Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wild Mushroom & Garden Herb Ravioli

The mushroom season feels like it's coming to an end. The weather has a sharp coldness to it, and what fungi does pop up from the earth seems to get damaged by rain (and bugs), fairly quickly. With a new thrifted mushrooming basket in my possesion calling out to be used, I bundled myself up in warm clothes and went out for one more forage.

The basket did the job nicely, and was pulling my arms down with it's weight by the end of my walk.

The pine forest is a welcome sight for the mushroom seeking person. I was after Slippery Jacks on this occasion, not having given them a proper go before and wanting to try them before the season came to an end.

And wouldn't you know it, I happened to find a few! 'Slippery' because of their (so unappealing!) slimy coating on the top of their caps. Don't worry, my little knife was a'scraping! This coating isn't poisonous, but it's best removed as some people can be allergic to it, suffering gasto upsets when consumed. Besides, would you really want to eat that?

After bringing them home and cleaning them up I had about 1.4kg of mixed sliced Slippery Jacks and Saffron Milk Caps (the orange ones in the pan). The Slippery Jacks are a surprisingly clean and white mushroom under all that 'ooze'. They were sautéed in batches with generous amounts of leek, garlic, olive oil/butter, and plenty of salt and pepper. The last batch also had a big handful of fresh thyme and parsley from the garden thrown in. They were then whizzed in the food processor until smoothish..but not completely smooth..small lumps remained..and then into the fridge they went for the night.

The next day, the remainder of our homemade cream cheese was added to the mixture (about 1/2 cup), and mixed well.

Then it was onto the pasta. 800g of plain white flour, 8 eggs and 6tsp salt seemed to be just the right quantities to accommodate our mushrooms.

After spying me at work, the 10yo quickly got in on the action and pretty soon so did the other two. It was all happening in our kitchen yesterday, with hands flying, flour scattering and small hands seeming to be everywhere I turned. A state of chaos quickly ensued what was planned as a relaxing morning of pottering!

The dough was passed through to the second thinnest setting (no.2) on the pasta machine, and then the mushroom mixture was placed in small balls along the length of the pasta sheet.

The edges were brushed with water to provide a seal and then the dough was folded over to enclose the mixture.

Any air pockets were squeezed out with my 'helping hands' and then the ravioli were cut with a pastry wheel (my youngest kept calling it a 'Tractor Wheel'. Funny!).

The morning provided us with just over 2kgs of ravioli that was packed and frozen for future yummy, quick dinners. Of course we had to try some for lunch, and it was just wonderful with a simple sauce of sour cream, chives and lots of black pepper. I found the flavour of the Slippery Jacks slightly stronger than the Saffron Milk Caps, although still definitely not overpoweringly 'mushroomy'.

The pasta was very satisfying to make, considering only the flour, butter and oil were bought. The herbs, leeks and garlic were from our garden, the eggs (well, half at least) were from our hens and the mushrooms were just a hop, skip and a jump away in the nearby pine forest.

Low food miles of the best kind, for sure.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Easy knitted socks

It's official. I have caught the annual knitting bug. I'm finding all things woolly and needly extremely satisfying at the moment, especially since the weather is cold and our fire is on constantly. The knitting takes place in the evenings, when the kids are in bed and the couch awaits my inevetable flop. I'm zapped of energy, but somehow I can still muster up the motivation to keep my hands busy while my mind wanders. It's soothing and the perfect tonic to be had before sleep.

This week I tried socks for the first time out of desire, along with a frustration of cheap, nasty socks that develop holes after only three wears. Our weather is cold (for me, anyway!). My feet like to be warm. Cosy socks are required. The pattern was straightforward, just the way I wanted it, before thoughts about embarking on to more complicated patterns with terms such as 'instep gussets', 'heel flaps' and 'toes' started to fill my novice-knitting mind.

