28.9.11

Flower plates & boys


I'm going for a change of plates.  You know when you get a bit bored with your normal set and want a whole new set? Well that's kind of where I've been for a while, so instead of going out and buying a brand new set I have been scouring op shops galore in an attempt to gather a new-to-me set.  I have some boundaries; they have to be 70s ish styley onwards and they have to be less than $2 each, oh and I have to love them. 

Next mission - to gather some tea plates - more difficult than one may think it would seem!

Meanwhile I've busy busy, visiting a sick niece in hospital, having an excitable nephew staying over, being stretched in the art of entertaining said nephew with my limited 'boy' skills, being educated in the cartoon world of Spongebob and generally asking him far too many questions "are you too cold" "do you want a drink" "do you need a tissue" etc etc etc....

18.9.11

Beach treasures


I love these... I call them heart stones.

Nice aren't they?  When I go to the beach I'm always on the look out for a new piece of treasure to add to my little collection.  Many days I find none, some days I find a couple.  Sad I know, but when I find one I get a little rush of excitement.  It's a bit like going into an op shop and finding just what you're after... you know that feeling don't you?  Well that's how I feel when I find a heart stone.  I like the fact that they are something I can't buy in a shop or online, they are little gifts from nature, made over hundreds of years and this makes them special...

Last week I went to the beach to blow the cobwebs out.  I went alone with no agenda, just for a walk and to listen to the ocean.  It was a lovely day; a bit of cloud, a gentle breeze, the waves breaking gently onto the shore.  As I walked I kept my eyes peeled for a heart stone or two, but not a single one was to be found.  I did find a few other treasures to do something with though.  It started off with me picking up a couple of pieces of wood with the thought of them being the cross pieces for a hanging mobile.  Then I found more and more pieces and ended up with enough wood to make this..



I found the shell too on the same walk and assembled it together yesterday with some fishing line.  I used the smallest drill bit to make holes and arranged them in size order.  I did initially arrange them in a random way but thought it would be more aesthetically pleasing to have them small to big.  I'm happy with the result of what took me no more than twenty minutes to make and a lovely walk on the beach to collect.

Happy Days

14.9.11

A busy time in the garden....


Gardening to me is a way to de-stress; I can lose myself in tasks for hours, it's a bit like a moving meditation I suppose.  On the days that I am in the garden for hours very little else gets done, the dust in the house can settle, the washing up can wait.  When I'm in the garden time just passes.  Tea time comes around and after a warm shower, the day's work can be measured and I sleep well.  Plants and flowers interest me, I like seeing how they grow; I am always amazed when I plant a little seed which sprouts into a seedling that will go on to become a plant that will bear fruit or flowers.  One of the benefits of moving to Australia was that I get to experiment with growing new things; I always dreamed of having my own lemon tree and now I do!  Gardening to me is having faith in the future; faith that my work will produce beauty.

My funny looking lemons.


September brought Spring with it here in the southern hemisphere.  Spring brings fresh hope that the cold of winter will soon give way to the sunny rays of summer, that my feet will be warm enough just in flip flops and that the nights will be light enough to take the dog to the beach to run off his energy after work.  Spring offers excitement for the food that I can grow.  I've been sowing loads of seeds; runner beans, peas, pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini, okra, melon, tomatoes, parsley, coriander, chillies, poppies and sunflowers.  I've planted squash, leeks, lettuce, strawberry and rocket seedlings and I treated myself to a bare-rooted fig tree and a blackcurrant bush.  I also got a raspberry bush from a food swap that I exchanged for some worm juice. 

The Tumbling Toms are on the go


 I planted up a lettuce seedling in a newspaper pot.  I've been using crushed egg shells around my seedling to protect them from slugs.  It seems to be working so far....

The Lebanese cucumbers have germinated

 
I'm always amazed at the plants that are in flower.  Even though it's just turned Spring the daffodils were out a good month or so ago.  The plum tree has already blossomed and has fresh new leaves.  The arum lilies and echium are in full bloom.  I love to pull out the lilies and pop them in a vase in the house.  I saw a bunch today for $10, so I like that they grow in  my garden with no effort at all.



