Wednesday, October 31, 2012


 New-ish works in progress, new treasures, books to read and tasks completed  :

New knitting : another Tiny Tea Leaves. Yes, it's true I have a grown up sized one on the needles at present, but knitting for toddlers is so temptingly gratifying. They are so much quicker to knit for, aren't they? Watching House Husbands, the X Factor and Winners and Losers this week has been very productive in a knitting sense. (That sounds like a lot of television doesn't it? But I promise I don't watch much at all the rest of the week).

New old op shop finds : little folk art wood panels. Very grateful for someones else's beautiful work. Now to find just the right little corner for them.

The new-ish cotton silk blend dress that didn't make it to the event recently. I have a more appropriate length zipper on order, so hopefully this dress will end up living a long and useful life. I promise I will update it's progress at a later date.

 A new-ish fat pile of library books and magazines to get through.

There is not much more satisfying things in the kitchen than a newly cleaned and far more orderly pantry. I wonder why I put it off for so long.

And you? Do you have any new projects going right now? New books to read?


Wishing all our friends in the north a safe time right now as our thoughts are with them during this extreme weather event.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

the history of your place

I've been reading another book lately. In fact I can't seem to get enough of it, and I'm finding it to be one of the the most fascinating books I've ever read. It is a humble locally bound book about the history of our little village and the surrounding area. I've always been enthusiastic about history, it being one of the few subjects I actually enjoyed at school. But how very interesting to find a book full of eyewitness reports about the places I pass every day and the very human stories behind them.

Our valley and the surrounding farms have a rich and colourful history. At one stage filled with little mud huts and a few grander homesteads, inns and sawmills to name a few. Some of which are still lived in today, and some with nothing but a chimney being the only reminder that people lived out their lives here.

It has always been a harsh climate, and the first settlers struggled with storms, flood, fire and drought. Who would have known that there was a foot of snow at christmas many years ago? That one storm the water rushed down the very hill that we live on? There were many drownings and horse accidents. There was the scary influenza epidemic and diptheria. Ghost stories and bushrangers. Life could be very hard. But they must have been a resilient lot, and despite tragedy being far more common, many people said they were also very good years. Entertainment in the form of picnics, local balls, music and horse racing. There was a true community spirit.

In a practical sense there is a lot of useful information on what was grown to sustain this little community. There were several dairies (all of which are long gone), there was a lot of potato growing and during the war there was much growing of these potatoes, as well as carrots and peas to sell to the army. (I'd always thought potatoes grew particularly well in the soil here).

I learned about the local wells. How the one behind us sometimes ran dry. (Which makes me wonder how a bore here would perform?)  How our neighbour's well was the coldest in the village and how they used to store the butter from the dairy down there.

Walking past the old inn the other day, which has been a house for many years, the lady that owns it stopped her gardening for a chat. Owned outside the original family for some time, it has been bought back by a direct descendent and being lovingly restored. Before I knew it I was being shown around this fascinating old building, shown old fireplaces and black and white photos. There was a patch of plaster worn away revealing the original mud bones underneath.

I feel learning all this has led me to a greater appreciation of the land we live on. When you have a sense of who came before you there is new respect and gratitude. An awareness that our lives are fleeting in the scheme of things, but our legacy may remain around for future generations.

If you haven't read up on your local history, I would encourage you to do so. These books may not be easy to find, but most towns will have one. The local historical society or museum, the library or local book shops are a good start. I do believe that country or city, there is so much to learn about the history of the place we call home, and those that lived upon it's ground before us.

Do you enjoy reading about history? Have you read about your local history before? What have you discovered about your local past?

Monday, October 29, 2012

happy weekend

I've been reading The Happiness Project of late, which I'd heard good things about on Christina's blog. I'm almost finished, and though I could probably write enough about this book to fill a whole blog post, we'll just stick to a snippet today. One thing in particular that struck me was the idea that if we think about what the hobbies we enjoyed doing as a child, it's not too far off the mark from what we enjoy now. In my own case, I can see that my interests in reading, writing, crafting, (I remember doing latch hook and needlepoint landscapes), fashion, scrap books and drawing. Some of which I still do now, some of which I don't, though I feel that the interest still lies there, waiting for the right time to come out again.

In other weekendy news I've been weeding the vegie garden. Pulling out lots of weeds, stray silverbeet and dividing a few strawberries.  I had many empty pots hanging around, and an oil tin, so some were filled with a few succulents or with a few vegies to keep close to the house, when I don't feel like walking all the way to the garden. Ornamental and practical. A trial verandah pot of strawberries, chives and basil last year was very successful.

