Quince paste and the giveaway winners. A natural pairing, no?

My mum brought me these quinces from her tree. Aren’t they so very beautiful?

I love the way something so hard and pale when in its raw state (and frankly a bit confronting at this angle)

transforms into this deep-pink and firm but at the same time meltingly-soft paste after the application of nothing more than sugar and heat.

Quite the metamorphosis.

We are almost into the truly wintry weather (today was the coldest in Melbourne for 4 years) and through Autumn I have been cooking up thick, filling soups of cauliflower and broccoli and serving them at the table with warm, fresh bread and a cheese board that includes a slab of this quince paste.

A thin slice of quince paste on blue cheese, an oozy washed rind cheese or any kind of cheese really, is so delish.

It’s not quick to make but nor is it tricky and the results are so lovely. Plus it lasts for years in the fridge.

My mum used to make it every year and drive around with trays of it on the parcel shelf in the back seat of the car where the sun would gently warm it and dry it out to just the right consistency.

What? Didn’t everyone’s mother do that? Whaddya mean you didn’t get strands of your childhood hair stuck in trays of quince paste when the car windows were down?

These days I have a bit of a secret weapon in the quince paste making stakes which I’ll tell you more about in a little bit. In the meantime, I like this recipe.

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WINNERS WINNERS WINNERS (imagine those words are lit up and flashing like a Las Vegas casino)

The first prize winner in the twirling betty Hat Shop giveaway is: Stefanie Warreyn.

Second prize winner is Nancy.

Congrats gals. I’ll be in touch very soon.

Hat Shop book (and visor) giveaway

I finally have the book in my hands and I have to tell ya, even though I am obviously COMPLETELY biased about this little book, it’s a cracker. Truly. I’d probably buy a copy even if I weren’t in it. A big call, I know.

There are a heap of good projects in it ranging from simple to quite complicated but all eminently do-able. And there are pull out patterns at the back of the book so much of the hard work really is already done.

One thing I really like about the book is there are some really fab projects for the male of the species. Even though I don’t have boys, well no little ones anyway, I am still well aware of the distinct focus out there on girly stuff to make. Which must be occasionally frustrating for crafty mothers of little boys. And big ones, I suppose.

(PS: Well hello hot stuff!)

The books are US$15.95 which I find OUTRAGEOUSLY reasonable for what you get. And do bear in mind that contributors to this book (and most collaborative works of this kind) don’t get paid up front or any royalties. Instead, we get a blurb, picture, links in print and a decidedly large warm inner glow. And the opportunity to purchase the books at wholesale price and sell them on at retail. I just wanted to be clear that any purchase here is simply that mark up to the RRP and no more.

Copies of the book will be up for sale in my Etsy and Made It shops shortly.

Or you can contact me directly to order one at christen[at]twirlingbetty[dot]com[dot]au.

For any Northern Hemisphere readers who would like to order a copy, I’ve arranged for some copies to be sent to my darling sister in the US and she is going to post them from there so you’ll save lots on postage costs. THANKS CASS!

GIVEAWAY

I’m giving away two prizes to celebrate the release of the book. The first prize is a hard copy of Hat Shop AND your choice of  a twirling betty sun visor. So that’s one thing you can tick off your “made it from the book” list! Second prize is a hard copy of the book.

You must be a subscriber to my blog to enter and need do no more than leave a comment on this post. If you promote this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter, let me know in your comment and I’ll give you an extra entry into the draw. Entries close  next Monday, 21st May.

PS: Just so we are 100% crystal clear and upfront (you know I have a compulsion in this regard – it’s possibly why I never really settled into my legal career…boom tish)  the 2 books I’m giving away were given to me free of charge by the publisher. To do with whatever I wished. And I wish to give them to you.

Silver linings (and the winner of the e-book giveaway)

I call this photo “Close Call”.

Because it was. But not in any aeronautical sense – thank Gaga.

I was flying back from interstate a few weeks ago and as I walked down the sky tunnel towards the plane, I had some mild stomach cramps. Putting it down to nerves – I’m a terrible flyer – I didn’t think too much of it. But as I settled into my seat the cramps increased in number and intensity.

