Saturday, January 31, 2009

Our Creative Community

I am making a commitment to create and inspire.  I have decided I want to collect and create more recipes to nourish my family and share with those of you who are interested.  These will be low in gluten, dairy and sugar.  It's a commitment our family has already made.

Do you have a creative ambition you'd like to share and be held accountable for so you commit to achieving?  Come along and join!  (Thanks Dave for your inspiration, can't wait to see your songs.)

In the meantime you should see my collection of healthy, nourishing recipes growing.

Of course I will not stop being creative with my crafty hands as well and just love creating with and for my girls.  Maybe I'll have to start a list of the patterns and tutorials I have loved to sew from.  What do you think?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Heatwave Gripes and Grats

Heat, ma'am! it was so dreadful here, that I found there was nothing left for it but to take off my flesh and sit in my bones.  ~Sydney Smith, Lady Holland's Memoir

Photo Courtesy ABC News.

We are in the midst of it here.  My daughter's first days of school will be remembered as being in an incredible heat wave.  Yesterday was the hottest day in 70 years and the third hottest day on record reaching 45.5 deg Celcius and I was out in it collecting my daughter from school with my 16month old baby on my hip.  We felt we could have put on some olive oil and roasted ourselves for dinner.  An amazing feeling!  I can only get the house to cool to about 26-27degC so that makes it very hard to cool down after an outing.

Last night was our highest minimum on record only dipping to 33.9deg just 12.30am.  It is no wonder I rose this morning feeling as though I didn't have any sleep at all last night.

The forecast does not bring much good news as for 7 days we will have hot days of 38deg and above.  The only saving grace will be minimums that go back down to 22degC.  Phew!!

Apart from that all is going well here. I am very very glad that we have not had powercuts as some have had.  Imagine not being able to keep your food cool in this situation, let alone keeping your body cool in an airconditioned house.  Our airconditioning is on 24/7 (not that it feels like it) and my fridge is working well.  We can feed ourselves comfortably.  My plants are feeling it but I think they are still edible at this stage.  I can only water on Wed and Sun and then only within three hours (which just happen to be my busiest with my littluns).  Othertimes I am trying to convince myself to stay outside in the heat just that little bit longer while Eee sleeps to water with my watering can.

Usually I like the heat, usually I have nothing to complain about, usually I say that so long as the aircon is on we are fine.  Sometimes I even feel cooler on the hottest days when we put on the aircon simply because it IS on.  Not this time.  This time we are all really feeling it.

Thankfully our basic needs are catered for.  Thus we can rest content.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ess Goes to School

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.  ~Elizabeth Stone

Today is Ess' first day of school.  Such a momentous and an emotional time with feelings of pride, excitement, sadness and achievement all mixed in together.

She is very ready to go and was prepared at 8am this morning.  I am so glad that she is ready to learn and to meet new people.  It gives me a sense of achievement at the work I have carried out over these last five years.   Work which I value so highly.  It has passed so quickly.  It does not seem that long since we put your feet in these tiny little Baby Paws to pad around the place.

Then pretty little baby feet were fastened into these sweet shoes to wear with all those adorable little baby dresses.

I have many memories of tying the laces of these gorgeous little Elefanten boots on your chubby toddler feet.  Particularly after all our Kindermusik Our Time lessons with Mr Geoff.

These little boots, of course in your favourite colour pink, walked you to Kindy last year.  You were quite surprised when the new shoes for this year's education could not be pink.  No complaints however - such is your motivation to be at school and hence wear your uniform.  I am so glad.

Shoes have a special way of showing the passage of time.  I have many images of your growing feet in these various shoes participating in so much over the few short years of your life.

Now school has commenced and we are walking off to education again, in uniform and sandals. I hope the motivation to wear it doesn't wane as it is now very easy to choose what to wear in the mornings.

There is a heat-wave here.  The whole week is due to be over 35degC at least. Yesterday the guage at the Central Markets (celebrating 140 yrs coincidently), and on my car, read 45degC at 3pm.  Today is forecast to be 44degC.  It was 39.8degC at 10am this morning after I arrived home at 9.30am ready for my second shower of the day.  No worries about any hot water this morning. The cool was definitely needed.  Overnight it dipped only to 27degC.

So against my principles, but going with my better judgement, I will drive to collect you this afternoon and hope your cheeks are not too red as they were when I left you this morning.

