Author: Zara (page 2 of 3)

Twenty-Nine: Ceaseless Cabbage

To simplify our grocery shopping and to eat more seasonally, Simon and I have started ordering a fruit and vegetable box from Ceres Fair Food. We’ve both been super impressed with both the variety and the quality of the produce. For about a month, each week there was cabbage in the box. After weeks of cabbage soup, stuffed cabbage rolls and even a cabbage curry (it is a thing!) we were pretty sick of this member of the brassica family!

So, when we received a wombok cabbage we decided to get our ferment on make some kimchi. Of course, it meant that we had to buy a number of other ingredients in order to make this Korean side dish, but I anticipate that the end result will be well worth it.

Simon and I made this one a team effort as we had a social engagement to get to, so we really needed to stick to the 20 minute prep time of our recipe. The process is really simple, mostly comprising of slicing and food processing. I found it interesting to see how kimchi gets its red chilli coating, its a mixture of water and rice flour which you head and turn into a paste. You then add in gochugaru (Korean chilli powder) which gives it spice and the colour.

We were surprised with how much the recipe yielded, filling one large jar and two small/medium ones. After sitting on the bench for a few days to get the fermentation process started, we’ve since popped it in the fridge so it can ferment to our liking. I haven’t yet tried the Kimchi, but Simon has and he said it’s pretty good. I look forward to sampling with some Korean cuisine.

 

Twenty-Seven: Savoury Character

By the end of winter I’m pretty over soup and am craving food that has crunch or at the very least, that I can chew.

Earlier in the week I cooked a meal that had egg yolks and omitted the white. I’m not a sweet tooth so wasn’t keen on whipping up a pav or some macarons. Instead, I threw together a batch of savoury granola to both use the egg whites (as a binding agent) and add that long desired crunch to what feels like a predominately pureed diet.

I’m not a stickler for recipes, so did a rudimentary google and picked the first recipe that popped up to get an idea of quantities and ingredients. From memory I threw the following ingredients in a bowl (I didn’t measure anything, so my quantities are just guesswork!)

  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • .5 cup of roughly chopped walnuts
  • .5 cup sunflower seeds
  • .3 cup of pepitas
  • .3 cup of seasame seeds (black and white)
  • 2 tbsp of poppyseeds
  • 2 tbsp of flaxseeds
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Good grind of pepper
  • A pinch of fennel seeds
  • 2 egg whites
  • Couple of lugs of olive oil
  • One lug of maple syrup

I mixed it all together, popped it on a baking tray in an 180 degree oven for 30 minutes (stirring once halfway through), let it cool and popped it in a jar! Looking forward to sampling it with some soup in the coming weeks, or on top of some avocado toast.

Twenty-Five & Twenty-Six: Triple Threat

Two years ago when Simon and I got married and moved into our first home we inherited some dark green leather couches from my Nonna. After two summers of sticking to the leather and two winters of chilled bottoms we decided that when we moved we’d buy a new couch. I spent hours researching and finally we landed on a Freedom couch. She ain’t the belle of the ball, but she’s quite practical and good looking enough to keep around (a bit like myself ;)).

We moved in May and since then, whenever I’ve looked at the cushions they’ve made me terribly uncomfortable as they do not coordinate with our decor at all. Naturally, I decided to make some cushion covers.

It is a bit tricky to describe the style of our house, but there’s a lot of timber, green, orange and already a bit of pattern (hrmmm…sounds quite 70’s).  So I didn’t want to add more busyness to the space by incorporating more colour or pattern. Thus, I decided to stick to natural tones and used what I’m referring to as a craft triple threat, sewing, weaving and crocheting to fashion the cushions. I utilitiesed calico and some camel suede I had in my fabric draw and added texture using weaving and crocheting.

(Top left: suede, right: crochet & bottom left: weaving)

Being the inner city hipster that I am, Simon got me a handloom for Christmas from Loom and Spindle so I started weaving to use as a textural piece. I found some lovely ivory chunky wool at an op shop and used both basic and soumak weave stitches to create my fabric. As it was my first proper go at weaving, I didn’t quite get my tension right and the piece was warped. I also knew the weaving would be too small for the pillow inserts I had, so devised a plan to put it inside a border of the camel suede with a calico backing.

I cut out the pieces of suede to create the border and when I laid it all out, it was NQR…there was too much going on. Calico was a much more complimentary fabric, so I cut out what I need and got sewing, making the back suede instead of the calico I had intended to use. Rather than wasting the strips of suede I cut out, I sewed them together along the long edge and used them (again, along with some calico) to make another cover.