I moved and divided the rhubarb and wasn't sure it'd survive but it seems to be doing well


Whatever you're upto in your garden, I hope it's making you happy
x

Lemon Slice

Slices are big here; peppermint slice, caramel slice, hedgehog slice to name a few.  I can’t say I’d really had that many encounters with ‘slices’ in Blighty so to me they are a bit of a novelty and almost make up for the lack of Chelsea buns I get to eat these days.
One of the things I made for the baby shower at the weekend was my favourite; lemon slice.  Now if you’re looking for a really easy, really yum treat that doesn’t involve any cooking I’d highly recommend this one.  I got this recipe from a relative and she makes it for most of the gatherings we have and everyone upon everyone loves it. 

Ingredients:
For the base:
Approx.  200g condensed milk
100g melted butter
A 250g packet of crushed Marie biscuits (rich tea biscuits in the UK)
1 cup desiccated coconut
The grated rind of a lemon


For the topping:
2 cups of sieved icing sugar
40g softened butter
Juice of 1 lemon

Now this bit couldn’t be any easier.  Are you ready?  You simply mix the base ingredients together in a bowl.  You want it to be just sticky enough to hold together but not overly gooey.  I used my hand to bring it all together.

Then press the mix into a slice tin (or a Tupperware dish or whatever you’ve got that’s about 30cm by 15cm by 10cm ‘ish’ – it’ll just make your slice thicker if you’ve got a smaller container).  I used greaseproof paper to line the Tupperware dish and it peeled off easily. 


Then mix topping ingredients together and spread evenly over the top of the base ingredients.  I added a tiny bit of hot water (about half teaspoon) to the icing mix as it wasn't quite spreadable enough.


Then pop  it in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.  It'll keep for about a week in the fridge (although I doubt it will last a week once people know it’s there).  It's quite sweet so you don't need to serve it up in huge chunks; I got about 20 or so pieces out of mine.
Enjoy!

7.9.11

A House fit for a Chook

For the last couple of months I've waxed and waned on the idea of getting a couple of chickens (or chooks as I've become accustomed to calling them).  I think seeing Alys Fowler on TV last year 'in love with her chickens' sort of started me thinking about keeping them myself, before then I was totally oblivious to the concept for some reason. I guess I'd just never really considered it... assuming that having a chook pen in the back yard was something other people did, and country people at that, not city gals. 

In the last couple of months I've been going to an 'edible gardening' group for fun, rather than for a qualification (and it really is heaps of fun!) I met some very interesting characters at the group, many of whom are chook owners.  So week after week, I'd go along and ask one or two questions about chooks and talk about my reservations for becoming a chicken owner and week by week my fears were allayed and my keenness grew.  So now I am at the stage where I feel ready to take the plunge.  It's weird being so cautious about getting chooks but it feels like a big responsibility, and I want to be ready.  You know what I'm saying?  

Anyway, I'm now at the stage where I am looking at what kind of house I want to make for them.  I thought I'd have a look for some inspiration and boy did I find some!  Check out these beauties...

Although this first one isn't hugely practical for my suburban back yard I love the fact that it's on stilts and that it's round. I do think it may look more like a cubby house though....

http://eggs-pgh.webs.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=67681604



This one looks like a huge bird house - how COOL is it?  I do really like this one.  I like the fact that it looks like it's made out of recycled wood and that it's off the floor (I think I am definitely erring towards having a raised chook house with space to walk around underneath - for the chooks not me!) Oh and that little porthole window is so cute... although I'm not all together sure of what it'd be used for...

http://www.citygirlfarming.com/Chickens/BasicChickenCoop.html



Does this one look a bit like a caravan or is it just me?  It would be like having some chickens staying with us on their holidays. I love the steps and the splash of colour.  The caption gives a link to the website I found this on and the guy gives a costing of shop bought eggs versus setting up your own coop.

http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/chicken-coops-really/



Now.... How cool is this chook house?  It's multi purpose and involves another of my passions... edible gardening.  What a great concept.





