Friday, October 28, 2011

Building progress...

Just a quick peek at the subfloor framing of our new house.  I didn't really have the right lens on my camera to get a wide shot of the building work so you'll have to use your imagination a bit.  I love the last photo because Mint looks so tiny next to the stumps!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Birthday ice-cream...

Ok so we're still experiencing technical difficulties hence the lack of posting this week.  At least this means I've had a chance to get a little bit of sewing done.  This little blouse is for my niece who is having her first birthday on the weekend.  Luckily she's too young to read this blog so I can post it without threat of spoiling the surprise!  Not that one year olds get excited by unwrapping clothes.  I'm sure she'll think my gift is a bit naff and would rather receive something that spins around, has flashing lights and/or makes lots of noise, but hopefully her parents will appreciate this.

The pattern is my all time favourite from Oliver+S, the ice-cream blouse.  It's made with buttery soft double gauze (from Japan), which was a bit of a bugger to sew with but should be dreamy to wear on a hot summers day.  The button is a little vintage four leaf clover which was hiding in my stash, and just happens to be almost the exact size and colour of the clovers on the fabric.  Serendipitous no?  I think it adds just a little touch of whimsy.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Catch up...

Sorry for the disappearance (yet again) this week.  My internet is on the fritz and only works intermittently.  Hopefully these technical difficulties will be sorted out soon but until then here is a bit of a catch up on the week that was...

-Most of the stumps have been poured for the new house and the first bearers are laid out.  This is super exciting since now I can balance in the new multi-purpose room (office/ study /sewing room) and see a glimpse of the ocean!

-I chopped all my hair off (when I say all I really mean about 8 inches).  I now have a shaggy bob which initially I loved.  It felt freeing and like a stand for feminism.  That is until the Mr. said I looked like his mum.  No offence intended toward the mother-in-law who is a stylish lady, but I really was not intending to age myself 25 years with my hair cut.

-I have given up sugar for 6 weeks.  I was struggling in the grip of an intense sugar addiction.  I tend to binge on sugary treats when I am stressed out and my diet was beginning to look more like a square than a pyramid.  So far it has been 7 days sugar free.  I was hoping I would feel dramatically different - full of energy and a verve for life.  Instead I have felt ridiculously tired by 3pm and have started having to have an afternoon coffee.  Things better improve in week two or I'm going to crack and eat a bowl of ice-cream and a snickers.

-The photos in this post are of a little activity I did with the kids.  We used the (thrifted) embroidery hoops, some hessian, wool scraps and some big plastic sewing needles I picked up at zart (the most amazing shop for art and craft supplies) and the kids did a spot of primitive embroidery.  Minty really didn't have the patience for this activity, since we were visiting her friend Aerin's house at the time (did I mention Aerin has a trampoline, and a cubby house with a swing and slide? …Minty was kind of busy)  Aerin on the other hand was thoroughly absorbed and had a great time.  This definitely requires constant parental involvement (rethreading needles etc) so isn't the kind of thing you would give little kids to do independently but was pretty fun just the same.

This activity was inspired by Janelle over at Heart Felt - I can't find the exact post (honestly I hunted for it for ages so if anyone knows the link could they message me so I can include it?).  Worth popping over to have a read of her blog if you haven't already, it's always inspiring!

This is Minty's effort - her embroidery hoop was a bit too big for the hessian which did make things a bit more difficult and may have contributed to her lack of enthusiasm.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

This week in the kitchen...

Very quick and easy raspberry sorbet (gently heat 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water to make a syrup, then blend with 1 cup frozen raspberries.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice.  Pop in the freezer for half an hour to chill and then churn in your ice-cream machine.  If you don't have an ice-cream machine you can just leave it in the freezer for a couple of hours, stirring every half hour or so to keep the texture light)

Green tea ice-cream made with some very special matcha powder I bought in Japan.  Matcha is an incredibly popular flavour in Japan (probably akin to vanilla here in Aus) - you can get matcha flavoured kit kats, cookies, ice-cream - just about anything you can think of.  It really is delicious and I couldn't get enough of it when we were in Tokyo.

I just had to show you a photo of this packaging!  After wrapping the matcha tin with intricate origami style folds the lady in the shop presented it to me and said in a self-deprecating way 'is this ok?'  Amazing!  I wanted to hug her and ask her for gift wrapping lessons!!

Pumpkin and asparagus quiche (recipe found here).  I was too tired to make pastry and this was just a week-night dinner so I cheated by lining a greased pie dish with thinly sliced slightly stale bread and then pouring over an egg beaten with a little milk to moisten it.  I'm not going to try and tell you it's as good as pastry (because let's face it, nothing is as good as pastry!) but it's certainly passable as a quicker and healthier alternative.

Wholemeal spaghetti with kale and swiss brown mushrooms sautéed with some onion and garlic in a little home-made chicken stock.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

(almost) conversations with Turi...

Apologies for my whining yesterday.  I had a good night's sleep last night and today life looks much better.  So to spread a little positivity I'm sharing a little bit of cute with you today.  This is a little felt mask I made for Turi to wear to a goldilocks and the three bears party a while ago.  Needless to say he wouldn't wear it at the party but it has had a bit of a workout at home (the perfect accessory to a frilly skirt of course!)

Sweet little Turi's speech has exploded in the last couple of weeks.  It is like having a tiny foreign exchange student from Northern Ireland giving a commentary on the entire day.  At first you don't think he's speaking english but if you screw your face up hard enough and tilt your head to one side you realise that in fact he is speaking in complete sentences.  Last night he said to me 'I want to watch giggle and hoot mummy' (well actually he said 'I wan what goggle an who mummy' but I got the message).  His favourite phrase is 'I wan pay side' which at first sounded like lyrics from a gangsta rap but I finally figured out translates to 'I want to play outside'.  But I am ashamed to admit the utterance I found most endearing to date was when he dropped his sausage, gazed down at it sadly and said softly and innocently, 'shit'.  My little bear is growing up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In which we get a bit of retail therapy...

