30 November 2009

Sunday Stash #5

Today's fabrics are from Alexander Henry...

Once again I havent seen any of these fabrics in person yet as I shop online and get them delivered to a friend in NZ who very kindly photographs them for me so I can look at them every now and then.  Actually, every time the internet goes down here I flick through my photos of my fabrics for fun.... sad I know...

Hope everyone had a great weekend.  Go and have a look at some more stashes at 1/4 of an Inch.

Arabella Chickie in Greece

27 November 2009

Soon to set sail for Palma de Mallorca!

Well, not really, since we are on a motor yacht rather than a sailing yacht, but exciting anyway.  Our friends have left us and our apartment is quiet again and we are leaving Greece next week for Palma to do some yard work on the boat.  I should be busy brushing up on my Spanish, but there's no time!!!  I have to pack up all our stuff in our apartment and get it onto the boat, provision, cook some freezer meals for when we are underway, make sure we have everything etc etc...  We'll get there, but it all seems a bit rushed at the moment. 

In the meantime, I have just made my very first Amigurumi toy... and have started the next one.  I'm not sure if I like how the first one turned out or not... I will post a pic soon.

Arabella Chickie in Greece

26 November 2009

ButterChicken quote of the week

MegaChick and I were “doing coffee” and she was telling me about an incident when she was with my mom at half term. 

You must say this fast, without taking a breath, and in a high pitch giggly girly voice: 

“Do you know... we were at waltzing waters and there was this cake shop and there were lots of different cakes and I thought this one pretty cake was a wedding bride cake, but it was actually a birthday cake . Can you believe it, the whole time it was a birthday cake ”?

So I say:

“Well, that just sounds ridiculous…” and snicker conspiratorially with her and then she says “I know! It’s unforgettable!”

24 November 2009

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells...

Here comes Christmas! 

I've bought a cherry stollen and some wonderful lebkuchen and a date and walnut pudding to take with to New Zealand, where we'll be having a family get together this year.

My husband will be meeting his littlest UK chickadee for the first time and we're looking really forward to playing with both our UK chickadees for the first time in ages.  What an amazing gift! 

It's going to be so good to catch up with all our extended family and our friends again.  We'll have to light candles for those that can't be with us. 

We're going to be Christening our littlest chickadee while we're there too.

Not long to go now... soon I shall begin to count the sleeps. 

Preggy Chick is now 29 weeks and looking wonderful (you did ask for a count down). 

Our Greek chickies won't be joining us for Christmas this year and our Sydney chickies will be staying here while we pop over to Auckland, but we'll celebrate together another time. Won't we?

April Blackbird

23 November 2009

Summer in the city!

Well, it got to 40 on Sydney's Northern Beaches yesterday!  Fortunately, it only really began to affect us at about 10:30am.  It had been relatively cool until then and I'd begun to think the weather forecast was WRONG.  Huh!  When it got hot, it got very hot.  So we hunkered down in the 'dungeon' for the rest of the day. 

I sewed two privacy feeding covers for Preggy Chickie - they came out really well and I'm hoping to be able to take some photos of them to show you all.  I'm chuffed with them.  They're very different to anything you can buy in the shops. 

We watched some movies and generally conserved energy as the day got hotter and hotter.  Eventually dragged ourselves upstairs to our boiling hot bedroom and tried to sleep...  it was BAD.  The cool change eventually came through at about 12:45am and that's when we finally managed to get some rest. 

Apparently, it wasn't the hottest ever November day.  They once experienced 41 degs in November. 

We need an airconditioner! 

Oh.  Nearly forgot to tell you that the temperature dropped to 19 today.  Positively cold again. 

It's my eldest chickadees birthday today and I'd like to wish him a great day!  Have a piece of chocolate cake for us :)

April Blackbird

Sunday Stash # 4

We just got back from a weekend trip with the boss on the boat... we are sooo tired... none of the crew got any sleep last night due to the weather, and the guests were very full on today.

Anyway, on to the Stash photos... these fabrics are from Superbuzzy... another of my favourite online Japanese fabric stores.

Can't remember all the designers/companies, but some are Nani Iro, some Echino and some Scandi.

More Sunday Stashers here.

Arabella Chickie in Greece

22 November 2009

Best ever chocolate sauce recipe

This is such a simple recipe, you'll use it time and again once you try it.

