Red dress

3 days before Christmas (the little red dress project) this red dress came about.

I could be about to twirl in this photo.

All of this fabric was in my stash and instinctively I cut out Victory Patterns Nicola made it again but fully lined this version. I’ll review the pattern soon.

Love the fit with this pattern.

This fabric is see-through and scratchy so it needed to be lined. Trust me on that.

Merry Christmas and I hope you all enjoy the break with the people you want to be with.

“That’s a wrap.”

Mango custard Kataifi

This is a seasonal Summer sweet and I’ve borrowed the basic recipe from Tess Mallos.

Oven temp: 190C or 375 F
Cooking time: 1 hour

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 thin strips of lemon rind
Piece of cinnamon bark
3 teaspoons of lemon juice

1. Dissolve sugar in water over medium heat in a thick based saucepan. 
2. Add lemon rind and cinnamon bark and bring to the boil. 

3. Add lemon juice and boil over medium heat for 15 minutes. Do not stir once syrup is boiling.

4. Strain and leave to cool.

4 cups milk. I used full cream milk.
3/4 cup cornflour
4 eggs, beaten
Pinch salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essense
1/2 cup mashed ripe mango

Method and final preparation
1. Combine milk and cornflour in a heavy pan.
2. Blend in beaten eggs and add salt and sugar. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until thickened and bubbling.

3. Add mashed mango.

4. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla essence and cover top of custard with buttered paper to prevent a skin forming.

5. Place kataifi on bench and gently separate the strands by hand.
6. Grease 20 x 28cm (8 x 11 inch) oven dish. I use an alfoil dish as this dish is usually a gift. 
7. Place half the kataifi over the base and press it so it’s compact. I place one layer of filo pastry on the base to keep the custand off the alfoil.

8. Pour the custard evenly on the base layer.
9. Place the remining layer of kataifi over the top of the custard.

10. Pour melted butter on the top layer.
11. Bake for 45 minutes or until brown.
12. Evenly spoon the cold syrup over the top of the hot dessert.

Tomorrow I’ll know if this worked – Merry Christmas everyone.

Kataifi or shredded fillo pastry

It’s that time of year when I get to bake. This year I discovered a local deli that stocks shredded fillo pastry or Kataifi.

I used to watch Mum work with this but it wasn’t until this week that I tried working with this myself. Being brave with such a delicate pastry has its rewards.

1/2 cup almonds. I used dry roasted almonds.
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Put these into a blender, crushing them until they are course. Don’t let them before powder unless that’s your preference. I prefer the crunch value in the centre.

2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Thin strip of lemon
Small piece of cinnamon bark

Place these into a small saucepan and slow heat the water until the sugar is dissolved. Then let it gently bubble for 5 minutes and put aside to cool.

Pastry construction guide:
You buy a pack of premade Kataifi. 
It comes in a firm roll so you have to unroll the strands until they can be worked with your hands.

From here on in it’s up to you as to how much filling you want and how big you want each roll to be. Use melted unsalted butter on the pastry as you work with it as you would when flat fillo pastry.

The key here is to butt each roll next to each other and have the ends on the under side when you place these into the baking tray. I use alfoil trays because these are usually gifts.

Use lots of unsalted butter over the top of the pastry so they brown nicely as they cook.

Once these are as brown as you like them, take them out of the oven and pour cold syrup over the hot pastry. I like to keep the pastry crunch so I don’t drown them in syrup.

Then allow these to cool fully before you pack them into the fridge.

Serve with coffee amongst friends.

Custard filo pie or Galatoboureko

This recipe is from ‘The complete Middle Eastern cookbook’ by Tess Mallos 2005. The hints are from my very learned godmother who is a filo pastry guru.

Serves: 12
Oven temp: 180C or 350F

1 cup sugar
3/4 water
Piece cinnamon bark
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Dissolve sugar in water over low heat, increase heat to medium and bring to boil. Add cinnamon bark and lemon juice for 10 minutes.
2. Cool syrup and strain.
3. Keep this aside for now.

4 cups milk (full cream)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fine semolina
1/4 cup butter
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon. I used two peels of lemon
Piece of cinnamon bark. I used about 5cm long piece
Pinch of salt
5 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence. If you use a vanilla pod, use this instead. I used plain old essense.

10 sheets fillo pastry. I’m an Antoniou brand devotee.
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter. The fillo baking gurus insist on using unsalted butter, but the choice is yours.

1. Mix milk, sugar, semolina, butter, lemon rind, cinnamon bark and salt in a heavy-based saucepan and heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Let custard bubble gently over low heat for 5 minutes.

