Thursday, 12 October 2017

Family Time in Melbourne.

I'm heading to Melbourne first thing in the morning to have some precious time with my beautiful mum and sister.

Mum isn't well so I'm not sure how long I'll be away.  One thing is for sure though, the time the three of us spend together will be full of love, fun and laughter.....as it always is.


Monday, 9 October 2017

An abundance of pawpaws.

How beautiful is this?

One happy mumma raising her two little ones right in the middle of an abundance of pawpaws.

I guess there'll be no green papaya salad for a few weeks.



Friday, 6 October 2017

Fermenting Capsicum.

I've been away from my blog for a while.  I think I got a bit of stage fright when I had so many visitors after Rhonda from Down to Earth linked my blog on her reading list.  I so loved doing Rhonda's course and was very appreciative of the knowledge shared but I think I became overwhelmed with the amount of visitors and felt I should be saying something worthwhile.  Obviously I shouldn't have looked at the stats!  Anyway, things have settled down somewhat so here I am.....just being me again.

So.....
How luscious and plump are these homegrown gifts from a neighbour?

I decided to ferment them to make sure we can enjoy them for as long as possible.

Despite searching google and my 'numerous' fermenting books, I couldn't find a recipe I was happy with so just made one up based on how I've previously made sauerkraut and kimchi.   To the bowl of sliced capsicum, I've added a thinly sliced clove of garlic and a teaspoon each of yellow mustard seeds and whole black peppercorns. Easy peasy.


After mixing everything through with a generous sprinkling of Himalayan salt, I've packed it all firmly into a 2 litre jar.  

When I started fermenting I didn't worry too much about using a purchased culture, but ferments last a lot longer in the fridge and have so much more beneficial bacteria for the gut if a culture is used.  Plus they are less bubbly and explosive - and it's always lovely to have the least possible amount of explosion in the kitchen!  The culture I use is 'Caldwell's Starter Culture' but I can't provide a link as I can't remember where I bought mine.  There's six sachets in a box and you only need half a sachet per 2 litre ferment - less for a smaller jar so it's pretty economical.  Mix half a sachet with about a cup or more of filtered water and pour over to cover the vegetables.

The little purple silicone top is called a 'Pickle Pipe' and I bought mine from nourishmeorganics.com.au.  They're designed to fit all wide mouthed Ball Mason jars and are so much easier to use and look after than the water filled air lock I was previously using.  Plus they're dishwasher safe and pretty cute too!

I've put a washed cabbage leaf on the top held down by a glass weight, to keep the capsicum submerged in the liquid.
  

All rugged up to keep out the light.


After three days on the bench it's time for a taste test.

Oh yum.


Just perfect and ready to pop in the fridge.  These capsicums will be great for using on a pizza, as a side to cold meat and salad, in a wrap or sandwich......and sometimes straight from the jar if nobody is looking.  


They're also yummy dobbed onto the top of a lump of cheese....also when nobody is looking. *wink*

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A Granny Square Cardigan.

A few months ago I was learning to read a crochet pattern.  I was so happy about it, so enthusiastic in fact that I sent away for a pattern book full of crochet garments.  I could just imagine myself with a couple of lovely lacy cardigans to nonchalantly throw over my shoulders on a cool Summer evening.

But first things first.

I had to concentrate on what I was doing and learn properly from the beginning.

I was making a rug.  Theoretically, there were only five different crochet stitches, in various combinations that made up the pattern.  It seemed simple enough.  The stitch pattern repeat was twenty-four and the row pattern repeat was fifty-two....and then just carry on apparently.  Didn't sound too hard.

A calm beginning........


It started off fine (while I was concentrating) but oh boy, did I ever get sick of counting to twenty-four over and over.....or miscounting.  By the time the rug was about half a metre long, I had made so many mistakes. It got to the point that I couldn't sit down with a glass of wine and pick up my needles (or in this case hook) for a little while at the end of the day, as I love to do - and the sides of the rug were looking like a mad woman’s breakfast.  So in the end it was a choice between the rug or 'happy hour' and my sanity.  
I'm reluctant to admit that the rug got thrown into the wheelie bin during a tantrum of epic proportions a couple of weeks ago.  I didn't calm down until after the 'garbos' had been which was a bit unfortunate.