Before I jump to the pattern, I have to tell you about a post I read recently that I'm still smiling about. It is by Kate over at Simplicity Street, who I also happen to know through our daughters' primary school. Kate claims to own THE BEST knitting book of all time...and after reading her post, it's a claim I'm willing to support! Head on over and take a look, it's well worth it...

Easy Knitted Socks

100g x 8 ply/DK yarn
Set of 4, 3.75mm (size 9), knitting needles (not having these, I used a pair of regular 3.75mm knitting needles and joined the center seam together with mattress stitch. Pearling rows were substituted where needed, to keep in stocking stitch pattern).

To fit: Ladies (approx)
Make 2

Cast on 48 sts evenly over 3 needles - 16 sts on each.
Join to form round placing a marker at the start.

Rnd 1: K2, P2 to marker - 2 x 2 rib.
Work in 2 x 2 rib for 6cm, ending round at marker.
Change to stocking st - knit every row, until work measures 34cm from beginning.

Toe Shaping:
Rnd 1: (K6, K2tog) to marker (42sts)
Rnd 2 and foll alt rows: Knit without shaping.
Rnd 3: (K5, K2tog) to marker (36sts)
Rnd 5: (K4, K2tog) to marker (30 sts)
Rnd 7: (K3, K2tog) to marker (24 sts)
Rnd 9: (K2, K2tog) to marker (18 sts)
Rnd 11: (K1, K2tog) to marker (12 sts)
Rnd 13: K2tog to marker (6 sts).
Rnd 14: Knit.

Cut off yarn leaving a 15cm tail. Thread end through rem sts; draw up tightly and fasten off securely. Using wool needle and yarn, weave in loose ends.

Source: Spotlight Knitting Magazine 2008

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thou shall not whey'ste liquid goodness

One of the main reasons why I was so keen to make my own cream cheese, was the thought of all the whey that could be collected from the curds. Hearing different people comment on how great whey is to use in baking and how healthy it is for us, I was eager to try it for myself...especially in bread, which I am finally pleased to say that I have gotten into some sort of rhythm of baking, not having to resort to shop bought loaves for some time, now!

The 2 litres of full cream milk that was used in yesterday's cream cheese produced just under 1400mls of pale straw coloured whey. The question wasn't: what was I going to do with it?...but how many baked goods could I use it in? I was excited by the possiblities. It was time, the kitchen was calling me.

Fresh whey from two litres of whole milk (around 1400mls)

So to answer the question, today the oven had a small workout which produced:

One large baking tray of foccacia style pizza..for the daughters' Friday lunchboxes.

A batch of (fairtrade) chocolate-chip muffins

Two epis - don't you just love that name!

And a sandwich style loaf for lunches and toast.

The sharp/acidic taste of the whey wasn't noticable in either the muffins or the bread, although the bread was just the slightest bit tangy (which was nice). I'm really pleased the whey is in there, boosting our health with it's goodness and not meeting a wasteful fate by being poured down the sink.

There is about a cup of whey left, and I think I might just toss it into the soup pot for tonight's dinner!

Chocolate Chip Muffins Makes 15
2 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup whey
1/2 cup milk
2 large (homegrown freerange, you betcha!) eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup fairtrade milk chocolate, chopped

Sift the flour and cocoa together. Stir in sugar. In a seperate bowl lightly whisk eggs, whey, milk and oil until combined. Add to flour mixture and stir gently. Add chocolate chips and stir gently until just combined. Spoon into muffin trays and bake at 180c for 25 minutes. Muffins freeze well.

Today's bread:
900g white flour
450g wholemeal flour
150g rye flour
6 tsp yeast
3 tsp salt
3 tsp bread improver (ascorbic acid). I'm still deciding whether this is needed or not - it's great for a fluffy, kid-friendly sandwich loaf. Today this quantity was too much...maybe I'll halve it next time. Just take a look at my...err, rather plump epis!

