Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Works in progress

Last Thursday I showed you a bag I intended to knit for myself.  Now, often these projects are shelved soon after the initial rush of "Yeah!"  has dissipated.  However, as the dreaded virus has spread it's way through the family (including yours truly) I've spent a lot more time on the couch of late.  I'm not feeling great, but I can still knit!

I have nearly finished one side of the bag.  The instructions say to knit two sides the same, but I'm thinking one pretty side and one in garter stitch.  The pattern has slowed things down a little, and I haven't the patience at the moment to tackle another row chock full of bobbles!

It's amazing how the colours in these photos are so different!  The true colour is the first.  I try to use only natural light for pictures - only problem is the light is appalling at the moment!  I'm sure it hasn't been this cold and blustery in Melbourne for a long time.

I've also just finished a baby blanket.  It just needs some binding to make it all pretty and it's done.  This wool is a delight to knit - so soft!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Too much time on my hands...

I'm now officially going stir crazy.  A delightful chest infection has made it's way into our household.  The hardest hit is Im.  Although she's now on the mend (thanks for your kind thoughts readers!) she's still not her happy normal self.  On top of that, Luce still has to take things easy for another three weeks thanks to her broken arm.  NO PLAYGROUNDS  according to the doctor.  And it's hard because we live next to a park, and travel through it on our way to and from school.

Thank goodness for the library.
Thanks goodness for the TV.
Thank goodness Im doesn't start school until next year (never thought I'd see that in print!)  so there's a playmate on hand.
Thanks goodness for lego and playdough and crayons and food.

I've spent more time on-line this week than is my usual custom.  Here are some bits I've found - 

from Anthropologie (full of loveliness!)

Available here

I love the Sound of Music.  I remember my Aunt taking my cousin and I to the drive-in to see it.  Will somebody come with me?  Please?
On here

c 1950 Belle Heir - vintage clothing for babies and children.  Sweet!

I am woman, hear me roar*

I'm one of three girls born to parents who believed in our ability to achieve whatever we wanted.  My paternal grandmother, in her mid-teens, took herself off to outback NSW to work as a governess in order to earn money for her school fees.  Her father didn't believe in education for girls.  Her determination to be educated is admirable.  She went on to become a school teacher.  And she was thrilled her two sons shared her belief in equality of opportunity.

I was raised to believe girls in Australia could do anything.  Lovely sentiments, but a glance at Australian society suggests the opposite.  I don't want to begin a diatribe on the position of Australian women in the 21st century (because I really don't know what I'm talking about).  Right now I'm feeling quite emotional.  I didn't think the ascension of Julia Gillard to the Prime Ministership of Australia would mean a great deal to me (politics is not an area of interest for me!).  However, yesterday I looked at my children in a new light.  As importantly for my son as my daughters, they will grow up knowing both men and women can rise to positions of leadership and do the job equally.  I look forward to a day when the question of gender won't be a question at all - at issue will be how well the job is done. There's lots more I could say, but that would be going off on a tangent!

This is not a post about politics, it's a post about our society and where we are headed.  Whatever your politics, whatever your thoughts on the way it has happened - we have a female Prime Minister.  Australia has just grown up a little.

*thanks to Rosie for recently reminding me of the power of this song!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Something for myself

Perhaps ridiculously, I don't seem to spend much time making things for myself.  Last week I decided to knit myself some mitts from a lovely yarn from Bendigo Woollen Mills, in this green called bracken.

That's the colour up there in that teeny tiny box.  I whipped them up in no time and they felt lovely and made me feel good.  Tragedy struck last Friday.  They were sitting on my lap in the car.  I forgot they were there.  Now they are gone forever, lost in a carpark.  At a University.  So, some poor student has lucked upon a lovely pair of mitts to keep their hands warm through the cold winter.  *sigh*  I hope they are cherished!

Anyhow, I found this pattern on-line today.  I think I'll make it for myself.  It's harder to lose a bag isn't it??  I'll use the same green.  And if it's really nice, I'll go for a red one next.

