Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Point and Shoot: Our Weekend that Was

We’re joining in with lovely Lou’s meme tonight – Point and Shoot. It’s been a while since I’ve taken photos with a P&S purpose, but we’ve just had the loveliest, loveliest weekend – wanna see?

It all started with a lemon tart - my first lemon tart making experience - and it just happened to be so, so good that I made it twice in two days. The first was shared with dear friends after a seafood feast; the second was horded and eaten sparingly, in a savouring-the-refreshing-sweetness-of-it-all kind of way…

The kids were handed oversized gardening gloves on our sunny Sunday morning, and put to work tidying up the sorely neglected vegetable garden. And underneath all those prickly cobblers pegs and spiky, suffocating weeds, were these vibrant beauties…

We turned the soil, all rich and loamy after a few days of rain; we hunted through the strawberry leaves to see if any new berries were forming, rubbed fresh picked lavender between our hands to release its heady scent, and worked up a sweat in the gorgeously warm spring-time sunshine.

There was a long, lazy afternoon of sewing – piecing, pinning and pulling together the six cheerful citrus blocks from my beginners sampler quilt (I didn’t think it was possible, but it seems to be even brighter now that it’s edged with the chocolate brown sashings!)...

…and a big, hearty tart filled with slow roasted winter vegetables and melt-in-the-mouth Danish feta for Sunday dinner (I meant to take a photo of this too, but it was cut up and tucked into too quickly).

Some weekends are just meant for family and pottering, aren’t they? 


Ps. Got some wonderful photos from your weekend that was too? Join in! Visit Sunny + Scout here to link up with Lou’s P&S post. And check out her beautiful, candid photography while you’re there – it’s heartwarming, honest and utterly delightful x

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Now Listed: Nursery Flying Birds

You can now find our lovely Nursery Flying Birds in our Etsy store!
Made from the softest boutique cotton materials and coordinating patterns, these flying birds make the most perfect addition to any nursery or bedroom…

Looking for a particular colour combination? Contact us for a custom order!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Grateful #20 – What are you thankful for today?

It’s a grey day in Brisbane this morning, and the rain is soaking in and softening our soil again – just in time for a new spurt of vegetable planting that I was hoping to do sometime next week. Our poor veg garden has been a wee bit neglected of late – the weeds are in competition (and seem to be winning), and Ella, our sad-faced mastiff, has taken to burying her bones in the root vegetable patch (and heavens, do they stink!).
But the weather is warming, and I’m starting to think of summer salads, leafy greens, trellis-covered snow peas, and a carpet of cheerful bee attracting flowers. And maybe even some citrus and a small apple tree.

So with gardens on my mind, this week I’m grateful for:

The promise of Spring. Even though I loved winter this year, and revelled in the feasting, sharing, and comforting goodness of it all, I’ve been feeling a bit grey, and unconsciously looking out for signs of a warmer change.
Our house backs onto a steep incline, a bubbling, story-book type creek, and the local golf course, and in the first blush of spring, the trees in this wild ravine become covered in a strange kind of pure white, mock orange flower. The scent is amazing – especially first thing in the morning; and this week, I noticed that the tall gums and smaller shrubs in our pretty bit of wilderness are absolutely covered in it.
A small dance of joy for the beginning of spring in our pocket of the world.

A morning play. The last few mornings, I’ve let the kids play outside in their pyjamas, a little after . With a million things to do first thing in the morning, and two very active toddlers wanting something fun to do RIGHT NOW, this seemed like the most sensible solution. Yes, pyjamas got covered in dirt (and mud after one rainy night), the dog’s dry biscuits got eaten by Lou (ick!), and socks got buried in random holes, but they were content in exploring their early morning backyard, which was cool and fresh and alive with the sound of birds (And inside, I was more than grateful for the space to tick a few tasks off my daily to-do list!).

What are you grateful for this week?


