Saturday, October 31, 2009

Place Mats & Table Mats

Yes, I've been working hard on the place mats and table mats this week. Today I decided to complete them all - and I did! When I'm in the sewing mood I tend to forget about other things, and that is what happened today! I was supposed to do the dishes, mopping the floors and porch, but snuggled up in the sewing room. Right now it's pouring down and thunder in the distance so I'd better shut down the computer if it continues.

I think you will remember they are all made from the old pillow cases I got from Johnny. He wanted me to make two place mats - and here is what came out of 5 old pillow cases! :) They look quite retro - don't they - from the 1970's. :)

The first photo shows a small tablecloth. It measures 14" x 22" (36 x 54cm).

Here are two place mats. They measure 16" x 19" (41 x 49cm). The size is a bit odd for a place mat, but it ended up that size due to the pattern I created. :)


Another tablecloth - measuring 15.5" x 21" (39 x 53cm)


A small table mat. It measures 15,5" x 15,5" (40 x 40 cm)

And finally two table mats. The size is 13.5" x 13,5" (35 x 35 cm).

For the backing I used an old bed sheet Johnny sent me too. :) Isn't it wonderful to re-use bed linen, clothes etc? I'm collecting old flannel shirts, which I hope to make a lap quilt when I have enough...

Coffee trees in bloom

Look at these flowers! Ain't they beautiful? Our coffee trees are in bloom! If I'm not mistaken, we have 10 coffee trees (I'm too lazy going outside to count them!), and when they all are in bloom it is to be admired. The trees were in bloom last year too, but far from the intensity as this year. I didn't know the flowers have such a sweet scent - it reminds me of oleanders. The flowers - the way they are placed on the branches, reminds me of snow! :)

Don't believe I'm the new Karen Blixen - a Danish woman who settled in Kenya to grow coffee... I guess you all know the film "Out of Africa" (Meryl Streep / Robert Redford). My forever favorite film - don't know how many times I've seen it! :) We have the trees in our garden, because as coming from Norway - I find coffee trees very exotic! :)

Coffee is grown in small scale in the Chamarel area, because the trees flowers during the risky cyclone season. The trees are grown in sheltered places by the ridges of the hillsides. There are three types of coffee growing here; Arabica, Liberica (smaller version of Arabica) and Robusta. Coffee is not endemic to the island, it was imported from Brazil, via Madagascar and Thailand. The coffee beans are roasted, ground and packed by hand in a small factory at the tiny village Case Noyale.

A few green coffee beans.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ziromon (Pumpkin) leaves

We didn't intend to grow ziromon (Creole for pumpkin). These pumpkins are dark green (skin) with orange flesh. It must have been one of the seeds we have thrown that decided to grow in our "backyard" garden. Every day we've looked for small ziromons, but in vain. The beautiful orange flowers are there, but no vegetables yet. The plant is quite young, and it is said it gives vegetables after it is getting old... I have no idea what "old" means for a ziromon plant! :)


The days are getting longer, hotter and more humid, so that plant decided it is time for growing! And when I say time for growing, my it grows fast - the leaves! Just in one week or so it covered most of the area around it and threatened to climbed into the coffee trees and even one branch decided how great it was to grow around a water pipe on the wall! I didn't agree to that! This morning I had enough of it and cut off most of the branches! Had to throw most of it, because the bigger leaves and branches are not eaten. Ziromon leaves are eaten here, but only the young shoots - see photo above). One of the fun thing with these kind of creepers is that you cut one branch and there will be hundreds of new branches! That is to exaggerate, but you know what I mean...


Cleaning the leaves and branches are another "fun part"! The plant has tiny "thorns" on the branches, which has be be removed before cooking. It's a h... (sorry) of a job, but it has too be done! Above: DH shows the "skin" (I don't know the English word) that has to be removed.


Voila! Cleaned - and ready to be washed and boiled. The cleaning takes time, and I have the impression not many people eat ziromon leaves anymore, just because of the time consuming cleaning. We never buy these leaves at the local vegetable market, because there are a lot of waist. We prefer growing it in our garden, where there is no pesticide and herbicide added!

To boil the leaves: fry onion and garlic in a pan - fry it very good. We use a pressure cooker. Add the leaves and boil for a short time. Don't add water if you use a pressure cooker!!! The water from the cleaned leaves are enough! Green leaves don't need long cooking time, as they "melt" fast in a pressure cooker. Add salt after cooking. A little bit olive oil can be added too - if desired.

I forgot to take a photo after it was done (boiled), but I bet you all can imagine how it looks like! :))


Busy weekend / Wedding Anniversary

October 25th was our wedding anniversary. :) 7 years since we got married. It was done in a jiffy - it took 20 minutes - at the Civil Status Office in Port Louis. None of us wanted a "3-days Indian wedding", which is very common here. Ever since that day I've been pestering DH to buy me/us flowers on our wedding day, but in vain. It took him 7 years to buy a bouquet of beautiful red roses! Aren't they lovely?! I love roses! He even bought me a pair of beautiful, silver earrings - and cakes! :) Could it be better?! :) It looks like Birre-Liten likes the roses too - or is he tired of the celebration?




