Friday, August 23, 2013

popcorn, books and grass roots

It's Friday! It's been a fairly busy one around here with a few extra errands to run, book week costumes to organize (always rather stressful and always only ready the night before), local playgroup and another sports carnival in Canberra today.

Here are a few little snaps from the week. I'm finding this dark, windy (and currently rainy) weather does not make it terribly conducive for photo taking indoors, which is where we mostly find ourselves these days. The girls have made orange juice ice blocks several times during the week, despite it not really being ice block friendly weather. There has been a little painting. I'm afraid I'm not very organized on the home crafting front and poor Violet had no paint. So I mixed a little food colouring for instant water colour "paint'. I don't think she minded!

A few books arrived in the mail today. A few on pattern making, which is something I've been curious about for some time. Sometimes you have an idea in your head or you remember a favourite dress from your past. It would be great to know how to recreate it wouldn't it?

I renewed my Taproot subscription some time back and the first new issue arrived today. I missed this little magazine appearing every few months in my mail box. The best way of putting it, is that I actually feel good after I read it. I have noticed a restless, unsatisfied feeling creeping in after reading a particular local, beautifully photographed, mainstream magazine. The ads are plentiful, as are many of the pockets of the city-part-time-country people in between the pages. I've been enjoying some simpler publications lately, especially Grass Roots magazine, which I find to be refreshing in an honest old fashioned hippie kind of  way. It doesn't try to be something it is not.

From Cleo to Grass Roots in the space of a decade. How things have changed!

So how has your week been?
Are you a magazine reader too?
What magazines are you into lately?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

plodding along

Life has been plodding along lately at the usual pace. The cold, windy weather has kept us indoors most of the time. But life keeps you busy, you know? From the daily chores, weekend soccer games, sewing lessons, family visits, baking and errands to run.

We've been talking a lot lately. Is this where we really want to be? Should we and could we have more land? Do we really want to throw away all the work that has gone into our place here? Can we keep livestock without having to move or buy land? Should we get a milking cow? We've been throwing around such questions lately, as we often do. We are generally contented here on our acre, and yet we feel the limitations of the place. We wonder how we would do in harder times, if they should come.

Do you sometimes wonder if there is a bigger life out there waiting for you? Or should we just be contented and leave well alone?

But for now things are okay. The chook house is coming along and we should have some chickens in the springtime. The fruit trees are budding and the first blossoms have appeared down the road. Perhaps winter just makes us restless.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


It took a few weeks of sewing, mostly in the evenings and late at night, but finally Julia's Nituna is finished and hanging in her wardrobe. Julia chose the pattern (Figgy's Nituna) and the red wool from my stash of fabrics. I am hoping this will help increase the wearability factor. This sturdy red wool has certainly done double duty. You might remember this skirt?*  For the lining I found a red floral quilting weight cotton, also an op shop buy. (See Daniel, all those stored fabrics do come in handy sometimes!) The buttons were a market buy last year.

*skirt update - I finally wore it out for dinner a few weeks back.

The pattern pieces came together well, but I did have a few issues with the welt pockets.You don't see the welt pockets? That's right, I just couldn't get my head around the instructions, so I changed it to the patch pockets. The first patch pockets I wasn't happy with, so I ended up making a new pair and lining them, which wasn't in the pattern instructions. But I'm learning that sometimes in sewing you just have go with your gut feeling. And who knows, perhaps one day I will tackle the elusive welt pocket.

I probably wouldn't recommend this pattern to a beginner sewer. Though the cut of the pattern is quite good, there were some gaps in the instructions and a few diagrams that might have come in handy, but for the most part it wasn't too hard to put together. Next time I will remember the dangers of late night sewing, as it never seems to work very well for me. This time I sewed the buttonholes on the wrong side. By the time I realised it was too late.

Overall though, I am happy with this little project. It is the first time I have sewn anything in the realm of coats or jackets, and I quite enjoyed the challenge. It felt like I was dipping my toes into the world of tailoring.

Friday, August 9, 2013

another food update


As I have previously shared our food journey with you before, I thought there might be some of you wondering how that was going. So I thought a little, or not so little update as the case may be, would be on the cards today.

We have continued to exclude wheat from our diet (though the kids still eat some when out and about), and we have now found that for us adults occasionally eating it has some pretty negative effects. I know now that that is because my body is just not used to wheat anymore. Even spelt flour (though the kids are fine with spelt). It will give me stomach aches, insomnia and leave me hungrier for several days. Which is strange when I have eaten the stuff all my life. But I know how much better I feel without it.

Wheat Belly bread with butter, strained yoghurt and maple syrup

Fortunately a properly fermented wholemeal rye, spelt or kamut sourdough does not have the same effect, and so I think I will soon (budget permitting) look into buying a flour grinder to make our own fresh sourdough. This heavy bread tastes very wholesome and doesn't leave you hungry like I find ordinary bread does. The ancient way usually proves best.

We don't eat a lot of grain these days, but we occasionally have some such as rice or porridge made from oats. I try to follow the Nourishing Traditions way of soaking grains and serving it with plenty of butter or cream. The kids eat homemade popcorn, cooked in coconut oil, quite regularly. It is a favourite lunchbox filler.

