Wednesday, February 24, 2010

snug

I needed a baby present fast and I immediately thought of this post by craftykin. I have a stack of felted thrifted woollens perfect for turning into these little snug pants. They were so quick and easy to make, thanks to an excellent tutorial. These pants were made from a beautifully soft Esprit top that is a mix of merino and angora, lucky baby. I wish I had pants like that for winter. Now just to work out how to make some for my nearly four year old.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

jack be very little

This is the one and only pumpkin to come out of my garden this year. It's a Jack be little variety and no it's not meant to be quite that little! I grew some last year and had much more success. I'm not too sure what went wrong as the plant looked very healthy and lots of pumpkins formed. They did however all shrivel up and fall off and this one didn't grow too much at all. I planted them in a different spot this year and maybe it didn't get quite as much sun or not enough water. Miss E thinks it's perfect for playing kitchen with, and she's right, I don't think it's perfect for much else. I hope I have better luck next year.

Monday, February 22, 2010

on my lap

I few weekends ago I heard Wendyl Nissen on talk back radio talking about her homemade cleaning recipes and she had me hooked. A quick look on her website wendylsgreengoddess and all the great recipes there left me wanting more, so I bought her book. I'm not disappointed.
There are loads of natural recipes for cleaning in there and some great tips for sustainable living. I was initially drawn to her oven cleaning recipe that you can find here, I hate cleaning the oven and it's a job that is mostly left to my husband as I often get a headache from the smell of oven cleaner. I was so surprised how well the baking soda and washing soda worked and there was no nasty chemicals and no scrubbing. So now I'm hooked on replacing all my cleaners to more natural ones. I've been making my laundry powder for some time now and wouldn't go back to store bought, even though it requires a little more effort. The added bonus of all of these green recipes is most of them work out much cheaper than the store bought equivalents.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

figlicious

I'm excited, my little fig tree is bearing it's first real crop of figs. Figs I found out recently are not in fact a fruit but actually an inverted flower, that is why they just appear like magic on the branches. It's also probably why, when perfectly ripe taste like sweet ambrosia. I have to beat the birds to them as the second photo shows (and the ladybirds too). I have grand plans to have enough figs to make fig chutney but realistically that is a few years off yet, I'd need to have quite a few ready all at the same time. But for now I'm enjoying just one or two a day, straight off the tree while I take a stroll around the garden (well a few steps really, it's a small garden).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

inspired


I was inspired by this post from Melissa of tiny happy to make a necklace with some wooden beads that I've had for a long time. They were from a bracelet that broke, instead of threading them on fabric like she did, I crocheted them on some green cotton. The photo doesn't really show much detail but I crocheted the necklace long so it can wrap a couple of times around my neck and still hang long.
We have been enjoying some vegetable fritters here for a few weeks, I grate a couple of zucchinis and squeeze out the excess moisture, grate a cup or so of carrot, beat in an egg or two and about a handful of breadcrumbs. Mix it all together and cook in a fry pan with a tiny bit of olive oil. You can add lots of other vegetables in there too especially if carrot isn't your thing. They are quite plain (the kids love them like this) but they can be spiced up with some curry powder or served with a spicy sauce. I'm amazed how fast they disappear from the plates, a great way to get a few more vegetables into our diets. Our favourite thing to serve them with is homemade garlic pizza bread, yum. I must post that recipe soon.
I grate the vegetables on the finest grade on my grater so the cook a little more quickly and have a finer texture that the children find appealing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

adventure

It's been a busy week with a real sense of adventure in our lives. We were caught out in a summer rainstorm on our walk home from preschool. It was really heavy rain that quickly filled the gutters along the side of the road and the pavement started to get covered in water too. Without proper wet weather gear we quickly became soaked, our summer shoes waterlogged and slippery. They were quickly discarded, walking barefoot the rest of the way home, splashing in every large puddle we came across. Had it been the middle of winter it would have been a miserable experience but being the middle of summer the temperature was still high and we loved every minute of it (me perhaps more than miss E, it's not often I get to splash in puddles). Needless to say it was raining too hard for photos although I was very tempted.

A few days later on a walk we spotted a tree covered in cicada shells, miss E (nearly 4) had never seen so many of them in one place before. We quickly gathered them all up and I mean ALL of them, apparently we couldn't leave any of them behind, "they are a family and must stay together". They were her special news when I was mother help at preschool the next day. I love how her news is always nature inspired or handmade things, like they are the most newsworthy for sharing, and rightly so.

I love to watch all the wonder and excitement caused by these simple little adventures, they cost nothing, and mean the world to me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

drought

I haven't been in the mood for sewing for what seems like the longest time, so to try and get my self out of this sewing drought I made this little dress for miss E. The fabric (a skirt) was a bargain thrift find, I love toile fabric and I was so disappointed that the skirt wasn't my size. But the upside was that there was enough fabric to make something for miss E. The pattern is New Look 6639 with a size range of 3-8. I bought the pattern well over a year ago, cut out the paper but never made one. I have been know to do this quite often, so this year I'm aiming to sew some more patterns that I've bought but never tried. It was a hit with the little one, although I imagined her wearing it with a top underneath, suitable I hope for both summer and winter. Now the drought has been broken I am ready to open the flood gates with loads of sewing projects lined up.