1 tbs honey
800mls whey
250mls water (approx)

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Add liquid and honey and mix until dough forms. Knead well for 10-15 minutes and set aside to rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours). Shape and rise again (40 minutes). Bake in a 210c oven until golden and hollow sounding.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Homemade cream cheese

I can remember reading some time ago, that home made cream cheese is super easy to make at home. Even better, it calls for using natural yoghurt, which is great if you make your own!

I was somewhat skeptical, thinking that the cream cheese needed special cultures added to make it 'real' cream cheese and that just draining yoghurt wouldn't make the cut. Curiosity overcame me though, and I decided to give it a go this week.

I made up a big batch of yoghurt with 2 ltrs of UHT milk and a couple of tablespoons of homemade yoghurt. It was placed in a casserole dish and left to set overnight in a warm oven (turned oven on 150c for about 10 mins and then turned off).

The next day, I was pleased to see the yoghurt had set nicely, if not as thick as the powdered milk version I often make. The whole lot was placed in a (damp) tea-towel lined bowl and the edges were bundled together with string.

The 'package' was then attached to a rolling pin, which was propped up with one end on the 'high' bench in my kitchen and the other end on some cans from my pantry. A bowl was positioned underneath to collect the whey that would drain out. (Apologies for the dark pictures...winter is a gloomy time in my kitchen).

I left it there to drain for about 9 hours. The bowl needed emptying several times as LOTS of whey seemed to accumilate in there.

This is the final result. Still apprehensive, I went in for the testing. It looked like cream cheese, felt like cream cheese and wouldn't you know it, it even tasted like cream cheese! It was delicious! Thick, creamy and sooo good. My daughters had it on their sandwiches for school lunch today. I am really excited to try some dips with herbs from the garden, and to also put it through the ulitmate test....baking!

But for today, I'm enjoying it on crackers with sweet chilli sauce!

Oh, and if all that wasn't enough, compare these prices:

Homemade: $2.20 for 2 litres milk (Aldi UHT), to make up approx 600g cheese, PLUS whey to use in baking/other uses.

Store bought: $4.50 for 250g cheese. ('Philadelphia' from IGA)

Which would you choose?

Click here to see how my homemade cream cheese performed in a baked cheesecake.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The nicest thankyou of all

Yes. I am fully aware that I am one of those mad, blathering chook ladies. Yes. I am fully aware that I ramble on and on and on about them, completely unnecessarily. Yes. I do have plenty of other (much more interesting!), things to talk about but for today, allow me this one small indulgence before I go back to my regular, un-chookified ramblings.

It was sitting neatly in the nesting box. I found it when I checked on them this morning. It was still warm. I can't help thinking that it is a timely thankyou for all of my hard work over the weekend to improve their living quarters. Probably just perfectly timed (the seller did say in about 3 weeks), but for today, I'm taking it as a welcome thankyou.

Anyone who has enjoyed homegrown fresh, free-range eggs and then had to go back to store bought will understand my joy. At last the egg-drought has been broken!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Li'l Bit of Chook Lovin'!

I'm still really excited about our new chicken run and have been thinking of ways to make it as much fun for my small friends as possible. After a successful visit to the tip last week and always one to re-use, I had a wonderful time this weekend coming up different ideas for 'furniture' to keep them happy.

As our fruit trees are still very young, there is no shady shelter for them in the run. This heavy iron frame that we have had lying around for the past couple of years was perfect to cover with some shadecloth to create a foraging tunnel. Chooks, originally being jungle animals like to shelter under low shrubs/trees to feel safe from predators and roost up high at night. The girls made their way into this one straight away!

A nesting box need not be expensive or fancy. They can be made from the most basic items. Here, a tip-scrounged milk crate and an off-cut of lattice do the trick.

Again, with no tall trees in the run, there is nowhere for the girls to perch if they feel the need. This frame used to have a double swing-seat attached but had long since buckled in the wind. It makes a great perching frame, with a ladder of lattice to help them up (I clipped some of their wings...another story!). The frame has been covered with plastic netting (more tip scrounging), and I am thinking of growing some sort of vine over the top....maybe kiwi fruit.

