Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Aunt's Quilt update

I'm quite behind with my appliqué blocks; to tell you the truth, I've only completed the first block. But I have decided to make all the pieced blocks in one go and here they are.

I have also made blocks for a charity quilt the "Shanghai quilters alumni" are putting together. We were all were members of the Shanghai quilt group at one time or another.  Some lovely ladies in the US will collect all the blocks and put them together and another lovely lady with a longarm machine is going to quilt it.

I hope you are having a lovely weekend.
Vreni xx

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Burmese Days

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a good start into the new year. Our Christmas was low key as it was just the four of us. We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange afterwards (as we do in Switzerland) and on Christmas day we went to our favorite hotel for brunch. On Boxing Day we left early for the airport to fly to Burma, or Myanmar as it's called now . What a beautiful country and people. After many years of brutal military dictatorship it looks like there are at long last some democratic reforms, although opinions differ whether the transition to democracy is really underway. I guess time will tell.

I will just let the pictures tell the story:

The famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, which  is undergoing substantial renovations at the moment, hence the covers and scaffolding  

 Bagan - a truly magical place -  located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. It is home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world with many dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. 

 and at sun set

I love visiting fresh produce markets

and couldn't resist buying a big bag full of dried chilies.

 Traditional arts and crafts:
tapestry with gold threads and semi precious stones

 Hotel pool with ancient temples in the background  

Sun set on the Irrawaddy River

Another golden temple

Manaday, Kuthodaw Pagoda

U Bein bridge,
the iconic teak wood bridge, the oldest and longest in the world  

Next we visit Amarapura, an 18th century capital city, to see the monks lining up to receive their food and gifts from donors at the Mahagandhayon Monastery. Monks only eat twice a day, lunch being the last meal of the day. 

From Mandalay we flew to the Inle Lake and enjoyed being taken on several tours in one of those narrow motor boats.

Fishermen "ballet" 

 Houses on stilts

Kids coming home from school, on boats of course

floating gardens, where tomatoes, bitter gourds, flowers and more grow

rickety stairways and walkways, not so easy to navigate for people like us (or me I should say)

Visits to the hill tribes 

 We had a few amazing days on and around the lake and I would probably say, that it was the best part of our holiday. 

The last night we spend at the iconic Strand Hotel in Yangon colonial life as its finest.

I congratulate you if you are still reading, but it was hard to choose only a few pictures out of the 600 we took.

Happy weekend.
Vreni xx

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 in pictures

Finished quilts and tops

Bags and pouches


Christmas crafts

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and interesting New Year.

Vreni xx

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and hope you'll enjoy this beautifully animated Russian Christmas story.

Vreni x

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A couple more Christmas gifts

Two pouches made with Cotton & Steel fabrics. I especially love the stripy tigers.

Isn't the lacy zipper cute? I just had to get my head around the fact, that the lace had to be on the  outside tough, but managed it after a "false start". 

My daughter wanted a grocery bag dispenser like I have so I made her this. Only when it was finished did I realize that the flowers are upside down. Oh well! 

And the cookies are bagged and mostly handed out already. 

My next task is to decorate the Christmas tree. We got a live one as always but had a bit of trouble as apparently a strike in the US ports delayed their arrival.

I hope you are also enjoying the season.
Vreni x

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

And now I can't stop....

..... making these little spice filled house and tree ornaments, instead of doing some more pressing things like writing my Christmas cards. But they really are addictive and I love how my sewing room smells.

I've also been playing with gift tags; aren't they cute? Sort of like mini post cards. I made the fabric stamps the same way as I did for my Christmas cards.
Then I made one more tea box for the charity fair which went off to a good start as a lot of my things were snapped up right away. I was planning to recycled whatever wasn't sold as Christmas gifts, but apparently there's nothing left to recycle!

I've made more Christmas cookies too and I'm sharing another of our favourites:

Spitzbuebe which means "Rascals" in Swiss German (don't ask me why they are called that)

250 g (8 oz) butter
125 g (4 oz) powdered sugar
1 pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp water
350 g (2 cups plus 3 Tbsp) flour
1/2 cup of red current jelly

Cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, pinch of salt and water and mix well. Add the flour and bring together into a dough. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Roll out very thin (2 mm, 1/8 of an inch) and cut out circles. For half the cookie circles cut small holes or stars. Refrigerate again for half an hour, so the cookies will keep their shape.

Bake 8 to 10 min in the middle of the preheated oven (200 C, 400 F).

Cool on a wire rack, then assemble cookies with red current jelly. Keep in an airtight container in a cool place


Vreni xx

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I think I need my head examined!

When I first came across pictures of "The Aunts' Quilt" on Instagram I knew I had to make it one day. At the time it was a BOM run by Amitie in Melbourne and not available as a pattern yet. When I visited Amitie in June the quilt was in the shop window but the pattern still wasn't ready. Luckily my Aussie friend went back home a little while ago and brought me back a copy. When Thimbleanna announced a QAL for this quilt all my good intentions to focus on my current quilt went out the window. 

So here's my first block, a few days late. I should also have made two pieced blocks at this stage but decided to do all the pieced blocks together at a later date (definitely after Christmas). 

As I'm needle turning My Auntie Green's Garden quilt  I decided to try another method. I've been following Esther Aliu's progress with her Love Entwined quilt and was intrigued by her method of using wash away applique paper. So that's what I'm doing with this quilt. It's quite a bit more preparation work, but then the appliqueing goes quite fast and the results are very sharp and crisp edges. I've also use the Apliquick tools for the first time and love them.

And since Anna has a "cookie of the month" program I'm copying her and share a cookie recipe here too. I've started my traditional Christmas baking this week with one of our favorite: Basler Brunsli which translates into something like Brownies from Basel (Basel being my hometown).

Basler Brunsli
250 gr (1 1/2 cups) sugar
250 g (8 oz)  ground almonds (not peeled)       mix all dry ingredients
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
2 egg whites                                                      whisk until stiff and fold dry mixture into egg whites
100 g  (6 oz) good dark eating chocolate          melt either in a double boiler on in the microwave and                                                                            blend with the mixture until it comes together.                                                                                                            
Roll out dough to about ¼ inch between two pieces of cling film and cut different shapes with the help of cookie cutters.  Transfer to a baking paper lined baking sheet and leave for a few hours before baking for 6 min by 200 C degree (400 F). Cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight container.

Vreni x