Make It Your Own

Make it unique. Make it yourself. Make it your own

Adventures in home storage 6 November, 2008

Filed under: Home cooking,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 11:01 am

Preparing our home for an new additional family member after 8 years of just the two of us has been all about finding new homes for things around the house. I thought I’d share with you what I have discovered…

1. Purging. Man, the stuff I have thrown out recently! Everything from table linen, appliances, old ring binders (why did we feel the need to have 12 empty ring binders in the cupboard?), books, and clothes to acrylic knitting yarn and plastic knitting needles (why did I need 4 sets of 4mm plastic needles when I hate knitting with them?). Anything in good condition has gradually been taken to the Salvation Army, the Church of Christ “Big A Boutique” or Vinnies. Lots of stuff has just gone in the bin. The world is a lighter and less stressful place when we are less encumbered by stuff. One also fits into one’s house a little more easily!

2. Squeezing. I have one thing to say about this: buy some of the vacuum pack bags from K-mart or wherever, put stuff in them, vacuum the air out, store them in a box under your bed. It’s amazing how much stuff can shrink when there is no air in it. My wedding dress and the clothes I’m not currently wearing are now freeze-dried-biscuit type things, protected from dust and moths.

3. Going up. Wall space in our house has been much under-utilised in our house. We now have a fancy Ikea bathroom cupboard that is 6 feet tall instead of a small 2 feet tall one. It takes up the same amount of floor space but now I actually have EMPTY space in a cupboard even though I have put all the towels in it. (Given time I think we’ll fill it easily with baby paraphenalia). We are about to take the same tack in the kitchen and are on the lookout for a large tall dresser.

4. Cleaning and tidying. I find that a clean tidy house feels bigger than an untidy house. I know I can keep it clean and tidy before the baby comes but after? who knows.

After believing that 2 adults and a baby (and one day another baby maybe) couldn’t fit comfortably into a 2 bedroom house, I’m starting to feel like we can.

EASY BACON AND LENTIL SOUP

I know that the weather is warming up but Matthew still likes soup for lunch. I guess working in an air conditioned office means soup can be eaten almost all year round. I’m making this soup this morning to be stored in small containers in the freezer. It’s one I threw together one day and liked so I wrote down what I did and have now made it lots of times. If you are reading this in the Northern Hemisphere this is a good winter soup you might like to make as the weather cools down.

You’ll need: 2 onions, 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 3 cloves garlic, olive oil, 1 cup red lentils, 4 cups water, 2 vegetable stock cubes, 1 can crushed tomatoes (about 410g), 150g bacon pieces (good quality please), thyme sprigs

Finely and neatly chop the onion, carrots and celery and crush the garlic. Gently sautee these with a pinch of salt in a slurp of olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add all the other ingredients and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are soft, between 30 and 45 minutes. Add more water if you think it’s too thick and stir regularly so it doesn’t stick. (You can leave the thyme sprigs whole. The leaves will fall off during cooking then you can remove the stalks before serving.) Serve with bread or toast or allow to cool and freeze for later. Serves 4-6.

IN THE GARDEN

Everything is growing well at the moment. The tomatoes seem to grow a few centimetres every day. A couple of them have flowers already. There are apricots and peaches forming on the trees and a few beans have popped up. Matthew has been preparing a bed for the pumpkins. The roses are covered in flowers. The garden would look perfect except for the grass which is drying out and turning yellow but there is no way we’ll waste precious water on the lawn!

IN OTHER NEWS

On the 29th November there will be a street market on Goodwood Road between the library and the primary school. A couple of friends of mine are having a stall and I’ll be there for a little while too with some hand dyed yarn. It’s usually and excellent market and you should be able to find some Christmas gifts or at least something yummy to eat.

MAY YOU LIVE IN INTERESTING TIMES

This is a Chinese blessing, though I’ve also heard that it’s a curse, that I’ve been pondering lately. We do seem to live in interesting times what with the financial crisis, the first black President, climate change and the huge changes the internet has brought to everyday life. As a lover of history and the way it affects our lives now I’m enjoying watching these interesting times and I hope I live a good long time so I can see how lives are affected in the future by what is happening now. I love watching election coverage on the TV. I’ll happily watch Australian election stuff for hours. I watched about 3 hours of the US election coverage on the ABC yesterday. It’s really going to annoy my kids in future!

Have an excellent week and enjoy the interesting times we all live in! Sarah.

 

It’s Freezing 23 October, 2008

Filed under: Vegetable gardening,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 4:08 pm

After at least two complaints from family members and some of my own feelings of guilt, I have decided to get back into blogging.