And my gate! I was quietly pleased with myself this weekend, as I finally used the cut-off power saw!! I have aways been so worried (scared), about it, but realise after making this gate what a useful and time-saving tool it really is. The timber all came from the tip, (quite a pattern emerging here, eh?!). The paint colour was not important, it was the only 'weathershield' we happened to have lying around. (I have NO idea what I used this paint for originally!).

The girls were also treated to a new roosting set-up in their night pen. The previous two perches were struggling to house our newcomers. These perches (cut up curtain rod), are about 70cm off the ground. This set up is working really well....

...along with a cute little ramp made from second hand timber. (And they DO use it, I checked/spied on them!). All in all, a productive weekend.

Happy hens doing what comes naturally!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Knitted fingerless gloves

Last winter, one thing I really wanted was a pair of fingerless gloves, just because they seem so handy and look so warm! Not getting around to making any, it was one of the first projects I thought about as soon as the weather began to cool down. While searching for patterns online, I came across a fantastic site for knitters/crocheters and you might possibly already know of it.

Ravelry is an amazing resource with thousands of patterns available for download (lots free, some paid) and is a magnet for all kinds of knitting and crocheting folk. You'll need to create an account to sign in (which is free), after which you will have access to view the enormous quantity of patterns available.

I found the link for this glove pattern on Ravelry, (Hope's Fingerless Gloves). The pattern (pdf) is also posted on the creator's blog.

My gloves, photo taken by my third hand! Ha! With the help of a low hanging tree and timer function, actually...;-)

Not having a set of size 8 (4mm) double pointed needles, I knitted the gloves on two regular size 8 (4mm), needles and then joined up the seam which lies on the inside of my hand. The first glove (left), was knitted according to the pattern and the seams sewn together. The second glove (right), needed to be knitted in reverse to ensure the seam lay on the inside of my right hand. Quite confusing at times, but I muddled my way through it. The only thing I would change next time is perhaps make them a bit longer. I notice the ones pictured in the pattern are longer than mine, so I'm not sure what happened there! Anyhow, I'm pretty happy with them, they will be great for my Friday veggie group days.

These are the modifications, if you find yourself in the same boat I was in, with only regular needles instead of double pointed...

Knit up first glove (left hand), according to pattern. Sew up center seam and thumb seam.

Knit up second glove (right hand), following directions but substituting pattern stitches for the following:

Row 1: (p1, c4f, p1, k10) twice

Row 2: (p10, k1, p4, k1) twice

Row 3: follow pattern to last 10 sts, k2, m1, k6, k1, m1, k1

Row 4: as directed.

Follow the remaining directions. Sew together center and thumb seams.

Moda Vera Baby Alpaca Blend (25% Alpaca, 35% Wool, 45% Polyacrylic)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chook update...

Over the weekend, I could barely contain my excitement over the new chicken run! After letting all of our new girls out and watching in despair as they all flew up our neighbour's tree, I needed to make a mad dash to my daughter's netball game. Fretting over my feathered ones, I came home to find them having a wonderful time scratching in the bark and leaves. Herding them slowly so as not to scare them, they were shuffled into the new run. Even our newest addition accepted the invitation with glee! What fun to see them dig and scratch, preen and dust-bathe on the warm, sunny slope.

Our newest girl, "Smiley" (named by our youngest), enjoying her first dust-bath since her arrival.

That afternoon, we encountered the first hiccup when our newest girl decided to take her chances at flapping over the fence to the appealing looking trees on the neighbour's side. Soon, all of the girls were taking notice and following her lead. Argh! I had not planned on this. Never having the need before to have their wings clipped, I am suddenly thinking of such things. Just one wing, apparently, and just a portion off the flight feathers (not the actual wing!). And the next thing to consider...once their wings are clipped, will they still be able to reach their sleeping perch? If not, will they need a ladder to help them up?


