Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sunny Days Shawlette

It feels like I'm playing catch up at the moment ..lots of jobs to be done not to mention projects that are calling! A quick post today to share my Sunny Days/Ocean Waves shawlette with you. This was my first attempt at a shawlette and I have been enjoying wearing it back to front and front to back! I am loving the versatility of this little knit!

It was knitted with some of my handspun alpaca/wool that had been dyed over the summer while the scalloped blue edging is from a skein of handspun that was dyed at a recent dyeing day. 

The pattern can be found here at Nurturing Fibres (free for the month of May - not much time left!). Many thanks to Carle for offering this lovely pattern. :)

Shawlette is raveled here. 

Enjoy your Tuesday out there peeple! ;)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake

At spinning group a couple of weeks ago someone had brought in a beautiful homemade rhubarb cake. What I loved most about the cake (besides eating it!) was the way the baker had tucked the recipe next to the cake for anyone who fancied it and wished to make it at home. How kind.

Yes, I fancied it and wished to make it at home!

Dividing our rhubarb recently provided me with plenty of stalks to play with.

Here is the recipe as I made it..

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake
125g butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1/4 cup natural yoghurt made up to 1 cup with regular milk)
3 cups finely chopped rhubarb

1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1-2 tbs butter

In a medium mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Sift over the flour and bicarb in 2-3 batches, alternating with the milk, mixing gently. A couple of tablespoons of milk may be needed if the mixture is a little on the dry side. Stir through the chopped rhubarb and place into a greased springform tin.

To make the topping, melt the butter and add the sugar. Stir well and then crumble it over the top of the cake mixture. Bake for around 40 mins in a moderate oven, until lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean. Best eaten warm with cream!

...and here is the recipe, as it appeared next to the cake..

Enjoy :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Woolly things..

A few woolly things have been appearing here lately. First up, I finished test knitting for Linda at Natural Suburbia. The pattern, The Sherpa Hat was so much fun to make!

In fact, it was so much fun I made two!

The pattern is now available for purchase on Ravelry here, and as an added bonus, Linda is offering two Sherpa Hat patterns in a giveaway on her blog - see here for more details.

My hats have been raveled here.

I have also cast on a Sunny Days Shawlette using some of my handspun yarn.The yarn is a hand dyed alpaca/wool mix and I'm finding it really interesting how the stripy 'v' effect is created as the shawlette progresses.
The Sunny Days Shawlette pattern is currently being offered for free for the month of May from Carle @ Nurturing Fibres. It's a good, easy, relaxing knit that doesn't require much concentration - perfect for taking out or those evening knitting sessions when you're tired from the day but still want need to knit...

Becoming a little more acquainted with shawlettes, I am thinking of making another and have been eyeing of the Holden Shawlette for some time. It's definitely on my list of things to make at some point!

In anticipation, I've begun spinning up some merino top, which I'm hoping to ply with some silk that I happened to pick up at the Handspinners and Weavers Guild last week (yet to be spun!).

The merino was purchased from a spinning friend who goes up to the Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show each year to sell her wares. Her interesting array of fibrey goods can be seen here.

It's a good thing it's chilly outside and the fire is on and cranking..it's perfect knitting and spinning weather!

What's been on your needles, hook or wheel lately?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Autumn in the garden

The weather here has been so unpredictable lately it's hard to make plans to do anything gardening related. However, there were a couple of days last week that were glorious and I didn't need any arm twisting to put those other jobs that always seem to be around on the back burner for a while and get outside for a full day's work.

The last of the pumpkins were cut and are now sitting on the front verandah in a sunny spot to allow their skins to harden. They did really well growing on ladders this summer, I think I'll try the same way again next year..
Our hugelkultur bed is surprising me with the size of the plants growing in it. The broccoli is about twice the size of any I have managed to grow in the past and now I see the flower heads are starting to form. It won't be long before we can have garden fresh, pesticide free broccoli again! Whoop!

Ditto for the kale. I am totally impressed with the size of the kale in the same bed. After building the initial levels of wood/manure/compost, the seedlings were put in and have received no further love, except for a little sprinkle of water when things were looking dry..
I can feel some minestrone coming on..

After pondering over the likely benefits of planting garlic earlier or later, I decided to just jump in and do it now. I think I waited a little longer last year and we had several bulbs develop rot. I'm not sure if this was related to planting time or rains near harvesting, but after discussing it with Kirsty and hearing of her success with good size bulbs planted earlier, there was no more delaying it..
We still had plenty of cloves from last years harvest to plant out along with some gorgeous purple cloves from Kirsty's garden that she shared with me over summer.

Our rhubarb was becoming thick and crowded so I yanked them all out and thinned them down into smaller, individual plants. They were put in alongside our round beds, close to the back door. I really love this variety - I'm not sure of the name as they were gifted to me from a gardening friend, because the stems are always red!
Glorious ruby red! ♥  Love! ♥ 
I have also set aside a big chunk of rhubarb root to use for dyeing. I was reading of someone using it for adding colour to yarn which I'm excited to try!

