Month: July 2017

Twenty-One: Cordial Cordials

Zara and I recently held a small combined 30th birthday dinner with some of our friends. We were in need of some less alcoholic options for our guests to drink and after the success of my first cordial making attempt I thought I would try my hand at a couple more.

Zara’s lemon tree provided us with its first ever crop this year and our new house has a big orange tree out the front, so I thought an orange & lemon cordial would be a good option. After a bit of reading different recipes I sort of just made it up, mostly using this recipe as a base. Sadly I was in a bit of a rush when making it to record my recipe, but I’m sure I added a fair bit more juice than called for and also added a little bit of mandarin zest and juice as I thought the base recipe was a little lacking.

A few years ago I made a ginger syrup, so figured I would try that again, but this time used a recipe from Mary Blackie’s Great Australian Country Cookbook which I picked up in an op-shop recentlyish. It’s pretty straight forward, just cook up grated ginger and sugar in water. It makes a pretty zingy ginger flavour, but is still quite sweet; I think next time I’ll add some lemon juice to balance it out. It uses a fair amount of ginger, but if you keep the strained out cooked ginger you can use it for any number of other applications (we froze it and have since used it in Vietnamese ginger chicken and still have more in the freezer).

Both cordials were delicious, and while I attempted to make smaller amounts, I am not sad that there is a fair bit left over. Come summer I think I’ll try to make sure I’ve got a bottle in the fridge at all times, as they’re so easy to make and so very refreshing.

Twenty: Winter Warmer

When we went on holidays to Tasmania a few weeks ago I knew I’d need a beanie or two to keep my giant head warm. I packed my ole’ faithful green beanie that I’ve had for years and decided to take my crochet hooks and two skeins of black wool that I’d found at the op shop.  After trawling ravelry (an online knit & crochet community), I had shortlisted a few pattern options.

A few days into my holiday and sick of wearing my green number, I decided to get hooking and pulled out my tools. I grabbed both skeins of wool and found that they were not the same type of wool as I had thought, but two different skeins of different plys. My crocheting pursuit was thwarted.

Last year we became pretty obsessed with a TV show on the ABC called Rosehaven, which we found out was shot in a small town called Geeveston in the Huon Valley. Before leaving also discovered that the best sushi in Australia is in Geeveston, run by a Japanese bloke who settled there. My sashimi dreams weren’t to come true sadly, as the chef was in Hobart preparing food for the Dark Mofo Winter Feast. So, to be honest, my major motivator for heading to Geeveston was no longer.

One day, we were headed to the Hartz Mountains to do a walk and noticed that Geeveston was en route, so we decided to check out the town on the way. The town was quite quaint, with some great cafes, a community market happening and some wonderful craft shops. One shop was Stone Pippin, which exclusively sold yarn! I had a potter around the store and noticed some black hanks of yarn (yarn that is coiled or wrapped, not in a ball) in a basket. I had a dig around and found a hank of super soft Tasmanian Alpaca yarn and knew it had to adorn my head!

We got home and after turning the hank into a ball (using a spatula in our Air BnB) I got hooking. I changed the pattern I was originally going to use and decided instead on a beret….sadly I cannot find the pattern I used in my search history or from a trawl through ravelry. I remember that it was from an Australian blogger and that I used treble crochet stitches for the majority and double crochet for the band to keep it secure on my head.

The end result is pretty good, some of my decreases are a bit clumsy…but because it’s dark on my dark hair it is quite forgiving.  Practically, it is very warm and is keeping me cosy during this cold snap! Plus, its super soft and cuddly.


Nineteen: Nifty Napkins

Simon and I were both born in 1987, he in mid May and I in late July. Rather than throwing two 30th bashes, we decided to combine and had a small party with our closest friends in between our actual birthdays.

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog (unlike us, we are finally catching up  on our projects after a crazy two month) you’ll know that we try to avoid new. So, for our party we decided to theme it ‘Op Shop Formal’, using items purchased from op shops to decorate (subsidised by some hired items) and encouraged our guests to dress up in second hand threads.

The decor was pretty simple, we planned to have one long table and set up brass candle holders  in clusters down it’s length. I knew I wanted to introduce colour, so to do this decided to make napkins from fabric that I sourced from op shops (or my fabric stash!). We kept our eye out during our op shop trips over the months leading up and struck gold at Savers Greensborough, finding a combo of fabrics and tablecloths in a blue/white/yellow/mustard colourway. From here, I collected a few other pieces of fabric from oppies and grabbed some blue and yellow thread to use in the overlocker to finish the edges.

Once I had enough fabric to make enough napkins, I got out my scissors and found a napkin we had at home to use as a size guide. I tried my best to make the most out of each tablecloth or length of fabric with my cutting and did an okay job, but could have probably gotten a few more napkins cut out if I was a bit more focused! In the end I cut out about a dozen more napkins than I needed, so it wasn’t an issue I cut inefficiently, but I was still annoyed about the wastage. So, I chucked the offcuts in our rag bag to use when we’re cleaning.

When everything was cut to size I got overlocking, it’s such a speedy way to edge something. Given a bit more time I may have properly hemmed the napkins, but time is a precious resource at present!! Plus, I somewhat liked the extra colour and detail the overlocked edges added.

Setting up for the party and placing the napkins reminded me of why I love events and theming, it’s such a rush executing and seeing the vision you had in your mind come to life! The table was set, waiting for our guests and it looked fabulous! We had a great night celebrating with our friends and I’ve put the napkins away with the hope I’ll use them again in the future.

Eighteen: Bramble Gin

A long, long time ago, in a kitchen far away (well, the kitchen in our old house a few months ago) I started making some bramble gin. Blackberries were in season and we had a little bit of spare gin, so I thought I’d give this blackberry infused gin a try.

I mostly followed this recipe, which is pretty much:

  1. Wash blackberries.
  2. Put blackberries and sugar in gin.
  3. Wait (3 months).
  4. Strain blackberries (I used a paper coffee filter).
  5. Drink.

Now that it’s had time to steep, my gin is ready for helping out with these cold winters nights. It is reasonably sweet, and has an almost cough-syrupy flavour (though not in a bad way). Whilst not bad by itself, I’m looking forward to trying it in cocktails – maybe gin bramble, or mixed with some sparkling wine.


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