Knitting pattern found here

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baking 101- scones

I've had a request to share some recipes.  I'm no gourmet cook, but we like to eat good food, generally prepared from scratch.  Time constraints mean we don't sit down to fancy meals that take hours!  And, of course the food has to pass the taste test for little people.  I like to expose them to a variety of cuisines (Middle-eastern and Mediterranean being their favourites) and have found it's best when the flavours are kept simple.

I've lots of philosophies regarding food, but I'll keep the rest to myself for now!

With a large and growing family, it is usually more economical to make things myself.  It's not always easy to find the time or inclination, but it does have several benefits.  I can eliminate additives (handy for the asthmatics in the family!), reduce packaging and ensure we get the freshest, tastiest food available.  It means when the cupboard seems bare, a batch of scones can be whipped up in 15-20 minutes.

I'm sure there are lots of different theories around scone-making.  I've deliberately steered clear of recipe books and the like and instead refer to the scone-making wisdom of my Mum and Nana.  Nana was a mean cook.  Her specialities included snowballs, sultana cake, chop suey (well, it was the 70s!), porcupines and Christmas Pudding.  She could not make edible scones.  My Mum, on the other hand, has set the scone standard for me.  My Mum is the Queen of scone makers.  Her advice, agreed upon by my Nana, is to barely work the dough.  Scones don't seem to enjoy a lot of kneading or handling.  

Today Mum came over for morning tea, and the cupboard was looking pretty bare.  So I made scones.  I always feel a little nervous serving scones to Mum, but she declared them good and took some home for later! So here's my/our basic recipe (with a couple of variations for today's batch).  It doesn't have to take too long, don't over-think it and enjoy the fruits of your labour!


2 cups self raising flour
2 teaspoons sugar
15 g butter
1 cup of milk (approx)


  • Preheat the oven to very hot (approx 220 degrees for fan-forced)
  • Sift flour and sugar into a bowl
  • Rub the butter into the flour (or - if you're not a purist - follow my husband's example and melt the butter and add it to the milk)
  • Stir in enough milk to mix to a soft sticky dough
  • Turn the dough onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle a little flour over the dough and onto your hands (helps stop everything sticking together)
  • Lightly work the dough to bring it together in a smooth lump (this should take about a minute) - don't fuss too much!
  • Press the dough out with your hand to 2-3 cm thick.
  • Feel free to cut it out any way you like.  I follow Mum's example and use a knife to cut it into roughly equal pieces.
  • I arrange the pieces on a tray lined with baking paper, leaving a little room between scones for expansion. 
  • Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk, pop the tray in the oven for 12-15 minutes and voila!  Scones - mmmm!

Today's variations saw the use of 1 cup of wholemeal flour (you can see the bran in the picture of the sifted flour above) and 1 cup of regular self-raising flour plus 3/4 cup of sultanas.  The wholemeal flour makes the scones heavier, but adds fibre to the diet of Im who still isn't eating much!

Final advice - whip them up quickly and with love.  They don't have to be perfect - rustic is good (and they don't last long anyway), and they smell and taste great fresh from the oven!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Baby it's cold outside


Cold morning, cold afternoon and cold evening.

And it's been a long slow day.  A nasty virus has taken over my little Im and she's sick and miserable.  Today she has refused to even get out of her PJs.  Sitting with her, taking things quietly, not moving around much.  The cold seems to be sneaking in around our ankles.

She doesn't want to eat, for the fifth day in a row.  I'm offering all sorts of ridiculous things to tempt her.  Last night's success was a pancake.  Well, it's better than nothing isn't it?  And I did make it with wholemeal flour.

It's a day for scarves and fluffy socks.  And this number - a woolly something to keep a little neck warm.

Squirt Baby chunky scarf and brown stretch denim a-line

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Market Report

I'm feeling weary. Two markets in a weekend - phew!

And in contrast to last weekend, it was a little quiet.

And wet!