Today they took a rest. The three old girls were back in the veggie patch in the chook dome, while the new girls, including our newest, got a chance to get to know each other a little better in the permanent chook pen. I was very pleased to see the pecking non-existant with our 'chief pecker' away from the scene. The new one has been staying in a sectioned off part of this pen, so she can still interact with the others but without the violence.

After spending an exhausting day on a school farm excursion with my youngest today, I am planning a quiet day of 'wing clipping research' tomorrow!

The flock (x8), enjoying their new run.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Marble Bundt Cake

This cake was made to feed an army of hungry women yesterday. As most of it got eaten, I guess the team found it agreeable. This made me happy, as I used one of my other recipes and changed a few things here and there after becoming frustrated by not finding a recipe online that I liked the look of.

It is actually a variation of the orange syrup cake recipe here, but with the orange omitted and some cocoa, cinnamon and almond meal added for the marbling. I also ran out of SR flour and had to make up my own with baking powder and plain flour! Next time I'll try to be more organised.

Marble Bundt Cake

Here are the ingredients:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs (lucky me, I happened to find a big, fresh duck egg to use!)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup yoghurt or sour cream
1/2 cup milk

3 cups SR flour

1/3 - 1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup almond meal

Grease and flour a large bundt tin. Preheat oven to 180c. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract.

Add the flour and combined yoghurt/milk alternately, starting and ending with the yoghurt/milk mixture. Remove about 1/3 of the mixture to a seperate bowl and add the sifted cocoa, cinnamon and almond meal. If it is a little dry, add a splash more milk to bring the consistancy up to the same as the plain mixture.

Add the cake batter to the prepared tin, alternating dollops of plain and cocoa mixture. Start and end with plain mixture. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted comes out clean. Invert onto a cake rack and allow to cool slightly. Dust with icing sugar and serve while still warm with plenty of whipped cream.

Any leftovers are best reheated, due to the large quantity of butter in the recipe. Feeds a tribe!

Friday, May 14, 2010

A weekly army of Women and their Achievements

Fridays are gardening days in my world. Not just any gardening days though, it's a day where I gather with a group of likeminded women, who, over dirt, cake and vegetables have become good friends. I have been gardening on Fridays this way for 2 years and really can't imagine my Fridays any other way. I love my veggie group end to the week.

A typical Friday will see kids dropped off at school and then arriving at the person's home who is hosting/receiving that week. Hosting by supplying refreshments for the workers and receiving by accepting an army of women's labour. It's a great deal! Cake always goes down well. As does ample supplies of coffee and tea. Lunch (and the occasional offer of wine), are purely optional.

The Men of our area seem to think we don't get much done...that we are just a group of women dressed up in our oldest clothes, chattering away over kitchen tables. Sure this does go on (really, how could it not!), but there is SO much more that goes on as well. By learning from each other, we have tackled vegetable and fruit tree plantings, garden bed construction, fencing, chook pen assembly, bean mazes, irrigation, greenhouse construction, wood oven building and foraging. It is empowering and inspiring all at the same time.

And today veggie group happened to be at my place.

Oh, and a little daunting too! Did I mention that? A bunch of women arriving on your doorstep at five minutes past nine expecting to be fed, with their pre-schoolers in tow kind of does that to a person.

Luckily for my army of women, there was a plan. With 20 hands working on what 2 hands would do, it took less than 2 hours to accomplish what would have taken me forever! Now that's what I call clever gardening, would you agree?

I really wanted to fence off an area around my (badly goat nibbled) fruit trees to serve as a chook run during the day. In my mind this is an ideal partnership, the chooks are in their element, scratching and searching for bugs while also fertilizing the trees. Win/win!

I had spent a chunk of time earlier in the week marking out and driving in fencing stakes, and pruning low hanging branches and blackberries. What now needed to be done was to attach the chicken wire to the stakes and sink two posts for a gate. The team worked well, despite the drizzly, cold weather....