Ps. Linking up with the wonderful Maxabella– and you can too! Post your Grateful list here, or write it in the comments section below. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Did you know that ‘Woot!’ is a new fixture in the English dictionary?
I have to admit, I’ve used it on occasion. Woot! is the word to use when no other exclamations will do, I guess. But I’ve only seen it written – in texts, on facebook, in emails; I’ve not yet heard anyone actually use it in a sentence, because wouldn’t it just sound weird?

Do you use it? Are there any words that shouldn’t make it into our modern dictionary?


Ps. Other additions of note include Babycino, Bromance, and ridiculously enough, Nom Nom – the eating sound.

Monday, August 22, 2011

And the winner is...


It’s the old fashioned way, you know (because I’m just that kind of gal) – drawing a winner out of a hat. I enlisted the help of Judah, and after much scrounging around, he pulled out the name “Multiple Mum” – Congratulations! I absolutely can’t wait to send you a Quill & Ink Handmade parcel featuring all our most popular selling bits and pieces - we do so hope that it’s loved.

And because we had so many respondents, at the last minute I thought I’d also send out a second random prize of four Quill & Ink Handmade cards. This time, little Lou wanted a turn, and out of the hat came “Kylie.” Yay! We love giving away free stuff!

Thank you to all our respondents for your very insightful answers – we’re so grateful for your time, and have been brainstorming some wonderful ideas based on your suggestions. It’s been interesting to see trends from all over Australia, and a lot of fun remembering childhood games and toys.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, wonderful readers!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Childhood Games

Our survey is in full swing, and it’s been lovely reading all the responses – thank you to everyone who’s already taken part – your feedback is greatly appreciated! If you’d like to be in the running to win a gorgeous Quill & Ink Handmade prize pack, you can fill out our quick survey here. Entries close soon!

In the surveys, it’s been interesting to see the progression of change in the games and toys and the way that we’ve played over generations – it’s always been something that’s really interested me (and not just because we make toys for children).
I’ve always loved hearing stories of how our grandparents played and the types of toys they had, compared to the way our parents played, and the games that they were able to create. Even the games and toys that I played with as a child are quite different to the games my wee ones play now. Not better or worse, mind you; but I guess the most obvious difference would be is that they generally have more to spark that creativity, more things to create their games with.

I don’t remember much about my childhood toy stash; but here are a couple of key things that we played with that stand out in my memory - like my box of paper dolls. Kim and I also shared a box of small, palm sized dolls, which we (very creatively) called ‘Little Dolls’ – which were played with for years, until they were literally falling apart with too much handling. The dolls all had names from the Sound of Music and the Slipper and the Rose (a musical version of Cinderella), which were our two favourite movies. I’m pretty sure that we even had multiple dolls that we named Leisel, because wasn’t she the most beautiful, most graceful and just the loveliest girl?

And at school, it was all about crazy athletic games which involved flexibility or accuracy; and for a little while there, the school yard was littered with girls kicking up their legs like can-can dancers to play Elastics (thanks for the reminder, Maxabella – it made me smile) – do you remember that game? I was even confident when the elastic height neared holders’ necks – how in the world did we ever manage that?

We were also obsessed for a while with handball, which was tricky and competitive and often resulted in lots of heated arguments over line balls and whether the serves were legal, and if the other person was cheating. There was always tiggy, red rover (both of which I seemed to be totally hopeless at), roller skating, soccer (in the middle of summer, when the earth seemed to be on fire), and skipping ropes, which was revived every year during the ‘Jump Rope for Heart’ campaign. I even remember a skipping carnival, where we raised money for the Heart Foundation by spending a whole day taking turns with the skipping rope, dressed in red, red ribbons flying in our plaited hair.

Right now, my babes are half-heartedly playing with a tub of Lego and a box of matchbox cars. Judah’s chasing a balloon around the house, trying to tackle it like a football player, and Lou’s attempting to stand on her head. We’ve had guitars out this morning, have done a bit of Elvis dancing, and there’s talk of bike riding as soon as it warms up a bit.
Isn’t play, in all its forms, just the most magical thing?

