Thursday, 14 May 2015

in the garden

Joining in with Soulemama. A little weekly update on how my garden is progressing.

The peas are starting to do well out there. I've got so many different varieties this year. Some of the plants took a battering in the flood rain though, and didn't make it through.

I'll hopefully get around to doing a little replanting this weekend and finally pull out the last of the summer basil and beans to make way for more cabbages and broccoli. Some of the lettuces are finishing up and also need replanting.

I love this time of year for greens. The cool weather is finally kicking in, which means cos lettuces finally start to grow nicely and the spinaches and kales really start to come into their own.

Most of the strawberries survived the replant (only a couple didn't), which will hopefully mean lots of tasty berries in a few months time. I know I have a few little garden helpers who are counting down the minutes until we can start harvesting those. Gardens are always a good lesson in patience and acceptance don't you think?

Monday, 11 May 2015

our weekly bread

Bread making has become a bit of a ritual in this house. It all started maybe 5 years ago when I picked up a second hand bread maker at a local church fete for the grand total of $5. Yep, you read that right, $5. That's got to be hard to beat, right?

Gosh I made a lot of bread with that little breadmaker. I really did get my $5 worth out it!! Sadly my first breadmaker has long since died (I did finally replace it!) but it started something in me that has really stuck.

You see, once you start having home baked bread, it's a little bit addictive and hard to give up. A crispy crust straight out of the oven with a smear of butter and vegemite? Food of the gods I tell you. Heavenly!

These days I've fallen into a little bit of a routine with my breadmaking. I normally bake on a day when I'm not chasing children around too much (ie home days without too many activities) and my preference is to let the breadmaker do the mixing for me and to roll/shape it out and bake it in the oven.

Really the time it takes me is minimal. I have a few failsafe recipes I've worked out so just chuck all the ingredients in the breadmaker, set it to dough and it mixes and proves it perfectly for me. When it beeps, I roll it out/shape it how I like, leave it covered on the verandah (or by the fire in wintertime) to rise once again then chuck it in a hot oven until it's golden and crispy.

I usually do it while multitasking something else like making dinner, hanging out washing, folding up, feeding children, cleaning or whatever else I'm doing at the time!

If I'm really pressed for time I'll cook the loaf straight in the bread maker. It's still delicious but not quite as good as done the other way.

My staple loaf is a multigrain sandwich loaf. I love to mix the grains myself and experiment with different seeds and flours. One day it might be covered in sunflowers and pepitas, the next a heavier linseed/grainy loaf or perhaps one made from spelt and quinoa. I just let my mood dictate what the day's loaf will be!

I suspect with the huge amounts of pumpkins starting to come in from the orchard again that pumpkin bread will be back on the menu again soon as well!

It truly is one of the most satisfying things I make in the kitchen. Pulling a gorgeous loaf out the oven never gets old. Neither does the smell. Nothing quite like the smell of bread baking!

The kid's favourite is my sultana loaf, which I'll make now and again for breakfast, or my ham and cheese scrolls.

So what's my favourite? At the moment, I'd say focaccia! My husband and I both really love it. Sprinkled in sea salt and fresh picked rosemary from the garden and a healthy drizzle of olive oil, it's hard to beat.

A fast bread to make, but so delicious!

Do you bake bread? Want to bake bread? Tell me, what's your favourite loaf?

Thursday, 7 May 2015

a twirly skirt

So it seems twirling is still very big around these parts. Oh, and all things pink. Let's not forget the pink. If it's pink and it twirls, all the better.

There have been many requests for twirling skirts and dresses. More practical or necessary things always seem to get bumped up the sewing list though. Or if I'm being completely honest, things that I like to sew that are more to my own taste are usually a higher priority.

That is until last night when I just said, "Enough Virginia! Just make a twirly skirt already!"

There was no pattern for this. I just started cutting strips of fabric at about 9pm and then started sewing and gathering, gathering, gathering. The bottom tier of the skirt is more than 5 yards long. Yep, it took a little while to gather up that one.

But, you know, the skirt really needs to twirl.

Mental note to self: It must be about time to dig out the ruffling foot that came with the sewing machine. It would have made this much faster! 

It's mostly pink (which ticks off one of the necessary criteria), with a little splash of turquoise (Sarah Jane- Just Stay Little). I really love that fabric... is it really out of print?

I sewed some little ballerina cotton ribbon onto one of the ruffles, which should hopefully make a little dancer happy as well.

So, of course, the big pressing question.... Does the skirt twirl?

I'm told it's a big Y to the E.S! A double thumbs up.

Who knew twirling until you fall down could bring so much joy?

Come to think of it, there are a few more little dancers in my life that probably need one of these as well.
Really now, it might be time to just embrace the pink. Embrace the twirls.

Yep, I have a feeling there could be a few more of these twirly skirts in my future.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

sunshine on a rainy day

So what does one do after being flooded in from enormous amounts of rain?

Have a party of course!

Lots of rainbow colour on a cloudy day makes everything brighter. Oh and pinatas. Lots of pinatas.

Yep, we definitely found a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

the autumn garden

Oh the rain!

The sky really let us have it over the weekend with hundreds of millimetres falling over a few hours.

Most of the bridges flooded and many locals were stuck in their homes for a while. The water's starting to go down now, but everything looks like it's taken a bit of a battering!