So....what to do about the lacy cardigan I had my heart set on?

After a bit of hunting around I managed to find a cute pattern for a granny square cardigan, downloadable.....and free.  I'm pretty sure I can make granny squares and enjoy a glass of wine at the same time – I think! 


So far so good.  No mistakes.  

If you do happen see any, please don't feel obligated to mention it.


Five granny squares down and only one hundred and thirty-seven to go.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Blogging with Rhonda

I'm one of a small group of people enrolled with Rhonda Hetzel from Down to Earth to learn a bit more about the blogging world.  Rhonda is teaching us some of the 'behind the scenes' things we need to know to keep our blogs chugging along smoothly.  As anyone who knows me well (or knows me at all really) will agree, I'm certainly no technical whizz when it comes to computers or smart phones, so this is all very exciting.

Last Sunday morning was our first Skype session.  In fact I hadn't used Skype at all until then. There was a two hour time difference and I was worried I would sleep in and miss the 7am start, but as it turns out I was so excited I barely slept at all and was up at about 5am shuffling quietly about waiting for the action.   Skype really is pretty amazing.  I honestly could not believe I was having a face to face conversation with Rhonda. Each time I looked at my own little image in the corner of the screen, I had my mouth open like one of those ping pong ball clowns at a carnival.
(I could just imagine my mum saying "Close your mouth Frances!")


My husband has set up a little temporary 'learning centre' for me in the spare room.  It was so peaceful and quiet on Sunday with the beautiful morning sun shining in the window and somehow I managed to take seven pages of notes during our two hour Skype session.

When I first started blogging, I thought it would be primarily for my family who live mostly interstate, so I just chatted on - relentlessly probably!  Now that I have discovered such a vibrant and knowledgeable 'maker' community out there, I'd like to be part of that too.  So, I'm hoping that by learning a little more about the blogging environment I can not only share our lives with family but also become more of a contributing member to the maker's world.

Now, let's see if I can put some of those seven pages of notes into practice without tangling myself up too much! 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Fibres West 2017

Fibres West is a week-long conference for textile and fibre enthusiasts held approximately every two years. This year there were ten national and international tutors, auditorium talks, classes, presentations, traders, displays, a 'bizarre bazaar' and so very much more.

I've actually been struggling to write a little something about Fibres West.   I know.....ridiculous for someone who loves a chat.  It was just such a wonderful experience that anything I write somehow seems a little bit lame or woody.  'Woody' is a word isn't it?

Comments like "Profound", "Life changing" and "Soul enriching" keep pouring out of my mouth any time someone asks about my week off - but actually putting my Fibres West experience into words has been quite hard.

I had a whole six days in Sandra Brownlee's 'Tactile Journals and the Written Word' class.  It wasn't so much a technique based class.  It was more about finding and bringing out our soul's desire.....see what I mean? Sandra's classes have a reputation for being life changing.

We spent the week working with our journals, ourselves, our thoughts and dreams, our goals for both our professional and personal lives, our love for textiles and our absolute thankfulness to be able to have so much unpressured time with other creative women.

We talked, laughed, cried, listened, walked, hugged, meditated, breathed, ate (lots), and appreciated
every.......single.......moment.

I met beautiful, courageous, creative and kind women -

and luxuriated in the peaceful, tranquil atmosphere of Muresk.


Sandra's journals are legendary -


as are her 'clothesline talks'.



We studied bookbinding and journaling methods of both Sandra's and other artists' work.


Absolutely exquisite binding on an old cut down phone book.



We worked in our own journals each day.  Shared readings, thoughts, written words, laughs, triumphs and discoveries.

We journaled after our walking meditations, being encouraged to write how we felt rather than what we saw.