The technique I used for the third cushion cover was crochet. I used cotton shop twine from Bunnings to make a massive granny square. Fashioned a calico cover (front and back) and then stitched the granny square to the front – voila! The trio of cushions look fab on our new couch and I’m much more comfortable (both literally and figuratively). I may whip up another simple cover using the calico and the suede – stay tuned!

I’m going to be a little cheeky and class this as two projects as I used two distinct skills: weaving and crocheting.

Twenty-Two: No Poo

 If you looked at these two photos and came to the assumption I would be writing about a cake I made, you’re mistaken. I did not bake with these two items, rather I made dry shampoo!

Washing my hair is at the top of my annoyances list (along with sultanas in curry) so if I can prolong this task, I will. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the feeling of clean hair. It’s the arduous task of getting to the clean, dry hair that gives me the irrites. If a genie jumped out of a lantern and granted me a wish, I wouldn’t be asking for a packet of Tim Tams that never ran out. Instead, I’d wish to have clean, silky, glistening hair until the end of my days without washing.

So unless I go down the no poo route (I kind of regret typing that), having methods to draw out the time between washes it is. In my quest to be more au natural (in relation to toxins, not clothing) making my own dry shampoo seemed like a good idea.

Ages ago, my bestie sent me a link to a recipe from Wellness Mama. The recipe has three ingredients which you combine together; arrowroot flour, cacao powder and essential oils. As the photos above demonstrate, I deemed the oils not essential and just mixed together the flour and cacao. I popped the sham in a small mineral make up jar I had. The jar has a few holes in the top so I can easily shake it upon my scalp and rub/brush it in.

I’ve found that this mixture seems to work really well for me and have used it for a number of months. My measures of success are: 1) I can go one day less without washing my hair and 2) I smell of cacao.

 

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.

Seventeen: To Infinity and Beyond!

Life is a bit hectic right now so making things has not been such a priority. We’re moving in two weeks, Simon’s looking for work and there’s a few other stressful factors at play (including the fact that my 30th birthday is looming!).

I’ve previously written about how crochet is a act of stress relief for me and thankfully during this season I’ve still had space to put my hands to my hook. A few weeks ago I found 4 skeins of Cleckheaton Country spun 100% wool. Because it is country spun, the ply is inconsistent and changes frequently. It is also variegated, so the colours change throughout. The wool has avery 70’s vibe about it, I think it’s the orange, green and brown colour palette.

Originally, I had planned to crochet a scarf for Simon and the colours suit him to a tee. But quickly found that the stitches which worked best with the wool did not lend them self to a scarf he’d wear. So, I decided to make an infinity scarf for myself. Rather than following a pattern, I decided to make it up as I went. There was a bit of trial and error involved, for example, double crochet resulted in too dense a scarf that did not drape well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end I went with a treble crochet for the first row (other than the foundation chain) followed by three rows of double treble crochet and finished with another treble. I found that this resulted in a scarf that was full enough (but not too full as I’d melt with the 100% wool) and also has movement because it comprises of looser stitches. I’m able to wrap the scarf around twice and it’s nice and snug. Although I’m still unsure as to whether the yarn is ugly or awesome, I think it will serve me well this winter.

Fifteen: Winter Woolies

When I moved to Melbourne from the Gold Coast almost a decade ago winter was a shock. I was underprepared and quickly learnt the value of a scarf, gloves and a beanie! So when my dear friend Jacob moved down to Melbourne and celebrated his birthday not long after arriving, I knew a scarf would be a good gift to help him keep warm during his first Melbourne winter.

Last year I found some  charcoal yarn at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Northcote. I didn’t count exactly but I think there were about 20 skeins and I picked them up for $10 in total. The label for the wool is all in Japanese, with the exception of a few small details including the blend (30% wool & 70% acrylic) and the weight (40g) as well as the words ‘super extra thick’. With the help of the handwriting tool on Google Translate (soooo cool, check it out) we discovered that the wool was from Daiso. Sadly I forgot to take a photo of a skein of the yarn so you can see it pre-crochet and finding one online is proving futile.

I got started on the scarf and used a pattern from Heart, Hook, Home, which was a simple repetitive stitch of a double crochet, followed by a triple (or in US terms like on the website a single followed by a double), this combo is called the moss stitch. Because you start with an odd number of stitches, the double and triple stitches are meant to be offset…I must’ve stuffed up because it turned out the doubles were on top of the doubles and the same for the triples, so the pattern looked off. I’d gotten about halfway by the time I realised and the perfectionist in me meant I had to ‘frog it’ (crochet slang for rip it, sounds like ribbet) which means pulling out all your work. Unsurprisingly, it’s my favourite crochet term!

