My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mama Bunny Mischief

I planned well.  I planned not to have any extra bunnies bouncing around at Christmas time.  So when I go away camping there is less to organise, less responsibility for whoever we get to housesit/animalsit (anyone keen by the way?!).

But I didn't plan on Mama Bunny.

This particular Mama's name is Tweedle Dum.  And Tweedle Dum took a midnight wander a while ago (well, a month ago to be precise, that's how long rabbits gestate for).  And now I know what she got up to on her big night out!

This litter of ten little wrigglers have a distinct 'wild' bunny look to them. 

Well, I guess I need to have a little talk to Tweedle Dum - you know, that motherly talk about "it only takes once" and "he might say he loves you but..." 

Sigh.  Rabbits have no sense of decorum.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Scrappy Crumb Quilts

My scraps are getting out of hand.  But it's hard to throw them away.  As a wise lady recently said to me,"I paid the same amount per metre for that teeny scrap as I did for that fat quarter!"  And when you've collected a few kilos of teeny scraps, you wonder how much meterage there actually is in the pile.  So I pulled them all out (actually my daughter did - the picture above is her 'nest for birdies'), and decided to do something useful with them.

I'd never really heard of the name 'crumb quilts' until I read about them here, on the lovely Raewyn's blog.  I knew about the concept (sewing any scrap bigger than 1/2 inch into a bigger block, then sewing it all in together), but now they have a delicious name to go with them.  But I'm regimented kinda girl (really!).  I like order to my colours.  I also love rainbows and colourwash.  Soooo, my first step is to sort my scraps.

Then I plan to make my crumb blocks all one colour, with maybe a few flecks of a complimentary colour to make them sparkle.  So I'll have a blue block made up of little crumbs of my different blue scraps with maybe a scrap or two of orange.  A purple block with a spark of orange, a green block with pink.  Sashing?  A cream perhaps, maybe black.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  First I have to go pick up my leftovers!

Anyone else doing a crumb quilt at the moment?  Or tell me what you are doing with your scraps - I'd love some more inspiration to use them up.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Gosh, the weekend is almost here and I haven't even written about last weekend!  Labour weekend was a full-on one for us.  Being a long weekend, my brother and his wife took the opportunity to visit us and they brought their gorgeous son with them.  I could wax lyrical all day about how perfectly delicious he is!  Four months old and just starting to get interesting.  My little Miss with smitten!

Then we had a lovely day relaxing on the beachside whilst hubby took the kids fishing.  We caught up with my hubby's cousin and all her family too.  A real family picnic.  Sunday was another family picnic with different cousins and aunties and uncles and the kids got to swim in the creek where we'll be camping at Christmas time.  But the highlight of their day was horse riding with their Great Uncle M!  Now both of them want a horse for Christmas.  Hmmm, we'll think about that.  And of course I forgot my camera so I don't have a picture of their delighted faces when they were jumping a wee ditch!  (Let's not mention that I was made to get on that horse too....did you know how unstable those things are?!)

This is a pic from last Christmas - high tide in the creek.

Tuesday was a busy day at the Quilting Guild and then Wednesday - yesterday- was the first day I had to sit down and just be.  So I whipped up a couple of grocery bags from upholstery fabric swatches.  I say 'whipped up' because that was how it felt.  Really!  I just sat down and sewed while my girl was napping.  I listened to an audio book and before you know it, I had two bags.  I love it when projects just 'work' - so often they don't so I'm bragging while I can!

So today I'm just pottering.  What are you up to?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Yummiest Mud Cake...

I've ever made.  This isn't saying that much, 'cause I've never really made a mudcake before.  But I tell you, I'll be making a few more now.

This cake is so good that it gets better over time.  Seriously!  Most cakes get drier and you end up feeding the dregs to the chooks or serving it up with custard.  But we've just finished this one four days after making it and the last of it was like eating chocolate fudge.

Chocolate Mud Cake
250g chopped butter
 170g chopped dark chocolate
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups water
2 cups plain flour
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 duck eggs (hen would be fine) lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large saucepan melt the first five ingredients and stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Then cool down for a short while.

Sift in the plain flour, baking powder and cocoa, add the eggs and vanilla and beat gently till combined.

Pour into a well lined cake tin about 20 cms square.

Bake for 1 to 1 & 1/2 hours on 150 Celsius.

I doubled this recipe and poured it into two cake tins.  Then I made a frosting recipe and layered the cake with it in between and covered the whole cake with a thin layer of the frosting.  Then I made a ganache recipe and covered the top of the cake thickly.  I melted some white chocolate and poured it on top of the ganache and artfully swirled it with a fork (looks real fancy!) into the ganache.  Then I shaved bits of white choc with a potato peeler onto the edge of the cake and added a sliced strawberry for colour.


1/2 cup of cream
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
3 tbsps of cocoa powder

Whip the cream then beat in the sugar, vanilla and cocoa until stiff.  Done.


8 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup of cream

Heat cream until it just boils.  Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth.  I wanted a much thicker brew than this as I knew I was transporting the cake and it would be warm so I added about a cup and a half of icing sugar and beat until thick and smooth.

