New Cookbook

Had a wander through the op shop today just for curiosities sake and found this cook book along with a brand new skirt pattern and all it cost me was $1.50.  Bargain!

 

Budget Recipes

 

There are loads of budget friendly recipes in there all divided into sections according to the main ingredient.  Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, vegetables etc.  The bits of paper sticking out of the top of the book are the recipes I’ve picked to try first…lol.

I have a freezer full of lamb chops and many of the recipes will be easy to convert to using lamb so it will solve the problem of not wanting to serve up lamb chops every night….lol.

Maybe my menu planning might become a little easier if I’m lucky.

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A Wet Sunday

It’s cool and very, very wet today…..yipee.  The much needed rain is falling and I hope it will continue for some time. A friend commented on Friday that our weather of late – frosty nights, lovely sunny and fairly warm days – are very similar to when we were still drought affected.  When I thought about it she was right.  While those lovely days are nice the gardens and crops are desperately crying out for a decent drink and all that rain we had at the beginning of the year and the floods are now a somewhat distant memory.

Yesterday James, Ashley and I had a massive clean up around the shed gathering up all the scrap iron we could find.  It is amazing just how much there was and just how much my husband saves in the hope he would use it.  Well no more – it’s now all loaded onto the truck – and trust me it’s a massive load – ready to take to the metal recyclers tomorrow to exchange for some cold hard cash. Looking out the window today I’m so glad we got stuck in yesterday as there is no way it could be done today.  Throw in the fact that now I can start implementing some plans for a new drive way to Mum’s and some tree pruning and I’m one happy little worker.

Having done the shopping I’m spending the rest of the day puddling around. James has come down with the flu bug Nicola had a couple of weeks ago so he is curled up near the fire watching ‘Back to the Future” with Ashley.  I can hear both of them laughing as I type this. They both have the same sense on humor which can be down right scary at times…..vbg.  Elise is having an entire day off from doing homework or studying (she is reading novels instead) and Nicola is reading – as always – cup of tea firmly in hand.

While pinning up the hem of the skirt I’m sewing I have been cruising You Tube.  It is truly amazing just what you can find when you start looking and I will admit a particular interest in anything regarding self sufficiency and making do.

This Video particularly caught my eye.  What a family can grow on just one small block of land in the city.

This year, more than any other, I am determined to get the vegie garden up and running at it’s peak. I want salad greens, tomatoes, cabbages, onions, peas and beans…..in short I want the lot.  Will it happen?  I sincerely hope so but if it doesn’t then it won’t be through lack of trying.

Having just finished reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver – you can find the website and details of the book here – I am even more inspired to be self sufficient in the vegie department and the quick shopping trip today has convinced me even further that this is the way to go.  Yes there were “fresh” vegies in the supermarkets but the majority weren’t local, they were a little tired looking from all that travelling and the amount of packing was scary.

Another recent read “No Impact Man”  by Colin Bevan, – Blog is here –  has reverberated far more than any other book I have read to date – and trust me I’m reading plenty.  While yes it discussed waste and all those other environmental issues that so many are concerned about, to me it was the fact that the little things – washing sheets after a child has vomited on them, the waste caused by a simple cup of take away coffee or a take away meal, taking bags to put fruit in at a whole foods store only to have the girl behind the counter roll her eyes because who on earth brings their own recycled bags for fruit when there are plastic bags supplied? – that really made an impact.  How Colin and his family coped with such issue such as travel to see distant living family or just to go shopping made me stop and think. How many times do I just hop in the car to pop down the street? Yes ok so I live a distance from the main street – but honestly would a nice long walk hurt me?   Why do I buy foods with so much packaging?  Well one answer is that I’m not organised enough and my vegie garden isn’t producing enough to avoid those supermarket vegies but I’m getting there.  I have been thinking that I need to make some recycled vegetable bags out of tulle but then I thought no I will just grow my own vegies then I know there is no waste.  See simple…vbg.