In my previous post I mentioned "Nina's Mystery". (Sorry I did a typing mistake in that post - her blog is 9na's Smutthull). I got so addicted to those blocks/potholders that I made even more during the weekend. I intended to make a pair of potholders for my friend Johnny's mom in Norway, but again I thought the blocks became too beautiful for potholders, so I made four and turned them into a tablecloth! :) It was a bit difficult to find coordinating fabric to the scarlet red cardinals, but fortunate after diving into my Christmas stash, I did find something suitable. I didn't have enough of the dotted fabric, that's why I had to use something else for the binding. After all - it didn't turn out that bad - did it? :) It measures 28,5 inch square - 72,5 cm. Sorry about the color difference on these two photos... The original colors are nearer to the photo above than to the one below.



Birre-Liten tired of hunting cardinals? :))


Not only did I make the tablecloth during the weekend... I was in the right sewing mood! After having a look what was stored on the old ironing board - under tons of fabrics, I discovered the place mats and table mats I'm making for Johnny, as well as the zigzag quilt I started some months ago... I decided to quilt the mats, and thereafter trim them. I've left to do the binding now, but have to find some suitable fabric for that. Yesterday evening I added a border to the zigzag quilt and today I've added the three layers together and basted it. It's ready to be quilted. I'm really happy about all the sewing I did during the weekend! I love getting rid of UFO's!!! :))

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Christmas blocks -what to do?

A week ago or so Nina had a "Jule-Sy-Mysterium" (Christmas-Sew-Mystery) on her blog. I was a bit too late to sign up for the "mystery" - one day before the "mystery" was shown. Actually I did sign up, but changed my mind..... The next day I had a look at her blog again; the "mystery" turned out to be a pair of potholders! :) Excited by the way the potholders were made - quite easy - I decided to make a pair. I made one pair, two pairs and even three pairs when I finally realised I'd made a mistake on all of them! BLUNDER!!! :((( Sometimes I'm amazed by how silly it is possible to be!!! Brain dead - reset! We used to say that at my previous workplace, but do you believe it worked?! NO! :)) Well, the "blunder-potholders" didn't turn out that bad after all; I've completed them all. (Forgot to take a photo - will do that later).

After I finally realized the blunder I made, I decided to make a pair the right way - without any mistakes! I also decided to use some other fabrics and ended up with Debbie Mumm's "Arctic Holiday". After making two blocks I was over-thrilled by the prettiness of the blocks and made more and more.... altogether 11 blocks - done in a jiffy! I just can't make potholders out of the blocks - they are too pretty for that - aren't they? :) Just too cute! :)) 11 blocks are not enough for a bigger project, so guess what I did? You are right; I've purchased more fabrics from the US! :))


I had another "Santa Blocks" from "Arctic Holiday" too. I wanted to make something a bit different. I wanted to try "Churn Dash" blocks, which I'd never done before. Oh what fun!!! And so easy to make! I made them all during the weekend. I was breathless by excitement! LOL! I made 6 red and 6 green blocks. Eeerrrmmmm...... Purchased even more fabrics from the US!!! I have yet to decide what to make out of all the blocks; tablecloths, place mats, quilts - who knows....... I'll keep you posted! :)


Sunset on Divali night - October 17th 2009.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Divali - Festival of Lights / Gateau Batate

(photo from Wikipedia)
Divali - or Deepavali - as it is also called - was celebrated in Mauritius and several other countries October 17th this year. The Festival of Lights is symbolically celebrated by several rituals, such as cleaning the entire house, even painting if needed, making sweets, sharing the sweets among relatives, neighbor's and friends. Another importance is wearing new clothes, and the most important is lighting up the house with traditional earthen oil lamps, but nowadays electric lamps are more used, firecrackers. Divali is celebrated on the darkest night of the month of Kartik (eight lunar month) of the Hindu calendar, which generally corresponds to the October/November period of our calendar. Divali commemorates the victory of Light over Darkness, that is, the victory of Good over Evil. In India Deepavali is a 4 days festival, while one day only here in Mauritius.

There are all sorts of sweets to be made for Divali. Since we are not that much into celebrations, we made "gateau batate" only, which is deep fried cakes made of sweet potatoes. The ingredients are quite a few - and simple to make, even if it takes some time.

Recipe:

1 kg sweet potatoes
250 grams plain flour (approx)
1 coconut
sugar


Boil the potatoes. Be careful not to boil them for too long; they should not be too watery. Peel and mash the potatoes and mix in the flour to a dough. Roll the dough and stick out circles - approx 12cm (4-5 inch) diameter - see photo.


Break the coconut and grate the "flesh". Of course dry coconut powder can be used, but no doubt the fresh one tastes much, much better! Mix with sugar. I have not put any amount of sugar - your choice how sweet you want it.

Add the coconut/sugar mix to the dough/circle and close it carefully. Be careful not to spill the filling on the sides, or else it won't close properly when frying. (The filling will seep out). Here they are ready to be deep fried.

Deep frying in oil until they become "brown", but not burnt. :)


VOILA! BON APPETITE!