While it meant that the project took much longer than it should of and the birthday boy got his present over a month late, I’m really glad that I decided to start again because the end result was very lovely! I omitted the fringe in the pattern, partially because I didn’t think it was Jacob’s style and also because I didn’t have enough wool (I had made Simon a scarf last year using half of the skeins). I gave Jayke his present last week, just as the cooler weather started to kick in. I hope it keeps him nice and snug during his first winter in Melbourne!

 

 

Thirteen: Ombré

I’m one of those annoying people who is fortunate enough to work for an organisation that I can wholeheartedly endorse.  Working at TEAR Australia is a delight and it is refreshing to feel an immense sense of gratitude when I reflect on my vocation.

Recently, I had the opportunity to channel my event stylist and assist some of my colleagues with designing a space we were curating at Surrender Conference. After bouncing around a few ideas we decided that an ombré backdrop was best suited to the style and I happily put my hand up to take care of this aspect. I knew it would involve dying fabric, a process which fascinates me…I love seeing colour creep and seep into fabric.

We already had a large piece of calico on hand at work (2.4m square approx.), so I procured some green dye and found this handy tutorial to assist my creative pursuit. I already had the other bits and bobs around the house that I needed (namely a large plastic tub and salt to set the dye) and positioned the dye bath outside.

It was a pretty straight forward process and the tutorial gave me a great basis to work from. I was surprised at how easy it was to control the intensity of the colour and create an impacting gradient. Dunking the fabric in and out of the dye bath was therapeutic and it was mesmerising noticing the subtle changes to the intensity of the colour with each movement.

Originally, I had intended to have bare calico on the top quarter or so of the fabric, but at the last moment decided to quickly immerse the entire piece in the bath. I’m glad I decided to do so, as I felt that the progression of the gradient was quite jarring without the green continuing for the entire length (pre full dunk image to the right).

Another unplanned detail I quite liked in the end result were the small wrinkles where the intensity of the colour varied, adding  texture. I had pre-washed the fabric and hadn’t ironed it before I dyed it, so my assumption is this is how the piece acquired the delicate fine lines. Once I had hung up the fabric, I realised that I had neglected to account for a length of calico to cut into strips to make ties to hang the background up at the event. Thankfully, I had an adequate piece of calico at home, so I dunked this in the dye bath briefly to make it the correct hue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days later, I hemmed the fabric and made the ties attaching them at regular intervals. Looking back, I probably should have dyed the fabric after sewing it together. This would have meant that the cotton I used to stitch with would have also dyed, matching the fabric. That being said, this is a tiny detail that only I would notice, as most people aren’t 1. as pedantic as I am and 2. wouldn’t be getting very close to the finished product!

Overall, I’m very happy with the end result and I enjoyed the process, apart from dying my hands green because I neglected to wear gloves! The backdrop looked fantastic in situ (see below) and I hope it attracted the eyes of event goers and intrigued them to learn more about the brilliant organisation I work for!

Eleven: The Pits

I’ve been on the natural deodorant band wagon for a number of years now and managed to nab myself a life partner in that time, so I mustn’t smell too bad. Clogging pores to block your bodies natural byproducts from escaping cannot be good for you (which many store bought antiperspirant deodorants do). Rather than blocking the bodies secretions, natural deodorants neutralise them, keeping your odour to a minimum. Plus, pheromones are the ultimate biological attraction tool, a fact I cannot deny considering it was Simon’s sexy scent that caused me to be interested in him.

My deodorant ran out this week, so I decided to try my hand at making my own. During my time on said bandwagon I didn’t find myself becoming loyal to any one particular brand of deodorant, but really liked the one I have been using most recently; Black Chicken Deodorant Paste.  I’m unsure why, but I preferred the paste to a roll on (or spray) which is helpful as I imagine making a roll on deodorant could be more challenging than the recipe I went with.

For my birthday last year my bestie gave me a book titled 200 tips, techniques and recipes for natural beauty by Shannon Buck, which has a recipe for Unscented natural cream deodorant. So, I jumped online and ordered the handful of items required that we didn’t have at home (from N-Essentials). It took about 10 minutes to make and contains: shea and cocoa butter, coconut oil, bicarb soda, arrowroot flour, vitamin e and kaolin clay. It was simply a matter of measuring out the two butters and oil, melting them in a hot water bath, mixing in the remaining ingredients and giving it a jolly good stir. Quite fittingly, the container my previous deodorant came in fit the quantity I made perfectly.

The texture is a little runnier than the paste I was using (I guess it is a cream, rather than a paste), but it feels nice on my skin. I just hope it doesn’t stain my clothing, even if it does, Simon has made a great stain remover which he may write about later on. As I’ve only used my new concoction for two days so I do not feel that I have enough data to say whether or not it is a success. If you’d like to contribute to my data collection, please feel free to give my pits a sniff and advise me of your findings.

 

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