to anywhere else, such a wonderful place to explore.  

We spent all day every day walking, walking, walking, exploring all the nooks and crannies of Venice.  We broke up the walking with boat trips and eating.  Next to the magic of Venice, the food was my favourite part, lots of fresh seafood simply cooked and great coffee.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Long Weekend on a Barge

This past long weekend we met up with the girls' grandparents in the quaint little town of Vandenesse-en-Auxois in France and for something a bit different stayed on a barge.

The barge was lovely it had just been refurbished and we were the first guests before it starts the season doing wine and food tours up and down the canal.  Max the skipper was a great host, with lots of local knowledge and put on a great breakfast each morning.

We had planned a weekend in Dijon with the barge as our base, but the local area was so pretty we never got to Dijon.  The barge was a wonderful accommodation and great entertainment for the kids.

We could walk to the village for ice cream and duck feeding.

We drove up the hill to Châteauneuf and the lovely surrounding village, too look at the views, including back at our barge.  For lunch at a crepery and some princess play in the old Château.

Châteauneuf up on the hill

View from Châteauneuf
In the courtyard of Châteauneuf
We went swimming in Réservoir de Panthier which has a lovely sandy beach.

Sat on the deck of our barge and enjoyed the quiet and the beautiful country views.

Dinner on the Deck
Looking towards Châteauneuf on the hill, from our deck

Farm on the riverside

 Finally before heading home, we visited the village of Saulieu and had a lovely lunch.

We all had a lovely weekend away in France, the girls especially loved seeing their Grandparents again.

Robyn and Tony have now joined us in Basel and will have a weekend at home with the girls while Scott and I have another long weekend away, this time in Venice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Philippa's 2nd Birthday

Happy Birthday my beautiful little girl.

Today was Philippa's 2nd Birthday but we celebrated on Sunday.  At 2 you can still get away with this, although we did have another cake today as well.

We have a few birthday traditions, starting with presents on Mummy and Daddy's bed.  

The made by mummy Birthday Dress.  She also received her quilt, some books, and her very own Barbie Doll.

Then a special breakfast.  Unfortunately for her sisters, Pippi's favourite breakfast is porridge, not a big hit as a special breakfast for her sisters..........

We always celebrate with a party.  For this one Pippi's best friend Eleanor and her family joined us for a BBQ.  Pippi's only requests for her Birthday were balloons and candles.  Pleasing 2 year olds is so simple.  So there were plenty of balloons hanging in the trees and of course candles on the cake.

We made her an ice cream cake with smarties and strawberries mixed through.  Decorated with more smarties and strawberries.  Served with a side of jelly. 

That was Philippa's special day.  We love you Pippi our family would not be the same without you.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

The day I have always dreaded

My machine has broken down and I have been forced to take it to get fixed.  Yes I have taken it for a serivce when it suits me, but my trusty little Janome has never broken down before.  Technically it has not actually broken down, it just started sewing on its own or when I was sewing going at triple speed.  Neither of which are overly safe behaviours and required lots and lots of unpicking, until I finally gave in and deemed it unusable.

This journal cover was the last thing I sewed with it before declaring defeat.  So please don't look to closely, as the stitching is a bit interesting in places.

I got the idea from Rachel Hauser's blog stitched in color and used Jennifer Paganelli's covered journal tutorial.  This was a birthday gift for a lovely lady I have meet here in Basel.  I wanted to get her something special but was really strugging with ideas. Hopefully the journal will be well used and the cover well loved.

The grey is Kona cotton in coal and the prints are from a charm pack of  Malka Dubrawsky's first line of fabric, a stitch in color.

I really enjoyed making this journal cover (despite crazy machine behaviours!) and even bought myself a diary that I hope to make a cover for when my machine is back in working order........

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Cinnamon Buns

What could be better on a miserable Saturday morning than fresh homemade cinnamon scrolls and a cup of coffee (or milk for the kids).  

Since moving to Switzerland we have started the ritual of cooking our own special breakfast on the weekends, as the lovely Melbourne cafe does not exist here.  Normally it is Daddy's pancakes, french toast, or waffles.  A couple of years ago my sister Catherine made cinnamon scrolls for brunch and I thought they would make a nice change.  It has taken me a long long time to get around to making these as they are essentially a soft sweet bread which requires hours of proving.  While I loved the idea I was not so keen to get up at 4am so we could have cinnamon buns for breakfast!  I was flicking through my Monday Morning Cooking Club cookbook and finally read to the end of the recipe where is said that the dough refrigerates or freezes well.  What a fabulous idea!  So last Saturday afternoon I set to work, it took a few minutes here and there over the course of the afternoon but other than all the waiting between steps they were very easy to make.  I made two cake tins worth and had a few messy ends left over.  The ends were tested for desert that evening, yummy!  We had one tin last Sunday morning and Pippi kindly woke me at 5am this morning so we had the last tin this morning. I took them out of the fridge to come back to room temperature for a final rise (and went back to bed.)

Before cooking

and these are what we enjoyed for breakfast..........

As I mentioned before the recipe came from one of my favourite recipe books "Monday Morning Cooking Club".   This much loved book was a gift from my sister in law and family.  It has great recipes, savory and sweet.  They are not of the super quick and easy variety, although some are, but sometimes it is nice to put in a bit off an effort and I must say every recipe I have made has been totally worth it.  Couscous Roast Chicken has become a family favorite and the lamingtons are sooo good.

Sorry I can't share the recipe, as I don't think that is the right thing to do since I made it exactly to the recipe in the book, but I do highly recommend the recipe and the book.