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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Take Action - Help Ban Live Export

Did you watch Four Corners tonight? What they showed was absolutely shocking

Dear friends, whether you are Australian or not, please sign the petition against the most horrible cruelty I have seen ever.

The following from the GetUp site:
Right now Australian cattle are being maimed and tortured before suffering the most painful deaths that the animal welfare movement has ever seen.

What's more, this callous slaughter is carried out in facilities that use equipment paid for by Australian taxpayers and inspected by Australian authorities.

Tomorrow we're presenting a petition at Parliament House in a press conference with the RSPCA, Animals Australia, and the Australasian Meat Industry Employers Union (AMIEU). The urgent petition calls on Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig to end the cruel practice of live cattle export.

Can you join the campaign and forward this to friends and family?

If you weren't convinced before, just watch this video footage from Animals Australia. Warning: the video is hard to watch, but it's worth the discomfort if we can help prevent this happening to other animals.

Let's call on the Government to immediately halt the live export of Australian animals to Indonesia and move towards an end to all live exports of Australian animals within 3 years. A huge public outcry right now, while the Government and the public are paying close attention, can ensure that not one more ship loaded with Australian cattle is allowed to leave an Australian port bound for Indonesia.

If you've seen the horrific footage of cattle being slaughtered in Indonesian abattoirs you'll know there is simply no room for more excuses from an industry that has had over a decade to fix this problem.

Our campaigners are in Canberra tonight with experts from the RSPCA and Animals Australia. The Agriculture Minister has already started to walk back from his previous support for live exports -- but another inquiry or investigation isn't enough. It's time to end live exports. Please join the campaign and forward this email to friends and family.

Thanks for taking a stand,
the GetUp Team

GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you'd like to contribute to help fund GetUp's work, please donate now! If you have trouble with any links in this email, please go directly to To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here. Authorised by Simon Sheikh, Level 5, 116 Kippax St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dolly Doctoring

I found this Pedigree doll at the local op shop for just $8.
I am ever on the lookout for things for the cubbyhouse.
I'm not sure which eye style or mechanism she may have had but I decided to fit some
for want of a better description,
always open eyes (static?)
After a bit of research on the net, I have found out that glue is a pretty big no-no.
The best advice I found was wrapping a sausage of Tac (eg: BluTac) around the edge of the eye and then going up the neck and fitting it into the eye socket. Once I had the eye in place I also packed more tac in behind the eye socket.

Here is the finished result. The tac will get quite firm but it will be easily removed if need be.
Certainly dolly would not stand up to vigorous toddler eye gouges but I think that is a lesson we teach them very early on.
No biting and no eye gouging
sounds a bit like World Federation Wrestling.

I have this pattern for the clothes now and my $1 bag of vintage scrap fabric

So that is one of my next projects.
Does craft or do children's toys for that matter get any cheaper?
Doll $8
Tac $1
Pattern $8
Fabric probably not even 50cents worth from the stash!
This doll I picked up the Evandale market for $3 just last weekend.
I had to fight my 80year old mother-in-law for it!
She has one lazy eye but I am happy to leave it as I am not a collector.
There is no branding on her and she has a simple eye mechanism that works on a weight system and is all one enclosed piece that fits inside a closed eye socket (ie: if you look up into the head via the neck, you only see two flesh coloured mounds where the eyes would be)
You can easily purchase the eye piece but it takes a bit of work. The method is to heat the head with a hairdryer or craft heat gun which allows the plastic to become more pliable. The eye is removed by prying it out through the eye opening while pushing from behind also.
Then the piece has to be pushed back in with the help of some reverse opening pliers (bridge pliers) and four hands are also a good idea!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A Plane Anniversary

Hmmm can you tell what it is?

