Monday, September 15, 2014

Baby Quilt A

Baby quilt A is finished and ready to be shipped off. It is (unusually for me) made well ahead of any of the imminent baby's arrival, so for the meantime it hangs on the back of my sewing chair and looks cheery. The longer it stays there, the more I think I need to quilt in the large orange borders. But what?
 

The back is plain lemony-yellow (an old cot quilt - yay for scraps), and looks less lumpy than in the picture - I think that's something about the way I folded it over. The binding is ok - should really have been a brighter blue I think, but I had oooooodles of this blue-grey bias binding, for some reason, so I used some up. And its ok - I really don't think the baby will notice.

So, 3 babies on the way. One quilt made, the next one already pieced (except for a border, which I'm currently musing over). I'll see if this baby quilt madness is out of my system by then, I'm thinking maybe this hat might be in order...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A little culture around here

There is something about not working, and having one child in school and the other the kind of child that (quite often) will entertain himself for a few hours with 4 lego blocks that is conducive to thought. I've had several thoughts recently that have actually turned into actions, which is fairly unusual for me (I typically have many, many thoughts and very few actions). One of these has been yoghurt.

I'm at the supermarket, and I see an EasyYo machine (really, its just a fancy thermos). It cost less than $20AUD and I'd just put about $10 of yoghurt tubs in my trolly, so it was a no brainer. You buy little sachets to make the yoghurt with, and I diligently made a sachet, and it was nice. But kinda sweet, and I didn't really feel like I was making it - I was just adding water and shaking and leaving. Which is great, if that's what you want, but I didn't. Also, it seemed odd to make yoghurt from powdered stuff when I really wanted more control over what was in it, and cheaper production given how much we eat. So, after a few minutes on Google, I gave it a go.

Its miraculous. Every time, I get thick, creamy, yummy yoghurt. Stick some topping on it, and the kids love it. Stick some sprinkles on that, and they go beserk. The other day, my eldest had yoghurt with strawberry & caramel topping and sprinkles. Blergh. Given there is only 2 tablespoons of sugar per litre of yoghurt, I'm happy to add a little topping every now and then, but it goes down just as well with fruit puree or berry coulis or passionfruit or honey.



So here's how I make yoghurt in my EasyYo!
  • Bring 900ml of milk to the boil, then turn it off. Once its cool enough to go in the fridge, chill it. You need to bring the milk to the boil to do something to the proteins (don't ask me what, but if you don't then it doesn't turn into yoghurt, it turns into nasty slop). But you also need to chill it so the temperature is right in the machine.
  • Tip your milk into the EasyYo container. Add 1/4c of your previous yoghurt (or any yoghurt really), 1/2c milk powder (or more - the milk powder makes the yoghurt thicker), and 2 - 3 tablespoons sugar. None is a bit sharp for us, 4 is too sweet. 2-3 makes something I can sweeten for the kids or use in cooking (although if I'm deliberately making it for cooking I'll use less). Shake it all up in the container.  Fill up your EasyYo with boiling water as it says, chuck your container in and seal it up.
  • I think our best yoghurt is when I leave it for 8-9 hours. It is fine left up to 12 hours, but tastes stronger. Once its finished, put the whole container in the fridge and leave it - ideally for a day. It needs to set in the container - its much creamier and thicker if you do.
You could easily do this with another set up - the EasyYo just keeps it at the right temperature for the right period of time with no fuss.  I'm guestimating a little, but with the cost of milk here (I can get full cream at $3 for 2 litres), a litre of yoghurt is costing me around $1.75, I think, a little more for skim milk, and then whatever else I put on top.


Monday, September 08, 2014

Sunshine, orange quilts and rainbows....

Isn't it strange how it happens? No babies for ages, then suddenly all your friends are pregnant. 
 


So this is the start of some baby-crafting, to be shipped off to wee new humans in the next few months. Yes, that orange border is very bright. Yes, its not the most original nor complex quilt top anyone has ever dreamed up. But I do love how the animals seem to peep out at you. And its now quilted and looking quite nice - just the dreaded binding to do. The top is mostly scraps and hoarded fat quarters, which are nice to use up (and scrap wadding too!). The orange in the binding is from The Needlewoman, a beautiful shop on Liverpool Street, Hobart, which doesn't seem to have a website but is a delightful place to visit if you like fabric at all. Unfortunately I had F with me, so spent much of my time talking about looking rather than touching, and not crawling around on the floor busting up their displays, but it was still lovely (and they were very understanding and helpful).


Yesterday was fathers day, and we had a lovely one. It appears that when you are 5, Fathers Day ranks up there with the big annual celebrations. We had multiple handmade gifts, songs, special breakfasts, cake and special puddings. Mmm. My favourite was a rendition of B-I-N-G-O but with words altered to include D-A-D-D-Y. And to make room for all that deliciousness, an afternoon walk for me and F, and a run for B & S. It was a spectacular afternoon - that's Hobart city below, looking pretty gorgeous.
 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A little behind the times

I believe I've said this many times before on this blog, but one of the best things about moving house in winter is finding out whats in the garden come spring.

 

Behold, a wee banksia rose. Its on a very un-wee bush on our deck. In about 3 more days, the bush is going to be smothered with these tiny, delicate, lemon flowers. There are also fruit tree blossoms, who knows what sort yet - definitely apple (first flowers out today!) and maybe a stonefruit. Its definitely spring. Its sunny and warm and there is blossom and magnolias in bloom, and its clearly spring.