This is the old fashioned version... you can melt the chocolate in the microwave, but remember this... I didn't tell you that!!  If you heat chocolate too much, too quickly you ruin it.  So try the old fashioned version first...

Create a double boiler (the old fashioned way) by putting a small pot of water on to boil.  Find an oven proof glass bowl that will sit 'in' your pot.  Not all the way down, you want the heat of the boiling water on the bottom of the bowl, but you don't want to immerse the bowl in water.

Keep the inside of the bowl clean and dry.

Into this bowl chop 2 large Mars bars.  If you live in a country where you can buy Bar One bars, use those instead.  They're not as sweet. 

Stir the chocolate (it has fudge in it so makes a truly delicious topping) until it's smooth.  Slowly add cream, stirring all the time, until your sauce is smooth, glossy and will coat the back of your spoon.

Serve over a good vanilla ice-cream or chocolate cake. 

Wasn't that easy?  Wait until you taste it!

19 November 2009

ButterChicken Chickadee Quote Of The Week

Walking home from school we once saw some goldfish in a bowl, in someone's lounge and now and then we discuss whether or not we should get some.

Yesterday, out of the blue, MegaChick decided it was time to take the bull by the horns!

"So... about these blooming fish... what do we need for them?"
"Let's see... we need a tank... and they come in bags of water, which are all smelly because the fish have to go to the toilet in them..."

Note to ButterChicken from April Blackbird:

Does MegaChick know they grow up to become the fish fingers she loves so much?

18 November 2009


Well, our UK chickadees are now safely ensconced in their new nest.  Their parents are absolutely exhausted, but Madame Cholet's little Dolphin Chick is ecstatic!  She can reach all the light switches and best of all, all her toys now live in her room.

Given that this is the chickadee that can be heard singing and talking to herself (albeit in her bed!) an hour (or more!) after 'lights out', I'm not quite sure how they're ever going to get her to go to sleep again.She has been very good about not getting out of bed though... except for one night when I went upstairs while I was visiting and found her lying on the bottom shelf of her change table.  Every nappy had been chucked out to make space and there was no way she was going back to the comfort of her little bed. It reminded me of the times I would 'camp' under my bed when I was little. 

The brilliant news is that their Skype connection seems to be so much better than it was before and their picture is that much clearer.  I reckon it was definitely worth moving for that! 

April Blackbird

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Just a few pics from the last week of sight seeing...

Central Athens in the Monasteraki area.

A view over Athens.

A reconstructed Treasury at Delphi... this site is 2000 plus years old!!!

Part of the temple of Apollo at Delphi...

Coming from a relatively young country (New Zealand), I just can't get over how old some of this stuff is, and how amazing the sculptures and buildings were.  It is a shame most of it is in ruins, but when you think about how old it all is and how many wars and occupations it has been through it kind of makes sense.

Arabella Chickie in Greece

17 November 2009

A little bit of sight seeing...

We have friends from New Zealand visiting us here in Greece at the moment, so we are taking a little bit of time out in between working on the boat to do some sight seeing around mainland Greece.

Last week we went to Delphi and to see the Corinth canal.  This week we are heading to Olympia and Mycanae.

Pictures to come soon!

Arabella Chickie in Greece

15 November 2009

Sunday Stash #3

Retro style fabrics from Dorothy Prudie fabrics on Etsy...

Happy Sunday!  More Sunday Stash posts can be found here.

Arabella Chickie in Greece

13 November 2009

Spice Biscuits

Christmas is coming and it's time to bake biscuits.  Lots of them. Lovely spicy biscuits.

This is an old family favourite.  My chickadees loved them (even the chickadee that never got cakes and things...).

7 cups flour
7ml bicarb
Pinch salt
3 cups sugar
1 tsp ginger - ground
1 tsp cloves - ground
1 tsp cinnamon - ground
2 cups butter
3 eggs - large
1 cup smooth apricot jam.

Rub butter into dry ingredients.

Add beaten eggs and jam. Blend.

Roll dough into small balls.  Press balls flat with fork onto a baking tray lined with baking papers. 

Bake 10-15 mins at 180 deg C.

We've been baking these biscuits for at least 20 years now. 

12 November 2009

The move is on!... dah, dah, dah, dah, da... the move is on!

Well, it's probably a little early in the morning for my London chicks, but they'll be starting the big move today. 

Madame et Monsieur Cholet et chickadees move to their new nest. In the same suburb mind!  So not far from friends and family and all things familiar.

