Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Festival of food

 Greetings for the new year :)

I seem to have made my way through this time of feasting without any noticeable effects on my health, digestive system or belt size. Hooray!

Struggling at times to find a true meaning behind all this seasonal nonsense that we inflict on ourselves each year, there was always food. Underneath the layers of consumerism, staged cheer and at times, most irritating carols, there was yes, you guess it, always food.

I try hard not to be a scrooge, really I do. 

Much thought is put into gifts for loved ones with the focus being on the joy that they will experience from the gift, rather than it's size or monetary value.

But sometimes those festive blues hit hard and finding myself deep in festive expectations and ethical dilemmas, food can be a constant. That reliable friend who will always comfort, if one chooses to ask that of them.

Welcome to my festival of food..

Foody gifts are always well received from friend's gardens. It's a nice thing to try purple potatoes before deciding whether or not you will grow some yourself!

My old standby, chicken bone broth remains ever present in my kitchen. Imagine my delight this year to make a batch with turkey bones leftover from our roast!

 Having teenage daughters on holiday means they make exciting creations for dinner that I once remember having time to make myself! 

 Is there nothing more nurturing than receiving a bowl full of handmade ravioli from your 13yo, made with homegrown eggs and local pastured beef? Nope, that's love in a bowl, right there, I say..

During a festival of food, tarts are not uncommon. Sweet, savoury, it really doesn't matter, as all good tart eaters know. It's all about the crust. Always the crust..

Mince pies. Each year I confess to liking them a little more than the previous year. Soaking the fruit in a generous quantity of butter, sugar and brandy may have something to do with this. And again, the crust...always the crust.

During this time of year, my mum (aka Oma), makes wonderful little treats for the family. When I was growing up these offerings were THE treats to be had. Marzipan balls rolled in cinnamon. Insanely simple, yet so moorish. I cringe to think of the sugar levels, but this is a festival, after all. The only difference from when we were growing up to now is that these days we have to fight our own children to get a tasting..

Where we assemble for our festival, we are fortunate to have access to a spacious dining room and equipped kitchen. It makes food preparation and clean up a breeze..
 For the seafood lovers..

Ahh, those mince pies keep turning up all over the place! Perhaps I ought to have another...

 The nice thing about a festival of food is that it doesn't just have to be one stand alone event. It can take place over several days (or let's say it..weeks).  What was skipped on one gathering can be made up for at the next. I love to have my mum over for a quiet Christmas day lunch and take great delight in roasting a turkey for the family..
Roast turkey with cranberry and pistachio stuffing, roast and steamed vegetables, ham off the bone, homemade cranberry sauce and gravy!   
 Enjoying the company of loved ones around a table and sharing food with them is defithe high point of the festival for me.

With experimenting with a new cooking implement over a campfire coming in a close second!
Camp ovens! A whole new world of cooking with fire has just been unleashed here.
Let the discoveries begin. 

Hoping you had a safe and happy festive season. x

Friday, November 21, 2014

From the sewing table - Four tops and a frock

Confession: I've been on a small sewing binge lately.

It all started when I was looking around my craft room and realised how much fabric I had sitting there, bought way back yonder when I had every good intention of making something straight away. Pfft! Since when does this ever happen?  A decision was made to dive into those piles of fabric and turn them into something wearable. The bonus being that they could serve as a kind of muslin or test run of different patterns that I had been eyeing off but wasn't feeling confident about making with exciting new fabric in case the patterns needed tweaking with the fit.

Proceed to blow the dust of the sewing machine, because that's what is what's called for when one forgets to replace the cover after the last bout of sewing, back from goodness knows when.

Top 1. Pretty yellow floral fabric that I had bought at the op shop several years ago (oh my word, it really has been a long time!). At last, a use for the material aside from the dainty little girls dress that had been floating around in my mind since acquiring it (unfortunately my little girls are not so little anymore and would definitely not indulge this mother's dainty dress fantasy!). Not to worry, because this mother was happy to sew some daisy trim around the neck opening, thus satisfying all original intentions for the the fabric.

Result: A lightweight top for the garden, hiking or wherever the wind may take me on a warm, sunny day where sun protection is needed. And because the cuffs fold back, I don't feel obliged to tell anyone that I never got around to sewing on buttons and making buttonholes, shh. ;)

Top 1: New Look - 6205

Top 2. Made using the same pattern as top 1, sans sleeves. What is it about navy blue and white polkadots that just screams vintage and calls for some kind of frilly action? Pleased that I seemed to have found a comfortable, blousy top pattern that fit well enough without any fiddly darts to navigate through, I went forward and sewed my way through those navy polkadots, adding the essential cream ruffle that I had floating around in my mind's eye. 

