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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vintage Fabric Sell Off

I have to face facts. 
I am NOT going to get around to all my projects in this lifetime.
I am going to reduce my fabric stash for starters.

Today I have uploaded some 1950s and 1960s fabric to the shop. Click on the shop tag at the top of the page under the banner heading and it will take you there.
The bark cloth type fabric at the top with the red lanterns is priced per metre but the others are all for the piece. 

Gorgeous Jackie Kennedy style suiting.
See here for inspiration

Soft wool to match

You just don't see this quality anymore. This woven linen/cotton has the most divine fall and drape. You know the sort? It just wants to fall and ripple off the table at every chance.
I know there are a lot of sewing girls out there who would really do these fabrics justice. 

Available for a limited time only in the shop for a week.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Christmas Makes from Our Better Living group

As I mentioned in my post about our Living Better group meet up for October, Sandra brought in some great easy ideas for crafting in the lead up to Christmas. 
Here is a tutorial for stamping on candles to give you some ideas.

You can watch a tutorial here for making the box in a bag and once you get the idea of the technique then you can personalise in your own way.

Making cards is a creative past time and is also a great activity to get the children involved in too.

This gorgeous hanging ornament was made using glitter card stock and running it through one of those cutting machines (like a Bigshot or a Cuttlebug) using a cutting template and then assembling and finishing off with a crystal in the middle. 
The best way (and the cheapest) to do this is share resources. Get a group of paper crafting friends together and share equipment, stamps, card stock and templates and make an afternoon of it.

Thanks Sandra for the beautiful images (I always get so caught up in our discussions and forget to take photos) and bringing along these ideas for everyone.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Living Better in October

We talked about 
Christmas gifts
Making decorated candles

Making home made paper hanging ornaments
which led to memories about 
saving foil milk bottle lids for decorating
and stories of painting pop corn for stringing.

We talked about making simple salves from Calendula in the garden
herbal tea bags for bath soaks
We talked about 
simple Christmas traditions, each family member taking a turn to stir the pudding for luck and the hidden objects in a plum pud.
We talked about the overwhelming amount of "stuff"
Georgia's family give the children coupons for fun things to do together. It's about spending time with children rather than buying more "stuff". They have coupons for going to the movies or an afternoon at the swimming pool or a trip to the beach.

We talked about broad beans;
The difference between planting in autumn or in spring,
their tendency to get rust, a fungal disease, as the weather warms up, 
About not composting affected plants.
About not trying to squeeze that last 6 pods from the crop and knowing when it is time to harvest and call it quits, ready for the next crop.

We talked about artisan pasta making and Brad is going to share his recipe for beetroot pasta and roasted capsicum pasta.

Gemma shared her recipe for Beet Leaf Ravioli. 
A great way to use the leaves from beetroot, both thrifty and nutritious, not to mention delicious.

Filling for Ravioli:

500g Beet Leaves (stalks Removed)
Maldon Sea Salt
1 small red onion
100g unsalted butter
4 tblsp marjoram leaves
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
150g Ricotta (lightly broken up with fork)
100g Parmesan
1/2 nutmeg (freshly grated) or just use nutmeg spice!

Gently fry onion in butter until onion begins to brown. Add marjoram and garlic and stir for 1 minute then add beet leaves. Cook together briefly, season then allow to cool. Stir in Parmesan and ricotta. Add nutmeg and season to taste.

Make fresh pasta to your favourite recipe (or buy fresh lasagna sheets) Cut pasta into squares. Add small amount of filling to each square. Top with another square and pinch around edges to seal (ensuring you have removed as much air as possible - to stop them exploding in the water!).

Add to boiling water. Allow them to float to the surface but ensure they have had enough cooking time so that filling will be heated through.

We talked about poultry;
laying hens,
different breeds,
free range turkeys,
quail and their housing,
chicken raising

We talked about growing up in small communities
outback towns, the syncronisity of life and the bravery of those a little different who swim against the current of life's stream.

We talked about Mount Gnomon products and Langdale Farm pork (also at the Killiecrankie open day)
we talked about Eliza's great video and that ham ordering had begun.

We talked and talked and reminisced and talked some more.
I probably have forgotten to mention lots more.
The most important thing is that everyone shares and brings knowledge of some sort with them and we all leave a bit richer for the experience.
Thank you everyone for a lovely time

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Utensil Drawer Challenge

The bane of my mother's life....
my utensil drawer.
I know I'm not alone and probably 95% of the population has one of these. Only last week Down to Earth blog writer, Rhonda, was feeling the spring cleaning urge and tackled the utensil drawer.
I spring cleaned the pantry this week and the utensil draw was also on the hit list.

