Sunday, July 29, 2012

Firewood & suitcases

It's all about wood here lately. How much we have left, how much we're burning, how quickly it's burning and how hot it is. Also, how dry it is and how close (far away?) to the house it is! A lot of it is waaaaay down in the goat paddock and because the property is literally a swamp at the moment, needs to be brought up to the house by the bucket. On the plus side,  it's old wood that's been drying out for several seasons, so once the surface moisture has had a chance to dry off, it throws out the heat like a bonfire at the end of summer!

Oh, how I long for a wood shed..I really do.

We did happen to have a team of tree men come by this week to fell a handful of trees that had grown out of the dam bank and had since died. Hubby was particularly worried that during a strong gust they would end up in the dam which would be no fun at all to try and remove.
Watching the men work was fascinating, they really have it down to a fine art, employing the use of ropes and pulleys, vehicles and strategic cuts to enable the trees to fall in a perfectly neat line, avoiding the larger, close growing, still living (!) gums.


So, another plus, we have a little more extra firewood that is well seasoned. It's been a couple of years since these trunks have seen any life..

And they burn hot! Deliciously hot! Oh, yes, they do.

Elsewhere, the ground is like a sponge that can't take anymore water..
It's been such a wet winter it's actually hard to imagine a time when the ground will (hopefully soon!) dry out. I would really like to start scheming up plantings and new strategies for the next growing season but this weather isn't very inspiring!

Cold, rainy, wintery days are however, conducive to taking oneself and a car load of crazily chattering daughters off  for a little outing..
After helping to check in her suitcase and seeing their Oma off, who is setting off on an epic trip of a lifetime, we headed down to the beautiful old theatre in Thornbury for the second suitcase event of the day - a suitcase rummage!

Such fun! A gorgeous old building that was choc full of people selling items straight out of their suitcases! 

I thought I had died and gone to vintage heaven! Gosh I love 'urban slow'!!

I also happened to come across my good friend Kirsty (who blogs at Bowerbird Blue), and managed to pick up an item or two from her stall. Much, much fun! I'm looking forward to hearing how her day went..

Hoping your weekend was cosy, relaxing and just maybe..a little bit productive! 

Thankyou so much for your encouraging words and feedback on the opening of my shop. They mean a great deal to me and are very motivating! ThankYOU! xx

Friday, July 27, 2012

Now Open!

Now Open!   Now Open!

Excuse my excitement but I have to share the news - I have just opened up my first ever online shop featuring some of my handmade items!

It came to me like a bolt of lightening one night as I was sitting there, knitting away at yet another hat for a family member.."I really should just open a shop and be done with it!"

and so....

I did!

That's it! It's as simple as that.

And so...

I got to work. 

With the focus being on babies...although not exclusively 
Hats were made..

 Vintage style popovers too! My favourite kind of upcycling!

 Some soft cotton wash cloths..

and a flowery tea cosy!
Do head on over if you would like to view my creations of hand dyed, hand spun, upcycled wares with your afternoon tea!

brown & cream handspun/commercial yarn, newborn hat: $14.50

rose popover 6-12 months: $15.50

knitted cotton washcloths, $12/pair

springtime tea cosy, $26

floral fancy popover top 6-12 months: $15.50

raspberry hand dyed, hand knitted newborn hat: $16.50

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Upcycled Banana Bread & Butter Pudding

Banana bread was baked this week - two sizeable loaves. You know the kind which I talk of, that  which isn't really a bread at all, more rather... like a cake? Dense, packed full of (raw) sugar, and super moist, best eaten warm, a true comfort food, you do know the kind I refer to, don't you?

The four manky bananas sitting on the counter quite timely coincided with Brydie's post on banana cake and the picking up of my new mixing bowl which had been on back order since the previous one shattered on the slate floor (it had done amazingly well lasting 10+ years with three children learning how to bake with it!).

Hooray for new bowls!

And hooray for banana cakes!

I do love a warm, fresh out of the oven banana cake. I don't know what it is though, it never seems as appealing the next day. The girls pack it in their lunchboxes for school and I warm up a piece for a mid afternoon snack but inevitably, any further leftovers go to the chickens.

I was determined this time to put a halt to this outrageous practice! So, banana bread and butter pudding it had to be..

It couldn't be easier - just cube up any remaining banana cake, chop up some chocolate pieces to your liking (I used half a block of white chocolate tonight) and layer them alternately in a largish pie dish. Add fruit now if this is your thing.. I would've liked to have added some of our homegrown raspberries from the freezer but as the most passionate banana fan doesn't eat them, it was not to be.

In a separate bowl, mix up 3 eggs, 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1 tbs plain  flour, 500ml cream and a good teaspoon (or two!) of vanilla extract.

Pour this over the bread and chocolate. If you have a little time up your sleeve, the dish can be set aside for around 10-20 minutes to allow the custard to soak into the bread/cake.

I did not have such time up my sleeve and all was still well. Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake at 180c for 45-50 minutes or until top is browned and custard is set.

Probably one of the last of the thigh loving desserts for the season..perhaps I'll sneak in just one or two more before the winter is well and truly out.

The irony of this dessert hit me as I was washing up... the cake was made to use up the manky bananas..and then the pudding was made to use up the leftover cake... funny, huh!? I wonder how many times a dish can be re-vamped into another....

Have you got any upcycled indulgent treats that are a favourite at your place? 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend pipelines..

My youngest is quite obsessed with Pokemon at the moment. She borrows books from the library, collects the trading cards and has even converted a fellow classmate or two to her pocket monster ways!