What was the reason for the long break? There are a few reasons. I have been working on some new paid work projects namely starting work for Bendigo Woollen Mills as a freelance pattern designer/writer and also getting my Yarn Collective store and my Ravelry store up and running. I have also been doing lots of resting and house re-arranging occasioned by the impending birth (in February) of our baby. The work, the resting and the nesting have meant that very little craft has been going on so I haven’t had much to write about! So no blog for a while. I have been doing some knitting, gardening and cooking lately so I’ll chat about those today and see what happens in the future…

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR FREEZER

Since becoming pregnant I’ve been stocking up the freezer with all sort of things to save cooking too much when the baby arrives. Matthew has been on a bit of health kick lately and has been requesting healthy soups and such things for lunch. I’ve been getting to the market a bit less often and so I’ll buy lots of meat in one go and freeze it. We bought a bigger fridge with a bigger freezer recently (again in preparation for a growing family) All these things got me thinking about the freezer and the many things you can freeze for later.

Dinner

All sorts of dinners can be cooked and then frozen. My favourites are: chicken casserole, beef casserole, meat or chicken curries, sausage and bean casserole, bolognese sauce, risotto. All these can be cooked and then put into plastic containers. I usually cook a meal for four or six, have two serves for the two of us for dinner then put the rest in the freezer.

I have found that a certain brand of container fits perfectly stacked side by side in my freezer draws making the most of the space. Another good way to make the most of the space is to not bother freezing cooked pasta or rice. Just freeze the curry or the bolognese since pasta and rice are easy to store and cook. It’s a good idea to wait until the food has cooled before you put it in the freezer so that is freezes more quickly and doesn’t start the thaw the food it’s put next to. Don’t think that you’ll remember what is in a container! Label it! (Don’t ask me how I know)

To thaw your frozen dinner either take it out early in the day and then heat it in a saucepan or zap it in the microwave. Perfect for the times when you want some wholesome food but don’t have the energy to prepare it or the cash to go out. I’ve always got something in the freezer for such occasions even when I’m not stocking up in preparation for a baby.

Lunch

While lots of people make sandwiches in advance and freeze them I haven’t found that to be necessary yet so I’ve never tried it. Since Matthew decided that giant ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch every day wasn’t doing his health any good, we’ve been trying to come up with other ideas for his lunch that involve vegetables of some kind but are still satisfying.The answer has been soup, soup and more soup as well as chicken legs.

These soups all freeze well and are an easy and healthy lunch option for those that leave the house in a hurry each morning: corn chowder, bacon and lentil, pumpkin, cauliflower, minestrone, chicken and vegetable. I make a big pot of soup and then pour it into lunch-sized containers, label them and stack them in the freezer.

Another idea I tried was roasting some chicken legs and freezing them. It was a bit of an experiment but it has worked reasonably well. Buy 8-10 chicken legs (drumsticks), season them well with some kind of chicken seasoning or salt and pepper, spray a tray with oil and bake the legs until they are cooked (about 45 mins) at 200 degrees. When they are cool put two each into small ziploc sandwich bags, squeeze out the air and freeze. The worker can grab one of the bags with a bit of salad or fruit in the morning and zap the legs in microwave at lunch time for a quick healthy protein lunch.

Another idea that I haven’t tried but which I’m sure would work would be to make a cake or slice, cut it up and wrap in individual pieces. All you’d need to do each morning would be put a piece in the lunch box, ready wrapped. This obviously works for muffins too. Homemade cakes are always going to be healthier that anything you can buy since they have no preservatives or additives or processed oils and fats and usually less sugar and salt.

Home grown vegetable gluts

If you have grown your own vegetables you may have found at some stage that you have too much broccoli, cauliflower, beans, peas than you can eat fresh. Over winter I grew some fantastic caulis but found I had three great big ones ready at the same time. One we ate fresh, one I made into cauli soup and one I froze. The technique for freezing vegetables is similar for most kinds and I have had good success with the ones I mentioned above. Cut the vegetable into bite sized pieces. Boil plenty of salted water. Put the vegetables into the boiling water and then let the water come back to boil which should take a minute or two. Drain immediately, rinse with cold water and drain them well. Lay the vegetable pieces in a single layer on a tray and put it in the freezer. When the pieces are frozen put them into a plastic bag and seal. You now have a bag of vegetable pieces, each separate from each other so you take out just as many as you need at a time. As convenient as frozen veg from the supermarket but homegrown by you.

Some vegetable don’t freeze well at all. Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber and celery are all too watery to be frozen as they are. Cooked into something is a different matter though. Tomato puree freezes very well for instance.