All the extra work that comes with building a new house is beginning to take it's toll.  I'm tired and cranky and fantasising about taking caffeine intravenously.  I was supposed to take the kids to playgroup this morning but after realising we were going to be hideously late, and with both kids acting as though I was trying to strap explosive devices to their feet rather than simply put on their shoes, I decided we would take a day off.  Honestly I think spending two hours cooped up in a room with 20 or so other kids, when my own kids were already driving me to distraction, was going to make me homicidal.  Instead we got ready at a leisurely pace and I took the kids to lunch and to hang out at the playground.  

Then we all did a spot of thrift shopping.  Op-shopping is about the only kind of shopping I enjoy with the kids nowadays.  Unlike with most shops, kids aren't treated as pariahs and most of the elderly volunteers are actually pleased to see them.  The kids can happily play in the toy section without fear of breaking something (since most of the toys are very well loved already) and I can potter about looking at vintage sheets and doilies.  Everyone is happy!

We got some great loot today and all for a total of under $10.  First up is a fantastic little alphabet puzzle - each letter matches up with a picture beginning with that letter and on the back of the pieces are the upper and lower case letters.  

This cash register was a steal at $2.  It has a fully functioning calculator, beeps when you press the scanning button, has a scale on the top to weigh produce and of course a pop open money drawer.  It's a bit more 'plastic fantastic' than I would usually go for but Turi loves it!

We also got this alphabet pop up book.  It's pretty fragile and probably won't last long with Turi's snatching fingers but for $1 it doesn't really matter. Last but not least, I bought an embroidery hoop (not pictured) for a little kid's project I have planned for later in the week… stay tuned!

Monday, October 10, 2011

In which I master the art of cooking rice...

The rice in Japan is exquisite.  The rice I make at home on the other hand was always a bit sub par.  Once I tried to make sushi and let's just say it was an epic fail.  I blamed my rice cooker (blame the tools - that's just how I roll!).  That is until I found this site which explains how to cook rice properly.  It was as if my eyes had been opened for the first time.  I had heard of people washing rice before but I always kind of thought it was an optional extra.  A bit like when a recipe tells you to pick over the lentils (what? I should be doing that too??)  And soaking rice??  Who knew?  I admit the process is much more time consuming, and uses a lot more water (maybe collect the extra to water some plants if you're feeling like being an eco-angel), but the difference is astounding. 

With my new found rice cooking skills I can finally make onigiri.  These are rice balls with a little surprise filling in the centre.  These ones I made with tuna and mayo, and some with chopped up pickles but the possibilities are endless.  The faces are cut out of nori with some cute little punches I bought in Japan.  Honestly picking up all the little face pieces with tweezers is not for the faint hearted (though if you liked playing operation as a kid this might be a cooking task you'd enjoy!!)  Onigiri are great for packed lunches - a bit easier for kids to keep neat than sushi.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In which old George is laid to rest (accompanied by completely unrelated pictures)…

OK so I somehow managed to disappear again last week.. sorry. I've been spending a lot of time trying to design the kitchen for the new house.  As with all things it is a balancing act between functionality, aesthetics and budget.  The major layout of the kitchen is fairly locked in and I'm 100% sure I want concrete bench tops but other than that the jury is still out.  I've been doodling ideas, shopping for appliances and pinning inspiration on pinterest.  You can check out my kitchen board to see where my head is at (incidentally if any of you aren't already on pinterest and would like an invite, shoot my an email and I'll hook you up)

A few months ago I bought the most beautiful vintage St George cooker with double ovens and warming drawers.  It was set to be the showpiece of the new kitchen.  It dated from the 1940s and came with the original manual.  I can't even begin to tell you how much I fell in love with it.  It was cream enamel with gorgeous emerald green knobs and any disadvantage there might have been from having a terribly old electric cooktop was far outweighed in my mind by the thought of dreamily dancing about my kitchen like Betty Draper cooking roly poly pudding (not that Betty ever actually cooked anything - so maybe more like Betty's African American housekeeper!).  By all accounts the ovens on these early model St Georges were some of the best ever made with fantastic heat distribution.  Sadly after visits from three different oven repairmen (including a lovely old gentleman who was a specialist St George repairman when these were new) we had to accept that the stove could not be repaired to an acceptably functional and electrically safe standard.  I've been going through a mourning period.  

I began the hunt for a slightly newer 1960s model (apparently the supermatic is the best vintage model to buy)  but after much deliberation and failing to find anything in good condition I came to the conclusion that maybe I needed a gas cooktop after all.  So I've made a leap and bought a much more energy efficient electric St George wall oven (relatively modern from the late 90s) and separate gas cooktop.  At $300 this was a splurge compared to my original 99cent spend but by any normal standards an absolute steal.  So functionality definitely won this battle over aesthetics.

So in loving memory of the old St George I give you the recipe for roly poly pudding from the original St George Master De-Luxe manual (strap yourselves in - it uses suet!!)


1 lb. flour
1/2 lb. suet
1 teaspoon baking powder
big pinch salt
jam (to taste)

Method: Mix flour, chopped suet, baking powder and salt together, add a little cold water, roll dough into a long piece about 1/4 inch thick.  Spread jam on, moisten edges and roll up lightly.  Wet edges and seal up ends, wrap the pudding in a scalded cloth and secure ends with string.  Boil 1 1/2 to 2 hours.