Some more sewing adventures!

A few weeks ago my digital kitchen scales broke. So what? I hear you say. So, apparently my baking mojo has broken with it. Even since I have not been able to double check my measurements with my scales, everything I make has seemed to be fatally flawed. I know that I could just go and buy another one but i’m so close to finally paying off my credit card debt that I just don’t want to splash out that sort of moolah for a good set of scales. And so, I have been resorting to my other hobby to keep myself occupied. Sewing!

So I bought some super fluffy pink flannelette fabric

of course it had to have bunnies on it

and made myself some pyjama pants!

Mum brought me back the tshirt from the Magnolia Bakery in New York last year.

Excuse the total mess behind me.

In case you couldn’t see in the pic, I cut the fabric upside down.


but of course its all a-ok because it means that the bunnies are the right way up for me!

p.s. totally loving mums fleecy cupcake pjs. Might have to whip myself up a pair!

and of course, wearing warm fluffy pjs requires disney. Lots of disney.

Apart from the slight problem cutting the fabric, I was very pleased with how these turned out. This is the first garment i’ve made and i’m still teaching myself all the bits and pieces involved. Of course, I couldn’t stop there. I had known for months that a big costume party was fast approaching. With a theme of ‘medieval’ I was a bit stuck as all the ebay costumes were sexy wench, sexy viking or medieval princess and were either super expensive or just a bit boring. My boy and I never really dress up for parties so, seeing as this was a 30th celebration, we thought that we would surprise everyone and go all out. I didn’t want to go down the ebay route so we tried to figure out some different ideas to fit in with the theme. I have to say that I think my suggestions were pretty good:

  • space vikings (with lots of silver and glitz)
  • ninjas (because who says medieval has to be european? And i’ve always wanted to go to a ninja party)
  • samurais (same as above)

Finally I came up with the idea of Odin (King of the Gods) and Valkryie (female spirits who took the souls of the valiant warriors to eternal bliss with Odin in Valhalla). I won’t post a pic of the boy up here but it is safe to say that our costumes were so complete that no one recognised us when we arrived. I do have a picture of the beard and wig he wore which will give you a bit of an idea…

He wore the same hat as in the picture there and the wig looked just as good in person as it did on the box.

I call that a win! I went down the anima/manga influenced Valkyrie with an electric blue and gold colour scheme.

I whipped up a skirt out of electric blue velour (never again as that fabric is so tricky to sew with!)

cut out some gold velour as a cape

Used a bit of gold spray paint on an old belt and some boots

popped on a blonde wig



Of course every good valkyrie spends time stitching extra elastic onto Odin’s beard…

I also made a pair of arm warmers out of the extra blue fabric as it was a super cold night but I can’t find a good pic of them at the moment. Overall I was pretty pleased with how the outfits turned out and I’m racking my brain trying to come up with other places to bust out those gold boots. Any ideas, my lovely readers? And what was the best costume you ever wore to a party?

And now for something completely different…

Well, kinda different. Those who follow me on instagram (bakerbowie by the way!) might have noticed that my pics are not always cooking related. While I always maintain that the best thing to chill me out after a stressful day/week/month/year is to get in the kitchen and start cooking, I have found another hobby that seems to do the trick on the stress front. That hobby is sewing. And yes, I am aware that I am utterly predictable in my love of all things pink, sweet, girly so to imagine my sewing on would not be that big of a stretch.

Don’t worry, I am still cooking and have a few goodies to serve up in the next few weeks, but I want to share a few cute (simple) projects that i’ve been working on. It all started with a cardigan that I ordered from Asos a few months ago. While it looked lovely on the model, it looked pretty plain on me. When will I learn that what looks amazing on an online model will almost NEVER look the same on an ordinary human being?

It looked like this.

Cute collar, but pretty average everywhere else.

So I hopped on etsy to look for some buttons to brighten it up. Who knew that changing the buttons on a cardigan would completely change it? Now that i’ve let you in on the not so secret admission that i’m totally predictable, can you guess what kind of buttons I bought? Bows you say? Absolutely.

See? Cuteness magnified about 100000000%

So, while I work on my sewing machine skills which are pretty average, I though that I would start small by customising some cardigans. I went out and bought myself a few more to experiment on. At $10 a pop, how could I just stop at one? So I bought five.

Don’t judge. I know that you wouldn’t have passed that up!

I added swarovski buttons

sugar sweethearts? Nah, plastic buttons, but cute nonetheless!

And I like their use of the imperative.


So yes, all my sewing things are pink too…

which is nice when i’m sewing buttons on a pink cardi

because we all know that matchy matchy is the way to go!

these ice-cream buttons are just so damn cute it hurts.

It hurts in all my cuteness glands.

By the way do you like how even my sewing is cooking/food related? Thought you would!! So what do you do to chill out, lovely readers?

Home Made Christmas Gifts and a Christmas Giveaway!

So its two weeks until Christmas and i’m hoping that you’ve started thinking about your Christmas shopping. Have you made your list and checked it twice? Or do you still have names bouncing around in your brain like a gaggle of five year olds on a jumping castle? Either way, it’s time to get your skates on and fill up that space beneath the tree. In case you’re trapped inside by the unseasonable Sydney weather, or you just can’t be bothered to go to the shops, I thought I would bring you a few suggestions of home made gifts that you can whip up to give your loved ones.