Result: A top to wear when you're riding in a car with friends, the roof down, hair contained in a bright headscarf and  great tunes blasting from the speakers. Oh, yes, the perfect top for that. 

Top 2: New Look - 6205 again!

Top 3: Very similar to previous two tops but actually from a separate pattern altogether. Made using some printed cotton purchased from the quilting shop eons ago that was intended for another purpose altogether of the non clothing kind.

Result: A really comfortable top that is great to wear in the garden and still looks presentable for doing the school pick up, mad dash errand run and any other general running around that is called for. Patchwork cotton is certainly very easy to wear! I'll definitely be more alert to the options it presents in future fabric scouting expeditions.

Top 3: Simplicity 7223
The patterns!

Frock: A while back I was on an outing with my mum at a local quilt exhibition. Browsing through the stalls that were offering an array of quilting supplies, I spied a bundle of rolled up rayon begging to be bought. Needless to say, it came home with me and awaited it's fate in the fabric drawer. What to make, what to make? It flows kind of well, flowy like, so some kind of pattern was in order to accommodate it's flowiness. It's also a very nice thing when you can pick up a pattern from your local craft shop for a third of the price from time to time when their sales are timed just right!

Result: I call it the 'Sack & Belt' number. Simply because without some kind of waist fastening, the frock hangs wide in a potato sack like fashion. But, it was super fast to sew and so (sew?) simple too, being assembled completely in an afternoon, including the cutting out of the pattern! A good one to wear over leggings with boots, and again, really really comfy. I'm not completely sold on the fabric belt though..still thinking about that one...

Frock: Vogue V8915

Top 4: Quite possibly the first time I have worn a halter neck top in my life! The fabric was leftover from another top I had made when my girls were actually little. I just couldn't resist, just for fun and am glad to have made (and worn) at least one halter neck top in my life!

Result: Hmm, not something I would want to wear all the time, but for those hot, really really hot days in the height of summer when exposed skin is called for, I could certainly see myself pulling this one out to have it's turn in the sun. I also think it could be enormous fun to do a version in polkadots. Ahh, yes! Polkadots, my new favourite print! (I'm thinking olive green with white spots!! Oh, wait, maybe white with small navy dots, or even large white spots on tan..ahh, the possibilities!)

Top 4: Simplicity 5057

How about you? Have you been sewing lately? What kind of things have you been making? 

(Thanks to my 14yo for being so handy with a camera for this post)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spring snippets

Gosh, since deciding to revisit my blog, I had no idea how challenging it would be to figure out where to start. There is so much to report! Spring has really made me feel like the weight of winter has passed (duh!), but really, embracing my inner cliched'ness, it felt like a particularly dark, cold and long winter.
Spring just brought about so much goodness and things that made me happy, so I guess I'll start there and post about those things that made my happiness abound..

#1. First up, and an obvious one, blossom appeared!
Loads and load and loads of it was available to be seen this year and the fruit trees have put on a magnificent display. As I type, I am actually thinking that I almost wont mind if the fruit set is not up to scratch as the blossom displays were so generous. *Note: 'almost'. Fruit would still be nice..very, very nice!

#2. The local show was on once again. I managed to scrounge a few things from the garden and the kitchen and throw together a basket of produce which, would you believe took out first place and a rosette! It was my first time ever at receiving a rosette, (and first time at even being game enough to enter the long admired 'basket of produce' category), so I was immensely chuffed.
The 'collection of produce' in all it's wilted glory (this photo was taken the day after judging, phew!). Collection includes: eggs, potatoes, rhubarb, spring onions, perennial leeks, garlic, lemon, chillies, calendula tea, dried beans,  dried lemon verbena (for tea), bread and butter cucumbers, sage, parsley, borage, oregano, lavender and rosemary. 
It was indeed a true scrounge as I found it was a particularly empty time in the garden for us here at that time (still?!). But I took away a lesson well learned as once I started looking, the more produce or dried goods I found. It just goes to show that often we have more put away or growing than we think! For a prettier picture before judging, scroll through my instagram account. Some crabapple jelly that I made also recieved a first but that doesn't count because it was the only entrant and I was also pleased to have it confirmed that I also grow prize winning weeds - a step up from last year, if I may say!