Finally, finally we are getting lemons on our lemon tree! After being in the ground for a few years now it is at last producing good sized lemons, each year a little more than the last. Oh, the plans I have for these lemons...
Perhaps a little lemon butter, or a lemon delicious pudding. How about a lemon and poppy seed cake and maybe even one day we'll have enough to make some lemonade! Imagine that!!

More beds were cleared and I am performing a lazy gardeners technique of winter bed improvement - Sheet composting. I have basically been piling up all of the garden prunings, chopped corn stalks, pumpkin vines, seeded plants etc and am just laying them on the surface of beds.  All of the organic kitchen waste is being added as well and once there is a decent layer of organic matter, I will cover the whole lot up with a generous blanket of straw and let the bed sleep until summer.
The worms love it and move in promptly, breaking down the organic matter into beautiful, rich soil to grow in next summer. If only we didn't have a regular fox visiting, I would add my chooky girls to the beds in their dome as well! But that is not to be, until I can think of a way to have a fox proof dome...

I am loving the dried beans that are appearing. We have a jar in the kitchen and as the pods dry we pop them open, much to the youngest's delight and add them to the jar. It's really nice to run your hands through, feeling the hardness of the dried beans that might reappear in our garden next summer as growing plants to feed us and again, hopefully, continue the same cycle.

How are things in your patch?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mothers Day '13

  • The glass coffee plunger broke and spilled all over hubby and his new birthday gifted sandstone coloured pants. Hot coffee. Hot, hot, hot coffee. A whole plungers' worth.
  • Hot coffee liquid and grounds and broken glass splashed all over the recently mopped floor (if you knew how long my floor had been crying out for a mop, this alone would make you weep).
  • The pooch mistook the 11yo's bedroom curtain for a convenient tree trunk amidst the mayhem of siblings and visiting cousins.
  • The youngest cousin was found long after the game of hide and seek had ended, still hiding, still waiting to be found. Apparently the older participants had forgotten all about him in their haste to move onto the next game..
  • The weather turned nasty and in turn the house turned chilly. Scant is the only way to describe the kindling supply we had on hand. The fire was painfully slow to light while people shivered politely.
  • Technology failed right when we hoped to see some exciting new plans online..
  • Hot coffeeness seeping into every nook and cranny imaginable.
  • I poured tea for people who wanted coffee and most likely, vice-versa.
  • I felt frustrated and snappy for no apparent reason.
  • I cheekily? requested to 'swap'  the Mothers Day breakfast treats in favour of a dinner time snack. The thing is by dinner time I was not even the slightest bit hungry and had unwittingly forfeited my Mothers Day fuss and all of the special moments that go with it. *sob* Karma? Maybe.

  • On the up side, hubby suffered no burns!
  • The pooch didn't run up the street when the door was left wide open -  he actually stayed put when I called at him to 'stop'!
  • We caught up with Oma and saw pictures of her fascinating travels through the Northern Territory.
  • We had more coffee to brew! Even an extra percolator (there is something to be said here for hoarding). 
  • The tea was good. Very good.
  • As was the pavlova. My brother does make a very mean pav!
  • It clicked that I was being unreasonably hormonal and that it would pass in a day or so.
  • The fire eventually was lit and made the lounge room warm and toasty for a Sunday night knitting session.
  • It occurred to me that every day is a 'Mothers Day' so what does it matter if one day doesn't turn out how we expected it to. Isn't what happens over the course of a week, month or year more important? Cherishing those tender moments with each of our children as they arise? It doesn't have to all be on the one day!
  • It would be positively blissful not to have to do anything on Mothers Day and be waited on hand and foot but in reality when does this ever happen? And would I really enjoy it if it actually did happen? I'm ok not knowing the answer to that one..
  • Next year will have a number 14 next to it!

How was your day?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Good things..

Tween girls who like to bake. Our 11yo is forming a small selection of tried and tested recipes. This one is her current favourite.  The mixture makes great cupcakes, too!

 Spinning up a couple of hundred grams of Bluefaced Leicester wool. I am on a mission to finish a project that is long overdue!
 I hope it will be enough. Fingers and toes are crossed! It is super soft and very 'springy'.

 Enjoying autumn pumpkin soups. The weather has been most favourable for soup consumption lately.

 Bringing the last of the tomato stragglers inside. Not many left out there now..

Coming across a pattern for a shawlette. Did you know that Carle from Nurturing Fibres is offering the Sunny Days shawlette pattern for free during May? Hop on over to Nurturing Fibres to take a look. :)

Taking part in a test knit. My first ever! This knit is for the lovely Linda from Natural Suburbia
 So exciting!

The wonderful bloggers who take time out each month to join in the Slow Living monthly updates. YOU are the bees knees, didn't you know? Thankyou! See what's been happening with them lately here. 