Since I mentioned celery I do actually freeze celery in stalks but I have a particular reason for this. I don’t like celery much but it is an essential ingredient in many soups, stocks and Italian dishes and you miss it if it isn’t there. Thawed frozen celery is just mush with some strings but that doesn’t matter if it’s about to go into osso bucco. Since I only use a stalk or two occasionally and only for cooking I keep a bag of stalks in the freezer so I don’t have to buy a whole or a half one every time I need a little.

Stock

I raved on about stock in my last post so you read about it there. Suffice to say that stock is best cooked in a large amount and freezes beautifully so you can always have some home made stock in stock.

Baking

When you make a cake or muffins or scones or whatever it’s very little extra work to make a double batch so you might as well put some in the freezer and save yourself some effort later. Cakes, muffins, scones, bread, rolls, fruit loaf, date loaf and so on all freeze well in my experience. Muffins and scones are very convenient because you can thaw just one at a time if you want to.

Meat

I like to buy lots of meat all in one go since I don’t get to my favourite butcher as often as I’d like. I find the best way to freeze meat is in meal sized portions and as flat as possible so it thaws faster. So two lamb chops or two steaks or a few sausages in one freezer bag. Mince is frozen in 500g packs squished nice and flat. Meat that is is open to the freezer gets dry and tough so seal the freezer bags well. My tip for the nicest frozen meat is to thaw it naturally either in the fridge for the day or out on the bench for a few hours (not recommended on a hot day!). The microwave always seems to cook one bit while it’s defrosting giving you a tough bit of meat so I only use the microwave to defrost meat in emergencies.

That’s probably enough about freezers. Didn’t realise I had so much to say about them! Here’s a yarn review to take your mind off freezers…

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

Jo Sharp Soho Summer DK Cotton 50g, 100 metres, 100% cotton

I’ve recently finished a project in this yarn for the December issue of Yarn Magazine. After knitting through 5 balls in stocking stitch I can tell you that this is lovely yarn to work with and gives very smooth even results. Even with very pointy needles, this cotton doesn’t split and is so soft that it never feels stringy like some 100% cotton can. End results are nice and light, though a very large project may drop a little. At around $7.60 a ball, a large project would add up to a large amount. The cost would be worth it though for the lightness and softness and coolness of a finished garment. At a standard 22 sts to 10cm and 100m to 50g Soho Summer cotton could easily be substituted into other 8ply/DK weight patterns ball for ball but be aware that in a large project some dropping may occur. In a smaller project such a child’s garment I think you could substitute into a wool pattern with no problems at all.

IN THE GARDEN

Now is a good time to plant all the summer vegies. We have planted tomatoes, capsicum, basil, zucchini and butternuts. As soon as I’ve pulled out the spinach and coriander which are going to seed I’ll plant some dwarf beans and climbing beans. Adelaide still has some serious water restrictions so watering is going to involve a mixture of the hand held hose (Sunday only), watering cans and grey water.

That’ll do for now. Have a good week everybody. My sincere apologies to anyone who has been checking my blog regularly and finding no new posts! Sarah.

 

No Pattern Required Tiered Skirt 7 February, 2008

Filed under: Craft,knitting,Weekly useful stuff,Yarn reviews — makeityourown @ 12:43 pm

It feels like a hundred years since I posted here. Sorry to all my loyal fans who have been checking regularly…(actually I don’t know how many loyal fans I have; probably just my Auntie and my Dad).

Today I’m going to give you instructions on how to sew a tiered skirt without a pattern. All you need is fabric and a sewing machine! Since I reached 25000 visitors recently, I’ve got a little competition and to keep all the knitters happy, I’ve got a yarn review. Lets start with the yarn review…

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

Selby’s yarn picks

Biggan Design DK Merino First Cross. 50g/105 metres. Made in Australia. $8.95 each.

Biggan Wool

Biggan Design colour chart

Merino wool is renowned for its softness and Border Leicester wool for its durability. A Merino sheep crossed with a Border Leicester sheep will theoretically give a very soft but durable yarn. The people at Biggan Design have done just that and indeed created a yarn that is incredibly fine and smooth but will last a very long time. This yarn is smooth enough to wear next to your skin and smooth enough for babies’ garments but it also has plenty of bounce and elasticity. I’ve knitted a few swatches with this yarn lately and it feels lovely through my fingers and creates a very smooth fabric because of its high twist. At $8.95 a ball it seems more expensive than other solid colour DK weight (8ply) wool yarns but the quality of the yarn makes the cost worth it. You’ll have a garment that will last a very long time and will feel great. The machine washability (gentle cycle) is also worth paying a little extra for. Aside from the fineness and quality of this yarn, my favourite thing about it is the colour range. It is available in 64 colours that harmonise with each other, making it perfect for picture knitting, stripes and Fair Isle knitting. Biggan Design also claim that the same colour range will still be available well into the future. I hate it when companies change their colour ranges (especially when I’ve just designed something in a particular colour that gets discontinued; I have to then change my colour scheme and usually have to change yarns). If what they say is true, I’ll be a very satisfied customer. The Biggan Design website is easy to navigate and you can buy their yarn and patterns there. I recommend this yarn for all kinds of garments and comfy socks. I’m about to start knitting a design I’ve been working on in the Denim colour and I’m looking forward to the experience. Visit Biggan Design at www.biggandesign.com.au.