So here are my "must haves-tools-of-the-trade" laid out.
How did all those crumbs get in the bottom!
And the plethora of rubber bands! Could never find one in there when I needed one but they were hiding at the bottom all right.
I purchased a plastic divider thingy from the op shop for $1.50 with the thought that it would seperate and contain some of the smaller items.

By placing it in the middle it created a natural divider within the drawer also.
I think to expect all that stuff to go back in and remain tidy is a bit ambitious.
Quite frankly two drawers are required, so I have removed some placemats and napkins to the linen cupboard and relocated the teatowels and dish cloths and given over another drawer.

Previously I had also purchased a couple of white coated wire storage racks from the op shop so I placed these inside the drawer on either side to "create" three divisions in a fashion. Hopefully this will keep things more accessible and orderly. I have grouped like colours and like materials together so that they will remain in a group and be easily found. The whole outfitting cost about $3. Bargain.
What about you? Are you up for a utensil drawer challenge?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Make it Possible - Imagine a world without factory farming

Yes some of your supermarket purchases perpetuate this practice, especially cheap chicken meat. There is nothing crueller than purposely breeding meat chickens to grow so quickly and so big that they can't stand up and can't even get out of their own excrement.
If you say you don't know about the misery of caged egg producing chickens then you are living under a rock because that has been exposed for decades and thankfully the consumer trend is changing.
You may not be aware of the plight of caged pigs though and this video is very gentle and doesn't tell you the half of it.
Yes some of your supermarket purchases attribute to this inhumane set of practices
it is most definitely your choice of fast food outlet that contributes to this.
For every chicken nugget pack you eat, several meat birds have died suffocated in their own hot smelly rank conditions with broken legs.
For every bacon and egg burger a chicken has had it's beak ground off so it can't peck. It only wants to peck because it is slowly being driven insane by the unnatural conditions and over-crowding.
A pig is penned so that it can't turn around, it has nothing to look at day in day out and all natural inclinations are curbed. It too is slowly going insane.

Our chickens are free ranging in a large yard and sometimes into the garden proper too. Even so we know a happy chicken needs change and variety. We change the landscape of their yard with blocks of wood, bales of straw and old tyres, giving them something to jump on or through. We hang bunches of greens from baling twine so they are pecking a moving object and being mind stimulated. 
A happy chicken produces good eggs.
Please consider ALL your food purchases carefully and consciously. 
It is not fair to blame a farmer who is responds to consumer demand. If you demand ethical food, they will produce it. 
Tasmania is phasing out sow stalls by 2014.
Tasmania banned battery hens in 2012. If you are still buying caged eggs in Tasmania then they are coming from the mainland.
We are so lucky in Tasmania, most of the meat produced here is ethically raised and it is easy to meet your farmer and your food face to face. We (Craig and I) buy pork (Landrace and Wessex Saddleback and sometimes a bit of Tamworth)  from farmers we know and they are often pigs we have met and patted in the paddock. 
I believe in eating meat and I believe in the consequences and the responsibility of that decision.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


What do you think of this design item made from recycled materials?
It is made from timber slats, has feet and a handle and uses brass rivets.

It is a cross between a tray and a trug....
it is called,
(by Cliff Anderson)

What do you think?
Could you use one?
How much would you pay?
Don't forget locals that the Living Better Group meets tomorrow night at the Cock and Bull (upstairs) from 7-9pm.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oh My Goodness!!!

We had the most amazing weekend!

Please allow a moment of self-indulgence.
After doing the Growers' Market at ut si in Perth Tas on Saturday morning (lemon cordial a huge seller!), we packed a quick bag and headed for Hobart.

Saturday night we had a very low key dinner at Tandoor Curry House before experiencing the opulence of Gold Class
We sipped 42 degrees Champagne and watched the action packed "Argo" while reclining in the most comfortable chairs ever. We had won a $30 voucher at a recent trivia night so it was only an additional $44 plus drinks. This style of cinema viewing is a MUST if you are planning to see something like a long movie with plenty of big screen action like "Lord of the Rings" or a special session of a Harry Potter movie.

The next day we had breakfast at a popular cafe in North Hobart called "Raincheck Lounge". The service was superb but a pity the eggs are not free range. You can taste the difference. Owners of backyard chooks will always taste the difference.

image from here

Then it was on to the fabulous Glenorchy Tip Shop.
Yep! It's the shop run alongside the dump.
We found some cute little Tupperware stacking mugs for the cubby house plus another "butterfly wing" AKA triangular saucepan lid 
see here

We found heaps of #27 Fowlers jars but at $4 we thought that was a bit steep as you can buy brand new ones for that! We also found a couple of Tupperware containers at $1 each and a light fitting as a spare for the lounge room for just $4.50. 