As it happens I take my own hand made shopping bags when I do the groceries.  I have the green bags the supermarket sell but as they are slowly deteriorating I’m gradually making more and more bags and I love them.  One they are better looking…vbg.  Two – the are made from what is in my material stash.  Three – I find I can fit more in them than a supermarket bag and they are more comfortable to carry. Four – they are super easy to wash and they dry faster than the supermarket bags.  Five – I love them.  However today when I handed over one of my bags so the groceries could be packed the girl commented on how hard it was to pack groceries in these kind of bags. Now ok so she didn’t know I had made the bag and she wasn’t trying to be rude and I didn’t take offence but I did wonder why my bag was harder than the others to pack?  Was it because it wasn’t made of some plastic type material? Was it because I hadn’t bought it from the store or was it because she just didn’t know how to do it.  I don’t know and to be honest I don’t care. I’m my bag and I’ll use it whenever and as often as I want.

So after that long and rambling post – of which I have reread several times and still can’t come up with a way to tidy it up – I’ll leave you with this thought……

One person can’t change the world – but can we afford not to try?

Domestic Duties

I think at last I have come full circle and am comfortable in my own home.  That sounds strange I know and when I mentioned it to a friend the other day she gave me “the look” ……….clearly wondering just what planet I was on.  For so many years I regarded housework as drudgery.  It was the same jobs over and over and over again with no end in sight.  It would frustrate me enormously that I would spend hours cleaning the house only to have the family arrive home and have it look like a bomb hit it in 30 seconds or less. I wondered where “Catherine” had gone and when I became just a wife and mother. 

I’m not totally sure what has actually changed and while I will never love housework – lets face it gardening or crafting is sooooo much more exciting than hanging out washing – I no longer resent it as I once did.  No longer do I feel the need to flee my house to go shopping (even if I didn’t buy anything) just to get away and to see  and hear other people. Now I find myself craving time alone.  I feel stupidly happy just doing simple things like washing the dishes or baking a cake.  Cleaning the loo is not ever going to be on that list I have to say ;- ) but at least I can now do it with something resembling a smile on my face.

I’m back on planet Earth and loving it.

So imagine how satisfying it was to have a weekend spent pottering around at domestic duties. Saturday was spent knitting (in between loads of washing)- the weather was foul even if the rain was a blessing. Dish/face clothes have been a bit of an obsession of late and I finished the last of three Saturday afternoon. I have discovered something. I love crocheted dishcloths for the kitchen. They are robust and scrub crockery and benches beautifully but I simply must have knitted faceclothes for the bathroom.  Soft and gentle on my skin, stunning colours and they feel like real decadence in the shower. I found the most beautiful list of free patterns at Knit1,Purl 1. Well worth a look if you are after something different and just straight out stunning.  Dish and Wash Cloth Mania is another fantastic site for lacey cloth patterns.  I will confess to being seriously tempted by the Lacey Dragon Large Scale Washcloth  It’s both charted and written instructions – soooooo tempting. I think it will be on my “to do” list.

Knitted Washcloths

Pcitured from left to right are:  Double Fleck Dishcloth, Lacey Squares Cloth and Flickering Flames Ensemble. Click on the name of each cloth and it will take you to the pattern. They are all easy – trust me – I don’t do “hard” dishcloths – they just look a bit complicated.

New Summer Top

SundayI started knitting my new summer top in cotton from the Bendigo Woolen Mills.  I saw this pattern in their latest catalogue and couldn’t resist. It only takes two balls of 4 ply cotton and apart from the patterning at the hemline is basic stocking stitch. It might take me a while though – 4 ply yarn will take some knitting.  Me being me decided to knit up to the armholes on a circular needle. Who knows why – it just made sense.  I also baked two more fruit cakes for Christmas presents and had Elise home sick with the tummy wog that is going around – again.

