Thursday, July 28, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

In the usual Thursday manner I am joining Like Mother, Like Daughter in finding contentment in everyday life.


Little girls vintage dresses. 
I found these at my favourite op-shop last week when I took my Mum for a looksee. 

I didn't know if I should actually put these under "Funny" because just last week I commented on Ivy Nest that I had never found any vintage children's clothes in my travels:) 

There were actually four vintage dresses on the $2 rack.  Yes, the $2 rack!  But, try as I might I could not 'like' the remaining one.  It was very short and very wide.  It just looked wrong.  But, it was gingham and I do so love gingham.  Ah well, perhaps someone else will have a little girl it will look a picture on.

This is definitely my favourite.  The label says size 1 but I have held it up to Ginger who wears size 1 clothing, and this is much bigger.


I finally finished my lap quilt.  It has been in the WIP pile for over a year. 

I have had a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the project actually completed.
There was no-one to hold it while I took a photo so I had to resort to pegging it on the line.
The pieces don't exactly line-up and there were mistakes in the pattern which caused me untold annoyance, but it is done.

I learn something new each time I make a quilt.  This time chain piecing.

I have had the chance to snuggle under it for a few chilly nights now, and that is really all that matters.

Again, this could have gone in the funny category.  That backing is two single sheets I bought from the thrift shop - a much cheaper way to back quilts - but it was labelled as a double sheet.  I undid the package and spread it on the floor to see whether it was wide enough for the backing and, lo, it was two single sheets sewn together!


Up on my header you may have seen the Steiner doll I made for Ginger for her birthday.  She has become very attached to it of late and now sleeps with it.

But, since her Daddy has been out field the last few weeks her attachment has grown out of all proportion - the doll has joined us at dinner, in the garden and at the shops.

While she is very contented with the arrangement, I have been terrified that 'Big Bertha" is going to get filthy and I won't be able to wash her.  The incident in the garden on Monday where Ginger shovelled dirt on her didn't really help, nor did the incident Tuesday where she shoved dolly's head in a glass.

I decided it was time for action so I started a new dolly for her while she had a nap.  I got the head size a little wrong.

My Mum suggested she take Ginger for a walk for an hour so I could at least get the head done while I had the original doll for comparison.  I also took the opportunity to reopen her original doll and restuff it while she was out.  She hasn't blinked an eyelid at "Big Bertha's" increased girth so I think my chances of the new doll being accepted are reasonable.

I got the head the right size this time but I could not get the face right.  It looks rather like Bertha (2) has just had her wisdom teeth out and has a very swollen right jaw. 

I doubt Ginger will notice.

I will swap the dolls over while Ginger sleeps tonight.  Then I just have to surreptitiously wash, dry and replace Bertha (1).

Our church has no creche so usually DH and I take turns taking Ginger outside during the service.  It is very rare that we actually hear a sermon.

But last Sunday, our lovely story-telling leader was on sunday school assistant duty and said she would take Ginger out for a while.

Ginger apparently enjoyed herself because she stayed out until communion.  Quite an achievement for a little one who cries every time I leave the house without her.

She came back complete with art work and rather dirty stockings.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recipe: Braised leek and cabbage salad with poached eggs and roasted kipflers

We have so many leeks in our vegetable patch at the moment, that to make an indent on them the other evening I made this take on a Australian Women's Weekly Recipe (Cook, p. 339 if you have access to witlof cabbages and want the original).  I would say however, that unless you have access to homegrown leeks you might find this a pricy meal!  Leeks retail around $2 each here.

Serves 2

500g kipfler potatoes, halved lengthways
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
cooking oil spray
1/2 tbsp olive oil
10 baby leeks, trimmed to 15cm in length
300g white cabbage
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 tsp white sugar
4 eggs

Creamy Chive Dressing
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1/3 cream
good handful of chives (the original recipe uses chervil)

1.  Preheat oven to moderately hot (180C fan forced)
2.  Make dressing by combining ingredients in a screw-top jar, shake well.
3.  Toss potato with salt, pepper and garlic in baking dish; coat lightly with spray.  Roast uncovered, about 50 minutes or until tender and crisp.
4.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a flameproof baking dish cook leeks and cabbage 1 minute.  Add wine, stock and sugar; bring to the boil.  Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes.  Cover tightly, bake in oven for last 20 minutes of potato cooking time.
5.  Poach eggs using your favourite method.  Drain on absorbent paper when cooked.  We have a snazzy old-fashioned egg poacher which produces perfect eggs everytime.  I wouldn't dare advise how to poach eggs freehand:)
6.  Divide potato and cabbage between plates; top with leeks and two eggs each drizzle with dressing.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I know they say you should sing to children but....