NO PATTERN REQUIRED TIERED SKIRT

Tiered skirt

Here’s a “recipe” for a skirt you can sew without a pattern. I made this one for myself from some fabric I bought in Penang, that’s been sitting in my fabric stash for the last 9 years (gulp, is it really 9 years since we went to Penang? Matthew and I got engaged not long after that). All it is is four strips of fabric, each one longer than the last and gathered together to fit the one above. It’s pretty easy but you’ll probably need a little bit of sewing experience.

What you need: fabric, a sewing machine and thread, scissors, pins, calculator, tape measure, 3mm wide elastic for waist, iron.

Here’s what to do…

First measure yourself (or the person who the skirt is for) at your widest point, the part that is euphemistically called the hips. Add 15cm to that measurement and write that number on a piece of paper. Your first piece of fabric at the top of the skirt needs to be that long and about 25cm wide. (My top piece was 120 x 25cm). Sew the ends of the piece together with a 1cm seam allowance. Sew a wide hem at the top of the piece, wide enough to just fit the elastic through, leaving a hole big enough to thread the elastic through. I like to iron down the hem and then sew it.I also like to press all my seams before continuing on the next step.

The next strip of fabric needs to be 1.3 times longer than the first so multiply the number you wrote down by 1.3. Cut you next piece of fabric that long and 17cm wide. Sew the ends together. Run two rows of gathering stitches 8mm apart around the top of the second piece and then pull up the threads so that the second piece is the same size as the first, making sure the gathers are evenly spread over the fabric strip. Pin the second piece to the first and sew together between the gathering threads.

Do the same thing with the 3rd and 4th pieces but make the 4th piece 20cm wide. Each strip should be 1.3 times longer than the previous. You’ll probably need to join pieces together to make the strips long enough. Sew a wide hem on the bottom of the skirt. Remove the visible gathering threads. Run elastic through the casing and pull up so that it fits your waist but is long enough to stretch over your hips. Iron the whole thing and trim any loose threads. My mum always said that your sewing project is not finished until it’s been ironed.

TIME FOR ANOTHER COMPETITION

Just the other day I noticed that I’ve had 25, 000 visitors to my blog since I started in April 2007. Amazing huh? I can thank Knitting Pattern Central for a huge chunk of them, people searching for instructions on how to make felt, make curtains, make tea cosies, people searching for yarn reviews, and friends and family who keep coming back regularly. Thanks to everyone who leaves comments. I appreciate them greatly.

The prize this time is your choice of yarn from my Hand Dyed yarns up to a value of $15. You can see them all by clicking on the Hand Dyed Yarn For Sale tab at the top of the page.

All you need to do is leave a comment telling us about your favourite knitting or craft book or mag and why it’s your favourite. I’ll publish the list of the books and mags you like in a future post so that we can all find out what the best publications are. This competition is open to anyone anywhere in the world (except my extended family, sorry guys). I’ll pick a commenter at random to win. My usual method of choosing a winner is to write down all the names on pieces of paper, put them all in a bowl and let Matthew choose one. Last day for entries is 21st Feb.

Looking forward to hearing from you…

Have a good week, Sarah.

 

The humble jar 19 January, 2008

Filed under: Thoughts,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 10:18 am

I love January. It’s the time of the year when too much tennis is never enough. No, you won’t catch me out on the court slicing and aceing and chasing a little bright green ball. I’ll be on the couch spectating my way through the Australian Open. In the less exciting matches I might do some knitting. If it’s exciting though, I’ll have my eyes glued to the telly. Tennis is the only sport that I really love watching aside from the Winter Olympics but that’s only once every four years. Consequently, not much gets done around the place during the Australian Open…

That said, I’ve got plenty of work to do at the moment. I’ve recently finished a pattern and a column for the next Yarn and I’ll start some tech editing for it next week. I’m working on designs and columns for the next 3 Yarns after that too. I’m particularly excited about the pattern I’ll have in the winter issue which is a men’s garment in some wonderful yarn. I’ve got a boy’s jumper design and a men’s sock design just about done that are Yarn potentials or maybe another magazine. I’m also in the middle of doing three patterns for Live 2 Knit. Goodness me. I’d like to try and get a pattern or to into Interweave Knits or Crochet but we’ll see what happens. My notebook seems to be overflowing with potential pattern ideas too…Good thing I love my job hey?