 Thus, I cast on a jumper. Hmmm. To be honest, given my current knitting rates of completion, I'm pretty safe that this won't be done until next winter.

Its a lovely pattern - Flowing Lines by Veera Välimäki ; they are Ravelry links. The yarn is (as almost always at the moment), Cascade 220. I bought it at a fabulous yarn shop here in Hobart called the Stash Cupboard, which is delightful and potentially debt-inducing.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Lemony

Recently my mum came to visit, replete with lemons. So I made a big jar of preserved lemons, a big jar of lemon curd (my most successful yet! So delicious). And some lemon slice. Now, I've never had much success with anything other than lemon cake - usually its all too eggy for my liking. Lemon delicious, lemon pudding, all of those. But I thought I'd give this one a try and I'm so glad -its scrumptious (although the kids won't eat it, so I've overindulged a little, I'm afraid).
 
If you have a surfeit of lemons, then I'd highly recommend it - its crispy on the bottom, soft and fluffy on top, and a lemon curd-y filling in between. And its super easy.
 
First, whiz up 100g plain flour, 35g icing sugar and 75g unsalted butter in an electric whizzer thing. It should look like dusty, fine breadcrumbs. Press it into a square tin (mine is 18cm), that you've lined with two strips of baking paper going crosswise that are quite long, so you can use the ends to lift the slice out of the tin. When you press it in, it'll seem like a disaster - it doesn't adhere at all. Don't fear - plonk it in the over at 180C for 12 - 15 minutes.
While that's happening, put 3 eggs, 275g caster sugar, and the grated zest of a lemon (I used  a very big lemon because apparently that's the only sort mum grows) in a bowl and mix with an electric beater or mixer. It'll go lovely and fluffy - start to pour in 150ml of lemon juice while you keep mixing. Watch out - it gets pretty liquid and splattery. Add in 50g plain flour (I just mixed it in with the beaters on low, it was a little messy but not too bad).
Tip this mix onto your base, plonk it back into the oven for 45 minutes (or less, in my case) until the top is set and a little crusty on the edges. Leave it to cool.
This is a nightmare to cut - the gooey lemon sticks to the knife. I'm sure if you were patient, you could rinse your knife each time, but if you're like me just hack away. The recipe has a photo with a slice of fig on the top of each piece. This is probably because as soon as you touch the top, the 'skin' (for want of a better word) adheres to your finger, leaving a hole. Personally, I don't care, and it'll keep better without fresh fruit on it.
Probably best eaten in the first day or two, but I've kept it in the fridge for a few days now and its fine (although better if you can plan ahead enough to take a piece out an hour or so before afternoon tea time so its not so cold).
 
Sorry, terrible photo. My food styling skills are abysmal. But you get the idea - goes well with a cup of tea.
 
 
 Gratuitous wattle picture, just because its yellow too. Seems like little signs of spring on the way!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weekenders

On the weekend, we took a drive to the Tasman Pensinsula. Its a very beautiful and rugged part of the Tasmanian coast - home to Port Arthur, one of the key convict settlements in Australia. We didn't go there, but stuck to the Neck (the little bit of land joining the peninsula to the mainland).
 
Tesselated pavement. You can see that the rock has formed very orderly squares. There was a great sign to explain how this happened (something to do with the rock, and geological movement, and salt crystals), but it was just spectacular. There were heaps of rockpools and we all had a great time exploring. The diversity of seaweed was amazing, from giant kelp to delicate sea lettuce.

 
During lunch I watched the cloud cycle around the top of this hill. Its not even particularly high, yet the cloud stayed there the whole day, just moving anticlockwise around the top
 



 Fossil Bay, near the blowhole (which wasn't up to much, unfortunately).

 The Devil's kitchen, which was our last stop and a suitably awe inspiring end to our little outing. You can't really tell how steep and deep it really was - I was too scared to hang my camera out over the fence much further!

B kept commenting that it felt like a mini-holiday - it definitely smelled like the coast and felt like we were on holiday. I haven't been to this area since I was in my teens (probably early teens I think). It wasn't at all what I remembered - sometimes much more dramatic and beautiful, sometimes smaller and less impressive.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Height of fashion

One loss in moving countries is houseplants. Just when you have grown them from cheap, tiny pots to lush, green monsters, you have to get rid of them and start again. Turns out that house plants (plants in general) are quite expensive in Australia, but I eventually found a punnet of six ferns at a garden centre for a reasonable price. Some have gone into pots for the less sunny rooms (one side of the house, with the bedrooms on it, gets no direct sunlight at all so its great for ferns and cyclamen and such). One got used for a terrarium experiment!
 
 
I'm sure you've seen these just about everywhere by now. I've always loved them, but thought they were a bit tricky. But then I kept seeing them, and came across a big jar at the op shop ($1.25! Thanks Salvos!) and took the plunge. I did some reading, then disregarded pretty much everything and decided it was pretty much just a big see through pot. The blue stones are a bit odd, but the only small bags of stones (less than 10 kg) at the garden centre were coloured, so in they went. Turns out, they kind of match some of the other stuff on the mantelpiece. The mantelpiece is probably the wrong place for it (too warm and dry thanks to the heater), however aesthetics are currently winning over pragmatics.

 It somehow has a vintage feel that seems to go with the period of the house (1940/50s), and I'm pretty happy with it. I'll keep you posted if it survives...