Monday, December 20, 2010

A weekend away!

We went away last weekend to georgous Daylesford - first time we have been away without any kids, together, in way too many years...We stayed at a great little place in Musk Creek.
The special occasion was my brother Michael's wedding, he and his beautiful partner Jess have been together for a good 13 years, just a little test run first! The wedding was absolutely enchanting, they make such a beautiful couple, their ceremony was intimite and relaxed, it was wonderful to be part of their day. Congratulations Michael and Jess! I caught up with some of my favorite people in the world, made some new friends and enjoyed the picturesque venue!
As updates came in from our great babysitters however, relaxing was a little tricky, for at Nana Belle's it was not so relaxed! The first night we were away my son thew up, and my daughter had a big temperature so no one slept well. The next morning Fiann vomited again, in between Nana's visitors no less...then Maeve started to develop spots, very quickly there was no doubt...chicken pox! Oh for Gods sake, this was truly crap luck and way beyond the call of duty. I offered to come back but mum was so reassuring and wonderful to insist that there was nothing more we could do and we had better "just relax and enjoy our break"! What a Super Nana Belle, thank you so much! also big thanks to (Alan) Pop, too!!!
Here are some photos of the lovely couple!

Dad, Jess, Michael and Maureen

Is that the ring finger?

Michael and Jess in Lavender

Weather cool and closing in!

P.S. I wanted to go to Daylesford Organics and The Lark and other great places but some how our energy was not up for it!

Next time!
We did get to Cliffy's twice which was inspirational!!!
Chele xx

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trying to get into the spirit!

Around the computer

This is Not Free Range Chicken Mum!

I just have to say that this picture drawn by my son, Fiann, could be a good advertisement against bad poultry farming. I mean, look at it...sorry Fi, I know you were not meaning to portray a sick chook but, it does look pretty damn scary. I know most people are pretty savvy so I will spare you guys a tirade against buying "cheap" meat and a description of how one of these battery hens lives it's life but, do check this link if you feel game.
I would rather eat salad and lentils than to buy cheap/nasty poultry.
May this sort of farming disappear forever!!!
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thinking about

I have found a personal blog is just perfect for collecting inspiration, a place for space free filing, not to mention it extends my memory.
A couple of my favorites are:

Lisa Roet I saw this artist on Artscape ages ago and was transfixed, I love her respect for our closest relatives and anything that reminds us of our own evolution in this age of Mass extinction is good.
Lisa's compassion shows in her art and displays such a deep respect of primates.
Her conversation with 'Pansy' the talking Ape is deeply touching and there is also footage of the space chimp, ' Ham '. The look on this chimps face when he arrives safely back to our planet is really telling.

Maggie Taylor is another I would like to remember, her work is beautifully dream like. The Girl in a Bee dress is especially lovely.

And for inspiration on responsible sustainable farming:
The Real Dirt on Farmer John

I hope you are having a good day and are finding lots of inspiration, thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Birthday, bass guitar and the flux in time!

It has been wonderfully hectic here lately, I love being on the go, especially with this wonderful warm sunny weather we have had lately - it really helps energy levels!
Some of our favourite people stayed with us for a little holiday and we had great fun, late nights, early mornings and fantastic food. We visited Healesville Sanctuary, again, I love our FOTZ membership. It means we can pop in whenever we feel like it and all without feeling you have to drag tired kids around all day to get your full value!
That is perfect for both kids and adults! 
Myself, Trish, Fiann and Wednesday
We had beautiful days to enjoy the Sanctuary, and all the animals were all out enjoying the sun too!
Here is one of the beautiful Brolgas.
Olga the Brolga?
Also my daughter, Maeve, celebrated her 8th birthday...several times...I braved the city traffic alone with a car full of young, over-excited screechy girls and did NOT get lost in a very new part of Melbourne - this is totally amazing!!! 
Starting off on Bungie trampoline
We went here for most of the day and although it was much smaller and less impressive than it's website, the girls had a really great time. Bungie Trampoline
Our birthday girl is really enjoying her guitar lessons and has shown a really strong interest in bass lines for a while now so...we went shopping for a bass guitar. I have to say we all feel spoilt to have this wonderful instrument in our home! If Fiann and I learn instruments too maybe we could become
the next Partridge family...did I say that out loud?
I loathed the Partridge family!
Maeve's New Bass Guitar 3/4
Also I have finished my Health and Safety training too - hooray! I spent too long reading the manual, trying to grasp it's 'hip' lingo just so I wouldn't look like too big an idiot in front of work mates. Boy, oh boy the language gets quite mind boggling in these manuals although I can see its value. It did offer a clear system to analyse critical points in any processes that need control.
After 8 years with my kids at home and never working in hospitality/produce before, I did manage not to feel like the proverbial fish out of water in this last training session...I kept up well. Which was a great boost!
However...remember when the clocks went forward... recently...I was the very clever woman who turned up at work an hour later than I believed it was...for a while that is...until my manager came in on his day off to tell me I should have opened 10 mins earlier! Just great! I am still blushing.
Can I just say that I find this daylight savings clock changing time always a little disorientating!
My dear husband is still saying things like 'it's only 7.30 real time'.
I can't work like this - I need to know only 1 time at a time! Big sigh!
Thanks for stopping by, take care!