I had just managed to get my garden planted up before the crazy storm hit. It's mostly ready for the cold season ahead. I'm a little behind, but better late than never right?

The rain once again made me grateful for my raised beds and the drainage they create. Everything fared pretty well considering the pounding it took. And my paddocks might be a boggy mess, but my garden isn't!

So far I'm having my "bug-iest" start to autumn ever. Some type of unknown big brown (what I think might be a moth?) caterpillar has been devouring just about everything. I've also had a return of cutworms again as well. The snails and slugs have been building up over the wet summer we've had and I'm picking them off like crazy every time I go out there.

I really hope the bugs settle down soon, or I may not end up with much to eat out there. Hopefully the cooler weather will slow them down a bit!

The chrysanthemums are blooming like crazy out there. It's lovely to see all that colour. The bees are enjoying it too.

There are just a couple of things left finishing up from summer. Some beans and the basil. The beans are just about ready to pull up, but I was hoping for a few last stragglers before it gets too cold for them.
I've just finished replanting the strawberries. It's always such a big job, and I don't love it, but you really are rewarded for getting it done. I've collected the new runners from the old plants- just concentrating on my 2 favourite varieties this year. Spacing them out with some fresh manure and compost should hopefully give us plenty of fruit in a few months time.

The new plantings for autumn are spinach (third times the charm right?), rainbow chard, perpetual spinach, 3 types of kale, broccoli, purple/red cabbages, carrots, beetroots, radishes, 4 different types of peas, garlic, leeks, shallots, spring onions, some red onions and plenty of herbs. I want to plant some more broccoli and cabbages, but they'll have to wait a few more weeks.

I just went back to see how that compared to this time last year. Goodness, I was definitely better organised last year wasn't I?!

Oh well, at least the plants are mostly in and I can watch it grow for a while now. Until then, I've got plenty of pretty flowers.

How are your gardens going? Are they all planted up for the new season ahead?

Sunday, 26 April 2015

wrapping up kids clothes week

Wow, it's been a big week. I am t.i.r.e.d. I've never done a Kids Clothes Week before, but it's actually been a lot of fun. I even managed to get quite a bit done.

These are the last things I made in the week. Two little pairs of corduroy overalls for my baby boy. I love overalls on little toddling boys. Especially as they pick up their toy cars and their building blocks. They're just so cute.

I've made this pattern so many times now I've actually lost count. It's Burda 9772, although I do change it up a bit. Pockets are always fun to add (to put trains and other goodies in) along with some cute trim up the top.

I tend to get a bit snap happy with it, with my mega industrial snap press. I reckon the more snaps the merrier! So they're all the way up the legs, to make nappy changes easier. There are also some adjustable snaps on the braces, so you can let them down as they grow.

They're really soft and warm for wintertime and my little boy loves to point to the "choo choos" on the front.

It's been a fun week, although I did sew for more than an hour a day. Sometimes when I start doing something I find it hard to put down. I really didn't manage to follow along with the "Wild" theme of the week, but I did get things made that my children needed. What's not to be happy about that?

So that's my KCW done and dusted. Yawwwwn! 

I am really looking forward to an early night to bed tonight, to get a bit of shut eye!

Saturday, 25 April 2015

oliver + s puppet show dress

Oh the puppet show, quite possibly my very favourite Oliver + S pattern ever!

The one that started my love affair with O+S patterns. I spent a few months trying to track down this paper pattern when my little girl was first born, and I am so pleased I did. I really adore this design so much. It looks so cute on little girls and on little babies.

I loved this one I made a few years ago, so much.

This new puppet show has been a labour of love. I'm not going to lie, it took a bit of time. I have been working on it throughout the whole of Kids Clothes Week, while working on other things. I definitely sewed for more than the recommended 1 hour per day! I'm really pleased to have it finished. It's a special occasion puppet show for an upcoming party.

This is made in a size 4 and is a perfect fit for her at the moment. I did lengthen it by about 2 inches. She's a tall one my girl.

I was pretty inspired by the Frances Suzanne version I spotted here. I swoon over everything they make. Ahh the piping and liberty. So, so pretty!

My version was made up using some broderie anglaise (eyelet style) fabric that I bought years ago. I made my own piping, with some Sarah Jane fabric. I even made my own piping cord (a total first for me), out of some cotton string I had on hand and I was amazed when it actually worked out OK. I used this method here, and I would totally do it again if I was making piping. I always have cheap $1 balls of cotton string on hand, so it's pretty much perfect.

The broderie anglaise was a bit of a bear to work with. Totally sheer and needed to be underlined. I used a cotton voile in an ivory colour to underline the whole dress. I basted the two fabrics together before sewing and sewed them as one fabric. It was pretty slippery and the fabrics moved a bit, but I got there in the end.  I used the Sarah Jane fabric again for the bodice lining and hem facings.  

The pink buttons were added as a pretty pop of colour, so my daughter would actually want to wear the dress. She was a little uncertain until the buttons went on, but once she saw those, she was completely won over. Thank goodness for pink buttons. It was looking a little hairy there for a while.

So what's in the inside of the dress like?

Previously when I've made this pattern, I machine stitched and top stitched the whole thing. This time I took the opposite approach. All of the linings and hem facing were sewn in by hand.

I'm pleased with the end result, although I expect it to stay clean for exactly 2 seconds. Hopefully I'll get at least one photo of her in it before it's covered in cake!

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