Well how about this one?
(Please note wonderful garlic crop hanging in the upper right of photo)

Perhaps now you can see....
It's a plane!
You are looking from the rear. No wings yet.
Craig for reaching one year of building!
This is what Craig does with his spare time in the garage.
It is going to be a Sonerai.
Just like making a dress from a pattern really.....
Only one more year to go.
Every boy needs a hobby.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Knitted Hat - 20 Years In The Making

This is my current project at the moment. It is a pattern I have been mooning over for 20years now and I can prove it.....
It is from the Vogue Knitting magazine Autumn '91 issue.
I treasure my stack of Vogue Knitting mags and every year when the weather turns cool,
I get them out and pour over them.
Last week at our monthly Ravelry group (SnB) meet up, the others also poured over the magazine.
We oohed and aahed and got different viewpoints about the merit of dropped shoulders and what ply the dress would be made from....
One of the other girls also had the same issue at home too.
It was interesting to see the changes in the fashions from 20yrs ago and also how many were relevant still today and some even "retro" and cool.
We have wonderful discussions.
Naturally we are keen to discuss around the table everyone's current projects and feel everyone's yarns.
We talk about yarn a lot!
But we also talked about;
Vitamin D and the links with some diseases,
Stem cell research,
Growing up Catholic and being taught by nuns,
The future of books of paper pages/electronic books
Manners and hygiene
Travel plans
Children and Relationships

And we talk some more about knitting....
I love the diverse group of people who have come together in this group.
We are diverse in backgrounds and careers and even age group.
Knitting is the common thread that has woven our little group into a much looked forward to monthly session.
Thousands of people world wide are linked to Ravelry and there are many, many groups.
Don't be shy, link up with one of the groups and meet someone new, or even start a group yourself.
Knitting can be such a solitary activity and it is lovely to be in a like-minded group.
Everyone has different skill levels but it's not a competition, it's just a social.
So the basic gist of this "beenie" is that it is knit around the brim first and then joined and using circular needles to pick up stitches around the edge and knit to with ever decreasing circles to form the "cap" section.
The brim is fascinating as there is a knit together and an increase in rows 1 and 3 that create the diagonal slant of the brim.
The colours consist of a pattern over 6 rows and then on the 10th the trick is to reach in back and down 6 rows and pick up a stitch and knit it together with a coloured one thus making them into a kind of "bobble" section. It gives a wonderful and intriguing texture.
I can't reproduce the pattern here as I think it would be a copyright breach.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Olive Time

This is my island bench for the next 10 days or so.
Hope you weren't expecting romanticised photos of silky glossy olives in shades from woody magenta to midnight black.
I could have shown you two companions in ponchos, hair slightly lifted by a gentle autumn breeze, their arms lost in silvery foliage as they plucked handfuls of olives at a time and tossed them into little buckets on their wrists.
You would have seen a stunning view of the Tamar river stretched below the companions with bright yellows and autumnal umbers dotting the valley as the sun slanted low, setting northwest as it does this time of year.
Reality Check!
This many olives
(maybe about 10 kilos, not sure, should have weighed them)
will take you
4 hours of washing and slitting
1 paring knife of the finest quality moly/vanadium steel sharpened 4 times
6 pairs of disposable gloves
1 apron
3 glasses of red wine.

The method I use is soak in brine of half cup salt to every ten cups of water changing and replacing this solution every day for 10-12 days till the bitterness is almost gone and then it is ready for the final pack into sterilised jars.
Gavin at The Greening of Gavin has recently done olives too and his less histrionic version is here.
The buckets I use are recycled from a local restaurant and all plastic so there is no salt corrosion.
The plates on top are to keep the olives fully submersed in the brine so they don't go manky.
The final pack will be in recycled glass coffee jars with plastic lids but I notice Gavin uses the clip seal bottles.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Front Yard Food Forest

When I first moved here about 20yrs ago, this Mt Fuji ornamental cherry tree dominated a front yard of lawn.
It wasn't as big then but still substantial enough that the root system was starting to make lawn mowing more an exercise in obstacle course.
In order to appease the tree and go a little more low maintenance, I changed the front to a more "woodland" type of forest.
Over a course of years I put down mountains of newspaper and pea straw to kill the lawn and encouraged ground coverings and added shrubs.
This is strictly a "square lawn out the front" kind of neighbourhood so they didn't think my efforts sane at all and were positively aghast when I put a lemon tree in the front!
This plan has only been successful on one side of the front garden, the other side seeming to be a completely different micro-climate despite my best efforts.
In the last 20yrs my gardening ethos has shifted quite a bit. The front was planned as an area of flowering white shrubs with bluebells in the spring.
Now I'm looking for food production

I have decided to try for a food forest based on permaculture principles. I will not be able to reclaim the "woodlands" on the southern side of the front, and nor do I want to, this is a lovely outlook  from my bedroom window. It will become a fairy walk for the future grandchildren.
But this side.....

