Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lilly Pilly?

I need a little gardening advice.

Is this a lilly pilly?

I have this tree in my backyard and the fruit is starting to turn pink. I have never done anything to the tree so there are no sprays used. It is in the back corner of the yard so is fairly neglected. It gets water when the reticulation is on but as we are under water restrictions, that is not too often.

Does anyone know if there are any varieties that you shouldn't eat. I know very little about them, in fact I didn't even really know what they were until someone pointed them out to me. She called the 'something-or-other apples'.

Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated.

Take care

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cutlery Roll Tutorial and Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Honestly Good Food for being the winner of the cutlery roll giveaway. Thanks to those who joined in.

I have written a set of instructions that some of you may be interested in trying. 

Now let me start by saying that everything I learnt about sewing came from Mum, Year 9 Textiles and working out how to sew a pair of shorts following a pattern from a 1980s Dolly magazine. I must say I  enjoy the Maths involved (nerd!) but get really impatient if the project takes more than an hour or two.
I really admire Two Little Banshees and Chickpea Sewing Studio (fabulous infant bib tutorial) as they are both so talented and obviously very patient. 

There are a few of these tutorials out and about but I made this one using measurements and steps that I felt would work for me. Any real seamstress would look at these instructions and more than likely cringe.

You will need
2 pieces of fabric 35cm x 45cm (main pieces)
2 pieces of fabric 17cm x 45cm (pocket and lining)
2 pieces of bias tape 30cm each

Place the pocket pieces right sides together. Stitch along one of the long edges.

Turn right way around and press. You may like to topstitch here but it is not necessary.

Lay the pocket pieces on the right side of one of the main pieces, lining the pieces at the bottom. Pin in place. Rule lines on the pocket pieces 5cm, 9cm, 13cm and 17cm from the left hand edge. Straight stitch along these lines, 

This is where you need to sort out fastenings. I find that bias binding works best. Fold the tape over  and sew it closed. (Ribbon would probably work well too.) Lay the tape horizontally on the mat that you have so far, about 1/3 up from the bottom, so that the ends hang over the right edge. Make sure not to put the tape 1/2 way down the side as you will turn the top part of the cutlery roll over so the cutlery wont fall out.

I originally tried making this one using a button and some elastic. I cut the elastic too short so it wouldn't wrap around the finished cutlery roll very well. I think that also I would have been better with a wider style of elastic. I ended up going back to the bias tape.

Place the other main piece right side down onto the main mat. The bias tape should now be sandwiched in between the 2 larger pieces. Pin in place. Starting on the left hand side, stitch around the 4 edges leaving an opening of about 10cm at the end.

Cut across the corners to make turning much easier. 

Turn the right way out, using the opening. Press making sure the seems are pushed out. Hand stitch the opening closed using a blind stitch.

Gosh, I really hope this makes sense.

Take care

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Delightful Dehydrating

I have been thinking about getting a dehydrator for a while. After doing quite a bit of reading, I had discovered that the top of the line is about $500, which is not an option at this point. There is quite a variety of affordable models but I couldn't quite decide which would suit us more. My bestie pointed out to me that a local bulk foods shop hires one out. This is a much better option. I am also worried that the novelty might wear off so we will see how a week or so of this will go.

After looking through the kitchen I found some stone fruit and some cherry and grape tomatoes. This would be a great way to start. I even found some strawberries in the back of the freezer. After buying some dried strawberries on Thursday and having them all eaten on the same day, strawberries would definitely be worth drying.

The machine comes with 4 trays and the manual suggests that you use all 4 for optimal drying.

Once I had turned the machine on, the aroma through the house was amazing. Every time I walked past, I made sure to deeply inhale. Every now and then I even had to try something from one of the trays. The things I will do for my family in the name of 'quality control'.

After about 10 hours I turned it off. I really should have kept if going, but as I have mentioned before, I am not super patient.

The tomatoes are incredibly sweet so I just slurped some local olive oil over them and broke up some of the lovely fresh basil a friend had given me earlier in the week. We are planning to make some pizza tonight so this will go perfectly.