I thought it would be a bit of fun to indulge her obsession and found a cute little pattern online to make up..
 It only took an evening and a bit to complete. This morning I placed it on the front door mat outside, rang the bell and raced back inside through the back door. When I asked her who was at the door she looked at me blankly so I suggested she go and see. Unconvinced, she made her way over, peeked through the window and saw her new friend, Pikachu looking back at her from down below, teehee! I love a feel good prank!!

He's happens to be her second favourite pokemon, I've since been informed. The bluntness of kids, nothing beats it! She was still very excited with him though, which made me feel good (and a little relieved!).

Busyness in the pipeline...
 Stay tuned...

And as promised, my goodies from the visit to the Sheep & Wool show on Friday..

A handful of Landscape dyes, some sweet, quirky buttons, a couple of books on knitted flowers and knitted cakes which I just couldn't walk past, some stitch markers made by my spinning friend, a little yarn from the Woollen Mills, a flick carder for fibre preparation (a big step up from the dog comb I've been using!),  and a Corriedale fleece - this I have plans to ply with some brown alpaca fibre I already have. Phew!

What I'm liking most is that the farm that supplied the fleece is actually fairly close by!

How was your weekend? 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Australian Sheep & Wool Show

Ahh, what a day I've had! After cycling the two younger tweens halfway to school (so I was sure they made it across the busy road in one piece}, I returned home and quickly got ready to head out on a little excursion with my mum. We were making our way to the national Sheep and Wool Show. which is an easy drive for us being not too far away.

This was the first time we had been and my goodness, I can see why people take out three day passes! After soaking up shed after shed of fibrey goodness, animal wafts and spinning delights, I still hadn't got a chance to see the baby animals, soak up the the fashions, catch the cooking sessions and study the entries of the gorgeous handcrafted items that were on display! Cripes, that sounds like we didn't see anything at all, doesn't it? But I assure you, we much!

Anyhow, a few pics of our day out..

{Border Leicester}

{Judged merino fleeces}

{White Suffolk)

One of the things I particularly enjoyed was eyeing off the homemade outfits. Did you spot the crochet ensemble a few pics above? 

I seriously wanted to bring this adorable angora goat home with us! It was just the sweetest creature you ever did see and oh, the cuddles and fluffy scratches between the horns! More please!! Did I mention the soft velvety nuzzles? Ahh!

I saw many a friendly face from spinning group which was really nice. The stall above is courtesy of one such spinner.

It was such a huge day out with so much to see and take in, I confess to being completely exhausted. However we still managed to round off the day with a visit to Bendigo Woollen Mills on our way home - a first for my mum.  I'll pop back in over the weekend with a little goody bag show & tell...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nimble thimbles

Much sewing action has been happening here this week (a window during the day with kids at school does help ;)). It's all part of a project, you see and before the thought pops into your mind, no, I am not expecting.

I've been having a most wonderful time delving into my stash of yarn and fabric, reclaiming materials for new uses. It's very soothing to ponder over the possibilities of this buried treasure. And being a sewer and knitter, this stuff accumulates! Oh. My. Gosh. It surely does!

I was beyond excited recently when I came across a near perfect copy of Enid Gilchrest's sewing booklet in an op shop. I had sewn many things from this charming reference when my girls were small and had sadly misplaced it while moving! To have it back, albeit with a different cover, is strangely comforting!

Wanting to get a little nostalgic sewing underway, I had to haul out the middle tween's sewing machine after I realised I had lent a foot attachment to my friend off my old Janome. Old sewing machines really resonate with me for some reason. I love this old Pinnock, even if the feed dogs are a little too low for my liking.

Yup, there it is, my second copy of Enid Gilchrest's book. I don't know what it's doing there, tucked up
in the knitting is a sewing book after all! 

My head is full of threads and yarns, colours and trims. It's a good feeling. I just wish I could locate my misplaced thimble.. ahh! The table top, sturdy as it is, just doesn't suffice.

What's been keeping your mind and hands active lately? 

Monday, July 16, 2012


It's good to have a break.

To completely stop all outside activities and contact (well mostly).

To be unplugged for a while, even on your phone.

To not have to rush around and be frazzled each evening at dinner time.

To laze around in the morning contemplating the day and what it might see you doing - or not, perhaps tomorrow...

To even do nothing!

What a luxury this is and a rainy school holiday break was the perfect time to indulge in such nothing-ness.

But surely I must've done something, right?

Well, ok then, I admit, I have. It's hard for me to do absolutely nothing..something is always ticking away, even if it's just my overactive brain scheming up new hair-brained schemes while pretending to do (mostly) nothing...

I watched the garlic grow..

..and get rained on, dry out marginally only to be rained on again, repeat x 20 and this was my week. 

I jointed a chicken! 
I was inspired to do this after reading some of the comments recently (especially Wendy's), from stock making and the slow living monthly update.

Sturdy kitchen scissors did the trick and I was really pleased to obtain six neat pieces from the bird, which were then marinated in lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and rosemary and then baked for around an hour. A really easy dinner with rice and vegetables alongside. There was plenty of lemony/rosemary sauce at the end of baking to drizzle over the rice which was nice. The leftover bones were of course frozen for stock making (which happens to be simmering right at this moment as it turns out).

Op shop visits did take place..
With interesting finds - including a kaiser roll cutter for 50c! What fun I will have playing with this...

I also encouraged my middle one take her wares to a local garden gift shop. Her origami tulips are just the sweetest things and seeing them in our home adds cheer to my day - no end! I wanted to share the good feeling around. Having her walk away with her very first contact, their business card and a little bit of pocket money in her purse was a bonus that brought a smile to her face like you wouldn't believe. 

Throw in an exciting new project (details soon, I promise!), a monster yarn de-stash, re-visiting Little House on the Prairie and celebrating my brother's 40th it was a perfect winter break.

How have you been keeping?