#3. The family and I had a wonderful week away down at 'the prom' (aka Wilson's Promontory). Several other families we are friendly with also go and it is so lovely to have this time away from commitments to just chill out and talk, spend time as a family and also meet each night with our friends for shared dinners. We hired a basic beach hut and enjoyed beachy frolics, wildlife sightings, rock scrambling, day and night walks through all manner of terrain - bush, beach, rainforest, wildflower meadows, rugged coastline and between each others huts! Truly a magnificent place to holiday, the scenery is something that can only be fully appreciated in person.
Magic! (and driftwood hunting)
Just a portion of our group..those that managed to get in quick for  their dinner. This night  the offerings were baked potatoes with assorted toppings and self serve Vietnamese rice paper rolls. A great way to feed a crowd of five families. 
These three girls of mine think this is 'the latest fashion!' It's a long time joke and now anytime we are in close proximity to seaweed they are soon draping it over themselves in most becoming ways. .

#4. Spring was the season of the pizza oven. We had a couple of stand out events around our oven that were the making of great memories. It's so nice to be able to use it again after the long, cold winter and there is just something about sitting back with the sun shining, the oven blazing, a g &t in hand and good friends to talk to that just melts away all trace of winter.

Things are looking all set for a crowd. Master photobomber also approves.

#5. Eggs reappeared on the menu after a cold season lull. First up? My favourite garden meal - egg and spinach pie!

#6. Finally, October was the month of the birthdays here with two of my daughters each having a special day. Particularly special for my middle girl as she turned 13 and now travels the road of teenagehood and all that comes with it. Hopefully that won't be too much though and I can only hope her placid nature sticks around to see her through the the next five or six years before emerging into adulthood. 

Spring. It's been so great to have you here again. Stop and stay a while, and allow us to soak up some more of your magic..

Monday, October 27, 2014

Where to from here, old friend?

Something has been niggling away at me for some time now and it's been hard to put my finger on it. I took a much needed break from blogging which I feel has served it's purpose, yet the niggling feeling still remains.

Reminiscing about the pictorial diary I once kept so regularly. No new notes to look back on as I attempt to make that top a second time around, or that pie that tasted so good way back then. Feelings that I somehow need to keep at this blogging thing, even though it is challenging at times trying to fit it into everyday life. It is worth it, for my own sense of self.

I miss the pictures.

I miss taking the pictures..

..and planning how to use them.

I miss looking back on the pictures

..and remembering the moment I was in when I took them.

I need the pictures.

And the notes.

Just for myself, because that was what it was always intended to be. Notes to myself to refer back on.

So where to from here, my old friend?

I think I want to rekindle the friendship. Ignite the spark back into what once used to make me so happy.
No rules, no schedules. Visits will be sporadic I'm sure. But my old friend will still be there. Always there.

Welcome back.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Slow Living Monthly 9 - July 2014

Hello! I'm very much looking forward to sharing my month here with you once again under the nine banners that form this link-up. Many thanks must also go to Linda from Greenhaven, who has stepped in to take on the hosting, so we can continue to share in the little community that has formed here. Please be sure to stop by Greenhaven to see what others have been up to, or to link up yourself. It's so wonderful meeting new people through the blogs!

July 2014

The bitter cold of winter hit hard this month and so it was out of necessity to stay warm, well fueled and nourished that I focused on soup after soup after soup. I have my old favourites that I often return to and find these the most comforting to dish up throughout these cold times. I am sure there is also something to be said for using bone broth as the basis for soups - it just feels good for the body and I'm not sure if it's psychological or not, but I really think it is boosting my immunity - so far no dreadful colds here..touch wood. A good standby, lentil soup was also revisited this month, which is great when veggie supplies are running low and one turns to the pantry for supplies.

Elsewhere, I revisited some sourdough baking, as it had been a long, long break between loaves and a friend had kindly gifted me some of her starter to save me the trouble of starting up my own again (after hubby emptied the fridge and my robust starter along with it!). Still wary of foods high in gluten, I have tried a few loaves with rye, buckwheat and spelt as the flour content. Although still containing gluten, these loaves I am finding are a lot less 'bloaty' than the full wheat loaves I used to bake..(and love so much!)..

Spelt sourdough made with rye starter. Sunflower seeds added to the dough. 

Yep, soups again. So much soup. Soup for today, tomorrow, the rest of the week and the freezer. Where on earth would we be without soup?

I have been making more of an effort to batch cook this month (due to necessity and time constraints more than anything else). Baking school (and work!) snacks while dinner is in the oven is my favourite way - it's amazing how much a person can cram in the oven when they really try!

Thinking craftyness, it was good to dive into the stash this month to finish of a vest when I ran out of the main colour on the home stretch. There is definitely something to be said for a well stocked stash. Looking forward to wearing this number..

Not so much what I have done this month, but what I really need to do - skin care is top of my list at the moment. Through my current workplacement I am finding myself in a situation where I am frequently washing my hands and they are becoming incredibly dry, sore and even cracked from the harsh soaps and alcohol based sanitiser. I simply must get around to making some more calendula salve and also some soap - I am inspired to revisit goat's milk soap, even though it means buying the milk. I don't know anyone locally who milks goats!