It doesn't look like much yet but I have planted blueberries, red and black currants and a pomegranate for the middle story and rhubarb and strawberries for the understory.
I will relocate the raspberry canes out here too.
Everything can be under-netted together when the time comes.
I am planning kiwi fruit vines and grapes on the other side of the driveway.
I am still deciding which tree for the footpath to replace the one that was broken several years ago. I would love a small hazelnut or an olive but I think they would present an OHS problem underfoot for pedestrians.
Any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Knit In A Night - Corn on the Cob Toy

This knit for my nephew (nearly 2) and only took a night and a scrap of yellow and green wool
and a small amount of fibre fill and a cotton ball.
It is knit from Kimberly Chapman's free pattern here and she has loads more wonderful creations here
It is knit using four double ended needles so it is not a beginner project but if you have become proficient this is a good quick project with NO sewing except for weaving the ends in.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

25cent Dolly Dress Ups

I had a bleak autumn day last week so I got out the sewing machine looking for a small project and found this.
You may remember a couple of months ago I visited an op shop and found a plastic bag containing lots of other little bags like this....
They look like dress up sewing projects that would have been part of those weekly newsagent things.
Some sort of bears and outfits thingy that you build on week by week.
The bag contained about eight outfits in kit form and cost me $2 and I'm thinking it will be good for when the grandchildren finally come along.
I just need to find a doll to fit them, shouldn't be too hard.
What a fun little project though, I can make up one whenever I have the whim and at around 25cents an outfit, that is cheap craft!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ceramic Ginger Grater

A couple of posts ago I was telling you about the ceramic pie weights and how they are Craig's favourite kitchen gadget.
The ceramic ginger grater is one of mine.
It is simply a piece of cast porcelain and glazed on one side.
There is a good size hole at the top to hold it by and a series of raised "dots" that are really effective at shredding the ginger.
Every scrap of shred can be salvaged into the cooking and wash up is a simple rinse clean.
Cost is next to nothing and it is at least 15 years old and doesn't look like wearing out.
They are still commonly available in kitchen stores.
This would also make a very good kitchen tea or engagement present with a couple of hand knitted kitchen cloths.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blind Baking

Not the kind I was doing yesterday!
The baking pastry kind...
This may very well be a passe post for many but there still seems to be a mystification around blind baking and I suspect it's because people are not pastry making at home as they once did.
Blind baking is the first initial cooking of the pastry base, usually 10-20 mins depending how firm you want the base which in turn is usually dictated by the filling ingredients.
Why do it?
If you were making a lemon tart or a quiche and you poured the filling into a raw pastry shell it wouldn't have a hope of cooking and crisping. It would go soggy and in fact probably leak egg mixture.
You pastry case is the holder for your filling.
If you just put the pastry shell straight into the oven it will puff up and warp and come out like a large plate rather than a dish, so you need to line it with a piece of foil or baking paper (so the weights don't bake into the case-I've seen it happen) and then add weight to keep the pastry down.
The reason I prefer baking paper is because after pulling it out of the oven I can pick up the corners transferring paper and weights to a bowl to cool without damaging the case by pouring out contents or ripping foil.
Many people reach for the dried beans or rice but we use ceramic pie weights.

These would have to be Craig's favourite "utensil" in the kitchen.

 I have a Tupperware container to store them and they sit right alongside the baking tins in the drawer. They are at least 15 years old and I fully expect that they will be passed on after I am dead and gone. Even the baking paper gets refolded and popped in the top of the container with the weights for next time so we get a few uses out of it.

If you are looking for a kitchen tea or engagement gift, I recommend ceramic pie weights. Blind baking is never a chore or a nuisance when you have them on hand as part of your baking stash just like rolling pins, you can get by without them and improvise but the job is just easier with them.