Fruit Cake

Today I have washed and baked another two fruit cakes – these two are for us to enjoy at Christmas.  All the other cakes (7 in all) are for presents.  The kitchen smells amazing and there is even a Christmas Plum Pudding cooking gently on the stove.

Plum Pudding

 I have put in some more tomatoe plants.  After the lovely rain we had over the weekend it the ground is just busting with moisture so some mulch was put down around new seedlings that have just come through – clumping red onions, lettuce, cabbage and a chinese greens which I have forgotton  the name of but it is supposed to grow all year round.  The new book I ordered “Elizabeth Simmermann’s Knitters Almanac” arrived this morning and I am having sneaky reads as I do other jobs.  Both Elise and Nicola are home sick and Elise said one of her friends had it over the weekend and it put her in bed for four days.  Lovely. I hope it doesn’t last that long in our household.

Melbourne Cup Day tomorrow and I’m of to Cohuna for Spinners and Weavers – what fun.  Ashley is home “entertaining” the children as they have a day off school for cup day.  Who knows what they will all get up to. It won’t worry me – I’ll be an hour away…..wicked grin.

Pottering

It would be nice to think that in the days since I last posted I had actually achieved something but the truth is while I’m busy pottering, major achievements are fairly far and few between.

I seem to be spending a bit of time on this, a bit on that and a bit more on something else none of which is particularly blog worthy.

Half a Disaster Zone

My sewing room is half a disaster zone. I did clean up a bit the other day and even managed to resort some of my wool into drawers which means that now I look at it and actually use it.  I also didn’t manage to fall in the sewing room this time unlike the week before when I stepped on some bubble wrap, my foot went out from under me and I landed on a box – which thankfully was filled with fabric so cushioned the fall a bit.  I was lucky I got out of the whole incident with just a badly bruised ego, hip and a sore back.  It could have been worse.  Instead as I cleaned this time I watched Mum out of the corner of my eye as she stood on a chair going through my quilting magazines looking for a pattern for a freind of hers.  Of course Mum didn’t fall – but had I tried it no doubt I would have…sigh.

There is slow progress being made on the socks I’m knitting on two circular needles.  So far so good and yes they are two different socks using two different balls of wool.  Being a new technique and with my usual genius muddle headedness I thought using the same ball of wool may have dire concequences and I would end up stuffing the whole thing up so badly that I would have to rip the lot out.

Socks on Circular Needles

The technique actually isn’t bad and now I think I know what I’m doing hopefully progress will happen.

New Sock Book

I cannot recommend the book highly enough – simple directions with lots of photos and tempting patterns to improve your technique and of course wrap your feet in scrummy knitted goodness.  Whether it’s quicker to knit socks this way rather than with double pointed needles I’m not to sure. I still like DPN’s but having seen Val knit with them at Cohuna the other week and socks magically appear before my eyes – I know I have a long way to go to match her speed and technique….vbg.  Mind you Val did say she learnt to knit socks during the war making them for the boys over seas so she has a few more years practice than me…..lol.

Hand dyed, hand spun wool

I bought some of the Earth Palette dyes at the Bendigo Wool Show and have only just mixed them up to play with. One skein of wool (a remnant from the Bendigo Woolen Mills) that was at best a 2 ply – certainly not as “thick” as sock yarn – was dyed with turquoise, purple and yellow. I have spun some alpaca as  fine as I could,  then plyed the two together – resulting in a lovely skein of close to 350 metres of goodness. Of course there was still dyed yarn left over so I plyed it with a skein of the same thickness dark blue wool and have enough to knit a very light weight scarf with it. Who would have thought that by just changing the colour of the plying yarn you would get such a difference in the skeins.

Of course there is always mending to be done around here and I have a confession to make.

I like darning socks!!!! There I’ve said it.