This morning Ginger was playing with her merry-go round rabbit toy.  We had this out in the main living area for months and she showed no interest in it.  Then I put it back in the spare room; and suddenly its her favourite toy!

Sorry about the light here, but it was super early.
Anyway, as it was spinning it struck me that I should sing her a rabbit song.  So I launched into the WWII classic "Run, Rabbit" only to realise that the entire song is about rabbit hunting.  Hardly apropriate for a 15 month old. I sort of stopped singing after the first two lines.

Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run.
Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run.
Bang, bang, bang, bang, goes the farmer’s gun
Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run
Run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run.
Don’t give the farmer his fun, fun, fun.
He’ll get by without his rabbit pie,
So run, rabbit, run, rabbit, run, run, run.

I really need to think about some more appropriate song choices.  I should have stuck with Little Peter Rabbit. 

The plus side of a 5am baby call is to see all God's glory in a beautiful sunrise like this.

Have a lovely Sunday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Elsa Beskow book giveaway

There is a truly marvelous book giveaway going on at Jump Into A Book.  A chance to win 19 of Elsa Beskow books. 

You may remember my post here about the damaged copy of Peter's Old House I picked up at a book fair.  Despite the scribbles, the illustrations are gorgeous.

All you have to do for a chance to win is subscribe to the blog.

Enter before July 31st for your chance to win.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life


I had some luck thrifting yesterday.  The Salvos had their plates on special for 50c each.  I picked up the top plate for a fruit plate for Ginger and I to use for morning tea, and six of the rose plates.  The rose plates are to go in our caravan.  Um, that would be the caravan we don't actually own yet.  Because we are planning to buy an old, though not sufficiently old to be retro, actually the sort of late 70s / early 80s bad taste old caravan; DH gave me carte blanche to embrace my inner kitsch.  So fun!


A lovely old picture book picked up for a matter of cents....I think this would meet Auntie Leila's criteria for a suitable reading book - wide spaced text and simple pictures!  I know we have a while yet before Ginger starts to read, but when collecting secondhand one can never start too early:) 

A refrigerator pyrex dish I have been searching for for ages.  I saw one a couple of years ago on Beauty that Moves and have been on the hunt ever since.  This is the first time I had seen one for a reasonable price - $2 at St Vinnies.


Now, the reason for my thrifting adventure!  With mum staying because DH is on exercise, she offered to look after Ginger for me while I went for an overlocker (serger) lesson and checked out some of the charity shops. 

I bought my overlocker off ebay 2 years ago, it was my birthday present.  We arrived here and I tried using it, concluded it wasn't working properly and put it in for repair at our local sewing shop.  I got it home again, failed once again to make it operate and decided I needed lessons.  Cue, yesterday's trip to town to the local sewing shop.  In preparation for the lesson, I made a start on the bloomers (above) for ginger so that I could get advice on how to overlock the seams. Only, when my instructor tried using my machine she had the same problem as I did with the needle hitting the shaft - something I had just concluded was the result of my own incompetence.  Consequently, my machine is back in for repair, my lesson is postponed and I got more time for thrifting.

I thought this was a tiffen.  My Mum thinks it is a pudding steamer.  What, dear reader, do you think it is?


 Ginger's full cream milk was going out of date so I wanted to use it up.  Consquently, Ginger and I made cheese muffins this morning.  She loves to help - even if it means eating the raw mixture.

These are so simple.  1 cup self-raising flour, 1 cup grated cheese and 1 cup milk.  Add anything else you want - I added paprika and chives.  Mix and pop in muffin tins.  Bake in a moderate oven for about 25 minutes.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Productivity Curse

Do you ever feel it?  The need to always be doing.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately - the pull for me to be 'productive'. 

When did hobbies become must-dos?  Duties that must be performed - the appeal gone, replaced by obligation.  Is it the pull of our belongings?  For me, it is all those craft supplies whose existence in my life must be justified by their use.

Bloomers in progress for Ginger
When did my evenings become as busy as my days?  My catch up time for all the things I didn't get done.

I think part of the drive has been becoming a homemaker.  When I was in fulltime work I would spend many an evening (and, indeed, some of the workday - policy work is either frenetic or non-existent) reading blogs and dreaming of the days I would stay home with our children and fashion a home.  I envisaged much crafting and even bought supplies in anticipation of the fact.