I am thinking of them and wish I could be there to help. Moving with a 5 month old baby and a 2 (nearly 3 now) year old should be interesting and we're all looking forward to Madame Cholet's account of Dolphin Chicks assessment of her new nest. Let's hope she likes it nearly as much as she did that holiday nest in Cornwall! 

Here's wishing my chickies dry carpets, happy moving, and a good nights sleep tonight.

April Blackbird

11 November 2009

Wordless Wednesday #2

Arabella Chickie in Greece

ButterChicken Chickadee Quote Of The Week.

We were doing some activity books before bed and MegaChick had to guess the odd picture out from four... she managed to spot it way before I did and then said...

"Mum! When I do this... "she clicks her fingers"... it means AH! HA!!! I've got it sorted out!"

hmmmm... maybe you had to be there to see it :)

09 November 2009

So, you think you can't bake...

This cake is so easy to make that it's a perfect cake for little chickadees who want to learn how to bake.

It has a great pedigree.  I got it from the woman (thank you Brenda!) who taught me how to ice cakes. 

250 grams butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs

Cream well.

Sift in:

2 heaped cups flour - 500 grams
2 teaspoons baking powder

Fold in with wooden spoon.

Then (using the same wooden spoon) add:

1/2 cup mil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Don't overmix the cake or it will be tough. 

Bake at 420 degs for 20-25 mins.

Chickadees can ice this cake as they wish.

Mummy-chicks can read on:

I used this cake to make the Barbie cakes little girls love so much.  Pop the mixture into an oven proof dish which has the right shape to form the skirt you want to create for your doll.

When the cake springs back to the touch and your skewer comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven, let it cool on a wire rack.

A Barbie cake needs a very pretty plate to sit on.  Put a little icing on the plate before you place your cold cake in place. That will stop your creation falling off the plate and onto the floor!  The cake should be placed upside down so that you'll have a full 'skirt' on the bottom.

Remove the legs from your (clean!) Barbie doll (they can be put back on later).  Use a sharp knife to remove enough cake so that Barbie sits 'in' the cake up to her waist.  We want a snug fit or Barbie's torso will wobble around.

Now you can ice your cake.  Ice a bodice as well as the skirt. 

Have fun.

April Blackbird

08 November 2009

Sunday Stash #2

I can't believe Sunday has come around again already!  Where has the week gone? 

Here are some fabrics I recently purchased from Above All Fabric... 

I have nothing in particular in mind for these fabrics... just collecting as I see things at the moment.  I have my eye on quite a few fabrics from the latest Quilt Show though... can't wait until they are all released!

More Sunday Stashers found here.

I hope everyone is having a lovely weekend.

Arabella Chickie in Greece

07 November 2009

Storms, Feasts and Friends

It has been a bit stormy here in Greece lately...

and very cold, but in the last few days the winds have changed and it has warmed up again.  It is amazing what a difference in temperature we get from a Northerly to a Southerly wind.

Just as well it is warm again as we have friends coming from New Zealand to visit us next week.  I would hate for them to freeze on their first trip to Greece!  We can't wait to catch up with them!

I do think they are lucky that this time of year provides beautiful lighting for photographs. 

And we have had some lovely evenings since the Northerly winds got chased away by the Southerlies...

Anyway, I am off to work now as the owners of the boat we work on are having a dinner party tonight at their house and have asked me to cook for them.  I am making a mixed Asian style buffet... Asian chicken bites and compressed sushi for nibbles, followed by a buffet of Thai caramelized pork, Ginger beef with grilled eggplant, sushi rice with sesame seeds, Asian deli noodle salad, Thai green salad, Steamed bok choy, Japanese marinated carrots... 

And for dessert... something completely not Asian...  Profiteroles!

Okay, so I've got lots of prep to do....


Arabella Chickie in Greece

06 November 2009

Another "must-see" movie....

My little chickadee is actually a dolphin.  From a very early age we've been taking her to swim lessons, and now at the ripe old age of 2 and a half, she swims in the pool without me.  Five little cuties line up along the bar and the teacher takes turns to help them "paddle-kick" across the pool.  The five mummies stand beside the pool, fishing them out occasionally when they let go, and trying to make it through a whole lesson without getting drenched.