All these gifts were made from recipes in the fabulous book Gifts from the Kitchen: 100 Irresistible Homemade Presents for Every Occasion by Annie Rigg.  I have made so many of these recipes for gifts throughout the year and recently gifted some of the ones below to co workers for Christmas. (There are a few more suggestions to come in the next few days so make sure that you check back!) But for now, lets recap on some of the ideas of 2010:

1. If you’re shopping for a high tea loving lady, can I suggest some sweet little novelty sugar cubes like these

2. Perhaps the more savoury, down to earth man would like some home made honey wholegrain mustard?

3. Anyone at all would LOVE some Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve (particularly with the delicious strawberries around at the moment)

4. And the sci fi fan in your life might appreciate some of the above jam with a twist. A GRAVITY DEFYING twist. Just make the recipe as above but reduce the jam a little more and allow the jam to cool completely while keeping the jar inverted. When you flip it back the right way up, the jam will remain at the top. Gravity defying I tell you!


5. Finally, if you have a bit of a baker/cook/crafter in your collection of giftees, perhaps they would like a copy of Gifts from the Kitchen: 100 Irresistible Homemade Presents for Every Occasion by Annie Rigg? I have two of these fabulous books to give away just in time for Christmas! (Or you could keep it and cook yourself some lovely treats. Doesn’t everyone buy themselves a gift at Christmas?)

In order to enter the competition, all you need to do is leave a comment below telling me what home made gift you have received or would like to receive for ChristmasEntries will close at 5pm (Sydney time) Monday 19th December and the two winners will be chosen at random and contacted via email. The prizes will be mailed via express post already gift wrapped ready for giving! Please make sure that you include your email in your comment and if you are a lucky winner, please reply to my email for mailing directions asap so that these will arrive in time for Christmas. Due to time and shipping constraints, entries are limited to Australian residents.

Good luck! 

Edible Christmas Gifts #1: Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve

I have a confession. It may shock you.

I don’t like strawberries.

Sometimes I feel like i’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t like fresh strawberries. Not dipped in chocolate, not with fresh cream on a hot summer’s day, not even freshly picked. I’ve never been able to figure out why. It’s not like my aversion to fresh tomatoes (which make me throw up), I just don’t like them. But here’s the kicker… I LOVE strawberry jam.

After buying Gifts from the Kitchen: 100 Irresistible Homemade Presents for Every Occasion by Annie Rigg, I decided that I was going to be making some delicious christmas gifts for my friends and family. Each year I try to make some jam, sometimes a success (2009 Blueberry Jam) sometimes a failure (2008 Peach and Nectarine Jam… and I use the word ‘Jam’ very loosely here). This year I was determined to try the old faithful Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve. The recipe was straightforward and very easy to follow and, unlike many other recipes, it did not make litres and litres of jam that required bottles and bottles to contain it. This recipe makes enough to fill 3 X 125mL jars and doesn’t require a giant saucepan.

Firstly, you must make sure that you sterilise your jars. Not necessarily as difficult as it sounds. I bought these jars for $5.95 (a tad expensive but they were all I could find at the time) from The Essential Ingredient in Rozelle.

They came with instructions on how to sterilise them, but here is how I do it. First I take the rubber seals off then I wash the jars in hot soapy water then pop them on a tray and into an oven heated at 200 degrees celsius for 20 mins. When the jars are cool I pop the seals in boiling water for 1 minute then stick them back on the lids. The recipe can be found at the end of this post, but let me walk you through it.

After sterlising your jars, you need to behead your strawberries.


And chop them up into tiny pieces. (about 550g of strawberries are needed)

Then pop 450g preserving sugar (I use the CSR because its the only one I can find, and it’s pretty good) along with the juice of one lemon and the seeds and pod of one vanilla beans in a large sized heavy based saucepan. (I used two vanilla beans because… well… I just love them)

Put over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

Add your strawberries and stir to make sure they are coated with the sugar mixture.

Leave to stand for around 1 hour so that the fruit can soften and release its tasty juices into the syrup.

Return the pan to a medium heat and cook at a steady boil without stirring for 20 mins or until it reaches setting point. Here are a few ways to tell if it has reached setting point. I prefer to use the chilled saucer method. (When I made this, I had to leave it for over 30 mins before it reached setting point, so if it takes a while, do not stress! Just keep testing every nowand then and be careful not to burn your jam.

When your jam has reached setting point, take it off the heat and pour it into your waiting jars.

Tah Dah! Fresh pots of Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve!

The jam will thicken after it has rested for a while, but the beauty of this recipe is that it tastes delicious so even if something goes wrong and it doesn’t set you can still use it as a sauce over ice cream or some delicious dessert. Mmmmmm!! Win win!

It is a relatively fuss free recipe due to the smaller yield so it is not too late to make this for someone for Christmas. Get cooking!

And, my lovelies, what kind of jam is your favourite? After trying Kaya and Champagne jelly, I am eager to try some other flavours!

Strawberry and Vanilla Conserve – Adapted From Gifts From the Kitchen by Annie Rigg


450g preserving sugar

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp water

1 vanilla pod (feel free to use more if you wish)

550g small, ripe strawberries (hulled and chopped)


1. Put the sugar, water and lemon into a large heavy based saucepan or preserving pan. Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into the sugar mixture. Add the pod and place over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved

2. Remove the pan from the heat and tip the strawberries in. Stir gently to coat the strawberry pieces in syrup then leave to stand for around 1 hr

3. Return the pan to a medium heat and cook at a steady boil for around 20 mins, or until it reaches setting point. Keep testing for setting point and don’t worry if it takes longer but make sure you resist the temptation to turn your heat on much higher or you might burn your jam on the bottom.

4. When the jam has reached setting point, take the pan off the heat and let the mixture stand for 10 mins to let the strawberries settle.

5. Pour or ladle the mixture into waiting bottles (it should take 3 and a bit 125mL bottles) and seal immediately. They will keep for months unopened in a cool, dark cupboard or up to 1 month in the fridge once opened.