Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Melbourne artist: Carin Lavery


Some time ago, you may recall that I visited 'Veg Out' community garden in St Kilda. This is a community project that allows plot holders to grow their own produce right in the heart of St Kilda, Melbourne. You can read more about my visit to Veg Out  in this post

I was contacted recently by Melbourne artist  Carin Lavery, to request permission to use one of my photos that I had taken that day for her to work from with the hope of entering a local competition.
Happy that she had taken the time to ask and really liking her style, I said "Sure! Go for it!" Or something along those lines.  ;)

Not long after this exchange (I am still actually quite astounded at how quick it was!), Carin contacted me again to let me know that she had completed her piece and would like to share it with me.

Here is the finished piece below..

And the photographs that she worked from...

In her email, Carin mentioned that she was still very new to art and had only taken it up less than a year ago. 

I have to say, I was pretty stoked that she had thought my humble photo worthy enough to work from and when she shared her work with me, I was blown away with how it came out!

I love it, Carin and I really want to thank you for making my week!

For more information on Carin and to check out her other works, please take a look at her website: 

Best of luck with your artistic endeavors Carin!

Seaside and beach huts (summer snaps part 2)

A couple of days by the sea to celebrate the eldest daughter turning 15. With the specific goal of visiting these hot springs. Unbelievably good! To soak away life's worries in the soothing hot mineral waters from deep below the ground. Yes, I must do more of this. A magical place to visit and to stay along the foreshore with views of cheerful beach huts at every turn was just lovely.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Summer Snaps (part 1)

'The Good Stuff'' (recipe below)

A little nod to our summer getaway. Caravans, cards and questionable cooking over fire were the focus. Along with swimming, biking, fishing and quirky little shop perusing. It was nice to have my mum camp alongside us and join us on biking/coffee/secondhand shop jaunts. And share the warmth of a campfire at the end of each day.

{Creswick, Vic}
Places of interest: Creswick Information Centre, Lake Calembeen Caravan Park, Creswick regional park, Creswick Woollen Mills, The American Hotel, Pyaramid Connection Healing Centre, Goldfields Farmhouse Cheese, Creswick Museum, Twin Needles Patchwork, Lambley Nursery and quaint second hand shops and cute cafes lining the main street. For more info see here. 

The Good Stuff (aka cumquat liqueur)
Place a generous amount of cumquat skins, a little sugar, a vanilla bean and a bottle of gin into a large preserving jar, cover and allow to infuse for 6 weeks to 6 months. Strain and serve, preferably chilled. Cheers!

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 definitely the 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..

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