Michele xxx

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Say Cheese

One of my favorite books

I have found myself surrounded at work by some of the best cheeses available today in Australia - as you might imagine it has been sheer Hell!
Pure, tasty, delicious, Hell!
My lovely place of employment sell many other tempting foods that I am sure I won't be able to help but wax lyrical about some other time.
For now I am off on a Cheese ramble...
My introduction to artisan cheese has been a true revelation for me. I previously had only really tasted supermarket cheese, which pales in comparison to the 'real  McCoy'. So to improve my knowledge and appease my rumbling tummy I have been treating myself to our delicious cheese. I have been so dedicated (greedy) tasting our products, I have pondered if maybe I should ask if I could get paid in food...and I do wonder if I can claim any purchases on tax next year...I am not completely serious you know...back to cheese -
While Australia is only "allowed to sell" cheese made with pasteurised milk, (there are exceptions) it is a law that we hope will change and soon. I imagine that the countries with unpasteurised milk cheese look down at pasteurised milk cheese like we might see our supermarket cheese here. I must tell you that until recently Supermarket cheese was the sum total of my experience. Supermarket products are a world away once you start to taste the real McCoy, there is no comparison between flavours. The bland plastic, waxy, fat they call cheese with its worrying and 'unnatural extended life' leaves me cold these days. I am more satisfied by buying a little piece of something utterly delicious than getting a slab of something mass produced that is lacking quality, and it is healthier that way. There are some exceptions here but mostly what you find in a supermarket is a sad reflection of what we have led our food producers to do to our food. We have encouraged a lack of respect and love for/of our produce and created a society which is so detatched from nature that 'the how we make it cheap' question does not even rate as an issue. I am biased, obviously, and I am not a fan of our supermarket culture...I will be kind for now though and I will spare you my "Not so 'Super' market" ramble for now...back to Cheese...again
If you are new to cheese and curious to know what the fuss is about, do yourself a big favour - when you find a good cheese seller, do feel comfortable enough to ask them for a taste! Unless it is 'outrageously busy', I am always encouraging people to try something, regardless of whether they are standing staring at our delicious range of cheeses or showing no interest in it whatsoever. I hate to push a sale and think I am lucky that our products are so good...I know damn well that after people experience quality cheese, once you take that step - you can never go back!!! Insert villians laugh here *

If you would like a good reference book on cheese, "Cheese" is a great choice. It is written by Patricia Michelson and is an inspirational reference book. Jamie Oliver wrote the foreword, describing it as like a "cheese encyclopedia". It is full of beautiful cheeses and written with contagious enthusiasm. She has such reverence for the land, animals and special, passionate people who create these cheeses. It makes me dream of getting a small herd of animals and becoming a cheese maker. Patricia also has some recipes and suggests the most suitable style of wine to accompany the different tastes of cheese. I Love this book!!!

Australian Holy Goat La Luna gets a mention
La Luna Holy Goat is a beautiful soft goats cheese. It has a cute wrinkly soft white rind and its taste is quite complex for goats cheese and has a beautiful tang. It is undeniably goaty - so this might not be a great place to start if new to cheese. This cheese is made in Victoria (Australia) by Sutton Grange Organic Farm, and has won many awards. Fantastic!

Swiss Gruyere
Gruyere is one of my favorites at the moment, Patricia describes the flavour as savoury and almost toasty. I love the tiny little crunchy salt crystals that you get through this cheese. This is way too easy to like!!!

Fourme d'Ambert
Yummy Blue cheese!!! We have strong 'assertive' blues, creamy, subtle blues, some are made of cows milk, some goat, and some lovely sheep blue too. The Fourme d'Amert, (cow) although it appears to look strong flavored because of the amount of blue is actually a subdued buttery blue.

Stilton - yum

Deliciously presented cheeses
The work and love that goes into the world's artisan cheeses is awe inspiring. Look at these pretty cheeses - it seems a shame to cut into some of them...almost.