...although they did get a little camera shy when I whipped out my little pocket photo taker. The kids are always eager helpers, mimicking what the adults are up to. Great life learning here..

Feeling surprisingly kindhearted for the day, I decided to feed them lunch as well as the obligatory cake...considering it was a really big job that I was asking them to do.

People were welcome to bring along a topping from their garden to go on the pizzas. Lots of very tasty ones were churned out, including this wild mushroom one by my partner in foraging. Nice one, K! :-)
(Saffron Milk Caps with garlic, bocconcini, thyme and oregano)

This is how the team like to relax after a morning's today's case, around a cosy campfire, passing the time of day. Kids? Well, we really don't know where they are or what they are up to...but rest assured they are having a ball!

I'm totally wrapped with my new chicken's huge! I can't wait to put the chickens in and fashion a gate for my lovely entry. I am thinking berries to grow along the fence and a few more fruit trees...

If you're reading ladies, thankyou! It would've taken me forever and wouldn't have been half as much fun!!

Next week we will be at someone else's house and be doing a similar (or completely different!) thing all over again. And the week after that, and the week after that.....and so on it goes.

An army of Women and their Achievements.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Busy times...

All of the sick ones are back at school again and I have jumped into a new plan. Lots of preparation was needed, along with the usual jobs to keep the home running smoothly. I have to say, I am exhausted!

Hopefully tomorrow will see another good day's work on the project. I'm not saying much until it is done, except that it involves plants and living creatures! Until then though, here are some images of my busy days...

Homemade pizza sauce with the end of season tomatoes, recipe here.

A plentiful supply of wire netting...

"Cheesymite scrolls", a take-off of the ones available from commercial bakeries. Just follow these directions, substituting vegemite and cheese for the filling ingredients.

Could those be star pickets driven into the ground? And a mysterious looking string line?

And a handsome looking woodpile, with a purpose in mind...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An unexpected addition to the flock

About a week ago, driving my daughters to school, we saw a very funny sight. One lone chook was kicking up her heels (claws?) at our nearest crossroad. She was sprightly and bouncy and quick on her feet and was having a wonderful time foraging in the bushes. We all had a good chuckle and kept driving. I saw her in the afternoon again too, but as we were on our way to swimming lessons, couldn't stop to figure out where she had come from.

A couple of days went by and I hadn't seen her again. Everytime I went through the intersection (very rural, very tree laden), I kept my eyes peeled for a sign of her presence. I was concerned that a fox may have found her, and if by chance I did spot her was determined to hustle her up to the safety of our place.

A week, and then more went by, no sign of the funny chook. And then, on Sunday, I was basking in my day of Motherly Appreciation (napping on the couch), when I heard a soft knock on the door. Sneaking a peak and wondering who it could be, I answered the door in my disheveled, nap like state. It was a neighbour from across the way, enquiring if that chook was ours. "No, not ours, although we did see it once or twice." He seemed quite put out. As it turned out, he had stumbled across the chook while walking his dogs when they suddenly caught the scent and proceeded to attack the poor, lone chicken.

Not being a poultry keeper himself, and not knowing who it belonged to, he asked if we would like it, as he had seen we already kept some birds. "Uhhh.....ok", was the best I could manage, still waking up. Off he went home to retrieve the bird, returning in minutes walking back down the hill with it all tucked up under his arm, like a neat little package.

His dogs had certainly had a good go at it, removing some feathers from it's back, but otherwise it seemed in good health and not looking that old either. She appears to be an Isa Brown at point of lay, probably bought from our local chicken breeder. After thanking him (and by now fully awake), I put the very tame, very talkative bird into a seperate cage from our other birds, to give her a chance to recover from her little escapade.

She has been eating well and resting lots, so now comes the tricky part of how to introduce her to our other girls. I know it will be hard on her own, and am a bit concerned about how to go about it. One of our older girls is quite 'pecky' and I am worried that after the dog attack, our poor, new bird will revert back to being in a state of shock. I really didn't want to get another chook to help her settle in, if I can avoid it (we are pushing our perching space as it is!).