A quilt waiting for me to get around to sewing the binding on.
Once Ginger arrived the realities of childcare hit me - there are not all the hours in the day I hoped for.  I often read blogs (well, hum, there goes part of the day) and marvel at the 'production' of others.  I question myself.  What am I not doing right that they can do and make and sew all that they do, while I feel like I have had a good day if the washing is hung, the kitchen is clean and dinner is served?

Perhaps it is this season of life.  Ginger's needs so drive my day that often there is not the space - mental or physical for me to do all I wish.  And yet, I want to.  So much so that I think I have lost something along the way in this drive to produce - joy in just being.  Stillness with the good book or, indeed, any good book.

Do you remember as a child when time seemed endless?  When a weekend could seem like it stretched forever?  Their was no need to be doing all the time.  Hours of contentment could be found lying on my back on the trampoline, or reading on top of the monkey bars or curled up in a lounge chair.

Yet another WIP - a cardigan for Ginger.

Now, having idle hands feels like a guilty pleasure. But, I think it is a necessary part of a healthy life - balance in all things.
As I am conciously working to create a better rhythm for our days I am seeking to find a time to recreate that stillness.  I think an early start before the rest of the family rises will be the best time.  It is quiet then, the perfect time to curl up and turn inward or, indeed, upward.

When do you find stillness in your days?

Monday, July 18, 2011

In our hands...

Have you ever noticed how in old fashioned detective stories (particularly in the stories of that great doyenne of crime, Agatha Christie) crimes are often solved based on the condition of a person's hands?  Huh, our determined detective reveals, it is not the heiress who has been killed but the servant girl - those hands have been working hard.

Today I really noticed the condition of my hands:
the abrasions say I have been scrubbing cloth nappies in cold weather;
the nick on my thumb says I lost concentration when cutting up salad;
and the scrapes on my fingers say I should have stopped grating that carrot before I did!

Ginger's tell their own story too: dirt under the nails that no amount of scrubbing will get out - she has been gardening!

So, what do your hands say about you?

Friday, July 15, 2011

On My Mind: Chewy Health Slice

Joining Rhonda in sharing what has been on my mind.

Earlier in the week Katy of The Non-Consumer Advocate asked for a muslie bar recipe.  So, when I did the grocery shopping yesterday I grabbed the extra ingredients I needed to make up my favourite recipe - ALDI was out of dried apricots so I had to do an extra stop at Woolworths:)  Incidentally, ALDI has put up its price quite significantly on dried apricots - is this the same the world over?  There was even a sign explaining that a shortage of apricots meant regretably there had to be a price rise!

My recipe comes from my Mum's old copy of Mouthwatering Meatless Meals - a World Vision fundraiser. 

It is yummy!

1 cup wholemeal self raising flour
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
125g butter or margarine
2 dspn golden syrup ( I know this is hard to get in the US, perhaps molasses or maple syrup could be substituted)
vanilla essence or extract

Melt butter and golden syrup.  Add to dry ingredients.  Mix thoroughly.  Press into flat tin.  Bake in moderate over for 20 minutes.

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life

I have been sewing this week.


A pink gingham dress I made for Ginger over the weekend.  I love gingham; it looks so fresh and summery.  It used to drive my grandmother nuts when I was little when I wanted all my dolls clothes made out of gingham; she taught so many children to sew on gingham when she was a teacher that she couldn't stand it;)  Now I am an adult I can indulge my love.


A pinafore for Ginger made in just one nap time.  I used the pattern from this blog.  And I am so happy to have used up some of my fabric stash - the pink is a leftover thrifted double sheet from a quilt back.  Only problem is that Ginger had taken exception to the pinny and since it is open at the back is just pulling it off - I am thinking I might add a strap that will button it closed. 


I have been urged by DH to reduce my fabric stash (I think it would actually pale in comparison to most sewers - but this is a small house).  I bought this fabric last christmas for napkins but never ended up making them.  Knowing it would be a quick job, this week I grabbed out the fabric and a couple of Ginger's naps later they are finished.

I made two in each fabric, that way I can always add new patterns later if we host a big Christmas dinner.

Christmas in July anyone?


Are you like me and constantly losing your sewing scissors?  I have finally implemented my best friend's suggestion and tied them onto my knitting bag.  Hopefully this should reduce the number of times Ginger emerges from the loungeroom with scissors in her hand; this is a chronic problem after her nap as I never seem to put them far enough back on the table to avoid her reach.