So the first attempt at drying went well. Dried nectaries, peaches, figs and strawberries and no sulphites in sight.

I have some more strawberries thawing at the moment to have a go at some fruit leather.

I would really love to hear about other people's dehydrating experiences.

Take care

Friday, March 25, 2011

Reading, Relaxation and Real Food are On My Mind

It is so great to be able to end an amazingly hectic week joining Rhonda on her On My Mind project.

My order from fishpond arrived on Tuesday. I kept it wrapped in all its postage paraphernalia until Wednesday night as I was worried that I might need take a 'sickie' if I dared to open it before my paid-work week was over. I looked at it as a little treat to myself.

I has seen (and admired) this book for ages, and after reading about it on cityhippyfarmgirl, I finally decided to take the plunge and get a copy for myself (as well as one for my bestie).

So today I am going to treat myself to an hour or so of reading Real Food Companion while nibbling on some of my new favourite treat - dried strawberries.

Don't forget to pop on over and join in the little giveaway. The more, the merrier.

Take care

A big thank you to Rose for letting me know that Matthew Evan has a blog on the SBS site.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


A few months ago we went to a great farmer's market where we sampled some bircher for the very first time. I had tried different types of toasted muesli over the years, but never something like this. The sample was soaked in fruit juice and then had some yoghurt added. Oh, that creamy yoghurt.

After buying this for a few weeks I realised that the ingredients were very simple and that this is something I could be making myself.

Each time I make a batch, different fruits are added. It all really depends on what is in the cupboard. This weekend's mix had sultanas, dried apricots, dried dates, dried figs, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and some crushed almonds. Most of the ingredients were organic and sulphite free.

These ingredients are mixed to make sure none of the fruit clumps together.

Rolled oats are added to the fruit and nuts to the consistency you like.

We store this in a glass jar until we are ready to prepare it for breakfast. This is done the night before when enough for two is poured into the bowl. This is then covered in fruit juice and put in the fridge. In the morning a good dollop of yoghurt is added and stirred through.

This would have to be one of our favourite adult breakfasts. Between this and granola, we steer clear of store bought muesli. Weetbix are still a hit amongst the smaller people in the house so I figure that this makes more bircher and granola for me.

Don't forget about the little giveaway that is open until Sunday.

Take care

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thank You Giveaway

I wanted to say thank you to all of those who have dropped by to say hello. Last night I was in a sewing mood after I had gone through my fabric. I really enjoyed making the cutlery roll a few weeks ago and thought some Japanese fabric I had would be perfect. So here it is.

Leave a comment on this post by Sunday 27 March when I will choose a winner at random.

There is room for you to put 4 pieces of cutlery and a serviette.

My machine is badly in need of a service so please don't look too closely at the stitching.

Thanks again for stopping by and leaving so many lovely comments.

Take care.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Farmers' Market Figs

This morning the kiddies and I cycled over to the local farmers' market. It really is a highlight of our weekend. There are some council restrictions which only allow them to open every second weekend, but we take it when we can.

I took the plunge and bought some kale so I am sure I will be spending the rest of the day searching for something to do with it. It just looked so green that it had to go into the basket.

Another purchase of the day was some fabulous figs. I am a huge fan of dried figs as I love the sweet, gritty texture of them. Fresh figs are a bit of a treat. As I was lining up I heard the girl behind me talk about having them with icecream so I think that making a fresh batch will be on the 'to do' list for this weekend. A teaspoon of vanilla paste should work well in the mix. I might even end up changing my mind and going for a Jamie Oliver style salad with figs and goats cheese.

Take care

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mangoes On My MInd

I am very lucky that both my parents and a cousin of mine have mango trees growing in their backyards. My parents inherited theirs with the house and over the last few years it has been incredibly fruitful. The result for me has been about 15 beautiful, juicy mangoes in recent weeks. There is no way I would have gone out and bought that number, so it has been a real treat.

I love a mango lassi so a curry might be on the cards in the next few days. I think that would be a great way to end a hectic week.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Signs of Life

Over the weekend I managed to get some seeds planted and to my complete surprise, this morning I saw the first signs of life sprouting their way through the soil.