A quick stop at the op shop on Saturday resulted in the finding of two vintage wrap skirts. You have to love something that you know you don't need to try on. I haven't seen these around for awhile, and at two dollars each for a brown floral and a tribal print I left the shop quite happy.

On Daniel's weekly trip to the small local tip, he was given an old skateboard. Our tip is a good place for little things like this. He's come home with an old wheelbarrow, bikes and a few other unusual things in the past. It's far too small for a shop, but it's a community that's big on recycling, so anything useful will go to someone. I do like that.

And you? How was your weekend? Have you read the Happiness Project? Did you get out in the garden?

Wishing you all a pleasant start to the week.

Friday, October 26, 2012

salad days

Most of us have those simple, easy recipes to fall back on. You know the ones, where the original recipe fell by the wayside long ago, or a family recipe that has been passed on, possibly with our own little tweaks added over the years. The dishes that can be whipped up quickly, often from the pantry and the garden.

My rice salad is such a dish. Originally it was my mother in law's tuna rice salad. Over the years, it has had many different reincarnations, depending upon what's been in the pantry or in season. Sometimes with tuna, sometimes without. Any assortment of chopped greens, or sometimes tinned beans. Sometimes fresh tomato, sometimes cucumber, corn or grated carrot. It is one of those dishes where almost anything goes. Perfectly suited to those long balmy type of afternoons, where you've been outside and need to rustle up an easy dinner quickly. Something filling but not too heavy.

I've never written down the actual amounts, but it's one of those recipes that works more instinctively. More a handful of this and a drizzle of that kind of cooking.

This is how I made it the other night.

I boiled about a half packet of brown rice (white is more than fine too) until tender. Once drained I added it to large bowl.

Then add your vegetables.  I added big handfuls of chopped young spinach and rainbow chard from the garden. Remember, you can add whatever vegies you have on hand.

 I also added a bunch of chopped chives and a small handful of mint from the garden. I love generous amounts of fresh herbs in this salad. Parsley is also very good. But whatever you have on hand. Spring onion or red onion is a good alternative to the chives.

I  added a tin of tuna (I'm finding the Aldi pole caught tuna in oil to be quite good) and some chopped sundried tomatoes. A little of the oil from this adds a touch more flavour. Again, sundried tomatoes are something you don't have to add, but it does add a good punch of flavour.

To dress the salad season it well with sea salt, add a very generous amount of olive oil and the juice of a lemon. A clove of chopped garlic is also a good addition. Mix together.  Keep taste testing and adjusting the amounts. You will know when you've got it right.

A tasty addition is a yoghurt garlic sauce on the side. For each cup of yoghurt add about 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic and season with sea salt. A nice way to serve it is with a sprinkling of sumac and a drizzle of olive oil.

Quick, easy and just perfect for the warmer months.

Do you have a favourite back up recipe during the warmer months?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

bare essentials

Sometimes it's good to give yourself permission to take the week a little slower. There is always so much to do out here. Outside, inside. Projects to be started and projects to be finished. When it comes to home things to do are a constant.

After the preparation and time spent away for even just a weekend, usually means I try to take things slowly for a week. After the unpacking, the inevitable washing that comes with going away, and the catching up on paperwork , well, it can leave me feeling quite tired.

So I'm slowly getting through the washing and doing the essentials that need to be done. I've baked bread and scones, but nothing else. I made a meat and vegetable soup that lasted two nights. The paperwork and school notes are up to date. I've done a mini shop, but not the usual big, full trolley shop.

There are many, many things that need to be done, particularly in the garden. But in the scheme of things one weeks delay will not do much harm.

Often it's a constant juggle, and though we're the sort of people that don't like to be "busy", life often has other ideas. At times though, it is a good thing to leave what is not necessary, to focus on the bare essentials. Even for just a week. Just to let yourself recharge a little.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

smock dress

Another week, another dress. Only it wasn't done this week (I'm far from being that quick and efficient), and this time it wasn't for me.

Having memories of my own growing up, I remember many times accompanying my mother to the sewing shop. Carefully picking out a pattern and fabric which Mum would sew into a pretty new outfit.

Of course it is a little different in this day and age. The picking and choosing was done online this time around. But all with the same intentions and it has hopefully been an enjoyable process for this girl.