I have also been looking at some of our fairy story and nursery rhyme collections following Aunt Leila's suggestion earlier in the week.  Ginger is a little young but we have had success the last two days reading The Three Bears while she has been eating her morning tea.  The nursery rhyme book dates from my Mum's early teaching days - she taught year one for 40 years and this has her maiden name in it.

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny's yarn along.

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

Still working on my simple baby knit.  I was slightly set back because my left front was so bumpy and holey in comparison to my right front that I decided to embrace my inner perfectionist and re-knit it.  Fortunately, I have the evenings to myself at the moment because DH is out field so am making quicker progress than usual.  Mum arrives tomorrow so I will probably slow again:)

I am reading Brick Lane which is an interesting insight into Bangladeshi immigrant life in Britain.  It has been on my to read least for years - it is on the Gilmore Girls book club list that has been in my handbag now for 7 years!  It is a good mix of classics and modern favourites and slowly but surely I am making my way down it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Too Much To Do Lists

"There are people who never make lists, relying upon their memories or upon their friends' reminders; there are people who do make lists, but grudgingly and without relish, as a means to an end, like a Puritan making love; and there are people to whom making lists is an end in itself, a pure, abstract and never-failing delight." Jan Struther - in Try Anything Twice
Are you a list maker?  I am.  I have a long term job list that gets transferred over time to my to-do list.

But, over the last few weeks I have had pause for thought over my list-making habits.  It all started with this post on to-do lists on Mommy Coddle.  Molly revealed how she has learnt to "keep my to-do list extremely short. Because it will fill itself up on its own, even if I haven't written everything down.  And so each day I confine my to-do list to three. Usually, these are the three tasks that are really nagging on me. "  The three tasks are her priority and the remaining jobs either happen on automatic, or because there is a glaring reminder.  Like, my two huge washing baskets of folded laundry that need to be put away.

I have tried Molly's method with great success.  I have, in the past, tended to make my to-do lists impossibly long, with grand sweeping tasks like "do tax".  This tasks is much better broken down to its elements.  Like "collect paperwork", "follow up x" (inevitable isn't it?), "make tax appointment" etc.  But, what of the 3 item list?  I tell you, it is so freeing.  Yesterday my 3 item list consisted of: write thank you for book, polish shoes and finish christmas napkins.  They were all done, mostly because they only took a matter of minutes.  I was flushed with accomplishment.  No need to put the laundry loads on the list - I walk past the basket, the floor that needs to be vacuumed - the dust bunny's are ample reminders and the floor where Ginger dropped her half eaten grapes - I stick to it.  Those tasks all get done because they are in my face anyway.

So, what sort of to-do list maker are you?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Here we come....

Well while technical issues mean the posting order site is still down DH was able to find out where we are off to.

Lets see.....

...a population of 120,000
....crocodile stories dominate its daily newspaper is officially in the "outback" has two seasons - wet and dry; both of which mean 'hot' is a long, long way from anywhere is in a territory, not a state
..we hear groceries and medical services are horrendously expensive
...fireworks are unregulated - the only part of Australia where they are
...there is a huge defence presence

Any clues yet?

Yes, Darwin here we come!

At least I know not to bother getting Ginger any winter clothes in the next size up:)

I think I need to hit up Posie Patchwork for advice.

Blog Wrap

While I twiddle my thumbs and wait for DH to call with our posting order, here are some articles I have enjoyed over the past couple of weeks....

From ROTH contributor Lacey Grimm Organising for a Better Rhythm
Two articles on The Parenting Passageway for creating meaningful work for toddlers...part one and part two.
An introduction to a new, potentially very useful, blog from Little Jenny Wren.
From the folks at Simply Charlotte Mason - an interesting read on Charlotte Mason's view on creating Smooth and Easy Days.
A book about Conveying Justice in an Unjust World - I am inspired to read this book.
A great vintage printable alphabet .

Friday, July 8, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter for this weekly celebration of the ordinary.


DH went to the produce markets before church on Sunday.  He came back with pink Gerbras.  So pretty.


Ginger has discovered gardening.  No plant's roots are sacred.  Here she is digging up the coriander.  Why happy?  Because, this is something she can 'help' her Daddy with - valuable father-daughter bonding time.  She is keen and raring to bet let loose on the main vegetable patch.


You can buy toys, but ultimately it's the pegs that hold most appeal!


