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. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Dress for Philippa

I finally finished Philippa's dress that I cut out in Elsie Marley's Spring Kids Clothes Week Challenge.  Even better it was a lovely warm sunny day perfect for a photo shoot with the littlest member of our family. 

"Look at Me"
This is another Seashore Sundress by Oliver + S.  I love this pattern, it is a super cute dress so easy to sew and lends itself so nicely to using multiple fabrics.  This time I have used Ta Dot in Berry, Ann Kelle's Hearts in Bright and Dot to Dot in Navy from the Children at Play range.  I sewed size 18-24M for Philippa which is actually a little long right now, but it keeps it modest especially with  a bulky nappy underneath. It was very satisfying to cut out a pattern and sew up a lovely dress (no measuring, fiddling, altering).  Philippa is 2 in a couple of weeks, so this is her Birthday Dress and she is very happy with it!

I added a couple of heart appliques as she loves hearts and choose the fabric for the front panel.  So as you can see there is one on the back.  I used dot to dot in Aqua from Children at Play range of fabric.

I also appliqued a heart on the facing as a faux label, using dot to dot in Berry.  To keep it colourful I used Sandi Henderson's Henna Garden in Yellow for the facing.

She enjoyed having photos taken after watching her sisters getting fussed over in the past.  It was very cute!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Xanthe's new dress used to be Daddy's shirt

So here it is, my take on the man's business shirt refashioned into a little girl's dress.  I have a couple of Daddy's old business shirts in my stash so I let Xanthe choose her favourite.   She chose a lovely grey and red stripe shirt.  I looked through my stash to find a fabric that complemented to add a bit more colour.  I settled on a honeycomb spot by Riley Blake from the Rainy Days and Mondays line.  I love the finished dress especially the extra pop of red, Xanthe loves the pockets (perfect for putting little treasures in).  Unfortunately my measuring was a bit off and the bodice is a little long (for right now, lucky kids grow!).  So I think this will be a better fit next summer which is probably not a bad thing.  Even though she loves the idea of wearing Daddy's shirt and I added the extra red trims and pockets, she still insists it is not pink enough for her!

I remixed Sandi Henderson's Gracie Jumper pattern.  The neckline is pretty much the same although I slip stitched the top seam closed rather than using 1" bias as written in the pattern.  Also I kept the shirts original button panel, so had to alter how the lining was sewn in.  The pockets are of my own design.  The ruffle at the bottom was pieced together from the extra shirt length and the sleeves.  I lined it in Kona Solid in Ash from my stash.  I replaced the cream colored shirt buttons with some black buttons from an old cardigan of mine.  They are very sweet and oval, heart and triangular in shape.  

Daddy has today kindly donated an all pink shirt to the sewing pile, so perhaps I will give this dress another go for Xanthe with a better fit for this summer.............

I just love this last shot.  I don't think Xanthe did, she was a bit over the photo shoot by this stage.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


My husband has been working crazy long hours and even had to work some of Easter.  This weekend past was not officially a long weekend but Tuesday was a public holiday and Scott finally had the chance to take some time off.  After a cool April with constant rain the weather was forecast to be warm and fine, so very last minute I contacted a camping company and asked for a cabin anywhere within 3hrs drive of Basel.  They has a spot free in Interlaken.  Unfortunately it was only for the weekend, but 2 nights was better than none.  Wow Interlaken is beautiful.  Nestled between two lakes with the Bernese Alps all around.

View of the Jungfrau from Interlaken
Interlaken is the adventure capital of Switzerland, but with three young children, white water rafting, rock climbing, skydiving, parra-sailing and late season skiing were not high on our to do list.  This is also a great base for walking, serious walking, again not overly great for young kids.  We could have caught the train up the Jungfrau to the "roof of Europe", but a 4hr return trip did not overly appeal.  We have girls who are not very excited about trains, or more snow and ice (we will wait till we have visitors to do this).  Lake activities were not open yet for the Summer season.  So we decided to visit Ballenberg, the Swiss Open-Air Museum, perfect, lots of walking between "villages", but with so much to look at the kids were kept interested and didn't realise they were doing so much walking.

Enjoying walking around Ballenberg

Historical Buildings (relocated) from all over Switzerland

Great views

Old time farmyards and fields

Vegetable gardens

Playground with carousel

Historical home that's lower levels were converted into an Enchanted Forest for the kids

Entering the Enchanted Forest
Exiting the Enchanted Forest through a hidden door in the kitchen

Rope factory
We enjoyed our day so much at Ballenberg that we got season membership and returned for a second morning to finish looking around.  It is rather large with lots to see.

So that was our weekend in Interlaken.  Lucky it is only a short drive from home as there is so much more to see and do.