 Ending my weeks with Friday veggie group. No matter how busy the rest of the week is, it is my one little morning to reconnect with ladies who were once like minded gardeners but over the course of five years (has it really been that long? Eeep!) have become good friends. The best!

Hoping you're finding a little time in your week for some good things. :)

Friday, May 3, 2013

The wind..

It's hard to believe that this is just yesterday in my neck of the woods. Last night a ferocious wind whipped through and stripped most of the trees bare. The wind has been howling all day!

I'm so glad I got to enjoy the foliage on such a glorious afternoon before it was all blown away..

Enjoy your weekend out there, people! :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Slow Living 2013 - April

It's May already, gosh, can you believe it? Is it just me or does each year bring the months faster than the previous year? Join me as I reflect back on the month of April, looking at different areas of our lives in which we are trying to slow down and document the achievements that have been made along the way.

Feel like doing the same? You are most welcome! Just leave a link to your blog post (written in this style) at the bottom of the page any time during the month of May and enjoy hopping over to see what others have been up to, hopefully gaining some new ideas and inspiration along the way.

For a detailed description of this blog link up, click here.  


Nourish  (Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, overprocessed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here)
Pies - both the sweet and savoury kind are happening to which I'm putting down to the cooler weather. What is it about a pie that spells comfort? Rhubarb and apples seem to be a constant and double batch dinner preparation and baking to save time spent in the kitchen has also been common. April seemed to be the Month of the Muffin at our place - they are just so handy to put into kids lunchboxes, curb those mid afternoon (or late nigh for that matter) munchies plus they freeze so well for another day.
{an old favourite - banana and chocolate chip}
Prepare (Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season)
Oh dear, I have to admit to being rather slack in this area during the month! We seemed to keep on top of the tomatoes coming in and have been finishing off the few remaining jars of  preserved fruit from last year! The semi-dried tomatoes I preserved a while ago were delicious, that is after the solidified olive oil was softened from storing them in the fridge...gah! Does anyone have any ideas on how to solve this?

Green (up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous)
No huge developments here for the month, although I have been eyeing off our comfrey (and it's out of control size!) and keep thinking that I need to go and attack it with the hedgeclippers to make some more comfrey ointment (our last years batch is still going strong in the fridge, but we can never have too much, especially for those times when hubby has a mallet in his hand whilst paving..). We could also do with another lot of calendula ointment too, come to think of it. I've burned myself on the oven three times in the last week and am really missing this staple from our medicine cupboard. Inside, I'm totally happy using eucalyptus oil, vinegar and hot water for most household cleaning. Besides being a cracker of a cleaner in the bathroom, it leaves the home smelling beyond fresh!

Grow What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints.
We've been bringing in pumpkins, the last of the tomatoes and beans (still! just!!), along with potatoes, silverbeet, kale and squash. Broccoli is coming along in the hugelkultur bed and with the cooler weather arriving, perennial leeks are back in town! Yeahh!
Reduce (Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas here)
Hubby has been plodding away on laying some second hand pavers around our entries and has finished forming the steps near our side door. Outside I am forming a large hugelkultur style bed for the 'pretty plants' I have always wanted to grow but never had anywhere to put them..  flowers and such *gasp!* Re-arranging tween bedroom furniture and making spaces run more smoothly using the furniture we had on hand was also really satisfying.

Create (to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here) 
This month I have loved learning more about natural dyeing - although the more I learn the more I realise there is so much more to learn! I've been experimenting with rhubarb leaves and spent dahlia flowers in the dye pot and have started storing these dyes in glass bottles to use when inspiration knocks. Dyeing some yarn with our own peach/nectarine leaves was loads of fun, too! Knitting up some hats for two dear readers kept me out of mischief for the remainder of the month. It was so exciting to send off these packages of handmade warmth to them. I hope they enjoyed receiving them as much as I enjoyed making them.  :)

Discover (Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Share new finds here)
I have been reading up loads on natural dyeing. Indigo dyeing has me totally absorbed. To be more specific, Australian indigo dyeing. We have two native indigo plants growing in our garden and I think I have found a straightforward way to attempt using the foliage to dye yarn. See here. If only our plants would hurry up and grow to a reasonable size!

Enhance (connect with community -  support local growers & producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, join a playgroup or form a walking or craft group.Or maybe just help out someone trying to cross the street!)
This month I supported a local organic farm by acting as a voice for them here on this blog and facebook page.  I loved attending a musical afternoon for a great cause, it was fun to feed a friend's animals while she was away and food swapping with another friend was a nice way end to the month.

Enjoy  (Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here)
This month I've enjoyed making time for the small things, walking the dog with my daughter, knitting, visiting parks, watching tween netball games, spinning wool in the sun while hubby works on the paving - you know, general family life. I also enjoyed watching Autumn colour our area in reds, yellows and oranges and observing the people this change in season attracts who obviously enjoy it as much as we do!

                                                                         How was your month?

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