I like the rustic qualities of this one.  It reminds me of the cottage in Hansel and Gretel.  The fact that it's made out of recycled materials makes it even more adorable.  

http://www.junkmarketstyle.com/item/9750/junky-chicken-coop


Now I do have to say that I think this is my favourite.  I saw this one in the flesh / wood (my flesh, it's wood) a while back when I visited Ceres and I have been trying to remember what it exactly looked like ever since.  I like the simplicity of this one, I like the fact that it's rustic and I also love the cute little steps.  I would need to look at putting some wire around the bottom for a run, but otherwise I think this one is perfick.

http://www.littleecofootprints.com/2011/06/ceres_melbourne_community_environment_park.html

Hmmmm.....  Now the decision is made I"ll get to work on sourcing the wood, drawing up a plan and getting cracking so that hopefully we can have our chickens move in soon.....


4.9.11

Cushion Love

 I have been living in a brown and beige world in my home.  I think it's probably because I've been a bit scared of choosing a colour as I like so many different colour schemes.  It seemed a bit of a challenge to commit to one colour scheme.  I also think that my sofa is a bit difficult to work around colour wise.  It's a sort of mustard'y', brown'y' honey'ish' colour and it's given itself well to the brown / beige scheme.  So I thought with winter on its way out of the door, I might add a few cushions to my lounge to brighten it up a bit.  And I think they have worked.  This one is my favourite.



I made it out of a new tea towel I bought at an op shop.  It was only a couple of dollars and I put some gorgeous spotted fabric on the back to match the blue colour.  I love hibiscuses and I love this cushion.



This 'Wales' cushion was made from a tea towel too.  They are quite hard to get hold of new and this one was about $7.  Quite a bit for a second hand tea towel but I liked it and had this project in my mind.  The blue also matches very well with the blue in the hibiscus cushion, so that's a bonus.

I also made a couple of more plain cushions to add a bit of colour and contrast.  In the end I chose blue, mustard and red colours as my theme.  I saw this bus cushion online (sorry I can't exactly remember where)and thought it was great so I decided to make one for myself. 




I used the free hand embroidery foot on my sewing machine and after drawing a vague pattern on the fabric I went over it several times with white thread.  I like the way it turned out.  Cushions are such a cheap way of brightening up a room aren't they?  I like non-matching cushions too.  I'm keeping my eye out for a couple more tea towels to use to make more cushions; I'd like a Cornwall one and maybe an Australian coastal one to add to my collection. 

3.9.11

Hello!


Hello there!  Thanks for stopping by...

I have been busy lately working on many projects and I've been lucky enough to have plenty of time to dedicate to getting crafty.  I bought a typewriter a couple of weeks ago.  I haven't used it a huge amount so far but I've got it in mind for some labels and other little projects.

Next weekend is my little sister's baby shower.  I've only ever been to 1 baby shower before and seen one on an episode of Kath and Kim ages ago (noice!).  I have been organising games and food ideas and have been getting quite in to it really; thinking of decoration ideas and cute little details.  I've got the food ideas sorted and will be getting to work on making the things I can freeze this weekend in an attempt to be organised and not leave everything to the very last minute, which is my usual style!

As a gift for the baby shower I've been sewing a little (and I mean little) gift.  It is beyond cuteness and I know my sis will love it.  Who couldn't?


We know the baby is a girl......

I got all the patterns from other blogs and have been really pleased with the results.  The dress was from smashedpeasandcarrots and the directions were extremely easy to follow.  I was really happy with the result.  The nappy / diaper cover was from here.  It looks so easy but it was quite tricky to make.  I don't have an overlocker / serger so I had to do a bit of extra fiddling when making the leg holes.  They turned out well though and I'm sure the next time I make them they'll be easier.  The shoes were from here and I LOVE them.  They are so so small as the pattern said size 0-3 months and I wanted them from birth so I made them a tiny bit smaller than suggested.  I will definitely use all of these patterns again, I was really impressed to find them for free on the net and was chuffed with how they turned out.  I think they make lovely ideas for gifts for friends' babies (is it me or do there seem to be a LOT of girls being born just at the moment?)

Hope you're having a great weekend!
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