So after you have baked the weighted pastry shell, remove the weights and you can now pour in even the wettest ingredients and they will bake safe and sound and the proof will be in the cutting also.

If you keep hens, chances are that you will be baking some quiches and lemon/lime tarts and you will be doing some blind baking. Even if you only do it twice a year, I guarantee you will love how easy ceramic pie weights make the job. They get nice and hot and are just the right weight and can be re-used over and over.
They make a sensible gift alternative to yet another set of six wine glasses.

Stephanie's Quince Tart
(recipe in Stephanie Alexander's Cooks Companion)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Poached Quinces-The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Quinces - closely related to apples and pears. They ripen in autumn when their skins are yellow and they look like pears in shape.
The trees are frost resistant and in fact need several nights below 7C for fruit setting but the fruit themselves need to be harvested before the first frosts.
They are usually too hard and sour to be eaten raw so are more usually poached and used for many recipes from cakes to savoury roasts to pickles (lets face it we do seem to pickle just about anything!) and a favourite in Tasmania is quince paste that is enjoyed with our islands fabulous cheeses.
Sound like I know it all....
This is my first cooking foray with quinces and its about to get ugly...

I found lots of recipes to try in Stephanie Alexanders "Cook's Companion" (my favourite cookbook and bible for the kitchen. I chose to poach and take my projects from there.
So I duly got out my cast iron casserole dish and washed the quinces the really well.
In went the seeds wrapped in muslin and light syrup and a whole vanilla bean.
So first cut into quarters or sixths.
They are as hard as pumpkin to cut!
Stephanie says to poach at 150C for at least 4hrs and up to 8hrs.
Perfect!...because I have to now go to work and it can cook away till I get home
Hmmmm....just a thought, perhaps I could do this in the slow cooker....
better just stick to the book for my first time.

They turn red, that's OK, that's not the bad bit.
The bad bit is that I didn't read the recipe properly and I should have peeled them.
That's OK, 'cos I can gently peel off the skins.
Here comes the ugly....
The smell when I got home was overpowering throughout the house and it was like burnt vanilla toffee.
And that's because it was!!!
The syrup had bubbled over all day and spilled onto the base of the oven and baked and baked

This my friends is a snapshot of what I did this morning. After warming the oven again I went to work scraping the "toffee" off the bottom and using a hot cloth to try to wipe out the worst.
When I tried to rinse the cloth it became rock hard with impregnated burnt sugar so it was a long process.
I'm voting for a catching dish underneath next time or better still, I think this could all be achieved painlessly by using the slow cooker on low.

So away from the oven disaster and with a bit of "food styling" mmm-mm some beautiful glossy ruby chunks of poached quince ready for
Stephanie's Quince Tart
which is a blind baked shell of sweet short pastry with the quinces cut into wedges and arranged attractively with a frangipane style topping and baked again. The rest are going into the quince and nut cake.
But there is more....

I have reserved the poaching syrup for Eliza Acton's quince custard (also found in Stephanie's book)
where it is mixed with 12 egg yolks to make a custard to which I intend to re-use the vanilla bean by splitting it and adding the scraped seeds to the custard.

For more information about quinces start here at the Wikipedia link.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Retrospective Mothers Day

I had received a card in the mail during the week from my eldest.
It had a cute little map showing me where to go to a local shop that was holding my present for me. So sweet and a wonderful surprise.
It has been a bit of a tradition over the years for the girls to ask me what I want and my reply is always the same;
"Clean bedrooms"
I still get ridiculously excited when I walk into their rooms, now as grown ups, and they are clean and tidy.

As Mothers Day dawned I felt quite sad and sorry for myself; Mother is away in France and has been for the last couple of months and both the girls were in Hobart. I felt quite jealous of all the facebook announcements of lunches, dinners, love etc etc.
At around 12.30 Emma walked through the gate surprising me with a quick visit. I was elated and excited.
Together we visited the cemetery and put flowers on my Grandmothers grave as is custom.
It gives us a special moment to bring into focus someone very special, gone but not forgotten.
It is a time for family stories and oral history and binding memories.