These recipes were all taken from the net, unfortunately I can't remember exactly where from as I wasn't planning to post them here.  So apologies to the original chefs - you have my undying thanks for the best birthday cake ever!  I have altered the recipes here and there to suit me and what I had available at the time.  

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Next Deadline

One more self-imposed deadline to meet.  This is the beginning of the quilt I am making for my Father-in-Law for Christmas.  This is the easy bit - drawing, cutting and ironing the shapes.  Now I have to make a start on appliqueing the shapes on or I end up with a pile at the end and it becomes just a little monotonous.

Today is one of my kid-free days.  I planted tomato, lettuce, silverbeet, cabbage and onion seedlings in my garden and seeds of salsify, onions, yarrow and dandelions (great chook and rabbit fodder).  I manged to climb to the summit of Mt. Washmore and do a load or two and the weather obliged by being sunny and drying it for me.  I can see my lounge floor again.  I finally feel like I'm catching up after my week on non-housework.  Funny how these little things are so fulfilling.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Windyhill Farm Animals.

 Minty the lamb.  He is slowly being weaned and he has an appointment with a couple of rubber rings shortly.  He is boisterous and bouncy and would dearly love a playmate, but orphan lambs have been a little scarcer this year.

 These are the calves that I bottle-reared last year.  Growing fat and sassy on spring grass.

 This is Gloria - I still have hopes about her becoming my housecow.  I should have de-horned her when she was a baby but I didn't get around to it.  She lets me scratch her butt (and if I have bit of chow with molasses, well, she'll let me touch her anywhere!)

 This was Gloria when we first got her.  Ouch, painfully skinny.

And that's her in the middle.  She'll never be a fat cow after her underfed start, but for her she is nicely rounded around the rump.  Isn't it amazing how much darker she's gotten as she's grown?

And would a post about my animals be complete without a chook photo?  These are some eight week old chicks that I'm going to sell.  Two Light Sussex roosters (they'll probably end up in the pot) and three Light Sussex pullets.  Anyone need an egg factory?  $12 each. Cluck, cluck! 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Deadline Met. Happy Boy.

 I am the mother of a six year old.  Crazy!  It makes me feel just a little bit old.  (I'm going to feel positively ancient by the time he's ten).  The people that love my son know him quite well - he got two of these tee-shirts.  He was very excited about that - one to wear when the other one is in the wash!

I managed to finish the Dragon quilt, although there is a very ugly seam that needs unpicking and sowing by hand (I'll sneak it off his bed one night for that).  I ignored all housework while I was frantically stitching - and you can get a bit of an idea from the photo above what an absolute bombsite the house is.

So I was very, very grateful to the weather gods who kept it fine so that we could proceed with the outdoor beach birthday party.  It was a huge success.  By that I mean we didn't drown or lose any children.  Phew. 

And my son made my life extra easy by wanting a "fancy chocolate cake like the supermarket ones".  It took me about a third of the time it normally takes me to decorate a birthday cake and it was THAT good that when I'm not drooping with exhaustion like I am now, I will post the recipe.


Thursday, October 14, 2010


I'm tired of deadlines.  I'm probably just saying that because I'm working frantically to get this dragon quilt finished before Saturday.  But I've decided that after Christmas, I'm not going to make quilts and things 'for' people for a while. 

I say Christmas because I do want to make one more quilt this year for my Father-in-Law.

But after Christmas I want to use my quilting time to play and experiment and develop my 'art' quilting skills a bit more.  One of the ladies at the retreat I went to over the weekend does an A4 sized quilt every month.  She tries out new techniques and tools, she documents her inspiration and she notes what she would do differently.  And when she showed us her little portfolio, you can really see her progress.  This is the type of thing I would like to do more of.

Like the quiltlet above.  I did this one at least a couple of years ago and had so much fun and was very pleased with the outcome.  I'm itching to do more of this type of stuff.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hello again.

So two weeks of school holidays is over.  Normality, or what passes for normality around here, has resumed.  The routine of filling a lunchbox and the after school pickup is actually quite soothing.  I know when I will be able to squeeze in some quilting at least!

 The last weekend of the holidays, I managed to escape to the twice yearly Quilting Retreat that our local guild holds.  I arrived on Friday at about 10.30am, was sewing at 11.00am and didn't stop until lunchtime Sunday, when we cleaned up, packed up and trooped back to our real lives.

 These pictures are all sections of the quilt I'm putting together for my son's sixth birthday.  The Retreat let me make enough progress on it that I think I'm going to have it finished.  It has to be done for next Saturday.  Do you think I'll do it?!

There are a few blocks of flying geese to go, which I've made up but not backed and quilted yet, and then I have to sew all the blocks together and bind it.  I should be sewing, not blogging!

So a quick synopsis: we have 19 new chicks, including five Faverolles, which I'm very excited about.  My incubator is making a funny noise, which we think is a bearing in the fan.  I'm trying to get into the vege garden with limited success, but my potatoes are looking good and my bean seedlings are impressive.  My brother and sister-in-law are planning a visit with my gorgeous three-month-old nephew.  We are hopefully going to get professional mediation in our neighbourly dispute.  We had a chaotic and fun visit from the three nieces during the school holidays and now that things are getting back to normal, you should see me here more often.  Phew!  See you soon.