Knitting is not really my hobby any more. If I’ve been knitting for five hours during the day, the last thing I want to do to relax is more knitting so I’ve been engaging in some other activities lately. Since Matthew suggested that maybe we should get rid of the piano to make more space in the house (what a horrifying thought!), I’ve started playing the piano again. After four or five years of barely playing it, I feel like I’m back at the beginning again. Lots of scales and Hanon exercises are in order. The same goes for learning French. I learnt it in high school, spoke it a little in Morocco twelve years ago and barely used it since. The Coffee Break French podcast took me right back to bonjour again which is just what I needed. We were on holiday last week and I didn’t knit a stitch for almost a week!

The garden is still dry as a bone. My drought tolerant perennials are coping well and still looking fairly green though. Dad, if you are reading this: I’m pleased your vegetables are going “gangbusters” but you’ve had tonnes of rain over there on the east coast! We are jealous! I hope all that rain is falling in the catchment areas.

THE HUMBLE JAR

A couple of weeks ago my cousin and her husband came over for dinner. She brought salad and some home made dressing mixed in a jar. It was a great salad and lovely company and it got me thinking about jars…

I’m fond of jars. I used to keep and collect just about every jar I could lay my hands on; jam jars, pasta sauce jars, coffee jars, mustard jars, honey jars, round square, flat or tall. I thought that every jar could be re-used in some way, particularly as I’m fond of home made jam, marmalade and chutney. After a while I decided that some jars are better than others and I put lots of glass jars in the recycling bin now. Here’s what I do with empty glass jars and what I think are the best ones to keep and what to throw away.

What can you do with an empty glass jar?

Fill them with home made jam, marmalade, chutney and sauce

Fill airtight ones with dry pantry items such as nuts, spices, dried herbs, rice, seeds, tea or dried fruit

Mix up salad dressing ingredients in the jar, put on the lid and shake

Keep pens, knitting needles, crochet hooks, cooking utensils in them

Grow alfalfa sprouts in one

Use as a vase

Fill a nice jar with lollies for a gift

Keep craft or stationary items in them, such as paper clips, tacks, rubber bands, beads, stitch markers, bobbins, pins

Keep hardware items in them such as nails, screws, staples, washers

Use for planting seeds: part fill a jar with sand and some seeds, poke a large hole in the lid of the jar, pour the sand mixed with the seeds along a furrow in the ground. This helps space the seeds and the sand provides a growing medium

When doing colour work in your knitting or crochet put each ball of yarn into a jar to keep them from tangling.

Let me know any other brilliant jar ideas you have

The best jars to keep

Lots of food at the supermarket comes in glass jars with coated metal screw on lids. The inside of the lid usually has a extra rubbery bit of coating to make the jar airtight. Most jam jars are like this. These are the best jars to keep because they are airtight, strong and can be sterilised in boiling water or in the oven. They come in standard sizes so the lid of one jar will often fit another jar. I have a Kraft Lite Cheese Spread fetish so I end up with loads of 250ml glass jars with blue lids. They don’t make the Lite version in a big jar for some reason.

Jars to recycle

Here is a list of jars that I don’t keep and the reason why:

Vegemite jars: plastic lids are not as airtight as coated metal ones

Moccona jars: they might look nice but they don’t close tightly and don’t stack in the pantry. The rubbery bits make them difficult to sterilise. I do keep the tiny ones though for spices

Salsa jars: no matter what you do, you can’t get rid of the salsa smell. You don’t want your strawberry jam having a vague salsa flavour.

Pasta sauce and Kan Tong jars (not that I EVER eat the stuff anyway): these jars are way too big to do much with and will smell odd, especially the lids.

Oddly shaped jars: tall skinny jars are too hard to get a spoon into. Unusual jars may be hard to find a lid for if you lose the original. A pretty jar that might have a use is an exception to this rule.

ANOTHER FREE PATTERN

Thought you guys might like another free pattern. I’ve added a pattern for 8ply ladies socks to the Free Patterns page.

HOLIDAYS

Here are a few pics of our holiday with friends at Blanchetown on the Murray River last week. We had a blast!

Blanchetown holiday

Blanchetown holiday

Blanchetown holiday

Blanchetown holiday

While I’m here I mustn’t forget to send a great big thankyou to everyone who has a link to me on their blog. You guys bring me more traffic. Also thanks to the people who have made me their friend at Ravelry. You can find me there as SarahGolder.

Have a great week everyone.

 

Happy New Year 3 January, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized,Vegetable gardening,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 11:39 am

Hi everybody and happy new year to you all. Thankyou to those who wished me a happy new year and Christmas too.