Julia chose a fabric called Rooftop Garden, in Sunset, from the Grand Hotel range by Jenean Morrison. Such a pretty name.

I used Simpicity 2689, and it really was a breeze to sew up. Only a few hours over the course of a weekend. No zipper which I loved.

Julia seems quite pleased with her new smock dress. I'm thinking I wouldn't mind one for myself. It does look rather comfortable and loose for Summer.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

an anniversary

On Saturday night we celebrated my brother and sister in law's ten year wedding anniversary. I'd forgotten just how much work it is to get a family of five packed and out the door. I learnt to never try and sew a dress at the last minute. Because it will very likely go wrong. You may end up with the wrong sized zipper (as I did) at 1am in the morning. But a quick (though rather expensive) stop off on the way, resulted in the purchase of a ready made dress, ensuring that I would have a dress to wear, and thankfully an Australian made one at that. Thank goodness for patient husbands. Lesson learnt the hard way.

But it was really a very great night. We saw family and friends we hadn't seen in a long time. I often tend to shy away from larger gatherings, which I will blame on the introverted side of my personality. My life now is quieter in a social way than it ever has been before. When I was younger there was often events to go to and people to visit. But when you move, get a little older and have more kids, parties, barbeques and dinner invitations are something that happen far less often than they used to. Friendships become fewer. In some ways this has felt like a relief. I know I tend to isolate myself a little too much if given the opportunity. But I think it's true to say that we all need company. That we actually need it to thrive.

I think I figured out the other night that it really is something I need a little more of in my life. Getting together with friends is worth pushing past the invisible barriers that I hold myself back with. Making that effort, phoning that person I've been meaning to, attending an invitation or having friends over for lunch. I know I need to do more of this. I know it is well and truly worth the effort. Friendships need to be nurtured to survive.

The next morning there was family, muffins, a coffee shop and another quick catch up with old friends. We left feeling good. It was like old times.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

the beach blanket

Sometimes, a little handmade giving, though it may be in the busiest and hectic of weeks, can be just what you need. Though sometimes the line of fun and work can be easily blurred, and the rushing of a project can lead to little problems, the reward a the end is the satisfaction of not just the completed project, but the enjoyment of the process. Sometimes you just need that distraction.

In this case I knew my gift receiver spends many hours at the beach with her three kids, and quite likes a bit of handmade. So I thought the Beach Blanket to Go project from Handmade Home would be just perfect for her. Either as a beach or picnic blanket, it should be a handy one to have rolled up  and ready in the car. I've long wanted to make this blanket, and there is nothing like a deadline for prompting a new project.

A lot of cutting of vintage sheets and an old chenille bedspread later, it wasn't long before it all came together (fairly) easily. The binding, (from some old packets I had in my stash) wasn't the kindest of bindings, and the polyester content ensured much creasing, wonkiness and quite a bit of cursing. But living out of town you soon learn to work with what you have. I ignored the fact that the binding was pink and two different shades of orange. Let's just call it colour blocking, shall we?

Of course I liked this project so much that I have a few more planned for the end of the year. Because it would be nice to have one rolled up in the back of our car for impromptu picnics. I suspect it would be quite a bit more comfortable than sitting on towels on the beach. And big enough to accommodate quite a few people.

Wishing this blanket a long and sandy life down the coast!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ornament swap

This year I'm excited to be a part of the Handmade Ornament Swap 2012, hosted by Christina of Christina Lowry Designs. For bloggers and non-bloggers, national or international, sign ups close on Monday 21st October. Let's support our wonderful blogging community with some crafty, handmade fun. Hope to see you over there!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

this and that

  1. Bagels from The River Cottage Bread Book. We've been feeling very indulgent enjoying them with cream cheese and smoked salmon or fried pancetta.
  2. Violet loves to flick through grown up books - particularly gardening ones, though I think this one is a home decorating book.
  3. The dress I've been making, which is currently in the what to do with it pile. It seems I've made the bodice a little too snug. Next week when I have more time, and will hopefully have acquired a little more patience, I will let out some seams and see what can be done.
  4. Finished quite some time ago, but I thought you might want to see them, some more finished dishcloths.
  5. An anniversary party is on the weekend. Is it too ambitious to hope to sew up a present and a dress?
  6. Breakfast of choice lately - semolina with a little jam.
  7. Blocking a finished knit.
  8. Water play. When teething has been going on for over a week - it seemed to occupy  and soothe her quite well this morning.

How has your week been?

Wishing you all a pleasant day.