I know we don't complain about rain here in Melbourne, but when one is at an outdoor market and it's drizzling during set-up, and rains on and off throughout the next four hours it's hard not to feel a little annoyed!  I was amazed at the number of folk who braved the weather to come to Shirt and Skirt yesterday.  And they came prepared.  Marv joined me as my 'market buddy' yesterday.  Her favourite umbrellas were the ones with big colourful flowers.  People were happy and chatty and, aside from the dampness, it was a good day.

Some of my neighbours at Shirt and Skirt had been neighbours the day before at Modish.  Dedicated bunch aren't we?!

Most of my gift buying is done at the markets.  This weekend was no exception.  Earrings, a necklace and cards were on my list and I was delighted to find the perfect items and deliver them to the recipients (this weekend also included a number of birthdays!).

So here's a couple of snaps from the weekend.  The peahens were strutting about as we were setting up at Shirt and Skirt.  Apparently they wander up from the Collingwood Children's Farm - unfazed by all the activity!

Squirt Baby

Cottage Nerd

Friday, June 18, 2010

June Bonanza continues this weekend

Don't forget the June Bonanza continues this weekend at 


on Sunday from 10-4 at Abbotsford Convent

Tops from $20.  Dresses and pants from $25.

And now to balance the score...Red

Confession - I have curly hair.
Today, however, I have straight hair, thanks to an hours effort by my hairdresser.  When my hair is straight the colour is much fairer than usual and apparently Im and I now look very similar. It feels strange - it moves and tickles and gets in the way.  I'm paranoid about any dampness in the air.  There are crinkly crimps in my hair already - any moment now I expect it to go BOING and return to its natural state.  In the meantime, I'm a different woman.  I feel like I'm going out and about in disguise.  I can imagine a Melbourne winter outfit.  Black.  Teamed with these shiny red accessories and a slash of vivid red lipstick.  Instead, I'm wearing green, my latest infatuation.

Red wellies (well, we know them as gumboots) from Joules Clothing

Oroton Metropolis Briefcase

Handmade loveliness from Cottage Nerd

And Marv, resplendent in her red linen Squirt Baby number.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I thought it was red...

For as long as I can remember my favourite colour has been red.  However, I have a sneaking suspicion I have a new love.  It hasn't replaced the old love.  I think, instead, there's a menage a trois happening.  Me, red and green.

Frankie & Ray neckscarf

Selection of green loveliness from my collection.

74 Lime Lane - there's nothing more to be said!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Market report

I was surprised by the number of people out and about in the chilly weekend weather.  Brave souls! 

My spot at the Sister's Market (directly opposite the front doors) affords me the opportunity to watch as folk stream in from Sydney Road.  It also exposes me to the vagaries of the weather.  Well, I don't get rained on, nor does the sun beat down upon my head, but when the cold winds blow, they blow straight into the foyer of the Town Hall!  I sure was glad to be home at the end of the day, out of the elements!  My Mum bravely took the kids (all four of them!) for Saturday night, since the MOTH and I were headed to Apollo Bay for the Winter Indoor Market, departing in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

We left home in the dark, and got home in the dark.  And yes, it was a long day - but a good one.  It's a nice way to check out some of the little halls that would normally be off-limits.  And the Mechanics Institute at Apollo Bay is lovely.  Stupidly I didn't take any photos!  The market opened at 10 and, just like Saturday, a steady stream of people flooded the market all day.  I didn't think there were that many people in Apollo Bay!  We've come home with local jam, green tomato pickles (a favourite in our house) and tomato sauce.  I think the sauce will go well with home-made sausage rolls.  We ate well with the on-site cafe (flour-less orange cake, home-made sausage rolls, spanakopita) and my neck is going to be warm with my new Frankie and Ray neckscarf (I've worn it and had positive comments already - apparently it enhances my complexion!).  Worth the drive - I'd like to be back one day as a stall-holder and a holiday-maker.

And that is the market report!

PS I'm having some issues finding the photos I've uploaded, so they'll have to wait for another post - sorry!

Enviro Ted

You can't begin too early when it comes to teaching children how to tread lightly on this planet of ours.  We are far from perfect, but we do our best to reduce, re-use and recycle where possible.