Monday, February 8, 2010

from the weekend

I tend to find a recipe that I love, make it lots, then forget about it for months and months as a new recipe takes it place. Many years ago I used to make these caramel and pecan swirls quite often on a weekend as they are a favourite of my husband. At a loss as what to make this weekend I discovered the recipe, handwritten on a scrap of paper (probably copied out in a hurry at some waiting room) and thought why haven't I made these in ages? They are best served warm soon after they come out of the oven, delicious, I wish we still had some left!

3 cups flour
3 t baking powder
80g butter
1 1/4 Cups buttermilk ( I often use half and half normal milk and unsweetened yogurt rather than buy buttermilk especially for this recipe)
1/3 C brown sugar
1 C pecans, roughly chopped ( I just break them with my fingers into smaller pieces)
extra 40g butter cut in small pieces

Caramel glaze
20g butter
1/3 C brown sugar
1 Tablespoon water

1: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a shallow baking tin with baking paper. Sift the flour and baking paper in a large bowl. Using your finger tips rub in the butter. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk. Stir with a flat edged knife until well combined and a soft dough is formed.
2: Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead quickly until smooth. Roll out the dough to a 1cm thick rectangle, measuring 36 x 21cm. Sprinkle with sugar over the top of the dough. Top with pecans and extra butter.
3: Carefully roll up the dough from the longest side. Using a sharp knife cut through the roll to form 12 rounds. Put the rounds close together on the prepared tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Brush each swirl with caramel glaze.
4: To make caramel glaze: Put the butter, water and sugar in a saucepan and stir to combine. Simmer, stirring for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is smooth and the sugar dissolves.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

warmer

I'm getting warmer just looking at these pictures. I am sitting here at 8pm in shorts and a singlet and I can't quite believe that I crocheted these in the middle of this hot summer. I am signed up to the Lion Brand newsletter which sends me seasonal emails with projects that suit a northern hemisphere, not a southern one. So here am I crocheting warm winter projects. I can't even tell you what yarns I used as none of them had paper bands on them, they were just begging to be used up from my stash (a big tick for my new years resolution). There is one pair for miss E and one for me for those chilly mornings walking to preschool. The pattern is called family mittens and is a free crochet pattern offered on the Lion Brand site.

Does anyone have some favourite sites to share that offer free crochet or knitting patterns?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

boiling

We are as chemical free here in our garden as possible (I don't even buy fertliser), so weeds can get away on me a little in places. The worst place for weeds in my garden is actually our paved patio area. So every time I boil some vegetables or eggs, once the cooking is over I pour the boiling water over the weeds in the paving. They quickly wilt and in a few days turn brown. Once they have really died away I use a stiff broom to brush them away. I only end up doing a few weeds at a time but over the course of the week I have killed most of the weeds and have clean paving, much better than tipping the water down the sink and much better for the environment than weed killer.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

heat

The summer heat is zapping my energy and I'm seldom without a water bottle, either mine or one of the kids.So in order for all of us to cool off a little I made this little ice block for the kids to play with outside, I froze some little dinosaur toys in an ice cream container. I froze them in layers so they wouldn't all come out at once and I added some colour layers too with food colouring. It was loads of fun and mr A was totally fascinated in it, and kept putting his whole face on it - it has been really hot. The little paddling pool we have has been a lifesaver for keeping the kids cooled and my feet find their way in there too to cool off a little. The crazy thing is in all this heat I'm busy crocheting woollen winter mittens! A few ends to sew in and then I'll be ready to show them off. Roll on winter!

Monday, February 1, 2010

month two

Last month I was committed to consuming less, with a big effort not to buy any new crafting materials and to stay out of thrift stores. Well I must admit I can't say that I didn't buy any new craft material or that I stayed out of thrift stores, but I can say that I was much more aware of what I was buying and my buying habits. I did actually buy and consume much, much less than I normally would. I do tend to visit the local thrift stores on a weekly basis, not looking for anything in particular but more for a browse and hoping to find a treasure or two and with that realisation I stayed away most weeks and only when when I was looking for something in particular.

I've been looking through all my crafting supplies and I've made a real effort (one that I want to continue) to make things with what I have. It's a great feeling to use up what you already have.
I tend to make poor clothes shopping choices at this time of year with all the sales about. But I've gone though my wardrobe to see what I actually have before buying anything. Then it has to be something I need, like I have a lack of T-shirt type tops for wearing around the house, or I'm looking for a lightweight summer cardigan to wear with a few tops I have already. If it doesn't fit in with what I'm looking for I've left it at the shop (sometimes hard!)

Committing to this change of consuming and buying less for January had made me really aware of what I'm consuming and my shopping habits. Hopefully in the coming months with this awareness I'll make better choices.

My change for February is use less paper and make sure I'm recycling all the paper I can. There are a few ways I hope to do this, first get off mailing lists from companies that I have no interest in buying things from. All sorts of catalogues get sent to me, I don't buy anything from them. I was looking at the some the other day and thought there must be a big cost to the environment with the printing of all of these that I just recycle without looking inside. So I've already started by ringing some companies to take my name off their mailing lists. By the end of the month I hope I've removed my name from all of them.

I also know that I could be better in recycling paper in my home, I don't have a separate bin for paper upstairs so some paper ends up with other rubbish and not in the paper recycling so I'm going to set up a system for that.

I'm sure as the month goes on I'll find more ways to save and recycle paper! Here's to February's one small change
the photo above has nothing to do with "one small change" it's a pink pineapple lily that has finally flowered in my garden after I planted the bulb over 3 years ago, I'm so glad, it was worth the wait