Mending Socks

I have been very dilligent at repairing any small holes in Ashley’s socks and have manged to keep them going for far longer than I thought.  I know socks are cheap but honestly for less than five minutes of pleasure and fun it’s worth it to me and I don’t have to buy him any new socks for a while – therefore saving a few dollars. Not that I would spend it on wool of course…..roflmol.

The good news with the car is that I drove it to Cohuna the other day and it didn’t miss a beat although now the fuel guage goes up as you use fuel rather than down.  It has been to the garage and the computer part checked out but it does need a new fuel sender thingie so it will be back in again when that arrives.  It’s nice to know it wasn’t anything serious and that I can still drive it. 

Best go and mow the lawns before the threatening rain strikes again. We aren’t flooded (or anywhere near it for that matter) and the local paper did say that it could be a fortnight before the river here shows signs of the flood waters further upstream but even then I don’t think we are in any danger of the devistation that has hit elsewhere.  Everything is decidedly soggy but in the moments of sunshine we have had I have been moving roses and a tree in the hope that with the damp conditions they will settle quickly into their new homes.  I have also been planting lots of seeds in jiffy pots ready to plant out in the vegie garden in a few weeks time. The vegie beds have been dug over and prepared ready for planting and I’m hoping for good sucess with my vegies this year. Even if they aren’t spectacular results the vegies I grow will have to be far better than what is on offer in the supermarkets lately.

Off to mow.  Have a lovely weekend.

A Natural Progression????

I’m not sure if it’s a natural progression or if it’s just I want/need/have to have a new hobby but either way I’m slowly moving towards taking up weaving.  

I sat down and seriously thought about all that I do craft wise.  I sew and quilt.  I dye fabric which in turn lead to dyeing wool with both natural and commercial dyes. I knit and crochet.  With the stash slowly decreasing spinning my own wool seemed the logical choice not only dollar wise but also in creating my own unique yarns.  Weaving just seems to be the next step in this creative journey I am on.

I have been borrowing heaps of books from the library about weaving.  Some are incredibly good and some are incredibly bad.  The good books explain everything in “plain” english.  Simple terms that make it easy to understand.  Terms that allow me to grasp the concept and then with time and practice – lots of practice – hopefully expand that concept into something unique.  The bad books really deserve to be on the fire in my humble opinion but having said that there are no doubt readers out there who understand those books easier than I do.

One book that  I did find which is an absolute must.  Not so much on the weaving side of things although it does give very basic and simple to understand weaving instructions. but for colour use and design possiblities  this book is the ants pants of books.  Creative Weaving by Sarah Howard and Elisabeth Kendrick is amazing.  These ladies put colours together that I wouldn’t have dreamed of incorporating in the same article – pinks and reds.  Greens ranging from forest green to a very yellow green.  The most scrumptious lavender shades imaginable and even a set of colours that they named Pomegranate – pink, white and a sea green.  If you are a bit stuck on colour or just need some more inspiration or just looking for something with a wow factor then beg, borrow or steal this book.  It’s design possibilities are endless and while it’s title is about weaving it could be used to get the creative juices going in knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting or even painting your home.    No affils and all that but this is a book that I am going to buy as my present copy is on loan from the library  : – (  .

Just because I’m getting so excited about weaving and also because I fell in love with the wool I bought a jumper at the op shop earlier in the week and have spent the past few days pulling it undone and skeining up the wool.

I think – and I always find it difficult to tell – that I may have close to 900 metres of wool by the time I have finished.

I plan on mixing it with some Bendigo Woolen Mills wool to weave up hopefully enough fabric to make a vest.  Well that’s the plan anyway.  Of course there will be quite a bit of practice weaving in the meantime.  I have Spinners and Weavers in Cohuna on Tuesday and my friend Joy is going to bring her Rigid Heddle Loom for me to take home and play with.  She assures me it is very sturdy and I won’t be able to break it….vbg.  I’m sooooo looking forward to experimenting and using up some of the stash will be a bonus too.  If all goes well I have picked out the loom I want to buy  but that will depend on how I go with Joy’s loom.