This year Im is at 4 year old kinder.  She has a fabulous teacher who, aside her many talents, is teaching the children about the environment.  The kids have a veggie patch, courtesy of a grant from one of the large supermarket chains (well, they have to be good for something!) and now we have "Enviro Ted".  Enviro Ted is a teddy bear.  The children take turns to have Enviro Ted at home for a week, and take pictures of him doing good stuff. He was actually due to go home with another child, but circumstances have instead seen him come home with us.  Well, we got off to a great start since we were on our bikes that day, rather than using the car.  Phew!

Enviro Ted has been helping with the compost (the bin was bought by my Nana, probably in the 1980s - it's lasted well!), pulling up beetroot from our garden for dinner and playing tea-parties instead of watching TV.

And these rather delicious scones were whipped up by Mate, aged 9, for his grandparents for afternoon tea.

P.S. The beetroot were absolutely fantastic - steamed then baked.  Perfect accompaniment to lamb shanks with polenta on a cold winter's night.  Oh, and Mate also made apple (apples from the in-laws garden) and rhubarb (from our garden) crumble.  I think tonight he's making lemon sorbet (lemons from the garden of a friend) in the new ice-cream maker.  Anyone feeling hungry right now??

Friday, June 11, 2010

June Bonanza

June was going to be a quiet month.  

But then, the market bookings mushroomed!

Here's my next two weekends, neatly summarised thus - 

Saturday 12 June - Sister's Market

Sunday 13 June - Winter Indoor Market, Apollo Bay

Saturday 19 June - Modish Market

Sunday 20 June - Shirt and Skirt Market

  Oh, and the "Bonanza" part?

I'm feeling silly, so there's going to be a sale!  I've been knitting and sewing a bit.  Now, the knitwear won't be on sale, but just about everything else is.  A bit of winter cheer as we plunge headlong into this cooler weather.  First in, exceptionally well-dressed!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

100% Australian Goodness

I wonder if you're like me.  You finally decide what you want, place the order and then start tapping your fingers impatiently waiting for it to arrive.  The time between ordering and arrival seems to go very slowly, a whole day or two passes by!  Or, if like me, you're silly enough to order in the latter part of the week, the weekend days provide additional torture.

After a shopping trip to buy new runners for Im we found a large parcel waiting on the doorstep. A bag of delicious, 100% Australian Wool from Bendigo for me to knit up into beanies.  Colours to complement the cardigans knitted by Mum, and colours for the boys (I'm thinking stripes here).  Gotta go, I've got some balls of wool to fondle!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


An email exchange with Jo of Frankie and Ray has prompted me to share one of my favourite soup recipes.  Tuesday nights usually see me flying solo with the kids.  To make life a little easier I cook child-friendly meals such as pasta or chicken dippers (a recipe to share at some point!).  This soup is another of those meals.  It's smooth, tasty and easy to eat.  And, there are opportunities for the little ones to help.  So without further ado here's the recipe for Chicken, Leek and Oat Soup (from The Age "Good Weekend" magazine).

Chicken, Leek and Oat Soup

About 50 g butter
2 leeks, pale parts only, washed and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 litres chicken stock (see recipe below)
Shredded meat from a cooked chook (as much or as little as you prefer)
100g rolled oats

  1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan and gently saute the leeks, carrots and celery until very soft but not brown.  The longer and slower you do this the better your soup will be.
  2. Add the stock and oats and cook until the oats are softened (10-20 minutes)
  3. Boil the soup rapidly for a few minutes to emulsify the butter.  Season, add the chicken and parsley and simmer a few minutes before serving.

Poached chicken stock
The quantities of water, heat and chicken are important.  Bigger chooks take longer and may need more water.  Make sure the chicken stays in the water for at least an hour after the heat is turned off.

4 litres water
1 tablespoon salt
top ends of 2 leeks, well washed
1 whole no 16 chicken

  1. Into a very large saucepan add water, salt and leeks.
  2. Simmer for 10 minutes (add in a carrot and parsley stalks if you have them).
  3. Add the chicken and bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Put the lid on, turn off the heat and let the chicken cook in the stock for at least an hour.
  5. Strain the stock before use.