Within about 10 minutes I was starting to feel pretty panicked as searing, sweat-inducing cramps came hard and fast. Now, I’m not saying it was as bad as labour – it wasn’t – but I did actually have to resort to some calming breathing I learned in preparation for labour to cope with them.

On solid ground I would simply have made my way daintily to a powder room. But stomach cramps + plane toilet = bad in every way. Not least of which is an inability to access aforementioned toilets whenever you might need. Which can be often in these situations.

So I breathed through it. It was HORRIBLE. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve had stomach cramps so intense they make you double over. Afterall, I’ve travelled a fair bit through South East Asia where nightmarish stomach bugs are a rite of passage. However, this was worryingly reminiscent.

My panic levels rose again as we began our descent because now leaving my seat to make a dash to the toilet became not just a potential difficulty but a legal impossibility. So I did something I haven’t done for a very long time on a flight. I looked out the window.

When you’re a nervous flyer, looking out the window and confirming the fact you’re in a metal tube thousands of feet off the ground generally does little to calm the old nerves. But I was desperate my friends. I HAD to take my mind off the potentially disastrous situation that was brewing in, well let’s just call it the back end shall we?

So I looked out the window and I saw these rays of sunlight breaking through the clouds. It took my breath away. I started snapping photos. And for the last 5 minutes of the flight I was truly distracted.

I’m happy to report that I did not, as I had feared I might for the last half of that interminable hour-long flight, have to borrow a spare pair of pants from the captain in order to disembark.

As I ran off the flight, I barely had time to register my handsome husband and two children bearing flowers and chocolates as I fled into the closest ladies toilet.

Yes, it was a close call and I spent much of the next week in bed with gastroenteritis.

Those clouds, though,  had a literal and metaphorical silver lining: even though I felt like I was about to pass out and/or humiliate my self in public in the worst possible way, for the first time in forever I had looked out the window of a plane and seen the majesty and beauty of a birdseye view of a gorgeous sun-lit sky. Yes, a silver lining indeed.

So much better than a brown lining, don’t you agree?

Hope your weekend is full of rays of sunshine.

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Congratulations to commenter Number 1 in the Hat Shop Giveaway – zanda8miso. An e-book copy of Hat Shop will be landing in your inbox shortly.

Our holiday

I wasn’t sure whether to blog about the fact we are on holiday in case the burglars are reading this. If you are, you naughty burglars, you should know that our alarm is on and our neighbours are irritatingly nosy…until we go away and then we love them for it.

We’re in Far North Queensland. This is a SPECTACULAR part of the world. The tourist patter bills Port Douglas as the spot where the rainforest meets the reef. I’m generally skeptical when it comes to big claims like that but I’m here to tell you not only is it the truth it’s more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Pristine beaches fringed by coconut palms (which would be utterly perfect if not for the rogue crocs and excruciating jellyfish) framed by mountains thick with millenia-old rainforest. And an hour or so off-shore, one of the world’s great marvels: the Great Barrier Reef.

As my regular readers know, this year has been a bit of a bear. So this  fortnight away has been the holy grail Andrew and I have been striving towards all year. And, once again,  FNQ has not let us down. It’s as amazing and relaxing as ever.

Here are a few shots that I think really capture our holiday so far.

A torch ginger flower after a tropical downpour.

I’m happy to now be able to report from experience that twirling betty visors handle long days in the pool perfectly. I don’t recommend them during the middle part of the day when a full hat is what you need to protect you, but in the early mornings and late afternoons they’re perfect.

Despite weekly swimming lessons before we left Melbourne, Sophia had been too scared to put her head under water. One week later, this is what she was up to.

It’s been a fortnight of long, sunny days spent in the pool, copious ice blocks, fish and chips and deep relaxation. Almost total relaxation. But not quite.

On Monday we are heading out for a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef to go diving. Again.