Anyway, it all started with the swim in the UK Huggies "Little Swimmers" have pictures of Nemo on the front.  She's been wearing them for ages, but all of a sudden Nemo has become flavour of the month.  Next we found a bath squirt toy, which has enjoyed both bathtime and become a favoured bed-buddy.  Then, daddy rooster bought her THE MOVIE!

It's a "must-see".....every least three times.  Yep, we're getting to know it by heart.  The really funny part is that chickadee now talks incessantly about Sydney, Australia and since uncle-chick is a dentist there's going to be hell to pay when she visits and finds he doesn't have a "Nemo-fishy" in his fish tank....hmmm.

Must go.  Fish fingers for tea....

Madame Cholet

PS:  Here's the link if you're looking for baby swim classes in South London:

In my galley today... Biscotti!

Today I did some baking for 'my boys'.  I am the only girl in a crew of four.  Last week I made a batch of biscotti and it disappeared before I could say 'boo'.  So this week I got crafty and cut them thinner so that hopefully they will last longer!  They are not the most enjoyable biscuit to make as I tend to make a huge mess when I make them, but they are a big favourite with my husband, so how could I not make them?  Secretly I think he was a bit disappointed that the other two boys really liked them as he was hoping to keep them all to himself.

This is what the biscotti look like after the first baking... you have to cut the slices like bread and then rebake them for a bit...

Look at that!  Beautiful pistachio, almond and chocolate biscotti ready to be devoured!

I also baked an Apple Muesli cake that I had to trick the boys into trying as they all turned up their noses when I mentioned apple.  Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo, but the boys loved it, and I got to use up some old apples that were floating around in my fridge.  I also got to take a trip down memory lane when I made this cake as it was a recipe from my Granny, and I remember having it in my lunch box in primary school!  It was sooo good, I can't believe this is the first time I have made it for myself.  My poor deprived husband informed me that he never had such decadent things as cakes when he was little... just bread and butter for him and his siblings...  However, he also told me that all he had to play with when he was little were some wooden pegs, and I think his Mom would have something to say about that!

If you want me to send you the biscotti recipe or the Apple muesli cake... just leave a comment with your email address and I will send it to you.

Arabella Chickie in Greece

05 November 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Some photos from our explorations around the South West of Greece...

Hope you are having a great Wednesday!

Arabella Chickie in Greece

04 November 2009

Desperate people doing desperate things that end badly!

We've had another boatload of (assumed) asylum seekers go down with few survivors!

As someone who considers herself a citizen of the world and not particularly of any one country, my heart goes out to those desperate enough to want to take such a desperate risk with the lives of those they hold so dear.

Politically, there is no simple solution to the problem of 'boat people' and I'm not going to even begin to think of going there... this post has absolutely nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with gratitude and empathy.

I am so very grateful for the fact that we were able to move countries - safely, when and how we chose to.  I know just how fortunate we have been.  How fortunate we are... it's not something I take for granted.

My chicks roam around the world, free to live and work as they will.  We sleep soundly in our comfortable beds at night, we have food on our table and a roof over our heads. 

What would it be like to be a prisoner in your own country?  A country that has changed beyond recognition in your lifetime. A place where you and yours are no longer safe.   

Once before I watched, horrified, as a survivor mourned the loss of his entire family...  he was safe, but alone in a strange country that really didn't want him.  He was devastated beyond belief and my heart went out to him.  That was when I wrote 'Somewhere'.  It isn't a poem. It isn't good. It does express my sadness at this loss of hope.


In a room, not far from here
You sit and remember and wonder, 'why?'
How it is that all promise is now forever gone
Leaving you living, breathing, but alone

On an island of many millions of people
You stare into a future of loneliness
Remembering… once laughing
And loving, a family, with dreams and hope

Family drowned in a sea so rough
Flotsam and jetsam, with a price on their heads
Kindness, compassion, empathy - just words
How will you heal?

Will you grow hard and hate-filled?
Wanting only revenge
Is there hope for you in this new world?
Will you know love again somewhere, someday?

Can you forgive?
Perhaps you are a better man than me
You gave your all in the attempt to give your family
Education, peace, a place in the sun

When will we learn that man does not own the earth?
It is merely loaned to us
As is all about us
Can we ever truly share what isn’t ours to own?

Do you think on these things?
While you sit all alone, deep in your grief
Can you feel the love that I send you?
Is it helping you to heal?