There has been a tiny bit of spinning happening too.

It’s very difficult to get an accurate idea of the wool colour but it’s from the bag on the back right of the photo below. Lovely soft purples and mint greens and is a dream to spin. 

I don’t have a project in mind I just needed to spin but with this new found interest in weaving maybe that’s where it will be used up.  Who knows.

The best news is that I’m finally finding a balance between work, family, housework and craft.  I do what I can – work will always come first after all it’s what funds the rest but there is at least now some definition between them all. The kids have adjusted to my working more often. Ashley is finally catching up with the extra help and has got to the stage I’m not needed everyday, all day and I’m starting to get on top of the housework and am finding more time to spend with the children.  Life is good.

Now I’m off to get ready.  I’m taking Mum down the street to have a fancy morning tea as a belated Mother’s Day treat for the two of us.  We were so busy on Mother’s Day weekend and I felt bad that I didn’t do something special for Mum like I normally do that I decided that the first day off I had that we were both free we would go out.  It’s cool and cloudy and the wind is picking up outside so it’s a perfect day to sit in a cafe with cof fee. tea for Mum and something scrummy to eat.

Not Crafty Today

It would be nice to think that I am knitting socks like there is no tomorrow, sewing down binding on quilts as if my last breath depended on it or just straight out sewing something spectacular but the truth is nothing crafty is happening.

I had a skin cancer cut out of my arm this morning and with the combined effect of needles, the doctors scalpel and now the anestethic wearing off I’m really not feeling like anything much.  I had a quick cup of tea at Mum’s when I got home from the Doctors and we pulled out the old knitting pattern books that she has had for years.  In particular our favorites are those that my Grandmother and Great Grandmother used.  They are patterns with a style and elegance that are simply breathtaking – not to mention practical.  With my current interest in all things knitted Mum is also rekindling her interest in the art form.  Not that she ever steered away from it for long – but she too is beginning to hunt through old patterns to see what she can make.

I keep telling her how “back to basics” is now the “in thing”.  How people are knitting face washers,  wash cloths, jumpers, baby clothes, scarves beanies and so on with great success.  I’m not sure that Mum totally gets the “back to basics” thing as she is a bit over the “lets make everything” as she did that as a young girl, bride and mother for so many years but it is tweaking her interest.  If nothing else she is digging though the memory banks and recalling what her mother (my grandmother) made.  My Grandmother was one of those women who seemed to turn her hand at just about anything and would try anything crafty.  There were no Craft Police allowed in her home and she was up to the challenge of trying  something new until quite late in her life.  I would like to think that that’s where I get my creativity from.  So long as I’m having fun and learning new skills I shall continue “playing” for as long as I can just as Grandma did.

One book  in particular that Mum and I both love is  Madame Weigel’s Cushions and Cosies Volume 6 1937.  Surprise, surprise I found them and some of their patterns on the web and best of all they are free.  I can remember my Grandmother using tea cosies that she had knitted from these patterns and I think Mum may even have a few tea cosies hidden away in her linen cupboard that she had also knitted from the books.  If you are wanting something a bit different/stylish for your tea pot click on the link above and have a look.  The Loop Stitch Tea Cosy Mum said she knitted quite a few times and always had success with it.  I can remember her pinching our Barbie Dolls to put in the top of it so the whole cosy looked like a doll with a gorgeous dress.

Now on the off chance that I has piqued your interest you can find out a bit more about Madame Weigel here at Poppalina’s blog.

Now a request.   Does anyone know where I might find free patterns for a milk jug cover that is knitted?  I have searched the net a bit this morning but most seem to be crocheted and as much as my crocheting has improved I don’t think it has improved that much…..sigh.  Milk jug covers were another Grandma item.  She always had the most delicate covers with pretty beads around the edge covering the milk or water jugs to keep the bugs and flies out and I would love to make some for myself.