But NEXT....
the piece de resistance....
a visit to MONA.

image from the Mercury newspaper
The Museum of Old and New Art.
It was our second visit and just as exciting as the first,
maybe even more so....
While enjoying a Pimms and lemonade and prosciutto pizza after a good three hours of art viewing in Basement 3 alone, none other than David Walsh, the owner of MONA, pulled up a lounge chair next to us!!! Feeling much revived we headed to Basement 2 & 3 for more art appreciation. I discovered
 "The Economical On The Skin of Caracans, Caracas, Venezuela, 2006"
by Santiago Sierra

"The skin on the back of 10 persons who declared to have zero dollars was photographed. A medium tone in greyscale was assigned to that value. The skin on the back of 10 persons who declared to have a thousand dollars was photographed. A different medium tone in greyscale was assigned to that value. Finally, the skin on the back of 10 persons who declared to have a million dollars was photographed. A medium tone in greyscale, different to the other two, was assigned to that value. Once a tone of grey in the scale had been assigned to zero, ten and a million dollars, the value of black and white was calculated in dollars. The value of black turned out to be minus 2.106 dollars; and the value of white 11.548.415 dollars."
A very powerful piece and my stand out experience of the visit. I was so excited about it that when Craig caught up to me I started to explain to him enthusiastically
"What the artist has done here....."
At exactly the same moment,
David Walsh had come up to stand right next to me with a couple of his friends and he was saying at the exact same time....
"What the artist has done here....."
It was a bizarre moment of sychronisity that could only happen at MONA.

My other exciting moment (could it get any better???) was coming across Picasso's "Weeping Woman"....literally, just coming upon it among other works hung nonchalantly on the wall. 

I could have wept!
Even disregarding the thousands of pieces of artwork from Egyptian sarcophagus to Roman coins to the most modern and confronting, the sheer magnificence of the building built into a sandstone cliff face is breathtaking.
Lonely Planet has now documented Hobart as the 7th most visited city in the world and that is purely down to MONA. I do so hope you get to visit this amazing privately owned art gallery.
It was certainly a weekend to remember.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Visual Metaphor For Life

As some of you know Craig is a shearer.
He sent me this photo the other morning.
It is the view from the toilet door where he was working....
Crisp clear day.....
Clear blue skies....
Contented cows grazing very nearby.....

then he sent me another photo.....
the inside of the shed....

This is the bin where all the dags are placed.
A dag is the pooey wool from sheep's behinds!
A lot of people understand that shearing is extremely hard physical work but I bet you haven't stopped to think about how much shit they deal with!

Anyway, I thought it was a good visual metaphor for life. We wish all our skies were blue and our days full of contentment but well, we also have shit to deal with, and that's life.
The good with the bad.
My Prayer for you....
May your horizon be serene and calm and your dag bin small.

Thank you all for your well wishes too and the very kind comments last post.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thermomix Update

So you may have noticed I have been quiet of late.
I have been very, very, ill with a virus that turned into pneumonia. I am very much recovered now and in awe of modern medicine. Sadly while I was ill a friend's husband passed away and a little girl lost her Daddy. Puts it in perspective hey!

Though still in the honeymoon period of Thermomix ownership I did want to tell you how this machine really came into it's own while I was sick. The smile says it all but I will elaborate. Craig has been working some really big hard days shearing rams and big fat whethers, coming home absolutely exhausted and needing serious sustenance. I was unable to walk from the kitchen to the lounge room without becoming very breathless and weak. Many meals I have made over the past fortnight that I was able to do minimal prep work and walk away and let it do it's thing, providing Craig with a good hearty meal. 
Of note especially was the Aussie Meat Pie recipe. It is THE best and most successful pie I have made. The filling was the exact consistency and the flavour was great. I also made risotto and other curries and casseroles. The really helpful feature is that I don't need to stand over a stove stirring. It removes a lot of the hands on cooking. While I was so ill it was a God-send. 
So far, absolutely no regrets and very much in love with my Thermomix.
I have a friend who is a chef and uses the Thermomix in his kitchen. He says it replaces an apprentice for him.
So a very much recovered me wants to remind you that it is seed freedom fortnight and I hope you have found a friend to swap some seeds with and made some envelopes up for next year. If you are buying your seeds for this spring/summer, please consider heirloom seed companies and save the viable seed.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Microplane- A 2nd Drawer Must Have

When the Better Living Group came over last month to cook Christmas Cakes and Puddings I was surprised to discover that none of them had ever seen or heard of a Microplane before.
I'm not one for useless gadgets but this is one tool that really makes life easier in the kitchen for a couple of little jobs. I love it so much that it is also a common gift I buy especially for a man who likes to cook (because they can be hard to buy for).
Basically this is a fine grater on a handle but it's in the design.
It may not surprise you to know that it was invented by a man and closely along the lines of a wood working tool, hence it is so keen and ergonomic. If it's not easy to use then it is a waste of money.
It's primary role in my kitchen is citrus zesting, nutmeg grating and parmesan shavings but it does do more.