Enjoy your first day, my dear girl, I know you will.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

...and now here's "PinkiRab",

Ess has done a lovely job designing the face again don't you think!  Once again most of the stitching was relegated to me but we all had lots of fun stuffing him.  Little Eee was chief stuffer with Ess helping her gather the fill and me trying to guide all the bits of fill being haphazardly stuffed into the toy.

The button features of the face are adored by Eee who presses them, smiling, and says "beep, beep" encouraging us to echo her and pretend they are another type of button!

Ess seems to have claimed ownership of him now.  She carries him around with her "baby" and her dolly.  They are all sleeping together now...well nearly.

Ess starts school tomorrow.  Maybe PinkiRab will hang around here to give me some comfort while I shed a few tears at my firstborn heading off to school.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Taking Time

Admiring beauty...

Watching new leaves form...

Contemplating whether the parsley seeds are yet ready to collect...

Harvesting strawberries from our very own patch...

Oh what delight to see little faces with red-stained lips and eager anticipation to find more before the ants and other creepy crawlies do!

Watching a bee carrying out its work of pollination on our oregano flowers.

Taking take to enjoy the simple things.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wholemeal Spelt Pikelets

When baking, follow directions.  When cooking, go by your own taste.  ~Laiko Bahrs

'Tis a very happy morning when over breakfast cereal your Generous Gentleman says to you "Show me how to make that batter again.  I think I might make pancakes since I forgot to make bread last night."

So we all gathered round the stove as we prepared these lovely spelt pikelets which have become a wholesome nutritious part of our lives around here.  White or wholemeal spelt flour, adapt to suit and they are delicious.

Firstly we sifted the dry ingredients: 1 cup spelt flour, 1/4 tsp bicarb soda and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (sometimes I add a little baking powder also).  Then for the wet ingredients we beat a free range egg and added this to some moisture.  You could use milk (0f any variety) but we use juice - orange, apple/mango, today it was grape (1/2 - 3/4 cup+).  Add 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp lemon juice (we added some apple juice concentrate today as we were all out of lemons).  Adjust the mixture as necessary to ensure you have enough moisture so as to create a runnyish batter and not glue (nothing further to divulge about how we got to that stage!)

Hand over the repaired moist batter to your loving hubby and watch him cook the most delicious pikelets.

He melts a little butter in some oil, spoons batter in with perfection, and patiently waits for bubbles and flips.

They are absolutely delicious with jam made with fruit pectin rather than sugar.  I buy mine, does anyone know how to make it at home?  Will have to look into that.  Another absolutely scrummy idea, inspired by Nigella, is to cook some berries in pure maple syrup - particularly blueberries, but our abundance of strawberries here has made a lovely soft syrupy jam as well.  Mmmm.

Bet you can't stop at one.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Handmade Gifts

But it is a cold, lifeless business when you go to the shops to buy something, which does not represent your life and talent, but a goldsmith's.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Gifts," Essays, Second Series, 1844

A lovely friend of mine turned 40 the other day and we visited her bearing a bagful of handmade gifts.  Yes, these gifts "represent my life and talent".  I know she appreciates them, she is wonderful like that.  Truly a great friend to have - one who appreciates you for just who you are.

She received a handknitted dishcloth, the pattern for which I found here.  Along with some olive oil soap sadly not made by myself but purchased at our markets.  I hope to do some soapmaking of my own when I don't have littlies in the house.  This just seems too risky when you have little ones around - what with caustic soda and heat and needing to get it exactly right!  I'd love your advice any of you who are experienced in this.

There is one of my cards and one from my daughter which incorporates some lovely felt hair clips (inspired by Mel) to give to her daughter (Ess' best friend).  I think I'll make a few more cards with clips attached for gifts for other little girls this year.

I also gave a basil plant which I have been nurturing from seed.  This one was pulled out of the crop of tiny seedlings, potted up and doted on since before Christmas in order to be able to give her a lovely full plant. I know she will prepare lots of lovely meals incorporating this.

I love handmade gifts - giving them and receiving them also but am not so certain this sentiment is shared.  What are your thoughts on the matter?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Meet "Yellowie"...

the first half of a pair of Kookie Kritters we have been making over the last few days.

We were inspired by these Kooky Kritters which we saw at Melly and Me.

Ess designed the face and did a wonderful job stitching on the buttons for eyes and nose and then drawing on the mouth with my fading fabric marker.  She then set to stitching it as quickly as she could before the colour faded (great pens!)  Patience then elapsed and it was up to me to stitch on the face and most of the way round the body.