Do you remember your favourite childhood games?


Image from here.

Monday, August 15, 2011

B is for Barossa

In nearly seven weeks, we’re going on a girly family holiday (kids included, of course) to South Australia. It’s the first time that Mum, Kim and I will have taken a holiday together, the first time the kids will brave a plane flight, and the first time visiting our beautiful southern cousins for a wedding in the iconic Barossa Valley.

We’ve been talking about what we can do when we’re there – and first on the list (aside from spending lots of time with our family), is a visit to Maggie Beer’s Farm shop in the Barossa Valley. I’m already mentally writing a long list of purchases, including fig and spiced pear paste, some amazing ice cream (burnt fig, caramel and honeycomb!), and some delish pheasant pate. I can’t wait to bring them home to share!

But we’re looking for suggestions – what else should we check out while we’re there? Is there anything, aside from all the lovely wineries, that is too deliciously good to pass up?


Image from here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Grateful #19 – What are you thankful for today?

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a grateful post – and I’ve missed it! It’s such a lovely thing to get into the practice of doing - pausing at the end of each week to be thankful for the things, people and experiences that enrich our lives.

And this week I’m grateful for:

Mini stay-at-home holidays. One the reasons I’ve been a sometimes-poster in blogger land lately is because I’ve been sewing like a loon for weeks on end. Sometimes that happens; no matter how much careful preparation I put in the lead-up to a big market, I still find myself sewing in a slightly obsessed and panicked sort of way the week or so before.
When the market wrapped up beautifully last weekend, I could see that it was time for a break, to get back to some kind of family and headspace normalcy.

So this week, I put away my diary and decided to bake. I turned my phone off for two whole days, took the kids to the park, caught up with beautiful friends, cleaned the bathroom, folded ten years worth of laundry, wrote a couple of blog posts, and had lazy cups of tea while flicking through junk mail. I watched funny movies, played Lego with Judah and dinosaurs and tea parties with Lou, cooked a roast with all the trimmings, and went to bed early one night with a good book. I ate the best Banoffie pie, pottered around in the garden, made a couple of presents, read lots of picture books with the wee ones, and sat in the sun one morning and admired the bees fussing over our new flowers, while the kids covered themselves in cobbler’s pegs (on purpose).

It was a slow but productive week – the best kind of week - and I’m feeling so much better: recharged, renewed and ready for the next sewing and market timeframe.
So very grateful for the chance, every now and again, to slow down.

What are you thankful for this week?


PS. Linking up with the delightful Maxabella Loves – and you can too! Link your grateful post here, or write your grateful list in the comments section below.

And don’t forget to enter our first BIG giveaway! To be in the running to receive a parcel of Quill & Ink Handmade goodies, including one of our gorgeous signature dolls, fill out our quick survey here, and ‘like’ us on Facebook here. Entries close Monday 22nd August, and the lucky winner will be drawn on Tuesday, 23rd August, 2011.

Image from here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dress Me!

So, I have a slight obsession with ModCloth.

I secretly trawl the store pages at night when the whole house sleeps, wishing for a whole new retro inspired wardrobe with a flurry of sweet dresses to float around in, now that the weather is beginning to warm up a little.

Want to see what I’m loving for the first burst of spring?

Do you have a ‘look’ you’d love to work into your current wardrobe?


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Our first BIG giveaway!

Want a lovely big Quill & Ink Handmade parcel, stuffed with lots of gorgeous goodies, to be delivered to your door?


We’re doing a wee bit of market research on Christmas present buying and kid-centric trends, and we’d love your feedback – and to thank you for helping us shape the future of our business, one lucky respondent will be receiving the loveliest prize! The winner’s parcel will include: One of our beloved handmade dolls, a woodland owl brooch, four tri-fold cards, two fabric covered button rings, and a gorgeous handmade Christmas stocking.

