Friday, January 29, 2010

Changes ~ In My Summer Garden

I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from an Old Manse

It seems a while since I have been here. I am getting back into school routine and enjoying a visit from my Dad.

I have had a lot on my mind lately so I thought I'd show you some of what is happening in my garden at the moment. A place where lots of contemplation also happens.

This beautiful little blossom is fruiting and turning into...

an eggplant!

This is my first and I hope for many more.

It is an heirloom variety, distributed by The Digger's Club, called 'Listada di Gandia Eggplant'.

Some floral parsley prettiness.

Water droplets are always beautiful, are they not?

Thyme and ...

I absolutely love watching my herbs and veges change and grow.

We are looking at changes this year. It seems 2010 is to be a watershed year, a year of much change and I am prompted to move with a certain flow of changes for our family this year.

I am contemplating:

~ the possibility of a new journey, walking a path that has only recently opened up to me.

~ revisiting paths recently travelled, with a new journey ahead.

And that about sums it up in a very non-descript sort of a way.

So how about you? What changes are afoot for you in 2010?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Alcoholic Kangaroo

All is not butter that comes from the cow. ~Proverb

Over the weekend I finally had the opportunity to cook a recipe of my sister-in-law's which I have long intended to try.

She devised a recipe for The Alcoholic Cow - Beef and Guinness Pie. I made a few alterations of my own and we dined on The Alcoholic Kangaroo.

Now if kangaroos are not roaming your fields as they are bounding through our local paddocks you might like to try @machroi's version. However if you are local to Australia, just insert some diced kangaroo steak which is much leaner. I also used Kangaroo Mettwurst rather than bacon as I simply had no dead pig in my frig.

Rather than creating a pie we ate the roo as a stew and served it with rice. It has served us beautifully for two meals now and is very much enjoyed all round. It is quite sweet so if you'd like to try something other than a spicy roo curry or a savoury roo and root casserole, go for The Alcoholic Kangaroo, it comes highly recommended.

And so it would seem that a Roo and Guinness Stew also came from a cow, in an obscure sort of manner.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Little Pink Bag and ensuing pretty scarves

Buttons and patches and the cold wind blowing,
The days pass quickly when I am sewing.
~Author Unknown

Do you remember this rectangle of fabric which I pieced together ages ago using a simple method of Alicia Paulson's?

I have wanted to make a bag with it as the lightweight interfacing makes it nice and sturdy. However which type of bag? It begged for something more, something prettier, than a simple tote, perhaps a drawstring??

However I became creative with my rectangle as I sat with it. A pleat here, a few more there. A fold this way, a matching one on the other side and there was the bag taking shape.

Now, as it turned out not to be a drawstring bag, I needed to devise some sort handle.

So with a crochet hook in hand and some inspiration on a style of crochet from Juliane, I began to hook.

Before long this pretty handle was ready to be fastened to the bag with a few decorative buttons.

and a little lavender bag was popped inside to ensure a sweet fragrance lingered.

The handle looked so much like a scarf according to Ess, that I set about making another longer piece of work so she could have an alternative scarf for her lovely Bella.

Pretty soon there were scarfs all around. The top one was made by Juliane and was my inspiration.

I think Bella wears hers beautifully, don't you. This is exactly the way my precious Ess adorned her.

Now I'm contemplating more little scarves and I'm knitting some leg warmers in the middle of summer. Crazy, I know! Although I heard today that we are expecting lower than average temperatures in the next few months. No-one could complain about that during heatwave season :)

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Waking Ritual

We cannot blame the schools alone for the dismal decline in SAT verbal scores. When our kids come home from school do they pick up a book or do they sit glued to the tube, watching music videos? Parents, don't make the mistake of thinking your kid only learns between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. ~George Bush

My children have developed a lovely ritual for when they wake.

When little Eee wakes in the morning or after her afternoon sleep, she calls out. Ess often hears her cry and goes in to greet her. She knows the ritual Eee would have her perform.

Ess says "I choose three books for little Eee, then I give her lots more. I get some books for myself and plop them in little Eee's bed and then I get in the bed and I read the books I got for myself and I give them to little Eee."

They read and they read and they read... for an hour or more.

Isn't this a wonderful way to wake and start a time of play. What better introduction to the day I say.

Yet, I lament.

In just over a week, school will commence. Ess and Eee will not have time during the morning rush to continue this ritual. I will need to move them on to eating breakfast, brushing teeth, getting dressed and packing bags. I fear this special time will fade.

Yet, is this reading ritual not a more important way to spend time? Rather than to rush to prepare for school only to wait for the teacher to arrive, for the children to unpack their things and be seated and ready, for something new to learn etc. etc.

All ideas for maintaining this little ritual of my girls own making are warmly welcome.

Many thanks to Homestay Mama whose giveaway I won last year. It was a giveaway which allowed me to purchase these books for my girls. She kindly changed her gift from an American business to an Aussie one so I could purchase books and not have to pay the same price in postage for them. She is a lovely lady, delightfully warm and encouraging and would be very pleased to meet you I am certain. When you pop in to say hello, let her know I sent you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Giraffe Bikkies in a Jar - A Gift

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

Inspired by some pretty pink cookies we decided it would make a nice gift for our cousins to give them some giraffe cookies.