I am sorry
That I sit, safe, inside my house
Children alive, well clothed and fed, educated and healthy
And I can do no more than send you love and healing

Surely I can make a difference?
Help people to understand
That truly, but for the Grace of God
There go I.

Sent to you with love.

April Blackbird

Dress Design for Shabby Apple Dresses

So... I'm no designer, but I have had an idea for a dress floating around in my head for a while and when I saw this contest at Shabby Apple Dresses, I thought 'why not put it to paper?' 

The dress is to be made of a soft jersey cotton (maybe with a bit of lycra) with floaty sleeves and a woven diamond shaped panel in the front.  I was thinking in darkish grey.

I think the competition closes this evening, but if you have a dress idea, stop delaying and go to Dare to Design at Shabby Apple.

Arabella Chickie in Greece

03 November 2009

I love market shopping!

I just thought I would share with you a new (to me) Australian Handmade Market a lovely friend of mine just sent me the link to.  It is called Mathildas Market and it specialises in beautiful handmade items for babies and kids.  Mathildas Markets are held in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra and in 2010 they will be in Adelaide and Hobart too.

These are just a tiny fraction of the things available at the Sydney markets...

These cool button mushrooms are from Gifts Created, and there are a whole lot of other cool things on this Etsy site too.

This cute little vest is from Miller and Harry.

I just love this t-shirt from Skye Rocket Sews!

Mathilda's Market has a great catalogue of Christmas Treasures up as well.  Head on over there and check it out!

Arabella Chickie in Greece

02 November 2009

Planet Cake and other yummy food blogs

I first heard of Planet Cake during the Masterfood Celebrity Chefs challenge. 

It wasn't until I looked them up on the internet that I realised what a wonderful service they offer!  Everything from designer cakes to icing classes!  They have a great blog too - see 'blogs we like' - and their blog lists other blogs that I have really enjoyed visiting too.

If you like to cook/bake then do yourself a favour and have a read, it's quite fascinating to see how many talented people are out there.

They've also listed some great 'bridal' type blogs.  Everything from rings to dresses... 

Now all we need are a few 'flower arranging' blogs and I'll be giving up magazines for good.

Oh.  You might have guessed.  I'm hungry.  Nearly 4pm and I haven't eaten lunch yet.  No wonder the 'foodie' sites/blogs are so interesting.

No, there is no cake in the house.  Just as well.

April Blackbird

PS  I forgot to tell you that you can buy 'ready made' cakes for icing from Planet Cake too.  In a variety of flavours.

01 November 2009

Sunday Stash

I just found the Sunday Stash post over at 1/4 of an Inch and thought I would join in...

These fabrics are from This and That from Japan.  I really love Japanese fabrics.

Arabella Chickie in Greece

St Ives Craft Market

The countdown to Christmas has begun!  Officially!  The Christmas markets and the craft markets are in full swing across Sydney so I suppose that might explain why the St Ives craft market wasn't as busy as we'd expected it to be today.

Stall owners were commenting on how much quieter it was than what they'd expected... the brilliant weather might have been a contributing factor, or the fact that Sculptures By The Sea started again this weekend (must go and see it again this year!).

The Newcastle Pudding Lady was doing a roaring trade!  I met the owner today, he's such a gentleman and he's very 'aware' of all things healthy.  I was delighted to hear his concern about 'coeliac' and 'preservative' and 'free range' issues and felt totally justified in supporting him by buying a (totally delicious) date and toffee pud to take with to New Zealand.  Apparently, it's great sliced up finely and served alongside crackers and cheese so I bought a log shaped pudding (you'll see them on their website) for easy slicing. 

It was really tough making that decision... there were so many new recipes to try out... Christmas pudding is no longer just pudding.  It's an art form.  A very delicious artform. 

RoseyChick accompanied me today and we had a ball trying out everything on offer.  We found some great hand made jewellery and some lovely (absolutely huge) Christmas stockings.  Lots of children's clothing (some stunning smocked outfits!); handmade soaps; woodwork; artwork etc on sale. There was honey, cheese,vegetables, ice cream, cakes, bread and of course, food on sale too.  I bought a huge bag of fresh brocolli for $2! 

Now I'm home, my feet are aching and I'm feeling very guilty about all that material in my kist... must get around to doing something clever with it at some stage of my life. 

Next weekend I'll be visiting the Sculptures By The Sea... hopefully, I'll have a camera I can use so I can post some photos for you all.

April Blackbird