We had a lovely day on the 25th. We went to church at 11pm on Christmas Eve and saw Christmas Day arrive. We slept in and then went to my Aunt’s house for lunch with 12 others and had turkey, ham, baked vegetables, pudding, custard, champagne, Christmas crackers and gifts! It was nice to see a couple of Sydney relatives that I hadn’t seen for a while too. Later in the day we went to Matthew’s brother’s house and had a small Golder family dinner with roast lamb, salad and Christmas icecream. The weather was a perfect 28 degrees and as far as I could tell, everyone was happy with the gifts we gave them.

We spent New Year’s Eve at a friends’ place with lots of other friends. They very sensibly had a wading pool with a few inches of water in it in the yard and after a 43 degree day it was quite refreshing to stand in it with a drink and have a chat.  Thanks David and Tiff! I think I haven’t recovered yet from staying up until 3am.

I’ve been far too busy to do any craft projects or interesting cooking to tell you about this week. When I say busy I mean when I haven’t been writing a column and preparing patterns for YARN and working on a couple of patterns for Live 2 Knit I’ve been reading, watching the tennis and playing Super Mario Galaxy on Matthew’s Nintendo Wii.  It’s a hard life! When Matthew goes back to work on the 14th of Jan I’ll have to start working a bit harder!

IN THE GARDEN

We’ve made the bold decision to stop vegetable gardening for the rest of the summer.  It’s just too hard to keep plants alive when the weather is over 38 degrees several days in a row and we’re only allowed to use the drippers for 3 hours a week and have to use a watering can the rest of the time. We’ll probably keep the pumpkin patch going though. They seem to be managing okay so far and watering one patch is much more manageable than five! We will not give up on our fruit trees. They can manage with the 3 hours once a week and can be supplemented with grey water. I’m very glad I decided to plant the rest of the garden with drought tolerant perennials when we established it a few years ago.

Here are some drought tolerant plants you might like to try in your garden. (Remember that they are only drought tolerant when they are established. For the first 6 months to a year, you’ll need to keep an eye on them and water them reasonably regularly.)

Lavenders, salvia, santolina, curry plant, rosemary, roses, pandorea, bulbs, plumbago, buddleija, agapanthus, erigeron. There are so many varieties and colours of lavenders, salvias and roses that your garden need not be boring. I’ve got about 8 different colours and sizes of salvia and they stay looking good in the hottest of weather.

CHEAP CARDS AND WRAP FOR NEXT CHRISTMAS

Early January is an excellent time to buy Christmas cards and wrapping paper for next Christmas. I always buy them this time of year because they are almost always half price. They don’t take up too much space in the cupboard and you can get the expensive good quality ones pretty cheap.

That’ll probably do for today… the tennis has started for the day and I want to watch Australia play the USA in the Hopman Cup. I get quite a lot of tv knitting done in January…

Have a good week and a happy new year. Sarah.

 

Christmas recipes 13 December, 2007

Filed under: Craft,Home cooking,Travel,Weekly useful stuff — makeityourown @ 10:30 am
Tags: , , ,

Hi there everybody, it’s been a while since I posted but for a very good reason. I’ve been in England for 2 and a half weeks and then at Moonta Bay for 3 days. For your reading pleasure this week I have a couple of Christmas recipes, a little report on my trip to England and some ideas for making your own gift tags. Enjoy.

CHRISTMAS PUNCH

Here’s a recipe for making your own Christmassy punch. In our family, whenever we make punch for a party, it must include pineapple juice, ginger beer and cold black tea. These are the essentials and any other drinks such as orange juice or lemonade may be added. Just add whatever you like and see how it tastes! We had 6 people over for dinner last night and what follows is what I put in the punch. It was pretty popular. I also make it when the weather is stinking hot and plenty of cold drinks are wanted.

Ingredients: 750ml ginger beer, 1 litre pineapple juice, 1 litre cranberry drink, 500ml strong black tea, 750ml lemonade, large handful of mint leaves, ice cubes.

Make up the tea in a jug and allow to cool then refrigerate. Have all the other drinks nice and cold. Not long before you want to drink the punch, mix all the ingredients in a large bowl or very clean bucket. Since you probably can’t fit a bucket in your fridge, it’s a good idea to make sure all the ingredients are nicely chilled before you make it. Fill a large jug with punch and add some ice cubes and serve.

The cranberry drink added a Christmassy flavour and a lovely red colour to the punch.

Christmas punch

SAGE AND ONION STUFFING

Stuffing for your Christmas chicken or turkey is easy to make yourself so there is no excuse for buying packet stuffing that is stuffed with artificial flavours and dehydrated mystery. This is the way I always make stuffing but usually without the sage and some extra dried herbs.