Here's one of my pages.


Sandra always being ever present, 


patient, kind


and lots of fun!


Our class display on the last evening gave no real indication of the depth of transformation most of us had experienced during this week.


I know I'm richer, calmer, empowered and changed.

Thank you Sandra Brownlee.



Post script:

"It'll be cold" they said.

"Oh I'll just take a couple of singlets, it'll be ok" I replied.






Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Me Made May

This is the third year in a row I have taken part in 'Me-Made-May'.  

Me-Made-May runs for the whole of the month of May and is a challenge designed to encourage people who sew, knit, crochet or refashion garments for themselves, to wear and love them more.  It's also an opportunity to discuss fast fashion, handmade and slow stitch.....especially when someone comments "Where did you get that dress?"  (I'm sure it was well meant.....I think).

You can read more about the challenge over on So, Zo...What do you know?

This year I'm really happy to report that I managed to wear something handmade every single day of May. Some days I had to resort to handmade leggings though as I had run out of clothes and my brooches had been 'done to death'.  Thankfully I wasn't ever asked to show off my leggings.

Here's my latest 'make'.  Another Esme tunic from Lotta Jansdotter's Everyday Style.  I really love her style.  

I think my hair is even starting to look like hers.  

Sorry Lotta.  


This dress is a touch short but that was intentional so that I can wear it over jeans for the Winter.

The fabric is linen from Spotlight.  I just love linen but there wasn't a lot to choose from when I bought this. Only about three plains and this print in either cream or navy.  I thought this was so gorgeous on the roll and couldn't wait to make it up, but now I get the feeling that it's slightly reminiscent of a 1970's sofa.  

I'm really giving the von Trapp family a run for their money now, after one of my other dresses was inadvertently made from curtain fabric.


I honestly don't know how people stand in front of a self timer and look normal.  I've tried to take my lead from other blogs I follow where the girls look so natural, carefree and happy.  Here I am, finally happy (sort of) with my plastic smile......but check out the feet!


Plus I look like I'm hiding a couple of wads of $50 notes in my pockets.  Ha ha....I wish.  

That'd make me happy wouldn't it?!




Monday, 1 May 2017

The ibis story.

We had such a fabulous time in Coral Bay, but I must admit it was lovely to feel the cool fresh air as we drove back into town.  Arriving home is always a bit of a relief really, after all the adventures on the sand dunes, the scorching sunny days, bugs biting anything that's exposed, grasshopper plagues and just too much food and alcohol, it's good to get home safely in one piece.

As we pulled into our driveway it really was lovely to experience the beautiful half light of dusk and see such a generous sprinkling of rose petals strewn across the driveway.  Awwww.....Autumn is here.

Waking up in my own bed is a bit of a novelty.   A big yawn and stretch.......followed by a leisurely wander out to the garden in the early morning sun.



Huh?

What's that?!

We have a scarecrow in our front yard?  With a lampshade for a head?

Oh.  I get it.  This is a dream.  Scarecrows, birds, rose petals, alcohol, sunshine, fun.

Erm.......maybe not.

They're not rose petals on the driveway either.

It's poop.  Ibis poop.  Set like concrete.

And the roof of the house looks like it's been snowing.

Omg.




Our yard has been taken over by a flock of seven renegade ibis.  Our neighbours have been doing whatever they can to deter them but apparently ibis can be very obstinate indeed.

They like it at our house.

They even like the backyard scarecrow.  They just sit on the pool fence and stare at him with glee in their little black twinkling eyes.


I have no frogs left in my pond either.  Ibis beaks are long and deadly.

I do however have friendly, creative neighbours and a willing and enthusiastic husband.


So this is the latest in hand crafted ibis deterrent technology.

Mick races out the door at a moments notice (quite often only in his 'shorts') and runs around the yard yelling like a madman, banging and crashing his 'ibis deterring hardware'.  

It sounds like a corroboree.

Looks like one too.

Isn't retirement supposed to be calm, peaceful, serene, full of meaning and fulfilment?  A simple life?