I can't say it is not difficult finding snacks for kids when you don't buy anything processed. Apart from popcorn, I also make activated nuts, chickpea bombs, crackers (all three recipes from Sarah Wilson's I Quit Sugar) or slice up some cheese. There was initially some "teething" problems, but for the most part the kids are now used to it. It has been a tricky and sometimes emotional process though. It is not easy when most of your peers are eating out of packets.

As for meat, we have a full freezer of it right now. Buying meat week to week was proving far too expensive for us, so we bought a quarter side of grass fed beef from a local organic farmer, of which he had butchered (or minced or made sausages) to our specifications. I was also given all the bones, which I make stock/broth with about twice a week. We also bought a whole lamb from him, and another lamb from a farmer down the road. We managed to pack it all into our freezer in the fridge and our freezer in the garage. I think it will last us at least six months, but it is too early yet to say.

Another big change here has been the now weekly arrival of our organic box. We order a seasonal fruit and veg box, cream in little glass bottles and a few bottles of raw "bathing only" milk. I was so happy to finally find a way to include a little raw milk in our diet, though budget only allows a few bottles a week. This milk is almost double the price of premium full cream milk. The taste though is a revelation of how real milk should be. It is beautifully creamy and yellow. Definitely worth seeking out.

The garden is a little dormant right now, but I regularly use the prolifically growing kale (both Russian and Tuscan) and rocket. The cabbages, broad beans, parsnip, and beetroot are slowly growing, but are still not ready.

Chocolate nut balls - though I sweeten mine with maple syprup

For the last few months we have been taking fermented cod liver oil along with butter oil. Every night I melt the butter down and add it with the cod liver oil to a a little orange juice. The additional flavouring in the cod liver oil makes it a little easier to take.

So I guess you might be asking the question is all this effort really worth it? Has it made a difference in our health? I can say for the most part yes, though it has been up and down, as we figure out what foods we react with. We found that once you take out all processed food you suddenly become very sensitive to wheat, white sugar, certain oils, some alcohol and additives. If weight is anything to go by, we have both lost some, and I fit back into my pre-Violet clothes. Daniel is back to the size he was before we were married. But the bigger indicator, I think, is the disappearance of niggling little health problems, the extra energy and clearer skin.

Some days I have questioned whether all the food preparation is worth it, the loss of fitting into society and being able to eat anything without apparent consequence when you are out and about.

The way you eat could be likened to a journey. Along the way you try to figure things out, and you might change or adapt as you go along. You might stumble many times. But there are always new things to learn. New recipes to try or books to read. Real food to enjoy. Above all it is really hope that keeps you going. The hope for good health.


Links to previous posts on this topic :

on food
the follow up food post

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

a few little things

A few little things brightening up life right now:

Nut loaf from Coming Home To Eat. Baked with spelt flour, sweetened with honey (speaking of honey did anyone else catch this story?) and I replaced the dates with dried apricots. Pretty good! Though I'm trying not to eat too much because it was made for a lunchbox treat afterall. I'm thinking the freezer option may be a good idea.

I received a parcel this week filled with the most beautiful handmade little clothes for Violet. Many of you will know the lovely Lea, and she was so very kind to pass these on. Aren't they just wonderful? Thank you Lea!

I finally made my first batch of playdough. It seems to be a hit, although the pink, red and green has now blended into a giant blob of funny brown. I do hope my crochet rug (cold frosty morning!) fared okay.

Slow but steady progress is being made on the Nituna jacket for Julia. She selected the pattern and the fabric (from the stash), while I chose the lining.  Hopefully it will be finished before Spring hits. I really should start sewing and knitting a season ahead!

What little things have been brightening your day lately?

Friday, August 2, 2013

my wiksten tova

 Isn't it great when you use a sewing pattern and all the instructions, diagrams and photos possible are there to help? Well it certainly helps prevent those usual pattern frustrations. Such was the case with my Wiksten Tova top. I purchased this pattern way back when I also bought the tank pattern. I was so happy with that pattern and the cut, that it has ended up being worn more than anything else I've made to date. The tova looked much more complicated and I wasn't sure if the cut would swamp me a little. It was a great deal more than I usually spend on a pattern, but with so many people making more than one, well, there had to be something in that.

Surprisingly it was a breeze to make, and I finished it within a few nights (though dinner was a little late on the table last night as I pressed seams and stirred the onions). I had made an old sheet version for sizing, and ended up cutting out the size small, graduating to a medium in the hips. It turned out to be spot on fit wise.

I used this cotton, a colourful plaid, and it is a little different to what I would normally choose. I cut some pattern pieces on the diagonal, using this top as inspiration.

I love it! It's comfy (very important!), and feels very "me". It feels good to get one outfit ticked off the winter sewing list, though I daresay this is a little more suited to spring in our climate. But then again, there is always layering.

I hope that this will be the first of several Tova's. I am quite keen to try the dress version. But until then, I have a feeling that this one will get plenty of wear.