Ingredients: for one chicken (double everything for a turkey): 2 slices good quality bread, a large handful of fresh sage, 1 tsp mixed dried herbs, 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, olive oil, large pinch salt.

Cut the bread into 1cm cubes, finely chop the onion and sage and crush the garlic. Put all the ingredients except the olive oil in a bowl and mix well. Add enough olive oil to moisten the mixture. You may need up to a quarter cup. Mix well. Before you stuff the bird, wipe the cavity with a paper towel to remove any extra moisture. Pack the stuffing firmly into the bird and cook as you normally would.

I don’t have a picture of the stuffing because all the stuffing from 2 chickens got eaten!

MAKE YOUR OWN GIFT TAGS

I like to make my own gift tags each Christmas from various scraps of cardboard and last year’s cards. I always keep the cards that have suitable pictures to be reused. In an hour or so you can make as many cards as you’ll need. This is a good activity for the kids to get involved with.

What you need: scraps of thin cardboard, old Christmas cards, scissors, glue, a hole punch, stick on stars

Card scraps

Here are some ideas of tags you can make from scraps like the ones above:

Just cut out a pretty picture from a card and punch a hole in one corner

gift tags

Cut the pretty borders from old cards and glue them to a piece of plain coloured cardboard. Add some stars.

gift tags

Cut small pictures from old cards and glue them to a piece of plain coloured cardboard

gift tags

HOLIDAYS

From 13th November to 2nd December I was in England visiting my sister, her husband and their 10 month old baby. This was the first time I had seen my niece. She is the sweetest little thing and is even cute when she is crying because of the way she sticks her bottom lip out.  They live just out of Oxford and we spent most of our time in the Oxford area and we went to London for a few days. I did plenty of wandering around Oxford. Even if you don’t go any touristy places, Oxford is lovely just to walk around. My sister and I went to St Edmunds Hall which is one of the oldest colleges. The chapel was decorated by William Morris and the wood carvings are especially lovely. We had a brief wander in the Bodleian Library and we went to see the graves of Tolkein and CS Lewis, two of my favourite authors. Aside from that we went for a few drives, visited some family and lazed around watching tv.

I only went to 2 yarn shops while I was there. The yarn shop in Witney (a small town near Oxford) has pretty run-of-the-mill yarns such as Sirdar and Debbie Bliss but it also has all the Noro yarns. While in London we went to Loop in Islington. It is very up-market and has a good range of high-end silk, alpaca, merino, cashmere and loads of books. I bought some Blue Sky Alpacas pure alpaca and silk/alpaca blend yarns, some sock yarns and two tiny balls of Habu kid mohair/nylon. Yes I was feeling rich and reckless that day! If you are in the Islington area of London Loop is definitely worth a visit. I’ll no doubt do a review of some of these yarns at some stage.

Wow, real life holly (this is a novelty for an Australian at Christmas)

Real holly

A church in a tiny Oxfordshire village, Shelsbury

Shelsbury church

Tolkein’s grave at Wolvercote Cemetary, just outside of Oxford

Tolkein’s grave

Last weekend we went to Moonta Bay on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia for a few days with Matthew’s family. We fished off the jetty, ate the fish and generally lazed about. It’s beautiful there. I can definitely recommend it for a few days of fishing and relaxing. We caught squid, garfish, tommies and some mackerel-type things that we didn’t know the name of. We also caught trumpet fish but they don’t taste good so we threw them back. If you catch a trumpet fish and hold it up to your ear you can hear it honking quietly. Amazing!

Moonta Bay Jetty

IN OTHER NEWS

Good news Australian yarn lovers! YARN magazine has found a buyer and will be continuing. The next issue will be out in March 2008. I’ll be continuing to write the Yarn on a Shoestring column and will be having more of my patterns published.

Well that’s it for this week. Coming up next week: yarn reviews galore (well maybe 2 or 3).

Have a great week. Sarah.

 

Spring has sprung 7 November, 2007

Hello everybody,

It’s feeling very much like spring now. The weather has warmed up and we have had plenty of rain over the last week. Consequently, the garden is going mad. There is new growth on lots of the plants and our fruit trees are putting out the first tiny fruits-to-be. The roses are flowering beautifully, including my favourite rose, Bonica, of which I have two. I’ve repotted lots of pot plants and moved most of them into the shadehouse or under the porch. The vegetables are also growing like mad. The salvias are just starting to flower and in a month or so they will be amazing. I’m a big fan of salvias for a dry garden. They stay looking great even at 35 degrees and come in a wide variety of sizes and colours. The chickens are giving us way too many eggs. I’ll have to make a few sponge cakes to use them up! Thought you might like some photos…

Freckles lettuce

Growing apricots

Apple blossoms and apples

Dry garden

HARVESTING CORIANDER SEEDS

If you’ve ever grown coriander in your vegie garden for the fresh leaves, you’ll know that it goes to seed fairly quickly, especially if it gets stressed from a lack of water or a slight increase in temperature. All is not lost however. Allow the flowering and seeding to take its course and you’ll be able to harvest the seeds and use them as a spice.