Not Stash Enchancement

I have been spending a wee bit of money – not on stash enhancement unfortuantely but instead on ways to help me use up my stash.  Yes I know confusing but trust me it works.

Judy L. mentioned that she had purchased this book from The Pajama Quilter and was playing around with some of the designs on her blog the other day.  Me, being me, just had to have sticky beak and within  about 10 minutes had put in an order for both the book and the DVD – which I might add was here within a week.

It is brilliant. I have quite a few machine quilting books and while they are excellent there is something that is still holding me back from really experimenting.  The Gammill is still boss when it comes to quilting here although I think the tide might be beginning to turn.

The DVD is brilliant to watch and so easy to understand.  Eveything is explained in detail and of course being a DVD you can watch it over and over again…vbg.  Dawn has a lovely easy way of explaining why she does the quilting designs the way she does and gives little tips and tricks all the way along.  Best of all she is doing all this while in her Pajama’s (hense the book and DVD title) aaaaannnnnnd has a container of chocolates sitting beside her for those “darn it what am I doing” moments….vbg. Now that’s my kind of quilter.  The book and DVD are designed for long and short arm quilters and domestic machine quilters.  The techniques are the same just the machinery you use are different.

I should add I have no affils with Dawn but when I see something worthwhile I think that to spread the word is a good thing.

For sometime I have been reading and searching for posts regarding the “Sew What! Shirts” book.  Yes I know it’s been out for a while but I’m only just getting on the band wagon.  The really silly thing is when Elise was just a baby I had started to study (part time) a Designer Dressmaking course where we learnt everything from making and drafting your own patterns to making up your own garments.  Over the years the confidence from that course has erroded (I didn’t finish it by the way – Nicola’s arrival and then a nasty attack of post natal depression got in the way) and I very, very rarely make clothes now at all.  Having two reasonably fussy teenagers doesn’t help.

So, after yet another frustrating trip down the street for Elise and I to try and find some clothes that fitted and looked nice, I came home and bought the book.

I love it.  So far I have only made one skirt…..

A very simple A Line skirt out of some fabric I found at the op shop the other day.  I love it.  Soooooo cool and comfortable, brilliant to wear in the heat (I wore it shopping yesterday) and even the girls said they liked it.  Elise even tried it on and said she liked it….yipee!!!!!!!!!! Best of all I already had a nice blue shirt that goes beautifully with it so now at least I have one decent outfit.

Is the book easy to use? Well yes I think so.  Having made clothes before I guess I already knew some of the steps but Elise thought when she read through the book that she wouldn’t have any problems with it.  The nicest thing is that the skirts can be as easy or difficult as you want them to be – depending on what style you like aaaannnnnndddd you could use the same book for both little children and adults as you use the persons own measurements – not those of a commercial pattern company.

Ok so this book will enchance the stash rather than deplete it but I couldn’t resist. Sorry about the fuzzy photo too – not sure what happened there.  I have other books on fabric dyeing but this one I believe is one of the best.  Easy to understand, really basic and full of fantastic instructions and photos it is truly inspirational.  There are times when I get a bit confused with other dyeing books.  While they are good sometimes there is almost a bit too much information which can confuse the issue – particularly when it comes to dye recipes.  This book goes back to the basics and is an excellent place to start. Well worth it if you are only just getting into dyeing fabrics or want to brush up on a few basic skills.

There was some slight stash enchancement – but not from the shops I might add.  I spent a week or more searching for my EQ6 program (which has now been found hiding in the bookcase) and while searching/cleaning found a stack of cotton shirts from the op shops that I had forgotton about.   They are now all cut up.  Some of the fabrics found their way into the rail fence blocks (yesterdays post) while the rest are waiting their turn to be used.

Ohh and the fabric that is used as a background for some of the photos is destined to be made into another shirt – very similar to the first one I made. I bought a t-shirt (always a minor miracle to find one that fits) that goes beautifully with it