Friday, August 31, 2012


Before it swung back to bitter, we enjoyed some almost-warm afternoons in the garden. Spring momentarily within reach.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pink Enough

It was the jumper that jumped the queue. And then the queue got its own back, and toilet-training sisters caused unforeseen delays

But then it was done, and it was lovely, and all was right with the world.

And there was dancing to prove it.

The pattern is Rubble by Alison Brookbanks. The yarn is Cleckheaton. The colour is pink enough to please her and not pink enough to displease me.

I'm reading a novel. About something other than parenting. It's good.
Ravelry notes here.
Yarn Along here.

Speaking of 'queue jumping', are you (Australians) watching Go Back to Where You Came From on SBS. Throat-constrictingly powerful stuff.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our Homemade Yoghurt

Back when we were dreaming of this country life, top of the list of things I would do once we moved was make my own yoghurt. I'm not sure why I felt I had to relocate in order to begin. I'm sure in even the sleekest designer city kitchen with the most fast-paced, peak-hour lifestyle, it would be possible. But it just feels like a country thing to do.

We used to go through one, sometimes two, 2kg tubs of natural Greek yoghurt a week, at $10 a pop. My girls eat it every night for dessert, I often have it at breakfast, and it makes its way into cakes and alongside our favourite pitas and cheesy triangles quite often.

Apart from the first couple of weeks, since moving here over eight months ago (eight!), I haven't bought yoghurt once. And I've read all around blogland of people who use yoghurt makers and powdered starters, or who strain their yoghurt to thicken it. I do none of that. This really is so easy. I referred to Soulemama's method the first time, and just adapted it slightly as I went along. My original starter was an organic yoghurt from the health food store. I added powdered milk in a few batches at the beginning because I read somewhere that it helps thicken it. In the end I decided it made no difference.

The thing that does make a huge difference, I've found, is the milk. I tried once with a supermarket brand (before I learnt all about permeate and the woes of dairy farmers - we don't buy that milk anymore) and it refused to become yoghurt. I also had a failure once with a major national brand, who recently started emblazoning its labels with a bright yellow 'permeate free' banner. But after reading this post at Little Eco Footprints, I clicked along and discovered that the milk sold at my local general store, and at the supermarket in a nearby town, is local, ethical and additive free. And it tastes better. And it makes beautiful yoghurt.

For this method, you will need a thermometer, an insulated cooler bag (or esky) and two hot-water bottles.

Heat two litres of milk in a saucepan until it reaches 90 degrees Celsius. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to 40 degrees. I speed this process up by putting the saucepan of milk into the kitchen sink filled with cold water. It still takes about 10 minutes.

Once it has reached 40 degrees, whisk in about a quarter of a cup of your last batch of yoghurt. If it's the first time you've made it, choose something unflavoured, natural and organic with live cultures. Pour it into your chosen container. I know lots of people use glass jars (and I will soon when I get around to finding some the right size) and sterilise them beforehand, but I just use the old 2kg plastic tubs we used to buy our yoghurt in, and run them through a hot dishwasher before storing them.

The next step involves keeping the warmed milk at 40 degrees for several hours. Soulemama puts hers on an electric heat pad. Others put it in a thermos, or into an esky filled with warm water. I've had faultless luck with an old insulated bag I got from the fish markets a while ago (designed to keep fresh fish cold) in which I place two hot-water bottles filled with boiling water. I snuggle the tub of yoghurty milk in with the hotties cuddling it, zip up the bag and put it in the warmest part of the house. And it rarely takes longer than five hours to set.

Then I put it in the fridge to cool before we eat it.

There's always a bit of whey in the tub but not enough to bother any of us, so I've never tried to strain it. And by the time we get to the bottom, it's generally a lot runnier and sloppier - all the better for stirring your frozen raspberries through to make it pink. But for the first few days, when scooped from the top, it's the most delicious, tart, creamy, thick yoghurt, as good as, if not better than, any I've bought in a shop anywhere.


Monday, August 27, 2012

In My Sewing Room

A new piece of machinery arrived today. It was as though a switch was flicked in my mind one day recently, from "No, I can do without" to "I must have one now." 

To make room, a sort-and-tidy was required. I wasn't expecting the thrilling unearthing of this here and that there, op-shop finds stashed and forgotten. I always gravitate to the linens, sheets, sewing supplies, yarn. I didn't realise how fruitful it had been until today. Someone in this town, or a few someones, have been destashing in a serious way. 

Cotton threads, lengths of lace and ribbon, unused fabric in colours and patterns I'd choose new, vintage sewing patterns, and perfect quality flannelette sheets to be whipped up into little girls' jimjams on the special, magic machine.

Spare room, guest room, storeroom, junk room, bouncing-on-the-bed room, once-in-a-blue-moon ironing room, and now, right now, my very own sewing room.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Lovelies

A sprinkling of lovely from the week:

1) Sunshine and curls.
2) I've been focusing all of my springtime energy on the huge magnolia behind the house, not even realising that the smaller tree in full bloom at the bottom of the garden was also a magnolia.
3) The relentless pursuit of mess art.
4) Baked goods, as requested by the lord of the manor.
5) Cut branches from our peach tree surprising us by bursting into bright pink bloom with the warmth of the fire (the tree itself is not yet in flower).
6) Best mates.

Wishing you bucketloads of good stuff in the week to come.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Because I know you've been missing her...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sweet Little Dresses

I've been culling. Toys, books, clothes. I reckon I've halved the stuff they have access to at home, and yet they haven't noticed. I have, though - clean-up at the end of a typical messy day suddenly seems easy. EASY! 

But the room in which I sew, and keep my stash of crap crafting paraphernalia, is such a disaster zone at the moment. Bags of outgrown clothes, all the books that I've taken off their shelf but can't bear to get rid of (we'll rotate, yes?) and a haul for the Vinnie's bin that I have to hide so they don't find it and return it to my new streamlined toy shelves.

And then there's the tubs and tubs of fabric and yarn. And vintage sheets. Lots of vintage sheets in there. I made a bold statement to a friend recently that I'm not allowed to buy any more till I use the ones I have. Ahem.

Quick, make a dress! Or two! Sweet easy ones that can be thrown over tights and a top (or a pyjama top, in this instance) and worn for grubby things like playing, bringing in the wood and gardening.

Just don't go too heavy on the retro. While this mother may find '70s brown and orange floral prints fun and a bit cheeky, the opinionated two-year-olds in the house refuse flat-out to wear it. Seriously, they're two! I thought I had styling rights until they were at least five!

Can't you see it over a red skivvy and pair of jeans? Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks this is cool. Or am I just being nostalgic for my own childhood? 

(It's been brought to my attention that one twin has featured in far more posts recently than the other. What can I say, she makes good copy. But here's the other one - here and here - wearing this very dress in the baby size, back before she became so fussy about her wardrobe...)

Monday, August 20, 2012


Two of my girls will eat a toasted cheese sandwich for lunch every day of the week, if I let them. The other has developed a bit of a thing for 'shoop'.

"What's for lunch today, Pearl?"

It's not fancy grown-up shoop, overnight-soaked or slow-simmered. It's whatever's in the fridge, last-night's leftovers, quick and easy shoop. 

We usually peel a carrot, a potato and some sweet potato, diced large, and saute it in a saucepan with some celery and garlic, diced small. Chicken stock is added, about 500ml, and some sliced green beans. When the vegies are tender - about 10-15 minutes - we throw in last night's leftover pasta or rice or noodles, some chopped chicken, if there's any, and a handful of frozen peas.

And that's it. Shoop. 

Easy. Nutritious. Apparently quite tasty.


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