When your coriander plants start flowering, keep watering them and taking care of them. The seeds will start swelling and soon you’ll have some bright green berries.

Unripe coriander seeds

After the berries have developed the plant will begin to brown and die and you can stop watering it. When the plant is nice and dry pull it up and then pick off the seeds. Let the seeds dry a little more and then store them in an airtight container. Use them whole in curries and rice or grind them in a mortar and pestle to use anywhere you’d normally use ground coriander. I use it in lots of things including fried rice, stir fried vegetables, vegetable soups and curries. It is a very popular spice in Indian, Moroccan and Mexican cuisines.

Dry coriander seeds

SELBY’S YARN PICKS

imgp1142.jpg

Selby has been busy this week trying out Knit Picks double pointed needles and Suzie Horne yarn.

Suzie Horne Hand dyed 8ply Finnish Landrace Cross Wool

Suzie Horne wool

Not the easiest stuff to get your hands on if you live outside of South Australia but definitely worth finding. Suzie grows Finnish Landrace Cross sheep at her farm in Meadows in the Adelaide Hills. The wool from her sheep is commercially spun and the then she hand dyes it. Being an artist, she has an excellent eye for colour and so her colourways are deep, clear and never flat; warm pinks, vibrant reds and cool blues with a few fresh greens and yellows too. I’d happily buy them all and at around $10 for 100g they are very affordable. The yarn itself is smooth but still woolly and has a high twist. It knits and crochets well, showing stitch definition but still springy. I’ve seen and felt plenty of garments made with this yarn and they all feel and look great. Suzie and her yarns can be found at small fibre fairs such as the Mt Pleasant Fibre Fair or the Hills Spinners and Weavers open days. You can also find it at All Seasons Wool shop in Hahndorf. If you see some, buy it; you might not see that exact colourway again!

Knit Picks Double Pointed Needles (steel)

Knit picks needles

In short, these are the best fine double pointed needles I have ever used. I love them and I think I might buy some in every size I regularly use. They are smooth, very pointy, light, not too long and come in sets of five.  The steel is very smooth and slippery for fast knitting. The points are long and sharp, making them excellent for tiny stitches and doing tricky stitches like a k3tog or a p2togtbl. Their short length (15cm) and lightness are good for socks and glove fingers and won’t weigh your hands down. Lots of sock patterns require a set of five needles rather than four. Instead of substituting a needle that’s not quite the same (doing this still works but it feels a bit odd) or buying 2 sets of four needles, having a set of five the same is better. The whole range of Knit Picks products are not available in Australia but the double pointeds and circulars are now being imported. You can find them at many of the online yarn stores in Australia, at Tapestry Craft in Sydney and, if you are in Adelaide, you can get them at the Button Bar in the Adelaide Arcade where they cost $10.60 (say hi to my friend Helena while you are there). These needles make me happy! I highly recommend them for socks and gloves.

IN OTHER NEWS

My sock knitting class went well. I had five students and we had a good time yesterday morning. I’ll be heading to the Craft and Quilt Fair on Thursday afternoon. The fair goes from Thursday to Sunday. I’d avoid it on Saturday morning, unless you like driving through the Christmas Pageant traffic. (I’ll never understand why the Adelaide Christmas Pageant is held in early November. I don’t start to feel Christmassy until December.)

I’m off to England on Tuesday to visit my sister for a couple of weeks. I probably won’t be posting in that time but when I return I’ll have rundown on what’s happening in the English knitting world and show off some yarn purchases.

If you want to see some of my hand dyed yarn and some of my tea cosies in the flesh, there is a market at the Goodwood Primary School on the 24th (yes that’s election day). My friend Sue is having a stall with hand made items from various people, including me. Thanks Sue!

If any of you are beta testers at Ravelry, you can find me there as Sarah Golder. You can see my stash, my library, my projects and my original designs. For the uninitiated, Ravelry is a social networking site for people into knitting, crocheting and spinning. It’s still in the testing stage and should be open to the public sometime soon. I’m waiting, not very patiently, for my “I swatched Ravelry” t-shirt to arrive in the mail.

That’s all for today. Have a lovely week. Please leave me your comments so that I know who my readers are. Tell us all what you like to make or grow or cook.

Sarah.