Things to try if you are just starting-

A good cheddar like Montgomery Cheddar - you can't beat a good cheddar!
A washed rind such as Artavaggio or Taleggio - the centre has a fudgy texture, with mushroom nuances. The rinds have an earthy flavour and gritty texture.
A brie style such as Fromage de Meaux (when young the taste is creamy, as it matures the flavours get stronger)
Delice de Bourgogne is the most decadently silky triple cream cheese that melts in your mouth instantly, its soft white rind when ripe has a strong taste that reminds me of blue cheese.
Membrillo Paste 'aka' Quince paste is a favourite in our house, I have to hide this deep in the fridge if I want to keep any for me. I love this with almost all blues and creamy soft cheese - I have no idea if this is 'correct' but, each to their own.

When you do have a nice selection of cheese, remember to get it out earlier. 1-3 hours before you want to eat it...even earlier in cold weather. Cover with a slightly damp tea towel, this will stop any edges drying out. The flavours and textures are more apparent when it is left to come to room temperature. Psssst - don't forget some nice wine!
It is very important to remember that people can have very different taste to your own and your Cheese seller/fromager can help you choose the safe options or a more daring selection for your cheese platter - you should feel comfortable when in a good fromagerie to taste new cheeses - we want you to enjoy. I like to be a bad influence on people (getting them to indulge) I think Australians are put off by American style sales pitches and I think our products are so good I do not need to push - I just stand back, smile and relate to that look of bliss on a customers face.
Warning - to the uninitiated, the strong and stinky cheeses might put some people off for life. I have had and enjoyed some fairly smelly ones but there are some that I find way too much, they are repulsive to me but, they have fans that would wriggle over hot coals for a crumb...vive la difference! It is worth considering that if you are in a small room, like I was recently, and you have a slightly whiffy cheese out, it can become a little overwhelming. I will maybe save that choice for an outdoor 'do' next time.

Have a Happy Saturday night!
I hope your weekend is full of...tasty cheese...beautiful wine...and a good laugh!
Michele x

Friday, August 6, 2010

Just popped back to say hi!

I have been a bit scarce around the blog sphere lately, there is no great reason, just shifting priorities and a slump in my creative side. I have barely visited any ones blog  for ages - I miss it - I miss that wonderful creative inspiration. For the moment though, I guess I have swapped my creative sewing/crafty side - for my creative cooking/foodie side.
I have been working a couple of days a week now and am hoping that my hours are going to increase even more... I have some training coming up and have my fingers crossed. It is way too much of a good time trying and learning about our lovely produce and our super cheese fridge is seriously delicious trouble and it takes much restraint not to spend all my earnings at work! (I hope to post some pretty pictures of some of our lovely food soon)
Another reason for not much activity here is that I seem to have mixed up a bag with my camera recharger with a bag that was heading for the opp shop...Oh Dear!!! I have not investigated how much this would cost to replace...I am Still hoping it will miraculously turn up - it does not look good though! Shit!
Thank goodness for a close friend has the same recharger!!!
I will sign off and leave you with some photos. Back some time soon!
Thanks for your concern and comments guys - your alright!!! xxx

Spanner - a young male emu at Healesville Sanctuary

O'Shannassey's Aqueduct
Some top class acting!
 Michele x

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Good luck and kind wishes for Australia!

I don't usually enjoy watching sport on TV  but, I do love the world cup!!! I look forward to it every time, it is such fun to see the best part of the world enthusiastic about the same thing - this might work better to unite us than any religion ever could!
I love how Mexico can beat a country like France, it is such a great result, it is so exciting to see!
I am hoping Australia (the footballroos) I mean the "Socceroos" can make it through tonight...and well beyond this group - best of luck to them!!! I would love to see them do it - or hear about it the next morming!
Our fingers are crossed.
Now to get nice and comfy on the couch and definitely NOT close my eyes! xxx........zzzzzzz

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Make your own (butt kicking) Delicious Panir Cheese

Forgive me but I am letting the food freak inside run rampant tonight, I get a bit over enthusiastic about these things!
The first time I made this cheese I was hooked - it amazed me how easy it was to make and how yummy it was! Once you have your few ingredients and utensils organised it is really as quick as waiting for the milk to come to the boil! I am hoping that I inspire some of you make some, or at least this post makes your tummy rumble.
Panir is a fantastic thing to make at home, its is firmish fresh Cheese and has a lovely creamy flavour - it carries stronger flavours through a meal very well. The only ingredients used are milk and yoghurt so it is suitable for most vegetarians too. It is used a lot in Indian curries and also sweets, Kurma Dasa uses it in a lot of recipes and I have based my description/method on his great advice. It is very easy and quick to make, healthy and delicious. You can fry in cubes and mix through a saffron rice with some nuts and fruit or it is a lovely addition when crumbled in a beautiful salad. You can also use it in more contemporary ways to, fried (like haloumi cheese) and served with a olive oil, balsamic vinegar or a caper and lime combination, even a maple kids go nuts for this!!!