Slow times here in the garden this month. A little fruit tree pruning took place and some harvesting of herbs - rosemary, parsley and perennial leeks which always seem to be in abundance. While tending to a neighbour's chooks for a few days, I noticed the most glorious cumquat tree, and was pleased to bring some home, as they were just falling to waste on the ground, after providing their magnificent display. Hoping to tackle a marmalade soon..

I enjoyed spinning up a quick 100g of woolly fibre this month and crocheting it into my favourite hat pattern. There's nothing like a new hat to make a person feel good while out and about. And sometimes quick and easy really hits the spot!

July was a month of sadness in my circle as a dear friend traveled through the toughest of times. I hope that the small gestures I put out bring some comfort and a feeling of support for her. It is so very difficult to see someone you care for in such a painful place, without being able to do anything to change it. I hope she knows how much support she has around her. x

July was huge in discoveries for me. I am entering my fourth week of a work placement as part of my studies in aged care. While initially confronting (there is only so much a person can get out of books), I have since found myself feeling that this is exactly what I am meant to be doing and all the new challenges that come along are details that can be learned, discussed and added to my range of skills. I love the interactions with the residents, and the feeling that I am in some small way bringing something of value to them or providing a space where dignity can be maintained and small pleasures of life still enjoyed. It's enormously heart warming. 

See above. As a bonus we also received a lovely surprise snow fall, which makes everyone feel cheery, even in the dark times of winter. Having our neighbourhood turn into a winter wonderland was completely magical and exciting all at once!

Thanks so much to Linda for hosting this link-up. Do pop on over if you wish to join in or read what others have been up to!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Slow Living Monthly Nine - Introducing our new host!

Good Morning!

I have some very exciting news to share with you today. A person who I have come to admire and respect through our interactions on the blog has so very kindly offered to take on the hosting of the Slow Living Monthly 9 link-up. 

If you are a regular participant, then I am sure you will need no introduction at all to Linda from Greenhaven. Linda has been a regular face in the link-ups since they began in 2012, and is someone who is pursuing her slow living goals as opportunities arise on her journey. I really admire the effort and dedication Linda displays in sharing her journey with us on her lovely blog, and her insights as new discoveries are made. I hear there is even news about beekeeping in the pipeline!

So please make Linda feel very welcome for her first time hosting and pop on over to her blog: Greenhaven, say a big hi and catch up on what's been happening under the nine banners during her month. Of course all are welcome to continue linking up and I know that Linda will add her own personal stamp on the link up as time goes by, which I am really looking forward to seeing.

I hope to get my post up over at Linda's in the next few days - hope to see you there!

Christine x

Friday, July 25, 2014

Passing the baton

Good morning,

It's been far too long I know. I have a million reasons why I have not visited this space of late and yet none of any real consequence. I could be here though if I really thought I needed to. But I suppose that is it, the feeling that I perhaps don't rely on this space as much as I used to. A choice between immersing myself in a beautiful world full of memories, notes and pictures, or the physical world, with all of it's ups and downs, laughter and sorrow, smiles, tears, hugs, movement and conversations (not to mention fatigue, sleeplessness and the occasional ache or pain!). At the moment I am choosing this physical world. Which is not to say that I won't be back here at some time, although now is not that time. I will know when it is, and you may catch me dropping in then. 

In the meantime, I feel terrible about letting the Slow Living Monthly 9 link up slide, and don't think that it's fair that even though I am not here to host, those of you who enjoy linking up are missing out. So in the spirit of sharing, I am offering the link-up to one bloggy person who is willing to take it on. Passing the baton, so to speak, which could be rather apt, considering the commencement of the Commonwealth Games.

Are you interested?  Send me an email: slowlivingessentials(at)hotmail(dot)com

What would be involved? Basically the same as what you have been doing up until now, writing your monthly post using the nine banners, as found here. With the only exception, including a small piece of code at the bottom of your post that allows fellow bloggers to link in. I can either continue to use my link account to supply the code, or you may create your own account with a linking service of your choosing.
You may also change the name of the link up to suit the theme of your blog, however, by offering this link up, I request that the original nine banners remain in tact. You may add extra though if you choose to (I know a couple of you already do).

Still interested? Send me an email! If there are a number of responses showing interest in hosting the link up, I will choose one blogger who I think will carry it on well. Let me know! The alternative is that the link up dissolves into nothing and loses the little community that has formed within it. I think it would be awful to see this happen. Help save the Slow Living Monthly 9!

I would also hope to link up from time to time, too.

Do you feel ready to pick up the baton and run with it? 

Yours in Slow Living,
Christine x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...