I had just spent last week commenting to DH that with posting orders coming out soon, it was once again time to clean out the pantry.  Then, on Friday our neighbours who were moving back to the UK, called round to drop off all their condiments, baking goods and spices.  So, we now have two families worth of goods to use up!  I foresee much shortbread in our future, as one of the full packets was rice flour - and I know no other use for it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Unplugged Sunday

DH and I have noticed a phenomenon about ourselves - ultimately much of our time is spent in the pursuit of good food.  When we reminisce about our overseas adventures much of our focus is on meals eaten - that spicy goulash in Dresden, curries at the Civil Service Club in Singapore (incidentally my in-laws are moving back to Singapore so I forsee many Civil Service Club curries for us in the next couple of years), felafel in Egypt, and that really good hot chocolate in Munich (should you ever go - it was at a bakery next to the entrance to Nymphenburg Palace). 
When we look back on our previous postings and talk about where we would go back to, again the issue of where we would eat comes up.  Malaysian at Mamak in Sydney, lamb shanks at the Athenian restaurant (also Sydney), noodle soup at Noodle Kingdom and pasta at Pelligrini's in Melbourne.  We have hardly eaten out at all this posting because dining out with a toddler is just not worth the money or effort.

It is probably not surprising then that when we have time to cook on the weekend we go to town.  Unplugged sunday is allowing us this luxury.  Essentially slow food, lovingly prepared together.

This weekend we did The Hairy Bikers South American Chilli Con Carne (recipe here) - my changes: black eyed beans instead of kidney beans, 2 red capsicums (peppers) instead of one red, one green and I cut the chilli down so that Ginger could eat it.  It was really good fresh, reheated the next day and, yesterday for lunch on rolls with avocado.

Some meals just do not photograph well!

While I made dinner DH got on with shortbread - his second batch for the week; fortunately he took the first batch to work to share and I took half of this batch next door to our Laotian neighbour to say thank you for some freshly made spring rolls she had dropped round.

Also in the works was an apple and rhubarb pie.  Again, DH's handiwork.

All in all, a hearty winter feast.  Warming to body and soul. 

Another successful unplugged Sunday.

Day Trip to Esk

Well, I had good intentions for posting every day this week.  But, clearly that hasn't happened.  Monday did not exactly go according to plan as Ginger woke very early from her nap when our neighbour called round to ask if we wanted to some fans they had to get rid of (incidentally, the street feels so empty now they have gone), and then we had double trips into Toowoomba. 

I went in to take our spare car key to the smash repairers (remember that little  - or maybe not so little - ding from the carport I told you about) so DH could drop off our car Tuesday morning on his way to work.  Only I drove right the way to the smash repairers and realised I had left the labelled envelope with the key in it sitting on the sideboard at home.  Having put it in a really obvious place where I wouldn't forget it - humph.  So back out we came picked up the key and a milk arrowroot biscuit for Ginger to keep her quiet in the car for the other hour of shuttling we had to do and went right back in again.

Anyway, so back to what I had intended to post about Monday....our saturday trip to Esk.  Having happily set off on our adventure with packed lunch etc, we discovered that the road between Toowoomba and Esk was closed for maintenance.  After much nashing of teeth we decided to go anyway but take an alternate route which was not labelled as unsealed but turned out to be mostly dirt track.  It was quite scenic and I managed quite a few pastoral scenes before DH's patience totally gave out at my asking him to stop so I could take a picture

'Tis cattle country after all.

A "bridge" which sat barely above water.

A sealed section of road .

Undulating countryside.

And when we got to Esk, well there wasn't that much to do.  We went to the markets and checked out all eight stalls!.  We wandered the main street, called into the antique shop (Ginger was in the ergo carrier for this part) and did a thorough check of the town op-shop.  I picked up some nice fabric and, you guessed it, books.  DH found a copy of The Ascent of Money for a couple of dollars and there were a whole pile of culled school library books for 10c a copy.  They were mostly books DH and I recalled from childhood - such classics as Olga da Polga , Ramona the Pest and my personal, and little known favourite, Catweazle.  I must mention as an aside here that I came to Catweazle rather late in life.  There was a tattered, dog-eared copy of it in the free reading box in my first year of high school.  I fell in love with it, when the next year the humanities building burnt down I was devasted at the thought that the school's only copy had been destroyed (I should add that despite the fact the fire occurred during the school day - a stray spark from a workman's welder got into the insulation - all were evacuated safely and only property was lost).

Then there was time for a wander and explore of the park before lunch.  Ginger was chief explorer and DH and I merely alternate shadowers - the other was having a cup of tea seeing as we only had the lid of the thermos flask for a cup (I sort of overlooked the packing of mugs).

Not only does a broad brimmed hat offer sun protection but relative anonymity.