The ingredients;
4 litres of full fat organic milk (no point going for the low fat as you will get less cheese)
3-4 cups of Greek (full fat) yoghurt

You don't need much here but read the specifics - it will make the process easier. (I am trying to encourage you to do as I say...not as I do...I am crap at reading through a pattern/recipe!!!)
a very large saucepan - the idea is to have the liquid level not fuller than 2/3 -when the milk comes to the boil it froths up very quick and could spill over if you are not careful.
a damp clean large doubled over piece of cheesecloth placed in -
a colander I use my IKEA pasta cooker with the drainer insert
a sieve to scoop out the curds
a heavy weight to press the cheese while draining - I use a large mortar
wooden spoon w long handle
Cooking Equipment
Just before you start - put a 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of saucepan and bring to the boil - then add 4 ltrs of milk. The boiling water will help the milk not catch on the bottom of pot. (hint c/o Kurma)
Bring the milk to a boil over medium high heat - this is the hardest part of the process, stir often to prevent it  sticking. The pot has to be large, because the moment the milk comes to a boil, it will rise quickly and, with a small pot, the milk might  froth over the top. Bring the milk to a full boil then, reduce heat to low, and before the foam subsides, spoon in the yogurt.
Move your spoon through very gently in one direction and then remove from heat. You are waiting to see the yellow clearish whey separate from the white curds. If this does not happen in around 1 minute, heat again momentarily and, if necessary, add a little more yoguhrt.
curds and whey
As soon as the cheese has formed, remove the pan from the heat, cover it and set it aside for 10 minutes. If you want a very soft cheese, gently pour in 1 or 2 cups of hot water. When the cheese has settled under the surface of the whey, it is ready to drain. Now comes the fun bit - using a sieve, gently scoop out the curds and place into the cheese cloth that is draped fully over the colander.
scooping out the curd
Keep the whey for cooking or if storing the cheese.

panir cheese drained ready for hanging or a weight
When the curds are in the cloth, gather the top of cloth and twist to leave in your colander. Place a flat plate on top and then a heavy weight on top. After 20 - 30 minutes unwrap the cheese and use as directed, or wrap in paper-towel-lined plastic wrap, zip-lock bags or plastic containers with covering of whey and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

weighted panir cheese
After the pressing of 20-30 minutes the Panir is ready to go.
Panir cheese fried
To cut into pieces to fry
Mixing panir cheese with nuts fruit and spices ready to make Koftas
Mix up panir with fruit nuts and spices to make koftas
Deep frying Koftas
Deep frying Koftas almost ready to add to the lightly spiced tomatoe sauce
Lightly spiced Tomatoe sauce
I hope this makes you Hungry!
Have you got a recipe you would like to share, I would love to hear it?
Michele x
Cooking with Kurma
Beautiful cooking inspiration for rice dish w panir cheese from Great Vegetarian Dishes - Kurma Dasa

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eight answers

I am joining in with Kate's Eight answers...a little late but as they say in the classics "better get in now or forget it"! Have you been over to Foxes lane lately, there is some inspirational up cycling going on and I am so excited about what Kate and Bren at Daylesford organics have created.
How fantastic to have Joel Salatin (polyface farm) come and visit, and to have Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander rock into the market...what a buzz!
Pop over to see what other people answered here.

1. Favourite meal to eat?                                                                                                                                                                       A bowl of tarka dhal, yellow rice,a spinach curry, riata and papadams is hard to beat here - or if I am feeling decadent - Mali kofta - deep fried koftas made from panir cheese mixed with things like almonds, coriander, green chili, sultanas served swimming in a lightly spiced creamy tomato sauce w yellow rice and papadams!!! I cook to eat well, we don't spend much on going out...sadly we can not justify this, so when I see something delicious on TV, in a cook book or on a menu and, I feel driven to make it...or attempt to make it!
Yep, I am a bit of a food nut…if I have the time, I love to cook up a storm. I should be 2,039 kg!

2. Do you have a quirky eccentricity?

I have an off beat/dark sence of humor and a geographical tongue.

3. My middle name

me Jayne (my husband's middle name is 'Tarsan')

4. I am passionate about

I am passionate about Food and feeding my family foods that are not processed, not packaged, that are local when possible, that are diverse in tastes and that encourage an adventurous, even multi cultural outlook.
I call it real food, for me it is food that has had care and respect in every process – tilling, growing, tending, feeding, harvesting, storing, transporting and selling. I hate supermarkets (as they are today) - they encourage our society's dangerous disconnection to our food and to the planet Earth. I am conscious these days of the terrible farming practices, lack of social/environmental care taken and the ridiculous costs to ship something that is not in season around the globe! I say it again...I hate supermarkets!