I had a frank discussion with Emma as we walked around the cemetery about my feelings of despondency before she arrived and my elation of her visit.
Of course they are some normal feelings but I talked with her candidly about feeling just a little ridiculous that I allow myself to get caught up in the expectations and hoopla that the commercial side that this day tries to persuade us is the norm.
She in turn spoke frankly with me about her feelings for the day and expectations she knows is placed on other friends her age.
Very interesting conversation.
We also, not surprising given our surroundings, pondered the feelings of those without their mothers, especially for the first time. The cemetery was filled with visitors. Some have made the journey many times but for others it was a raw emotional first time.
For some families, they will be celebrating their very first with new babies, starting out on the precipice of new traditions.

Mothers Day in fact means many things for different people. Flowers and presents are lovely but it is the opportunity to reconnect and focus on women in our lives that is special.
A celebration of maternal nurturing which is not exclusive to those who have birthed but to all who have mothered and been mothered.
I sincerely hope you all had a beautiful Mothers Day.
I think you are extremely lucky indeed if yours was as soul searching and illuminating as mine.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tractors, Sheep Dogs and Finery

All hand crafted in Tasmania by Geoff Murray from sterling silver.
Prices start from $25.
Geoff is also a gem facetor and has studs with sterling silver posts of amethyst, citrine and peridot for just $30!
Today will be a big day as all the townies will come out.
The pearl has sold but the earrings and the pendant above it are part of his Tarkine Collection. These are also available from the Makers Market design centre in Burnie (naturally at retail prices).
Geoff's work is also available at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery Shop but if you want a wholesale bargain, today is the last day at AGFEST.

Occasionally I pop out for a toilet break and ooh aah over the vintage machinery like this beautifully restored Massey Ferguson tractor.

or equally I ooh ahh over the working dogs in action.

They are amazing!
I would go to AGFEST just for the sheepdog trials!
I never get tired of watching them.
I once had a dog like this and his focus and attention was manic.
All day long he just lived for me to tell him what to do.
He lived for instruction and if I couldn't give him something to do, he found me something to give him to do!
What a dog! Miss him terribly.
Well hope to see you today. I would love to meet anyone visiting.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Ginkgo Collection

I had a great day at AGFEST today selling handcrafted jewellery by my silversmith friend
Geoffrey Murray.
This is part of Geoff's new range,
the Ginkgo Collection.
Each one is made as an exact replica of each Ginkgo leaf he collects so every single piece of jewellery is unique.
No two are the same.
There is beautiful striation detail in the leaves that isn't quite picked up by my phone camera.
(More photos of the fun from AGFEST when I retrieve my photos tomorrow)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Flat out like a lizard drinking at the moment.

I will be laying aside the tea towels and bolting from the clinic and heading to
Thursday I am working for Geoff Murray who is a silver jewelry designer.
We will be at J12 in the Pavillion J.
Geoff designs and makes all his jewelry by hand in his workshop.
This current exhibition includes; "Ginko Leaves", "The Southern Cross" and his very popular "Tarkine Collection"
His work can also be found at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery shop.
Call in and say Hi and maybe you'll find something lovely for a special Mum.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

John Glover Skies

I find the skies in Tasmania take on a special unique appearance in Autumn.
The sunsets are usually more spectacular and at other times I can really see what it was the artists of colonial times were trying to capture.
When I look at a sky like this, I feel the years collapse and I can almost see John Glover (1767-1849) in this very paddock painting another rural scene.
This photo is taken not far from Evandale which is the home of the Jon Glover society and it is very probable that he did indeed roam these hills.
Another favourite artist who comes to mind when I see these skies is William Charles Piguenit (1836-1914). He was Tasmanian born and I know he was also enthralled by these same skies.

I love to feel this connection with painters from 200 years ago.
More importantly I appreciate the historical points of reference their paintings provide, both physically and anthropologically speaking. Obviously there were no cameras to capture precisely these scenes.
Will people stop painting these beautiful skies now because we have cameras to document every aspect of our world or will there still be those driven to capture delight by their own skill?
Will we continue to gaze or are we becoming blase?
When considering art for your home, are you drawn still to landscapes or a more modern art now?
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