Ahh! The dilemmas of bird keeping! Any advice on how to help her infiltrate the flock gently, greatly appreciated.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Knitted Cupcake Beanie

I'm a big fan of the beanie, although the only trouble that it can sometimes be hard to find one that sits just right (that is, not too eggy-shaped). I have tried a few knitting patterns and they all look...wrong. On my head at least. This one is my favourite and after having worn out the first one I made, decided to knit another one with some leftover wool and all of my time inside last week. It was made in a day and is really easy.

If knitting in the round is new to you (like it is for me), don't forget to put a marker or rubber band on the needle so you can remember where the row starts and ends!

2 x 50g balls yarn (original pattern used "Moda Vera" Cupcake)
6mm double pointed-knitting needles - set of four
Cable needle
Scissors, yarn needle, tape measure

To fit: lady - 56cm

Slip next 2 sts onto a cable needle and place at back of work. K next 2 sts from needle, then K2 from cable needle, without twisting them.

Beanie is worked using 2 strands of yarn together.
Using 6mm double-pointed knitting needles cast on 70 stitches evenly over 3 needles.
Knit 6 rows garter stitch.

Cable Pattern
Rnd 1: *P6, K4, rep from * 6 times.
Rnd 2: Rep rnd 1
Rnd 3: *P6, Cable, rep from *6 times.
Rnd 4-6: Rep rnd 1.
Rep rnds 1 to 4.

Change to stocking stitch and work in rounds until work measures 17cm from beg.

Shape crown
Rnd 1: *K5, K2tog rep from * to end (60sts).
Work 3 rows.
Rnd 5: *K4, K2tog, rep from * to end (50sts).
Work 2 rows.
Rnd 8: *K3, K2tog, rep from * to end (40sts).
Work 1 row.
Rnd 10: *K2, K2tog, rep from * to end (30sts).
Work 1 row.
Rnd 12: *K1, K2tog, rep from * to end. (20sts).
Rnd 13: K2tog to end (10sts).

Cut off yarns and run end through remaining stitches, draw up tightly and fasten off securely.

Cupcake Beanie. Source: Spotlight Knitting Magazine, 2008 Winter Collection

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mums our there.  I woke to a yummy homecooked breakfast, followed by the beautifully handwrapped, quirky gifts kids just love to give and then later on....

...a picnic in the park. My daughters got very excited they even had made up Mother's Day posters on the computer which they posted from the bedroom to the kitchen and I had to follow to find my breakfast, very cute! ...

There was no work, just relaxing. A perfect day! Hope your day was just as good.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Things that made me smile today...

We have had a nasty bout of gastro this week. First our middle daughter came down with it, followed by me and then our eldest daughter, yesterday morning. There are two people left and I am amazed they are yet untouched by this awful bug. Spending the week inside caring for 'sickies' can really make a person feel housebound, so today with the husband at home and the beautiful weather making an appearance, I took the opportunity to spend most of the day outside, catching up on the long list of gardening jobs.

These are just a few things that brought a smile to my face today...

Pumpkins basking in the sun to harden their skins for storage...

....a big box of Fowlers Vacola jars, shared by a friend who unexpectedly came across them! Now the  fun part comes with deciding what to put in them!

Old girls making a mad dash to their daytime workplace...the chook dome in the vegie garden. They know where the good stuff is...

Roses. But..but they're FLOWERS *gasp*!  Ok, wait, just because I can't eat them doesn't mean flowers don't have their uses and places...

My favourite lettuce variety (Forellenschluss), making an unlikely volunteer appearance in the cracks of our paving. I couldn't cultivate a plant here if I tried!

And a  beautiful magazine (with homemade bookmark!) given to me by a friend in exchange for some compost worms  (hmmm, who got the better deal here?).  I'm really looking forward to sitting down with this one over a hot cup of tea...

I hope you're enjoying your Saturday, wherever you happen to be!