2. Take from heat and remove cinnamon stick. I take the cinnamon stick out before the custard begins to thicken. Cover with a piece of buttered paper to prevent skin forming. I use baking sheets so I have less mess. This also peels off easily. When cool, blend in eggs and vanilla essence.

3. Butter a 33 x 23 cm (13 x 9inch) oven dish. I use alfoil dishes because I usually make this dish as a gift, hence no need to retrieve a loved container later. Place half of the fillo pastry sheets in the dish, brushing each sheet with melted butter. Once you get used to the way the pastry sheets handle, this will be easy to do in future.

4. Pour custard and top with remaining sheets, again brushing each with butter as it is plae in position. Brush top with remaining butter and score through top three sheets of fillip in 3″ squares or diamonds. Sprinkle top lightly with water. I think this stops the pastry from shrinking.

5. Trim edges and bake in moderate oven for 45 minutes until the pasty is golden brown and custard is set when tested with a knife. I tucked the edges under as I don’t like to waste pastry.

6. Remove from oven. Then I spooned on cold syrup over the hot dish so it was evenly distributed.

Serve cold with coffee.

Now the trick here is to let this to cool throughly before covering it and then placing it in the fridge. If it is covered before it cools, the steam condenses on the lid and then wets the pastry. This makes the pastry soft.

Enjoy yours soon and eat responsibly. Stopping at just one piece is advised but it’s more important to enjoy the company over a piece of pie.

Espadrille winner

Jenny Brown has won the Prym espadrille kit from Minerva Crafts UK.

Your lucky number came up Jenny.
Now it’s a race between Australia Post and Santa to get this kit to you by Christmas!

Thanks to everyone who entered their name onto this month’s Minerva Crafts post.

There will be another Aussie/Kiwi Minerva Crafts UK giveaway in January and in February so keep an eye out.

By the way, if you’re on Instagram you will have already seen next month’s fabric on the clothesline with the sounds of Summer in the background.

23 December update: Jenny received her kit! Thanks Australia Post.



I got to attend a 6 week local millinery course and the experience was great.

Hats designed by Catherine Kelley Embellish Atelier

Buying bike helmets proved I have a big noggin (head). 

Gerrie’s hat is made specifically for an outfit she loves.

Commercially made hats are made 22″ standard circumference. My noggin is 24″.

These are my WIP pieces in my noggin size.

Sydney Community College offered a decent discount for the millinery course I just completed.

Sue’s an unassuming millinery master.

I didn’t realise the discount was because the 8 week course was only available for 6 weeks.

Fascinator wip using sinamay – to be completed. 

There were lots of techniques we learned from Catherine Kelly. Her encouragement and knowledge pushed us and it paid off.

Fedora wip after sewing on petersham tape to the brim and inside the crown.

Hey. I made the most of the 6 lessons we had.

Almost finished with a classic side bow

Marjorie’s hatmaking posts on instagram got my millinery interest and recently Anne Whalley suggested I should make a hat to add ‘drama’ to my style so it was inevitable that one day I would learn to make hats from one of the best. 

Complete with feathers and self-made flowers

PS, I’m not at all into drama.

This stage was exciting – both crown and brim fit my noggin! No drama:)

Catherine Kelly of Embellish Atelier was our tutor and we got the opportunity to work in Catherine’s own studio for a couple of classes.

These are a selection of hat crowns and brims Catherine uses.

Catherine offers her own workshops so I may sneak into one of her classes next year for an urban Autumn hat.

The black felt will be my future urban Autumn hat.

Catherine’s work is amazing, inspiring and her hats win lots of prizes at the races.  

Just some of Catherine’s designs.

It would be fabulous to work in her studio again and get inspired all over again. Her studio is so stylish.

This has been a great year for learning new skills.

Once I finish the fascinator/s, I’ll show you how they turn out. More importantly, I have a hat that fits my noggin.

Knot-maste yoga set

Melissa has branched into yoga with her new Knot-maste yoga set

This new set has been tested by a bunch of us and Melissa has used our feedback to bring you this new set. We (the tester group) had a lot of feedback about the test version and this version has a lot of changes to it. 

Yoga isn’t my thing but should be so I was in two minds about testing this set. I only pattern test things I will use so I thought I should try this set because I should stretch more. I should but I don’t stretch much.

The test pants are now very much lived in. The top is not my style so I won’t be wearing it. I know tops featuring backs, low armholes and flashing bras is a trend, I’m not embracing that trend.

The new version pants has a knot option on the capri version and a different waistband treatment. There is also a shorter top version with a knot on the side. 

With the Christmas season upon us and our stifling hot Summer, this pattern will have to wait until April to get into my sewing queue, but again I’ll make this set for others.

Melissa is offering discount to bring you this new set as all of her patterns are now 20% off
at through 26 Dec 2016 with code “NAMASTE”: