Thursday, December 30, 2010

Computer says "NO"

Well I'm back online at last. Our computer finally keeled over last Wednesday and even though we've only been offline for nine days it feels like forever.

After receiving a very generous Christmas bonus I'm now the proud owner of a laptop. This is the first real experience I've had with a laptop and I've got to say its taking a bit of getting use to. So bear with me as I learn my way around my new toy!
Firstly I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas or holiday celebration. Ours was very low key and wet. We stayed at home, watched the rain and a bit of the telly, had dinner then played a game of the new Trickster Scrabble I got Tony for Christmas..

I had hoped to do a little post before Christmas on the gifts I made for friends and family, but that wasn't to be. So I'll do a little pictorial review of what I've been up to for the past two weeks.

As you can see there was lots of cooking and even some sewing
Now after all that, its time to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Hope you have a lovely New Year celebration. I'll most probably be in bed before midnight rolls pooper hey!

See you in the New Year
Cheers Lisa

PS I'm having some spacing and editing problems, sorry if it looks a mess

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This is on my mind

I'm a day late.....sorry

"Unrequited Love"

Olivia (the cat) loves Chester but Chester couldn't give a hoot about Olivia. Chesty is a real gentleman and puts up with all the attention she lavishes on him. He just lays there stock still as she throws herself about, rolling around, rubbing her face on his, trying to get him to play with her.
On the other hand Chester loves our older cat Jesse and will lick his face and ears till he is drenched.

Funny things they are.

Pop over to Rhonda's to see what others have on their mind.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Here we go again...more rain!

The rain has returned after sunny days on Thursday and Friday. Yesterday afternoon we had a sudden down pour that lasted about 15 minutes, not sure how much rain fell. Then it stopped and we trundled off and took the dogs for a walk.

The view from our front verandah

Overflowing drains

Our front yard

Our neighbours backyard

and front yard

I'm not complaining really, just a bit sick of the rain and the humidity that it brings.

Now for a bit of a catch up of goings on this week.

Wow its been a week since we went to see Joel Salatin. I had intended doing a little post about that earlier but the week turned into a blur of work, headaches and generally feeling sick.

Anyway back to Joel. What a fantastic evening; like minded people, gathered under one massive tent, in amongst a permaculture garden, listening to a very inspirational man, what more could you ask for.

I only wish I'd taken some notes as there was so much to take in. Sonya over at Permaculture Pathways has done a great post about the talk, you can read it here.

If you've not seen the movie Food Inc. I would strongly suggest you watch it. I know its been out for a while and is now available on DVD. It's such a wake up call, I think it should be compulsory viewing for all adults and senior high school students. Joel appears in the movie and you can see first hand how he works his farm.

On a slightly more frivolous note, I found some more vintage sheets for my quilt. I've cut out all the squares and I hope to do some sewing this afternoon.

Hope you have a lovely weekend

Friday, December 10, 2010

This is on my mind

Homemade Panettone
Not too bad for a first attempt and it tastes nearly as good as the boxed variety. The texture was a bit of a let down, I guess that means I'll have to do a bit more practice. Yumm

I wonder what others have on their mind - pop over to Rhonda's for a look

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mr Squiggle

One of my earliest and favourite childhood memories was watching Mr Squiggle. Norman Hetherington the creator and voice of Mr Squiggle passed away on Sunday the 5th of December aged 89.

RIP Norman and Mr Squiggle.

Friday, December 3, 2010

This is on my mind

Squares of lovely vintage sheets that I've swapped and collected, waiting to be sewn into a picnic blanket or quilt top.

Check out Rhonda's blog, to see what others have on their mind.

Cheers Lisa

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm rather excited!

Look who we're going to see on Saturday night!

We are going to see Joel and the wonderful Costa at Northey Street City Farm

Yay....I can't wait!

Just a little catch up, thanks for the kind comments about my last post. I've included the soap mould tutorial I used here, just in case anyone else is interested in a little woodwork.

Hope you have a lovely day

Friday, November 26, 2010

Old skills revisited

Is it a bad thing to want to PUNCH the stupid computer? Ours is working at slower than a snails pace at the moment (sorry for offending any snails) and it's driving me NUTS!!

OK rant over, back to my original post.

Several years ago I completed a few woodworking courses at the local high school via adult education. I'd been wanting to do these for years, so finally took the plunge. The first course was furniture restoration and french polishing and the second was basic woodwork. I really enjoyed both courses, started a few projects afterwards and then like most things in my life moved on to something else, quilting I think!

My Nana's old sewing chair

The restored chair, beautiful tiger maple

The plant stand I made using Tasmanian oak. It looks a bit red in the photo, its actually a light teak colour and french polished

Anyhow..... a few weeks ago I asked Tony to make me some timber soap moulds, I had some ideas of what I wanted, found a tutorial, materials were purchased and then I waited. After a few weekends of nothing much happening, I decided to tackle the task myself. Finally putting my woodworking skills into practice. Thank goodness I remembered some of what we were taught. Actually I always loved helping my Dad build things, I guess some of that must have rubbed off.

So here it is, soap mould number one, complete with cutting guide (that needs tweaking) and removable ends. All made by me with my trusty jigsaw and power drill.

I'm proud to say I made it with very little input from Tony, except some advice on drill bits and screws. Not bad for a first attempt and I know where I need to make some changes in the next ones, they're cut out waiting to be assembled.

Filled with my latest batch of soap - almond and honey

I'm feeling all inspired again, maybe a little more woodworking or furniture restoration is on the horizon.

Hope you have a lovely weekend

Friday, November 19, 2010

Aprons everywhere

There's been lots of talk in the last week over at Rhonda's and on the Down to Earth forum about aprons. I looove my aprons! In fact I've been an apron wearer and lover all my life.

My first pinnie and cooking set, seems like my parents were eager to introduce the joys of cooking at an early age, my first birthday!

Apart from my last two jobs every other job I've had involved wearing an apron; waitress, housemaid, cooking, you get the picture. My very first job when I was 18 saw me making aprons for a couple of drag queens to sell in their shop. Lots of lurex, sheers, glitter and velvet, very glam! Alas that job never really took off in a big way.

My Mum was not an apron wearer, she disliked cooking so I'm not surprised that she didn't wear an apron. My Dad on the other hand being a pastry cook always wore an apron. My Nana use to make aprons to sell, lots of lovely crocheted ladies and smocking. We had our little versions of these to, unfortunately I never kept any :(

These are my current aprons

I love this apron, made from a vintage 1940's pattern. Must be time for a new one in some modern retro fabric!

This groovy number was made from a 1970's pattern. I think Mum used it for our home ec aprons.

A lovely vintage half apron I found in the local St Vinnies for $4.00!

I even have books dedicated to aprons - vintage Enid Gilchrist

How cool, so many styles to make

I'm rather excited about the apron and recipe swap that will take place next year on Rhonda's blog. Can't wait!

Hope you have a lovely day

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Butt Head

My lovely Chester turned 10 yesterday

Look at that face, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth...........yeah right!

Apart from his kleptomania and snoring he is an absolute delight.

Since Utah's death, Chester has changed a little. He is a bigger sook than before, if that's possible and now seeks attention and pats. Utah was king of the attention seekers, always nudging you for a pat or cuddle. Even whilst out walking, he would happily walk alongside someone and nudge their hand (naughty boy). Whilst Chester loves a scratch on the base of his tail and a tummy rub, he never looks completely happy when strangers want to pat him.

His favourite spot behind the chair, usually he has his rear end under the china cabinet and often gets stuck there!

In a previous life Chester was a stud dog, being trained in non slip retrieval. He then had a short lived career as a stud dog for a guide dog school, that's where I acquired him. I was working in the breeding department at the time and he came to live with me.

Whats a dog gotta do to eat in peace, damn chooks!

Now he spends his days taking it easy, being Tana's cushion

Happy birthday Chesty, don't worry I haven't forgotten your new toy.

Hope you have a lovely weekend

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sweet treats - Goodie balls

Monday saw me visiting the organic supermarket to buy some supplies of flour, rapadura sugar, lentils etc. Whilst there I decided a sweet healthy treat was in order and found some 'goodie balls'. These are made with dried fruit, seeds, nuts, no added sugar, and no cooking involved, just what I'm looking for. I've eaten these before and loved them but at $44.00 a kilo they are a tad on the expensive side. Tony loved the sweet treat and of course put in a request for me to make some.

After a bit of searching on the good old net I found this yummy recipe at Community Foods in Cairns.

Goody Balls
1 cup raisins or sultanas
1 cup of dates or figs
1 cup of almonds
half cup pepitas
half cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons tahini
freshly squeezed juice of 1 orange
water (if extra liquid is needed)
honey to taste (if you have a sweet tooth)
dessicated coconut or sesame seeds

Combine all fruit, nuts, seeds tahini and vanilla essence in a food processor, adding enough orange juice to bind (not too much liquid). I think it would be easier if you blitzed the nuts first to a smaller size, then add the rest of the ingredients.
Once mixed to a thick paste, using wet hands roll into balls (I made mine walnut size), then toss in coconut or sesame seeds. Chills before eating and store in the fridge.

Today I used what was on hand sultanas, dates, two tablespoons of chia seeds and all sunflower seeds.

Next time I'll use figs, raisins and cashews or walnuts, the options are endless. They would be great for Christmas if you were looking for a sweet healthy treat

Sorry no pictures of my creations today, I'm having problems down loading photos from my camera.

Hope you have a lovely day

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Death of a blender

I killed it!

Of all the silly/stupid things I have done, and there have been a few, this one takes the cake. Last Sunday morning I was busy in the kitchen making a smoothie, my mind was off in la la land. When all of a sudden I noticed that milk was pouring out of the bottom of the blender jug. Then I realise something was the blade and seal attachment!!!

Mind you I had just taken the blender out of the dish rack and put parts of it together, obviously not the most important bits.

Golden crush - Pineapple, mango, banana and red paw paw

Good grief Charlie Brown how stupid can a person be!

Anyway our neighbours own an appliance repair business and they had a look at my poor blender. The the verdict is.....DEAD. Apparently this type of mishap occurs rather frequently. I guess that's suppose to make me feel less foolish.

Green dragon - pineapple, banana, baby spinach and 'super greens'

What annoys me the most is that the blender is not very old and it wasn't exactly cheap. I did wonder if it could converted into a hand cranked model. That would be cool. Tony tells me it could be done but you would need a universal joint, whatever that is and a degree of ability to do the conversion. I don't think we fall into that category.

Oh well no more yummy smoothies or nut milk for a while :(

Hope you have a lovely weekend

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet Poison

There was talk of the book 'Sweet Poison' on the Down to Earth Forum a few weeks ago and it sparked my curiosity. Last Friday night after dinner, Tony and I headed off to the local Baskin and Robbins (how ironic) for a very rare treat, when by chance an interview with David Gillespie, author of said book came on the radio.

Well to say it was interesting and a little scary at the same time would be an understatement. It certainly made me realise how much we have all become addicted to sugar, sometimes without even knowing it.

Blood orange cordial - sugar

I try to restrict my intake of sugar. I don't drink soft drinks, have the occasional glass of homemade cordial, don't eat too many chocolates, no lollies and little to no processed food. I do have one sugar in my tea, maybe three cups a day. However with all the home cooking, jams, cordials, cakes, biscuits, chutneys, preserves etc, we are still consuming a fair whack of the terrible stuff. Especially if you go by the US heart association's recommendation of no more than 9 teaspoons a day for men, 6 for women and 3 for children. Here in Australia the dietitians association is rather different, they suggest no more than 28 teaspoons a day. Hmmm that's a big difference.

Peaches preserved in light sugar syrup

Over the next few days and weeks I'm going to do a re-think on how I prepare our food, look for lower sugar content in recipes and sugar alternatives, not substitutes.

If you are interested you can listen to the interview ABC local radio. Click on download the audio file. It's rather long and a bit repetitive but very interesting. David Gillespie also has his own web page and blog here.

Anzac biscuits - sugar

I'm off to the local library to try and track down the book. I'm sure Tony thinks I'm going to ban sugar from the house; not a complete ban just a lot less. Someones gotta look after his health, cause he isn't!

Hope you have a lovely day

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scones anyone?

I love scones, drop, gem, griddle, you name it I'll eat them. My all time favourite of course is Devonshire tea.

I'm determined to learn the fine art of scone making. Oh how I'd love to be able to whip up a batch that looked like the CWA had just graced my kitchen. I've tried a recipe from my high school cookbook, also tried Lady Flo's pumpkin scones (a bit sweet for my liking, Tony loved them). This is the latest attempt, not sure where the recipe came from.

2 1/2 cups SR flour
1/2 cup powdered milk
45g butter
1 cup water
1 tablespoon of castor sugar
1/2 cup sultanas or chopped dates
Milk for glazing

Preheat oven to 220C, grease and flour a a biscuit tray.
Sift flour and milk powder together in a large bowl. Rub in butter till it resembles fine bread crumbs, add sugar and fruit, pour in water, mix to a soft dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface, dust with flour and gently pat out to 2cm thickness. Cut with a floured cutter or knife. Place close together, just touching on the prepared tray. Brush with milk, bake in a hot oven approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and wrap in a tea towel until ready to serve.

They turned out better that my last batch, lighter and a bit taller. The only problem is that Tony loves them so much, he ate five in one day!

Next time I'll try the CWA recipe, then the lemonade scone recipe, as well as placing them closer together on the tray, it helps with rising.

Hope you have a lovely day
Cheers Lisa

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's 9 o'clock, times up!

Wow a whole week since my last post, I have been slack!

I'm under a self imposed computer ban, no computer after 9 in the morning and 9 at night. Tonight I'm lucky, Tony has given me permission to spend a little time here while I have my tea and toast. Honestly I really need the computer police!

I just seem to spend way too much time trolling around the net, looking at stuff and seeing how others live etc. This results in me not accomplishing much during the day, then feeling angry and annoyed with myself for being so lazy.

Pretty flowers that sprung up in the long grass

Not looking on the computer in the mornings has allowed me to become more productive again. I go to the gym around 6am then walk the dogs, do a bit around the house or garden. I even baked at loaf of bread yesterday morning before going to work.

Hopefully I'll work out some sort of balance, this ban is not conducive to blogging or checking the forum.

Remember this

Pineapple vinegar - day one

Week two

Three weeks have passed and this is what the pineapple mess looks like now. Sure smells interesting.

I've been stirring it diligently. Removing the layer of skin that forms each day (not sure what it is, gosh I hope it's not the mother). Rhonda's instructions say to remove the pineapple now and allow it to sit for another couple of weeks. Lets see what happens. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

Hope you have a lovely day
Cheers Lisa

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vintage loveliness

Over at the DTE forum a vintage sheet swap is underway. Ooh how I love all things retro and vintage, how could I pass up this opportunity to swap some lovely squares of vintage sheets. Of course one has to have sheets to swap. Alas I gave all our old 60's and 70's sheets away when we did our big move. So I've been making the supreme sacrifice and visiting all the local op shops, searching out vintage sheets and pillowcases. Well someones gotta do it, hey!

This is my lovely stash so far, hmm might have to visit the neighbouring suburbs and check out their op shops!

Once the squares are swapped, we will then make them into a picnic blanket.....groovy baby!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Is this the way of the future?

I listened to an interview with Jeb Brugmann, author of 'Welcome to the Urban Revolution', whilst driving to work Friday morning.
ABC local radio Mornings with Madonna King. An interesting concept and worthy of a read.

I suspect in high rise buildings that most of the food produced would have to be hydroponic. Not sure how ethical it would be having animals living in that sort of environemnt Sounds like more factory farming to me. I think Transition Towns are really the way of the future.

Friday, October 8, 2010

New for me

As I stumble through my journey, I've encountered many new experiences, here are a few of my most recent 'firsts'.

First mulberries on our tree

First strawberry

First time pickling beetroot
Just a tad on the strong side for us, next time I'll go for a sweeter pickling mix.

First time making pineapple vinegar
It doesn't look that pretty now, more like a festering mess!

First time making Flo's pumpkin scones
Mine turned into drop scones as the dough was way too wet. Tasted great!

On the sewing front, progress is being made. I have one top cut out waiting to be sewn up and I'm in the process of drafting a pattern for a summer top. Yay back to sewing at last!

Rhonda's recipes can be found on her blog Down to Earth - pickled beetroot and pineapple vinegar

Hope you have a lovely day
Cheers Lisa

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nut milk

Being an ethical vegetarian I'm now leaning towards a more vegan approach to life. The one thing that does hold me back it that I really love dairy products.

Thanks to all those wonderful blogs out there I think I may have found the answer, homemade nut milk..... my latest obsession. I know it only covers the milk side of dairy products, I'm still working on the others. Nut milk is super easy to make, great tasting and so good for you. Tastes wonderful in smoothies, on breakfast cereal and in baking. I must admit I've not gone the whole hog and used it in a cup tea, although chai tea made on nut milk tastes fantastic.

The left over pulp can be used in baking and cooking or as a face mask or scrub. Ooh I just had a thought, I wonder if you could use it in soap.
I found a couple of links that have heaps of info about making nut milk, Novel Eats and Girl on Raw

This is how I milk a nut
1 cup of nuts - cashews, soaked overnight in a couple of cups of water. If using almonds I usually soak for 24 hours and change the water twice. Nuts need to be soaked, as it removes the enzymes inhibitors found in them, making it easier to digest.

Place rinsed nuts in a high speed blender with 5 cups of water (some use up to 8) and blend for 1 minute or until smooth. Pour into a cloth lined sieve and squeeze out the milk. For the serious milk makers there are nut milk bags available.

The leftover pulp, has a rather bland taste, slight flavour of cashew. It can be dehydrated and made into flour or frozen and later used in cooking.

Cashew nut milk, keep it in the fridge and give it a good shake before using, yummo.

Banana and strawberry smoothie made on almond milk, even Tony tried this one.

Banana Current Muffins made with the leftover pulp. I'll post the recipe another day.

Hope you're having a lovely day, remember it's World Animal Day today

Cheers Lisa

I seem to be having a few problems with spacing :(