Can you help us?
Complete our quick survey here, ‘Like’ us on Facebook here, and you’ll be in the running to win!


Ps. Survey and competition closes on Monday 22nd August. Winner will be notified via the email address provided. Competition open to Australian residents only – sorry international readers!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Georgie Porgie Puddin’ and Pie…

I was pretty excited to find out this week that it’s the year of the homemade pie. Yeah, I know – with eight months already gone, celebrations on the virtues of the humble pie are a little late; but I’m all about embracing delicious things, so today I’m appreciating the goodness and loveliness that is all things pie-like.

Our pie maker gets a decent workout in our kitchen – almost on a weekly basis. Do you have one?
Our regular pie fillings include:
-         Leftover bolognaise with fluffy mashed potato and freshly grated parmesan
-         Basil pesto, chicken, bacon, pine nuts, fresh cherry tomatoes and roasted mushroom
-         Roasted vegetables (pumpkin, potato, red capsicum, mushroom, and zucchini), Danish feta and sweet chilli sauce
-         Leftover chicken curry

But my absolute melt-in-the-mouth all time favourite pie filling definitely has to be chicken and tarragon. So far, it’s the only recipe that sees Judah and Lou licking their plates clean and asking for more… which can be a rarity with toddlers!

Nat’s deliciously good chicken
and tarragon pie


About 40g of butter
2 tbs plain flour
1 leek, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
1 ½ cups of chicken stock
½ cup of thickened cream
1 ½ tsp dried tarragon
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
4-6 large-ish mushrooms, thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 egg, whisked (if making a big pie)

And for the cheating bit:
Store-bought shortcrust and puff pastry, thawed just a little

What to do:

Add a splash of oil to a frying pan, and cook the mushrooms until soft. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, and return the pan to the heat. Cook the chicken pieces in batches until cooked through. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat until bubby and foaming. Add the leek and cook for five minutes, or until the leek softens. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for five minutes, or until the mixture starts to bubble. Remove from the heat and gradually add in the stock, whisking until smooth.

Whisk in the cream, tarragon and pepper to the flour mix, and season with salt. Stir through the chicken and mushrooms. Set aside to cool completely.

If you’ve got a pie maker: Line the pie shell with store bought shortcrust pastry when just warming up. Spoon in the pie filling, and top with a circle of puff pastry. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes, or until the base of  the pie is golden.

If you’re going for a more traditional pie: Line a 22cm springform pan with the shortcrust pastry and gently press to mould to pan. Spoon the chicken mixture in, and place another sheet of puff pastry over the pie filling, trimming the edges to fit. Pinch to close, and cut three small slits in the centre of the pie to allow the steam to escape. Brush the pie with the whisked egg before placing in the oven (at 180°C). Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until crisp and golden on the top. Set aside to cool slightly before eating.

Oh goodness, I do love pies. They’re just made to be shared, aren’t they?
Do you have a favourite pie recipe?


Ps. And my favourite pie movie? Waitress, with the gorgeous Keri Russell. ‘Bad Baby Pie’ still gets me giggling…

Image from here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just keep sewing...

It’s a hive of activity here – late nights, endless cups of coffee, a thimble now a necessary sewing item, and sweet treats as delicious incentives. As mad as they are, I really do love the lead up to markets; there’s an energy in the air, a flurry of beautiful material, the steady hum and whirr of the sewing machine, and the loveliness of hand sewing under lamplight at the end of the day, stretched out (exhausted) in front of the television.

And all those beautiful things! Oh my!
Want a sneak peak?



We’ve got so many lovely markets coming up over the next few months, and so many new designs to unveil as we creep towards Christmas. But first up, it’s the gorgeous Mathilda’s Market in the leafy Brisbane suburb of Ascot. And this time, I’m escaping to check out some of our talented stallholders – I’m so excited to be neighbours with the always chic Mon Petite Poppet and the gorgeous Owl and Pussycat

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers - and thank you all for your encouragement and support; it really does mean the world to us.