5. Thongs or Birkenstocks?

Thongs or boots – no heals please! Being a tallish lanky girl I don’t need the extra height - I like worker/kicker boots teamed with a pretty op shop dress.

6. Who was I before I had kids?

Looking from this vantage point and being blunt - I have to say I was a little self obsessed and had no real direction. I was a hairdresser in a previous life!? Then a picture framer for years and while I loved the creativity of the work I worried that it was hardly a sustainable industry that I could throw my soul into!

7. Have I ever been arrested?

No, I must say I am little disappointed too!!! I should have been more involved in my younger years!

8. This weekend I will I will be
I will be working but, happily! I am still finding it great fun and the money helps too, so this is all good!
I work at a gourmet food shop that sells, beautiful ingredients, condiments and sauces, we are also an exceptional quality butcher and Fromagerie with world class cheese. We also stock organic/local fruit and veggies and artesian breads.
I am also hoping to catch up with some friends, to do something fun with my kids and finish off a sewing project (one of many)!

Thanks for popping in!
Michele x

Mali Kofta recipe here also
Home made panir cheese recipe and step by step photos here soon!!!
Michele - again xx

Tarka Dahl and Yellow rice

Tarka Dahl is one of our stock standard meals, it has been for one that we make in huge batches, have often and freeze many containers of. It is really healthy and so easy to make not to forget nice and cheap.
We usually serve with a 'yellow rice' and add a dry spinach curry, or maybe a meat curry and spoonfuls of Greek yogurt (or make a fennel seed and spinach Rita)
It is always served with heaps of pappadams in our house.

Tarka Dhal
(Red Lentils with spicy topping)
225g Red split lentils
1 small Onion
50g Ghee or Cooking Oil
1 clove Garlic
1 tsp Ground Turmeric
1 Green Chili (optional)
600ml water (I usually guesstimate and just cover)
1 tsp Salt
Rinse lentils several times, drain and put aside. Finely chop onion, heat ghee or oil and fry onion gently till soft. Add ½ chopped garlic cloves add and fry this for a couple of minutes. Time to stir in the turmeric, (my favorite part, smells heavenly) add the lentils. Turn heat down, stir for a minute and make sure lentils are coated with ghee/oil. Throw in the green chili stir and add water.
You can now turn heat up, add salt and bring to the boil, then simmer until nice and mushy. Serve on Basmati rice.
1 tbls Sesame Seed Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 clove Garlic – sliced thin
In a little pan heat sesame oil until it is smoking, add garlic and cumin seeds and fry very quickly, you want the garlic to color deep brown! Remove from heat and pour over your served dhal. This recipe comes from "the Encylopedia of Indian Cooking" by Khalid Aziz
Best Papadams, cute packets
My kids love this and it usually sparks loads of 'very good' impersonations of Neil from the Young Ones! "Oh WOW! This is really really hot man, I think I just have to - whooa! - splat!!! Just once- - - - just once I'd like to keep the lentils off the floor!

Yellow Rice
(This is an absorption recipe) 
1 cup Basmati rice
2 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbls ghee or oil (I use olive oil)
You are meant to wash and drain the uncooked rice (you should but we don't always do this)
Get water boiling and add salt and turmeric
Heat oil/ghee and fry uncooked rice for 1 min
Add boiling water mix, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer gentle and cover. Cook for 15 - 20 mins
This recipe is based on recipe from Cooking with Kurma (Kurma Dasa - The Vegetarian Legend)
Separate the rice with a fork, it should be light and fluffy and ready to serve! Every stove top is a little different and the time might need a little quirking but do preserve, it is so much nicer than boiled and drained rice!
Michele x

P.S. Easy - Step by step photo by photo directions/recipe for making your own home made panir cheese - I will be posting soon!!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Birthday Celebrations for Elsie and Fiann with a Sugar rush on top!

Happy 96th Birthday Nan (Elsie) We love you dearly!!!
Elsie is 96!!!
We have been celebrating Fiann's birthday for well over a week now, we started with a combined family do for my nan, who just turned 96! She was going to miss Fi's birthday party so we had a celebration for both of them together a week ago. 
Then this week we had his party at a lovely local bakery, everyone got to decorate some biscuits with 'tons' of icing sugar in every color of the rainbow and truck loads of lollies and sprinkles!
It was great fun and there were sticky fingers everywhere! We are only just calming down after the 'sugar rush'...we do not have much sugary food normally and it was pretty obvious the effect that too many lollies has on kids, there has been some pretty tense times around here. My two kids have been melting down at the drop of a hat! 
Apron and chefs hat

Fiann's Birthday cake
I hope you are all well, I am looking forward to catch up on what everyone else has been up to!
Michele x

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Meat Loafing around!!!

Favorite skirt

It was 0.5 degrees here this morning and the fire had gone out overnight - brrrrr! I am still feeling crappy -the doctors bills piling up - I was definitely not feeling too "thrilled" with things this morning!
I believe it is the perfect time to win some tattslotto and get some kick ass ducted heating!
Unfortunately this did not happen I opted for some very serious comfort food!
The following recipe has been a family favorite forever, warning though, it is 'almost too nice' served hot with green veggies and a heap of scalloped potatoes (like it needs any added decadence)

OR it works well in a picnic lunch cold with steamed potatoes, green salad and some bubbly!
This one has been a family favorite forever! It also can also be frozen!
This recipe is really, really easy and my kids love it!

*The Loaf
1kg of fresh minced steak - no preservative etc (get from a good butcher not a supermarket)
½ finely chopped onion
1 'good' egg
½ cup milk
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
lots of chopped parsley
Mix well together and shape into a loaf with slightly flat top in a baking dish.
Cook in moderate oven (180oC) for ½ hour before adding glaze below.

*The Glaze
¼ cup water
½ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 rounded tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
1 tbls of corn flour blended with a little water
Simmer for 5 minutes, then add, gradually, 1 tbls of corn flour blended with a little water.
Cover meat loaf with 1/3 of the glaze mixture cook for 15mins repeat and repeat again.
Cook for 1 hour.
If you make it I would love to know!!
Michele x

Meat Loaf and Scolloped Potatoes

Friday, May 14, 2010

A day to regroup!

The kid's clothing challenge has been such an enjoyable experience, it is just the right sort of encouragment and it is going strong here!
It's been good medicine - even with health still dodgy, it has sent my motivation sky high!
I have slowed sewing productivity today though and am taking a big breath...the material was stacking up all over the place here and threatened all sorts of dire consequences. It takes precious time to sort but, it is well worth it because I am thrilled with what lost treasure I have found during this totally shit chore!
A few more ideas come back to the floor. I should make a list before I mess things right up again!
Stuck for now
I started a couple of things today -
I tried to get my mind around making a vest from an old blankie - as I was totally inspired recently by this very clever dress  made by Foxes Lane. Working with a blanket is so fun, when it is felted, it does not fray and you can leave edges raw, need I say more, what exciting possibilities! Ultimately, I am not sure if I can pull this blankie vest off, but I will enjoy trying, and use what I learn in future projects!
My main aim for tomorrow is to get on with the Little House on the Prairie style night gown...everything is cut out and ready for when my brain comes back online. I love these nighties, I would make one for myself but I fear that Melbourne day trippers might try and set up camp.
Now for a hot water bottle and some deliciously wicked comfort food!
Back into it all fresh tomorrow! Fingers crossed!
Michele x
Sewing room tidy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Towel Pants = Happydacks!! ?

Today I decided to work on a strange idea I have had for some time now. With our weather in Australia getting colder now, everyone seems to be, either, getting over or are right on the verge of some cold.
We love going to the swimming pool for lessons and we are lucky - its a great indoor/heated pool but, their 'warm water' is no way warm enough for a comfortable shower.
So today I made a pair of Pool Day - 'Towel Pants' I am hopful this makes the dash from pool to car to home easier. Just need a towel wrap top now!
Its quite a look I am forcing on my boy there but he seems to think its pretty normal. Nice!
If my kids don't end up as circus performers I will eat my boots!
I do love a happy pair of dacks!
Michele x

Baggy towel pants

Whether or not you are in this challenge, don't forget to have a peek at the wonderful innovative creations in the 'Kid's Clothing Challenge' -  flickr pool.

Lovely old towel

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Chef's Hat

Chefs hat

Inspired by the Kid's Clothing Challenge again today (day 3) I made this spiffy 'white?' Chef's hat, especially for my little food freak's upcoming Birthday. It came together really well considering, typical of me - I read the pattern well into process, athough it is sensibly advised by the author to "read first". Der!
I do this with recipes too, it adds a surprise, like "oh god you are meant to have this ingredient" or in my case today, bias binding! So I used narrow bias instead - I still love it! Should I say that?

I have looked at a few tutorials for these 'adjustable chef's hats' that look really good - I used Curly Pops well photographed tutorial here - hers are really jazzy with some lovely fabrics and trim.
Thank you to Cam for sharing this with people...I am sure these will be a real hit for other people's presents around here too! I also 'free hand - machine styled' Fiann's name on the band - twas fun! I also drew/made an invitation to the aforementioned Birthday party out of paper and felt - now I've just to photograph and run off enough on card to send friends. I am very happy with today's work. Next week might be different...I couldn't possibly keep this up - maybe this is still influencing me?