I have an interesting story to tell you about my first attempt to dive on the reef last week. It’s a long, but (hopefully) ultimately redemptive story. Let’s just say it involves a dive “instructor” who was having a bad day and for whom there are not enough expletives in the English language to describe (although let me assure you I’ve given it a red hot go over the course of the last week), an under-water anxiety attack  (thanks to aforesaid dive “instructor”) and some pretty spectacular marine fish. What a cast, what a plot. Stay tuned for the full story and (I’m praying) the feel-good sequel!

So if you don’t hear from me again, I’ve been eaten by a giant Moari Wrasse like the one we saw last week. And who seems to be saying, as he looks at the underwater camera man, as soon as you swim away I’m eating this man. Lucky for my handsome husband, he must have spotted a better looking piece of bait.

And if you look closely, you can see my torso and legs behind Andrew looking, ahem, not very much like the mermaid I had anticipated I would be under water. But there’s always tomorrow my friends. And tomorrow I intend to summon my inner mermaid with as much power as I can muster. Just hope I don’t summon any other large sea creatures by accident. I actually can’t sleep with my hand hanging over the edge of the bed for fear of a shark biting it. So it should be an interesting sequel.

Stay tuned!

PS: I haven’t forgotten the giveaway. After writing down everyone who commented on both posts (people who commented on both posts only received one entry) I used the good ‘ole random number generator again and  it threw forth this magical number:

Number 7, according to my list, was Renee. Congratulations Renee and thanks SO MUCH to everyone who commented. The support I received both in the lead up to and aftermath of what I like to refer to as “The Great Cake Bunting Scandal of 2010” was really, truly amazing. I felt extremely loved and supported and can’t tell you what that meant. You guys rock. Like, almost more than Bon Jovi. True dinks.

twirling betty cake bunting now available – and you could win some!

I have written and deleted this post 10 times now. Later on I have to talk about something yucky and I don’t want to. But I’ve decided I must. But first…

THE GOOD NEWS

twirling betty cake bunting is now available in my Etsy and Made It shops. Hurrah, hooray, hip hip and all that!

And if that didn’t toot your horn (or whatever it is you do when you’re happy – and I’m not judging) I’m giving one of my lovely blog subscribers a chance to win some twirling betty cake bunting. Read on for giveaway details after the photos.

So far I’ve listed these three designs in my shops:

More designs will be listed shortly. Here’s  a peek of what you can expect.

THE GIVEAWAY!

EDITED TO ADD: All comments on this post up to and including Heather’s on 11 October 2010 are eligible for the giveaway. However, no further comments on this post will be entered. Entry can now be gained by commenting on this post. Sorry for the inconvenience but it is important to me that the issue outlined below is clarified.

To enter, you simply have to be a subscriber to this blog and leave a comment on this post. EDITED TO ADD: SEE PRECEDING PARA.

Entries close Saturday October 23rd at 5pm Australian EST. One randomly picked commenter will win their choice of any one of the bunting designs in this post (personalised or plain). Good luck my little twirlers!

THE YUCKY BIT

EDITED TO ADD: The issue outlined below has now been totally resolved. That proces is explained in this post on my blog and I unreservedly retract the implication I make below that Kiki La Ru copied my cake bunting. Please do read it to make sure you have the full story.

So, I’ve written and deleted this bit of the post (both in my head and on the keyboard) many, many times over the last few weeks. After all that, I’ve decided simply to say the following.

There are a few people making, blogging about and selling cake bunting now. In fact, there seems to have been a veritable explosion of it in the blogosphere the last few months.

I first came up with the idea of cake bunting – a natural progression from the fabric bunting cards I have been making and selling in my online shops since late 2009 – back in January and blogged about it here. I then posted this tutorial for it which was featured on both Whip Up and One Pretty Thing both of which have over 10,000 subscribers each. In other words, it’s been seen by lots of people.

To be frank, it annoys me a great deal me that certain people are now passing this idea off as their own. I am TOTALLY open to anyone who can show me someone else had this idea before I did but as far as I know (I’ve done extensive searches of the web  both at the time I came up with idea and since) I was the originator of this idea.

And in the absence of any evidence of origination by anyone else, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that there is some copying going on.

And it might seem a minor thing but it is important to me that you know about this. Otherwise there is the risk you might think I have copied the idea and just jumped on the cake bunting bandwagon – when it is in fact, I believe, the other way around.