Of course after carefully layering the ingredients to make sure they fit neatly in the jar...

we had to try baking them... just to make sure the recipe worked well. You know!

Of course, it worked beautifully. The orange flavoured M&M's gave a delicious flavour to these cookies which Ess has dubbed Giraffe Cookies.

They made a lovely gift with the recipients exclaiming, "Wow, what a great idea!" They fit my bill of what constitutes a great gift - they encourage creativity and productivity in children, it is not plastic or licensed or made on the production line. It is unique and hopefully a memorable gift for our cousins.

I am sure I'll be using this idea again for gifts throughout the year. Just need to find enough jars exactly the right size.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Simple Spelt Pizza

Do you make your own pizza?

Perhaps the thought of kneading together all that flour, letting the yeast become active and rolling it out etc. etc. lead you more often towards buying pizza. Or just buying the pizza base to assemble your own ingredients upon.

Could I tempt you to simplify by mixing flour, some rising agent and water, then pressing into a tin or tray?


All right then.

Follow me...

Sift together 1½ cups wholemeal spelt flour with 1 teaspoon cream of tartar and ½ teaspoon bicarb soda. Add ½ cup of water to the bowl and combine. When the dough comes together (it doesn't 'knead' to be worked a lot. In fact it would prefer you to treat it somewhat delicately), press it into a tray. The rectangle one I use measures 24x30cm.

Now top it with your favourite ingredients. I used:
Caramelised capsicum because it was a Christmas gift sitting in the pantry, begging to be used when I found no tomato paste.
Kangaroo Mettwurst - thankfully quite low in fat
Ham from my Christmas leg.
Delicious Kalamata olives from our favourite estate - Verdale.
Portobello Mushrooms
Italian Mozzarella
My own cherry tomatos, picked just few minutes before being pizzified.

Just keep in mind a thin, crusty pizza with minimal toppings. It won't cook beautifully if you crowd the base with too much food.

Bake in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes.

I top the cooked pizza with fresh basil picked from my garden.

My littluns don't eat everything I place on the pizza yet they never complain. In fact, they often request this meal, especially during the summer months. This suits me very well as it goes down beautifully with a fresh green salad.

This recipe has been a long time arriving here, but if you have tried to photograph pizza then you will realise why;) I am still not 100% happy with my pizza shots showing slightly shrivelled baked olives covered in melted cheese. Don't let that put you off, it tastes delicious and is a very simple meal. Considering photography of this pizza, I don't think I've done too badly - just needed that bottle of wine. It's not often seen at my lunch table with two little girls!

Now tell me, how are you going to adorn your pizza?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thankful Sisters of the Dawn

Vielen Dank Juliane

Our new friends arrived safely on Christmas Day,
and have found places in our home and our hearts

Both 'Bella'

and MY Bella

love to join us for tea parties on hot days

and imaginary play

as well as visits to our friends and family.

They especially love joining us for dress-ups.

These precious little hands worked for many moments in order to fasten the studs on this precious wedding dress.

The veil was attached, the doll was declared "beautiful" and the two rolled, giggling and smiling, "sleeping" together, cuddling.

My Granny sewed many doll's clothes for my sister and I
which we have now passed down to our girls.
The wedding dress was made for me and my doll as a child.
It uses fabric and lace from my mother's wedding dress,
which I am certain my Granny would have made also.
It is very precious!
I am delighting seeing my girls have so much fun with it,
yet to understand the true value and feel the nostalgia of it all.

Thankyou Juliane.

We especially love the story you wrote for us:

Many thanks also for the lovely little mushroom ribbons I used to adorn my girl's mushroom pouches. Luzia Pimpinella's ribbons are indeed gorgeous, some of which can be found here in Australia at Ribbons Galore.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mushroom Pouches

May good luck pursue you each morning and night. ~Irish Blessing

These little pouches for my little treasures have been a very long time coming. Ideas in my head, fabric pieces and ribbons matched and sitting on my creative table for weeks now.

I had hoped to have had one made for Ess for her birthday last month, or at least Christmas.

However considering that fly agarics are a symbol of good luck, I find this time of year a very apt time to have made and delivered them to waiting hands.

The bags have been eagerly filled with little Crayola Pip Squeaks - a Christmas gift from Grandad.

As a child I remember one of my jobs being pulling clover from our front lawn. I sat on the hard prickly buffalo grass, along with my siblings, and with greening hands and tiring minds we searched for and removed clover, over and over. It was an arduous task made a little lighter by searching for four-leaf clover which we knew would bring us good luck. No-one realised just how much more luck we would have bestowed upon us if the find was unexpected, a little more accidental than as a result of our ardent hunt. I don't recall ever having found a four leaf clover. I certainly never found one as beautiful as this.

If I had known that finding a fly agaric in our front lawn was a possibility my searches for luck would have been much greater. But alas, they were not to be. To this day I have not seen one in real life. I know I need to travel to colder climes in Autumn. My mum often found little mushrooms where fairies had been tea-partying overnight, however they were just little white toadstools, nothing so thrilling as red fly agarics with knobbly white spots all over them.

For now, these fabric fly agarics in our home will have to do. They certainly are brightening hearts here.

Are you expecting, rather I should say hoping, to find a fly agaric near home sometime soon?

Our New Treasure

Lilypie Maternity tickers


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