I hope everyone else is still going strong!
Kids Clothing Challenge group photos here and the inspiration her!
Michele x

Chefs hat for the birthday boy and Invitations nearly ready

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Curtain Skirt (with matching re-fashion top + pants)

New skirt from old curtains

As promised here is a 'groovy a skirt', using only part of some old lined curtains and  a few odd bits...I resisted the chocolate bar! I liked the print on this curtain and the idea of taking something so (I think) obviously not skirt material. I can just see the rattan couches that were in everyone’s houses when this fabric was 'In'. All I have done really is thread the elastic through the existing top band, added some ribbon and ruffle around the bottom of skirt and also a little pocket. Then appliqued a few lace flowers from...yep...another old curtain! I might add some lace flowers to a denim jacket now to complete the ensemble!

Whether or not you are in this challenge, don't forget to check out the Kid's Clothing Challenge" flickr pool.
Thanks very much to Meg, the "not so LazyMarley' of Elsie Marley for organising this fun group!
Michele x

Curtain detail

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Bow Tie or two for starters!

Elsie Marley has started a group of us here for the a "Kid's Clothing Week Challenge" So for the next week we will spend 1 hour (or more) sewing things for kids. I am looking forward to seeing whats going on!
Some Bow ties and a thrifted shirt!
I have been researching the basic shape of a bow tie and making up a couple of patterns to fit a 4 year old boy, they were going really well...apart having to chase my model around and bribe him to keep still...It is not so easy to tigh a bow tie! After a couple of trys I didtched that idea and went for a pattern with a velcro back! Found at A Lemon Squeezy Home and it goes on in 2 seconds! Brilliant! Easy! 2 Done!
Oh mum!

For my next trick I will be attempting to make a 'groovy a skirt' for my 7 year old, using only part of some old lined curtains, a few odd bits and a chocolate bar!

Are you up-cycling? Let me know, I would love to visit?
Now lets see what others are up to in the flickr photo pool - here!
Michele x

P.S. If anyone is looking for a whole heap of resources and inspiration - Liesl of Hoppo Bumpo has an amalgamation of some links to her favourite sewing websites...all in the one spot! It must have taken ages to compile! There is endless advice and inspiration, not just for the serious sewer, its for people like me too - wanting some simple ideas and clever short cuts - Makes it easier to maximise your time!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mothers Day to All the Mums

Especially to my own mum (Fay - Nana Belle) my Nan (Elsie - Great Gran)
and to Maree (Gran Maree - my lovely mother in law and friend)
You are all so special, thank you for all your love, patients, humour and encouragement.

I hope you all have a lovely day!

With love from Michele, Geoffrey, Maeve and Fiann xxxxx

1. Baby Maeve and her Great Gran, 2. Me and Mum 68-69?, 3. Great Gran, Nana Belle and Maeve, 4. Gran Maree and Fiann, 5. In the Hospital, 6. My lovely Nan, 7. Maeve and I, 8. Mr Aldo Vini and Nana Belle, 9. Nana Belle and Randi

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sweet and Sour Masoor Dal Soup with Pumkin (and curry leaves)

Sweet and Sour Masoor Dal Soup with Pumkin (and curry leaves)

Love this soup...
Sweet and Sour Masoor Dal Soup with Pumpkin

This creamy, smooth dal soup with its pleasant lemony taste and chunks of butter-soft pumpkin is ideal as a tasty accompaniment to either a simple or elaborate menu. Masoor dal is also known as red or pink lentils. Serves 5 or 6
* This is one of the recipes we made with Kurma Dasa on our fantastic cooking afternoon with him!

1 cup dried masoor dal (red lentils)

6½ cups water

1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger

2 teaspoons hot green chili, minced

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons ghee or oil

1 cup or about 250g pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced (I add more)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds

¼ teaspoon yellow asafoetida powder

Handful of resh curry leaves if you can get them or 6 small dried curry leaves (I add more)

1 tablespoon brown sugar (depending on the pumkin - I add less)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or coriander (more...!)

Wash and drain the dal.

Bring to the boil the dal, water, ginger, chili, bay leaf, turmeric, and 2 teaspoons ghee or oil in a heavy 3-litre/quart saucepan over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to moderately low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and boil for ½-1 hour, or until the dal become soft.

Add the pumpkin and cook for another 10 minutes or until the pumpkin becomes soft. Add the salt and lemon juice.

Heat the remaining ghee or oil in a small pan over moderately high heat. Saute the mustard seeds in the hot oil until they crackle. Add the cumin seeds and toast until they turn dark golden brown. Add the fenugreek seeds. When they darken, add the asafoetida and curry leaves, stir once, and empty the contents of the pan into the cooked dal.