I’m still deciding exactly what to do about the copying and commercial sales of this idea but in the meantime I’m going ahead and selling the ORIGINAL (!) twirling betty cake bunting, as I had always intended to do, and hoping people might slowly start to realise that mine was perhaps the original inspiration for the cake bunting that’s cropping up all over the blogosphere.

You can’t stop the flow of creative ideas on the web – and I wouldn’t want to. But pretending someone else’s idea is your own is just not cricket, people. It’s just not cricket.

Look, in the end I know it’s simply some scraps of fabric, some thread and two wooden skewers. We’re talking neither high-level art or design here but we are talking twirling betty’s little idea. And as I pointed out in my last post…from little things, big things grow.

What do you think lovely readers? What would you do? (You don’t have to respond to this question to be entered in the draw for the giveaway by the way, all comments, are eligible)

THE REASSURANCE

PS: Hello to all my lovely new subscribers who have arrived from Ashley Ann’s fabulous blog. I just want you to know (and I think those who have been reading this blog for a while would attest) that I generally try to keep the negative stuff to a minimum and the goodness to a maximum here on the old tb blog. But since I also work hard to make this a place where you get to hear the real me, I also need to occasionally recount the less lovely things that happen. But stay tuned, k?  There’s goodness galore on the way.

Another twirling betty giveaway

Although this time it’s not here, it’s over on the amazing Ashley Anne’s blog – Under the Sycamore.

I first stumbled on Ashley’s blog after I saw her cat-eye glasses onesie tutorial. You might remember this post I did about it. I still totally LOVE that onesie and it’s right up there at the top of my to-do list. Well, not right at the top. It’s just after “dig pool” and “write novel”. So it might be a week or so before I get to it.

Back to Ashley. After I emailed her to check if she was okay with me using her photo on my blog, she was kind enough to offer to do a giveaway on her blog and I jumped at the chance.

Her blog is gorgeous and her photos make me hold my breath. Their crystalline clarity and her wondrous capacity to capture the magic in the mundane is just beautiful. One day I hope to be able to take photos like her. (*adds that to to-do list*).

You can see some more of her beautiful shots of both Ashley and her daughter (nicknamed Firecracker – love it because I have one of my own) and throw your hat in the ring to win a twirling betty polka dot visor by commenting on this post on her blog. Quick sticks though – she’s drawing it on Monday.

All photos in this post thanks to Ashley Ann Photography.

twirling betty in the press and a giveaway

It’s pretty much bang on one year since I launched twirling betty – the biz – and my one year blog anniversary is fast approaching too.

And what a year it’s been. Below is short summary of each and every blog post I’ve done this year. Joking. I’ve only summarised the last 6 months. HA! Got you again. (I know I didn’t but maybe you could just humour me?).

What’s actually below is something I am very excited about. It’s twirling betty’s first hard copy editorial feature!

Is that even what you call it? An editorial feature? Feature makes it sound like a really big spread. Which it isn’t. Which isn’t to say it’s not a big deal. It is. To me, at any rate. Maybe I should refer to it as a feature-ling? Sounds kind of creepy and alien. A featurette? Too 1950s.

How about I just say this: twirling betty headbands got a look-in in the Fashion Shopping section of the latest issue of My Child magazine and you could knock me over with a feather and pick me back up again with a gentle puff.

To celebrate, I’m having a giveaway for my blog subscribers.

To win, you simply have to be an existing subscriber or become one and leave a comment on this post telling me the best thing that has happened to you in the last 12 months.

Now look, don’t feel any pressure to come up with anything particularly witty or interesting. I don’t care how big or small or amusing or serious your best thing is. I just want to hear about it. I’m making the comment a condition of entry (because I love hearing about the good things that happen to people) but I will be picking the winner at random.

The winner will be able to choose whichever twirling betty product takes their fancy from either my Made It or Etsy shop.

The giveaway is open to all subscribers – both here in Australia and overseas.

The competition closes on Wednesday, 8th September 12 at 5.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.

Good luck my lovely twirling friends.