I didn't anticipate the amount of fun little Eee would have in stuffing "Yellowie".  She is very much into the "in and out" of things  at the moment (buttons, paddlepop sticks, lego)  so it suited her well.  So cute to watch: Ess holding the kritter open while Eee stuffed more and more pieces of fill into her while calling out "dere, dere" (ie there, there).

Yellowie has found a few special places in our home as he loves to be hidden by our princess who then goes and hides herself.  The seeker then must find both!  Fun games in our house.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Simple Crunchy Cookies

"Cookies are made of butter and love" ~ Norwegian Proverb

I have tried...

and tried...

and tried to photograph these cookies in a way which conveys their deliciously delectable habit of leaving the plate as soon as they leave the oven.

I have concluded that I need to do a course in Food Art.  Nothing seems to make them look better than...well...

Fortunately I do not need to do a course in baking as every time I bake these there are very few left to tell the tale.  When I have taken them out on visits to friends, they have disappeared from the table. When guests are here and we munch them at the table, the jar empties.  They are fabulously simple and almost healthy - there's no sugar in them at least.  A great snack for little ones!  Indeed the recipe came from an older version of Babies and Toddlers Good Food ("Australian Women's Weekly").

Here is my version of the recipe which has so many variations I have tried over the years.

Simple Crunchy Cookies (sugar free and low in gluten)

90g butter

¼ cup honey

2 tabs golden syrup (I don’t use this – just add more honey, or perhaps some sugar-free jam - fig is especially nice but also raspberry)

1 cup (150g) self-raising flour (I use spelt flour - white or wholemeal + ¼ tsp bicarb and ½ tsp cream of tartar)

1 cup (90g) desiccated coconut (I prefer shredded)

1 cup (30g) corn flakes (I use Sanitarium gluten free Kornies)

½ - 1 cup any combination of sultanas, raisins, chopped dried figs, dark choc, sunflower seeds (anything really) 

Combine butter and honey, stir over low heat till melted. Allow to cool 5 mins.

Stir into combined dry ingredients, mix well.

Drop level teaspoons about 5 cm apart onto greased oven trays; bake in moderate oven about 10-12 mins till golden. Stand 5 mins, turn onto wire racks to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen.

Tuck in!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Koala Viewing in the Adelaide Hills

Look at what we saw while enjoying the playground in Hahndorf.

A very agile little koala.

Climbing around his tree...

Sitting in a favourite posi...

Before jumping onto the next tree.  Quite a sight to see, unexpected and one we probably would have missed if it wasn't for our baby, little Eee, calling out "birdie, birdie" and pointing at the Magpies who were somewhat disturbed by this little fellow's antics.

(apologies for the sideways video. I keep forgetting you can't rotate video on my camera.)

Ess was thinking "will he climb all the way to the top or will he get scared?" she tells me.

I feel for Australia's koalas.  There is talk they may become extinct due to the cancer-causing virus when is prevalent in the koala population particularly on the east coast.  This added to the great urban sprawl gives them little hope.  However koalas on Kangaroo Island, South Australia, are found to be free of the virus.  This sounds very promising yet koalas are not native to the island and it is overpopulated.  There have been calls to cull the koala population on KI, due to the fact that the riverine habitat was becoming defoliated.  There was consideration of relocating koalas.  Discussions last year show that some have been relocated to the South East and that the problem is prevalent and the issues of sterilization, relocation and culling are still needing consideration.

A resident of Hahndorf told me that the koalas had been quite active there. I was surprised to see one in the town and wondered if he was one who had been relocated from KI??  He was adorable for us to view and I felt privileged knowing that it is not a common occurrence to see one of these furry friends outside a zoo and let alone one that is so active.
Of course being out and about in the Hills we could not resist some cherries.  These will be our last of this season.  On our last visit there was hustle and bustle in the processing of cherries.  Today there was only a saleslady with a few last boxes :(

...and strawberry picking in Hahndorf, which was actually the impetus for our trip.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My First Capsicum

We are very much enjoying the garden at the moment on days which aren't too hot.  It brings us lots of joy and keeps us wishing for a bigger place to plant more things and chase more children - no not more, just more often :)

My rose is blooming again after it's summer pruning - The Children's Rose, a spectacular bloom with splendiferous perfume.  My favourite.