We made the cakes the day before Divali, didn't want too much work on the day itself. In the morning of Divali I mopped the floors, swept and mopped the porch too. My MIL "approved" the "gateau batates"! Yes, these sweets are not always easy to make; it all depends on the sweet potatoes - which quality. DH bought the sweet potatoes from the vegetable market. He asked if the potatoes were fresh or old ones, where the woman said "of course they are fresh!" Well, most of them turned out black inside after boiling, so we believe the woman made a story just to sell the potatoes! More than half of it had to be thrown! :(( Out of what was usable we made 18 cakes, which was enough to share among the family. We got a lot of sweets from DH's youngest sister & family, as well as from MIL and DH's youngest niece next door. She is 12 years old and it was the first time she dared knock our door and wishing us "HAPPY DIVALI"! She's always been very shy, but seems to have improved now. She was wearing a beautiful, brand new "churidar" (short blouse & long skirt and a shawl) - cherry color - and even new shoes! Needless to say how proud she was! :) Later in the night DH's eldest sister & her son popped in - bringing even more sweets! I thought that was all, but the next day MIL gave us more sweets, because she was unable to eat it all! LOL! We lighted the earthen oil lamps on the porch - magic! It looked so beautiful! I prefer these oil lamps to modern electric lamps. Late in the evening we took the dogs for a walk and had a look at the beautifully decorated houses in the area. Lots of firecrackers too. There were still a lot of traffic, people going home or visiting relatives and friends - and some in our area were partying. Lots of fun! :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Small Token

This is my first cross stitch project after about 20 years! I used to do a lot of counted cross stitching in earlier years, but through the years I went into other interests etc. After I joined NNC - where there are so many talented cross-stitchers - I felt tempted to start over again. Thanks to (especially) MW @ NNC, who encouraged me the most! :) I was introduced to so many cute designs; "Blackbird Designs" as well as "Little House Needleworks" etc. I enjoyed so much doing the pincushion from Blackbird Designs. It was a bit hard for my eyes, but I managed - some mistakes and unpicking included! :)
It is stitched on 32ct Lakeside Linens (vintage sand dune) over 2 threads. I have used 2 strands DMC floss. It measures 4" x 5 1/4" - approx 10 x 13 cm.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

With Christmas approaching.....

...I'm in Christmas mood! :) Yes, I know, I know.... There are still +2 months until Christmas, but I don't want rushing the last days to get things done. That is why I have made a few things for myself.
I love the Australian crafts magazines! They always have so many budget projects made from scraps and here is one I just "had to" make! :) Cute little daisies, a combination of applique and embroidery. It measures 12" x 14" (30 x 36cm).


Another budget buster is this cute little basket, made from leftover pieces. Last year - long before I started this blog - I made "Snow Wonderland" by Whimsicals - and was left with quite some leftovers. I have used those leftovers for the basket - I think the snowman and crow are just so darling! :)) I have decorated the basket with buttons. I think the basket will be nice for nuts.... or even sweets... It measures 3,5" x 4,5" (9 x 11,5cm) diameter.

The crow...

...and the snowman. :)

The Christmas bag; made of the same collection + a few other matching fabrics. I've used black linen for the lining. It has a magnetic bag closure too. I had to go to Port Louis to get it - one dozen - doesn't sell less....
T'was the night before Christmas
and all through the house
not a creature was stirring
not even a mouse..!



(I'm sorry the photos are a bit blurred - didn't get them better...)

Some people's mentality.....

What makes one of our neighbors to throw his garbage next to our gate? The owner of the house doesn't live there; the house is rented out to two middle aged men. For the last 2-3 Saturdays a worker does the lawn and other jobs there. Approx 3 weeks ago we noticed some garbage were thrown next to our gate; some pieces of wood, broken tiles etc. We knew it was the neighbor, because the wood pieces were in his entrance 1-2 days earlier. I removed the garbage and threw it outside his gate! After approx one week DH discovered a satellite antenna - the disk - was hidden under some palm leaves we had thrown next to our gate - for the municipality truck to pick up. There were some old water pipes too, and again I threw it on the other side of the road. Today I saw it with my own eyes; the worker came out from the neighbor's gate with the dustbin in his hands - and guess what??? He emptied the garbage at the same place - next to our gate! I was too slow to react, or else I had told him my opinion! Again I picked up the neighbor's garbage; 3 plastic bags with kitchen refuse and some leaves - threw it back! I know for sure it is not the tenants who are so shameless - it's that worker!!! :( What the heck goes on in that guys brain, when he empties the dustbin over on the neighbor's side??? Lack of common sense? Lack of intelligence? Mentality? What was he thought by his parents? How had he reacted if we had thrown our garbage on his plot??? I agree it doesn't look very nice outside our gate nowadays; we have thrown branches and such from our garden for the truck to pick up later on, but - we never throw other things there! Is it that this guy believe it is a dumping place? Even if we have thrown garden refuse there, it doesn't mean it is a dumping area for all the neighbors - does it?! Well, what has to be done now is to get in touch with the owner of the house... He uses to come once a week or so... There are limits for shameless behavior - isn't it?!