Stir in the brown sugar and stir well. Let the dal sit for 1 or 2 minutes; then add the chopped herbs. Serve hot.


This recipe is from Kurma Dasa - the Vegetarian Guru

Sunshiny feeling and Op Shopping, my favorites

These are a few of my favorite op shop finds
The lovely Miss Prudence has awarded me a Sunshine Blogging Award. I am so flattered that I was one of the bloggers she chose to give this to, thank you for your lovely encouragement and thoughtful comments Miss Prudence, you are very sweet.
As part of accepting the award, I need to pass it on to 12 bloggers I find inspiration from...

Now I know I am kind of cheating a little here inasmuch as I am only nominating 1 single blog...but with nearly 100 contributors...
I award the Sunshine award to -
With posts about Op shopping around Melbourne, lists of addresses and even maps showing where the op shops are, I really love what a great resource they are creating. Their enthusiasm is contagious and I just think they are really nice to take the time and share.
With nearly 100 contributors, I do not expect that all these people can reciprocate but just want them (and any readers) to know why this is a great blog and get behind it!

Here are 12 very good reasons why Op shopping in general is inspirational
to me, and why 'I Op Therefore I Am' inspires me (and hopefully you) to buy 2nd hand when we can. We might not always appreciate/agree with just what other people see in their own purchases; but that is not the point, therein begins the honing of 'your own' individuality. Viva la Difference!

1. Assisting charitable organisations - they give a lot of support to people who are experiencing tough times.

2. Recycling is very important. Our self-centered western culture is ‘renowned for its waste’- it is much more than embarrassing.
Using and reusing what we can is one of the basic steps to becoming a responsible culture that is aware it is 'spoilt' and works hard to be innovative and really value things, rather than just throwing stuff out!

3. Treasure from Trash - trash can definitely be another’s treasure. The things I see thrown out for rubbish collection makes me feel quite ill, if it can't go to the op shop surely it must be useful at a recycling depot.

4. Saving money is great. I love the feeling when you can get something for $1 when it sells brand spanking new for an arm and a leg more!

5. Shopping buzz - I am not out shopping much and although I feel I am quite controlled/acceptedly limited when it comes to purchasing, you can get that ‘let's splurge’ type of buzz at the op shop. How many items can you buy for $5 feels a little wrong sometimes!

6. Memories - I love the retro/kitsch gear. The memories that some of the items can bring back to you can touch you see something that you had when you were a youngster is like stepping back into your childhood.

7. Upcycling - is something that can transform a crappy piece of furniture, clothing, “anything”, into something more-than-acceptable and looking as good as something you might pay a lot of money for. See some of the 'before and after' at Design Sponge for inspiration!

8. Truly Fair/Fair trade - Buying second hand helps avoid supporting the world's greedy, dishonest clothing and footwear companies that turn to poor countries to supply them for next to nothing while they turn high profits.

9. Cheap experimentation - Being free to take something you paid very little for and attempting to refashion it, and making something that turns out to be a real flop!

10. Saving money - Did I mention how much we save at op shops?! I think I did, but it is worth mentioning again. Kids clothing is a great example of how fickle it is to spend big money on something that your fast growing child might wear 3 -10 times top before they have grown out of it. One of my most loved op shop buys to date is a pair of what I call ‘kicker boots’. They looked like little red Doc Martins and I bought them a tiny bit scuffed (semi punked). My daughter wore them when she was son, at 2-3 (bigger feet). I paid $1. I will keep these forever now...I love them so much.

11. The enthusiasm - the people who post their finds on “I Op Therefore I am” is contagious...I love hearing about bargains and seeing photos of their goodies! If you like that sort of thing there is a group of bloggers at Her Library Adventures posting their amasing finds once a week, I have to admit, it does give me a thrill...did I say that out loud?

12. Sustainable lifestyle - If you need anything...chances are you will find it and for very little indeed with the satisfaction that you are not adding to our already oversized carbon footprint.

* An Extra Bonus Reason!

13. Individualism - This can be a rare quality in the shopping mall mainstream, people are encouraged to forget how to be creative fashion wise and they give up their very own imagination to the constant suggestions of the popular culture...Boring! It is fun to find your own style without being manipulated and clone like. Have confidence with your own choices!

So I hope all the contributors feel nice and really Sunshiny about what they are doing over at 'I Op Therefore I am'...because I think it is a great site!
There are op shop tours being organised and don't forget the maps...I promised a long while ago I would contribute some information to the site and am going to make an effort to get my area into their system, maybe you could too?

Michele x
Happy Bargain Hunting!
P.S. Thanks again Miss Prudence, have a great weekend!