My Flapjack (Kalanchoe), 50c from the Sally's fete, has been repotted and is enjoying sunshine amongst its succulent friends.

 I wonder if it will ever look like this...

Many tomatoes have been harvested and more are ripening.  The cherry tomato varieties we planted in Spring have done fabulously and we'd certainly grow these again.

We are collecting lettuce seeds, although I've tossed these out as these plants bolted to seed, and I mean bolted.  Our next lot are much more beautiful (see above in my little header) and at a more relaxed pace.

Lunch is predominantly from our garden these days - just need to add some protein and carb.

And doesn't my first capsicum look spectacular!!  I can't wait to harvest it and every lunch I hold back waiting for it to mature just a little more.  There are so many things I could do with it though...salad, pizza, stirfry...

This is simple living to me.  

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Art Smock

Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.  ~ G.K. Chesterton

Ess' design with my applique scraps in the foreground.

How is it that we have survived all our preschool years with painting, crafting and “playdoughing” at home without needing to purchase an art smock? Yet when my eldest daughter commences school I am required to provide an art smock for her!?  There is a streak of rebellion in me which surfaces when I am told what I need to buy for my family’s needs.  Certainly I understand the need to purchase school uniform and pay various school fees but an art smock?

So while purchasing school shoes and socks and various other required items, I resolved not to buy an art smock.  You can buy some horrible PVC  and/or licensed ones with Dora, Thomas, Spiderman and the likes on them (I really dislike licensed clothing with TV characters printed on them). I searched online to find some ideas about how I might make one from the fabric I hold at home using my very adequate sewing skills.  In no time at all I had found a pattern and the lovely Kellie had emailed it to me.    Ready to have printed, cut out, appliquéd and sewn together.

Hmm yes appliquéd. It is years since I have done any appliqué and it has almost always been handsewn.  As this art smock will require frequent washing – I assume (and hope) it will be regularly used!, I decided I would follow guidelines and machine-sew this little baby.

This applique has certainly stretched my own creative skills and abilities.  If you thought sewing in straight lines was difficult you should try fine curves. Don’t look too closely at my flowers or curlicues – they are not perfect.  I am sure however that a new more modern machine than my 20yr old Pfaff would serve to help me sew them with ease!! It wouldn’t be my skill or lack of practise and patience at all, would it?!

So in creating something for Ess out of items I already had at home, I hope that I have given her something to use which will extend her creativity. Indeed it has already.  With the scraps from the appliqué I completed she has created her own designs.

Here’s to handmade!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Chocolate Shortbread Biscuits

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand ~ Author Unknown

In order to sample these delicious morsels of yumminess pop in to see Julie's Recipe of the Week at Towards Sustainability, examine the contents of your frig and pantry for butter, sugar, flour and fair trade cocoa powder (basically) then set yourself to baking. It will take less time than a trip to the shops for less quality bikkies.  Or of course you could drop in for a visit - if you're quick ;)

The recipe was a life saver for me last night when Ess came wondering what to do as I was just about to start cooking dinner.  (No time to sit down and play, draw or read and no desire to let her loose on the computer or TV).   So I set her to work cutting butter to help soften it.  She had a lovely time and continues to remind me that "when I grow up I want to be a ballerina or a cook!" :)  In no time we had some delicious bikkies for dessert.  They had a bit of a twist - we had no plain flour so I used wholemeal spelt, and no icing sugar so castor sugar had to replace that.  They were a bit sugary grittier than most shortbread bikkies bit I heard not one complaint - only calls for more.  As usual the spelt flour worked a treat.  The only other change I'd like to make would be to use real butter.  Anyone got a cow!?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Just a little bit of transformation

I have been doing a little bit of simple sewing.  

Transforming this...
into this...
I am not sure who it was that decided these orange and green plastic tissue holders looked OK.  To me they look horrible!   Thanks to startdustshoes I have a tutorial which I altered to make some sweet handmade tissue covers.  So now our car has a touch of home in it as does Ess' school bag rather than the horrible plastic which covers these all too consumable items.  These little travel packs are great for places that "move" as they don't become horribly crushed almost empty boxes cluttering your bag or the car, and they last longer than the tiny pocket packs, but there are no nice designs for them. Oh well I think I have made an improvement.  They can even be reversible if you so desire.

Sadly you can't tell by looking just how much better they FEEL - fabric vs plastic.  I know what I choose every time.

Our New Treasure

Lilypie Maternity tickers


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