I have included this clip from You Tube that shows how easy it is to use and wash up and store away. Much better than I could explain. Once you have one of these you will not go back to ground nutmeg again. There is nothing like grating your own fresh from the nut.
This is not a paid review, simply information as I was surprised so many hadn't heard of these before. There are a couple of similar products but I find the Microplane is the best and retails for about $30. This may be something you are looking for on your Christmas list.

It was a hoot watching everyone discover zesting with the Microplane and though it is extremely sharp, no-one cut themselves because it is so easy to use unlike some other graters. You should be able to find them in any good homewares stores but probably not in budget chain stores.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day Rituals

I find it helpful to keep a some days especially for ritual jobs.
Monday is popular being the start of the week and still fresh in my mind!
A weekly ritual from now until Christmas is to "feed the cake" so on a Monday I unwrap it and trickle some scotch over the top and wrap it back up.

The other standard Monday ritual is my once a week high dose Vitamin D capsule.

Daily medication is much easier to remember but I'm glad I can just take one high dose capsule once a week. So Mondays it is!

Do you have Day Rituals?
Like a once a week clean of your wooden boards with salt and lemon juice...

Another day I set aside is Sunday for dog brushing otherwise the motivation to do this job is low. It is one job that I can't be slack about. 

In the old days, there used to be a day set aside for washing and a day for ironing.
There was a day for bathing and a day for praying.
A day for beating rugs and a day for shopping.
Do you still hold some days special?

Friday, October 5, 2012

What Value Do We Really Place On Food?

This site has some wonderful global maps. To get a picture of economies, food production and income spent on food, go to the site and have a play. There is a drop down box at the upper left of the map where you can change the information required and as you roll over the countries, all the stats will appear.
You will get an idea of who grows food and how much of their income is spent on their food. Some of the information is staggering.
As we are in Seed Freedom Fortnight, I would like you to see a bigger picture of food. I would love to know if the stats were pretty much what you thought or if they were a total revelation. What is one thing that blew you away? What conclusions do you draw from some of the stats? 
I find it interesting how little America pays for food, naturally the average income is relatively high compared to most countries and there is a lot of food produced in the area. Given that, does it explain how cheaply food integrity is regarded by countries like America and Australia. I'm talking bigger picture here, not your pockets of natural wholesome food devotees. I'm thinking about the rise and rise of food chains and the fall of farmers profits. I'm thinking of the growing fast food industries and the fact that we think it is normal to abandon our homes and eat the most basic of meals, namely breakfast, outside of the home and prepared by someone else on a regular basis. There are many people eating their breakfast out more than 5 times a week.
Do you think we hold food too cheaply in our esteem?
Here is another good post on food price and quality over at "the Frugal girl" in her post 
"Why do we buy junky cereal to save a dollar or two, but then order $20 takeout on a busy night?"
I hope you head over and have a play with the map and read Frugal Girls post, I'd be interested to know what you think.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Seed Freedom Fortnight

Seed Freedom Fortnight
2-16 Oct 2012

Some of you may not know this but there has been an insidious move by a few companies over the last few decades to make whole country's agricultural business their business!
They have produced chemicals and fertilisers that only lead to more chemical and fertiliser dependency and to wrap the whole up in a nice oligopoly package they have also patented seed.
They OWN the seed.
The farmer must buy the seed, he can not save the seed and he risks financial ruin should his seed become accidentally cross pollinated with their seed thus making it the company's seed.
You may have heard of Monsanto in America. What you may not realise is that some of the dirtiest work by these oligopolies is occurring in struggling third world countries. 
We are losing seed varieties every year but it is most important that you start saving seed now. Seed adapts and evolves for the area it grows in. If we lose that, we lose the ability to feed ourselves. We become instead reliant on a system that holds all the cards and reduces diversity.
We lose our freedom from hunger and independence.
Please, each one of you, in your area, save your seed and buy only local heirloom/open pollinating/GMO free seed.
In this fortnight get together and swap seed.
That's what we did to wrap up our Living Better group last month.
After we finished the cakes we had a sit down and shared seed.
I gained beetroot, lupins and peas and NZ yams.
I swapped multi-headed sunflowers.
This Saturday I will also take to market some Turks Turban pumpkin seed.
Hope you watch the video; Dr Vandana Shiva has been fighting for seed freedom for decades and Costa is own special Australian gardening legend.
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