It is such a buzz seeing those little green shoots get bigger and bigger. They have even grown noticeably since this morning. I need them to get a little bigger so that I can see what they are. I know that I planted Bok Choi, Pak Choi, Tatsoi and Coriander but with my limited gardening knowledge, I need to see the mature plant to be able to identify any of them.

The bags of sheep manure are still sitting next to the front vegetable garden beds. Fingers crossed that tomorrow this job will get crossed off the 'to do' list.

Take care

Sunday, March 13, 2011

How does your garden grow?

Mine is looking very sad at the moment.

We have had a fairly hot and dry summer here so not much has survived. The weather has also caused my enthusiasm to wane. It certainly is time to pull out the remnants of the vegetables and prepare the beds with some of our lovely homemade compost.

In the meantime, I was recently given a stirfry kit and with a burst of motivation felt it was time to undo the box and get planting.

Although it is not the right season for all of these seeds, patience is not something I am know for. The little seed packets contain enough for a year's worth of growing so a quarter of each packet went into the planter.

As with any seeds that are planted around here, I eagerly await the first little sprouts to break through the soil.

My next job is getting into the front vegetable beds. A much bigger job requiring a lot more motivation. The Gardenate email will certainly get me going in the right direction.

What are you growing?

Take care

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Super Easy Apple Cake

Following an abundance of apples earlier in the week, I came across this super easy, super yummy apple cake recipe. No creaming of butter and sugar necessary. Just melt the butter and add to the mix. I did make a few alterations once I realised that the apples I had put aside for the cake had been eaten. Late last year I was lucky enough to win a box of organic peaches that had a bit of bird damage so could not be sold at market. At the time, work was too crazy for me to do anything to them apart from wash, cut and freeze. These came in very handy as I added some of these to the one remaining apple. Also, I halved the sugar as the fruit is already super sweet.

The house smelt amazing and the cake tasted very fruity. I didn't even notice that there was half a cup less of sugar.

I would love to get some suggestions of other super easy, super yummy cakes.

Take care.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Baking is On My Mind

I am really enjoying the On My Mind project being run be Rhonda over at Down To Earth.

Today I am looking forward to having another go at a recipe I tried on Wednesday. I love being able to serve my little kiddies a lovely homemade afternoon tea on the two days that I don't work.

Come back over the weekend to see the results of my labour.

Enjoy your Friday.

Take care.

Monday, March 7, 2011


My in-laws are avid bird watchers and know a lot about the local birdlife. They called me early this morning to see if the kiddoes were awake as there was a surprise in the tree out the back of their house. We threw on some clothes and jumped in the car for the very quick drive to their house. Sitting quietly in the tree outside their lounge window was, what we think is, a Boobook owl.

It is so lovely to see these birds still around suburbia. My in-laws said that they thought there was a cat in their yard as the wattle birds were making a racquet. When they looked in the direction of the ruckus, there was this gorgeous bird.

Have a listen to their beautiful call.

Take care.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Beginning Knitter

I by no means consider myself a knitter. I can knit a line. I can purl a line. If I am really concentrating I can knit 1 purl 1. Don't ask me to increase, decrease or slip stitches. Even with my incredible basic knowledge I must say, I love it. Perhaps it is the 'nanna' element that is so comforting. And of course, a cup of tea is an essential accompaniment.

I was reintroduced to the art of knitting by one of my best friends a few years ago after she decided to get back into it. Her mother had always been a veracious knitter and was always known to have a project or to 'on the pins'.

With my limited skills comes limited projects. Scarves are always good, and with careful choosing of a thick wool can be completed relatively quickly.

On my quest to stop buying things that are thrown away after limited use I've been knitting up a few cotton dish cloths. It is so relaxing and doesn't involve a lot of brain power. Once I get into it, the process seems to become fairly automatic. There are no embellishments or fancy patterns. Just knit a row, turn it over, knit another row.  I would certainly like to make my way up to something like this, but at the moment the super basic version does the job just right.

Take care
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