  

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Beginning a Nature Journal.

Just before we left for Coral Bay, I enrolled in Jan Blencowe's online Nature Journaling course.

Jan says that Nature Journaling is -
".....designed for those who love the natural world and want to form a connection with nature through art."
That sounds just perfect doesn't it?

She also asks you to -
"Imagine learning ways to fine tune your listening and observational skills so that you can deeply engage with the natural world. Then imagine that you have a repertoire of creative skills that allows you to quickly and easily sketch the beauty in nature, beauty that takes your breath away and fills you with a sense of calm and well being."
Hmmmm.....filled with a sense of calm and well being?  Sounds like bliss to me.

The course actually started a couple of days after we left home (Murphy's Law) so I just took my journal, started by myself and made it up as I went along.

Here are some of my pages -

Mostly I was just learning about my new Daniel Smith colours and trying to observe the sea and sky.



There's only one blue and two greens in the recommended colour palette, so I have a bit of colour experimenting to do.

I always thought there was just 'grass' on the sand dunes.  Nope.  I just didn't look properly.  There are even flowers up there on the dunes.






Don't ask me where this 'insightful insight' came from.  Mother nature probably.



We seemed to cram so much into each day and I tried to sketch a little snapshot of all the activities for one of them.  I didn't end up liking this page much - it's a bit too colourful and 'busy'.

The image on the bottom right is of the dog cemetery situated high on a hill.  This is the view I get at sunrise from our camper.  It's absolutely beautiful with the rising sun behind the little crosses.



This is my favourite sketch.  Such an amazing creature.  We put this jellyfish into a lunchbox of sea water so that I could do a sketch and the poor thing just kept pulsing and blobbing along while it was waiting to be returned to the ocean.  It was soooo creepy, (said with an Alfred Hitchcock voice).



This little frangipani tree was growing in sandy soil right outside the ladies ablution block.  It only had the run off from the drinking water tap to survive on.  The flowers were just as perfect as a well nourished tree in a tropical garden.  Amazing really.



The paper in this journal is just ok.  I wasn't able to get the recommended 'Stillman and Birn' journal so bought what was available locally.  It's mixed media paper which is quite strong but not much chop for water colours as it soaks the paint up straight away.  I tried a little sample of paper from a cheap watercolour pad I found....but that was worse!   





Both my thumbs were out of action for the first part of our holiday.  One got jammed in the shade sail that comes off the side of the car and the other was bitten by a crab while I was investigating an 'uninhabited' (!) clam shell.  Nothing compares however to being bitten by a 100 year old renegade turtle!















Now that we're back home, I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the Nature Journaling course properly.  So that means lots more time outside in the garden.  Sitting down too.  Goody.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Coral Bay 2017

Each year we head off to Coral Bay on the Ningaloo Reef for our annual camping holiday.  We've been going there since our girls were small, so maybe a bit more than 20 years I guess?  Over the years our trips have become less jam packed with tours, boat trips, late nights, hangovers and noise and have slowly been filled with early mornings, peaceful days and a gentler more observant approach to nature.  It seems that we are becoming more in tune with our environment and our time there has deepened our appreciation of the beautiful, peaceful and pristine coastline. 

Here's a snapshot of a typical day......



Kayaking and paddle boarding as the dawn breaks on a new day.



Sunrise.



Kayaking over to the reef shark nursery for a look.  Now I know what a 'shag on a rock' looks like!



Setting up for the day at Five Fingers Reef.



.........and the front view.  This is all precisely measured and takes some practice.  It involves lots of pacing out, experts in reversing and a carefully measured and well looked after piece of string.
Truly.



"Don't look at me and I won't look at you."
Legs like lamp posts (I know how that feels).



Fading light is an indication that 'happy hour' is well underway.



........and the breathtaking sunset closes another amazing day.



I also kept a bit of a sketch journal while away so will upload some of those pages when I get a chance.....I'm still knee deep in sand and washing here.