Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Another shirt, and the story of Nan's buttons.

My best friend, who is also my daughter's godmother, was blessed to have a wonderful grandmother called Nan. Unfortunately, I never got to meet Nan, but I had long admired the wonderful knits she had made for my bestie, and listened with great pleasure to the stories of the clothes she would make for her and her brother when they were little. Not only did she seemed to be a skilled seamstress and knitter, but in every photo I've ever seen of her, she is beaming out to the world. The best kind of Nan, by all accounts.

A few years ago, after Nan  had passed on and the house was being cleared out, my friend and her mum came across some of Nan's sewing supplies, including a huge plastic bag full of buttons. Nan had kept every button from every item of clothing that could no longer be repaired, and squirreled them away for a sewing rainy day. After going through the buttons themselves and keeping the ones that had especial sentimental value to them, my friend and her mum decided to give the bag of buttons to me, as I was the only crafter they knew who would appreciate them. And appreciate them I did! It felt like an honour to be entrusted with something kept so carefully by one who was loved so much by people so important to me.

Fast forward to this weekend, and there I am, beavering away on my sewing machine to finish another shirt for Grumbles. Usually when I buy fabric, I have a very particular project in mind and try and get all my notions and bits 'n' bobs at the same time, but for some reason I didn't buy any buttons when I purchased the fabric to make this shirt. But before the button panic could commence, I remembered Nan's button stash. I found the bag, hunted about and found the perfect set of buttons. One still even had the original thread caught in the holes.

Now the cynics might scoff and say "Buttons. Really, dudes. What's the big deal?" but to my mind, this is the best kind of recycling. I'm giving new life to something that was important to somebody, even though it might seem small and insignificant to others. I'm keeping the crafting spirit of Nan alive, and forging another life tapestry string between me, my daughter, my best friend and her grandmother. These are not bonds that can easily be broken. Tyger is proud that I would entrust Nan's buttons to her wearing, and my best friend was moved to tears to think that Nan's buttons were not only being given another shot at use, but that we were helping keep the memory of Nan alive in their use.

So here, my friends, is another shirt for Tyger. The shirt may be new, but those buttons have got a heck of a pedigree!

Shirt #1

Shirt #2

Shirt #3

Project Details
Rousku shirt (no. 23) from Ottobre Design magazine 4/2010
Fabric: 1m of organic cotton from the Scamper collection by Birch fabrics, purchased from GJ's Discount Fabrics
Notions: 3 of Nan's carefully kept buttons, iron-on interfacing

Monday, July 29, 2013

On a budget? Make ravioli!

Whoosh. Swish. ZOOOOOOOM! That, my friends, is the sounds of money leaving my wallet at the moment. Start of term means payment for activities, so with each piano lesson/sports invoice my wallet become noticeably thinner. July was rapidly becoming what Galumph terms "a tight month"!

And then, of course, the washing machine broke down. Cue red hot budget meltdown when we realised that the machine, after 13 years of faithful service, had gone to the big whitegoods store in the sky, and it needed to be replaced asap.

So our month went from tight to what I'd like to term budgetary strangulation. Ouch! After totting up the numbers, calculating necessary expenditure (i.e. we still need to buy food) and figuring our how long, exactly, we had until the next payday (answer: too long!) we decided that this weekend would be a spend-thrifty as possible.

Cue cheapy weekend activities. Bike ride on Saturday, and dusting off of pasta machine on Sunday after realising that I had all ingredients already in the house for ravioli. Viva la household economics!

Ravioli 6

Ravioli #3

Ravioli #4

Ravioli #5

Spinach and ricotta ravioli

For the pasta:
500g strong pasta flour ('00')
5 eggs
pinch of salt
semolina flour for dusting

For the filling:
250g fresh ricotta
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
250g frozen spinach, thawed
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 - To make the pasta, place the flour, eggs and salt together in a food processor, and mix until a dough forms. Knead by hand on a floured surface for 5 minutes until the dough is nice and elastic, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2 - Meanwhile, make the filling. Squeeze out any moisture from the spinach, then mix well with the cheeses and nutmeg.

3 - Roll your pasta through the pasta machine one piece at a time until thin. When you have two lengths, place one on the bench, and spoon small spoonfuls of the mixture on it, with a couple of cms space between each one. Place the second piece of pasta on top of the first, and press down to enclose the filling, making sure there are no air bubbles and that the pastas are stuck together. Cut into squares. Repeat with remaining pasta and filling.

4 - Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Carefully drop the pasta in, and cook for 3 - 4 minutes, or until the ravioli are bobbing at the top. Drain, then serve with a simple tomato pasta sauce or melted butter with herbs.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Miette: in progress





So close to finishing my Miette. Normally I lag a bit knitting up the second arm on a garment, but I have developed a serious thing for the Magic Loop method and am whizzing through my second sleeve using it. For those who mightn't know what that is, it's a way of knitting a smaller circumference in the round with a long cable needle, rather than using double pointed needles. Now that I am Lord and Master of the Magic loop, I just want to knit everything with this method!

Sure, I'll be stuck knitting nothing but sleeves, socks and door snakes, but dudes! It'll be GROUSE!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

90's pattern timewarp

It all happened so quickly that in later years even Jorth herself sometimes wondered if it was real or a dream. One minute she was merrily stepping along the street on her way to buy groceries, the next she was surrounded by a screaming, whirling wind that picked her up and tossed her about. Her brain felt like it was turning into cotton wool, and she closed her eyes against the harsh, violet light that filled every space.

Round and round she was thrown into a nothing that was everything yet not. How long she remained there she knew not, but eventually the light became less intense, and the wind, if not a true scream, was at least reduced to a dull roar. She landed upright and frantically pushed the hair out of her face as she strained to figure out where she was. From where she stood the world was nothing but a series of chaotic images, flitting past her whilst a dirty and wild fog swirled around. Concentrating hard, she tried to pick up what she was seeing. Was that a pair of happy pants on that person? And was that noise a song by Lisa Loeb being played on a cassette player? Was Beverly Hills 90210 playing on that tv?

Suddenly the atmosphere changed. The fog was replaced by a cruel, quick wind that whipped thousands of pieces of paper past Jorth. She tried to catch them - anything to give her a clue as to what was happening - when once more she was picked up and tossed into the whirling air, and quickly the violet light obscured all else.

Just as soon as it had begun, the wind stopped. The light returned to normal and Jorth found herself on the street once more, only this time clutching some papers tight to her chest. Once her dizziness left her, along with the feeling that she might puke all over her shoes, she looked at the papers and was thrilled to see that they were a collection of patterns from the 1990s.

"I KNEW IT!" she gasped. "I fell through a hole in the time/space continuum. Whoa! This is fricking amazing! Not only am I the world's first time traveller, but I've also got some awesome patterns out of it!"

She wondered briefly if she should call the experts at the Max Planck Institute of Physics in Munich to tell them of her adventure, but realised she had something far more important to do first. She needed to rush home and gets sewing, stat. These were really good patterns!

90s Patterns

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weekend breakfasts, with a side of reading

A few months ago the Tyger came to me with a plan. "Mum?", she said. "Can I start making breakfast on my own on the weekend?"

"Hmm", I hedged, imagining the smashed plates on the floor, the burns from hotplates, the potential for electrocution. And all for a soggy bowl of cereal? I was about to answer in the negative when she said "Trust me - it'll be good... real fancy pants stuff! Like you get in a café! Can I?"

I'll give credit where credit was due - the kid knows her way around me. Café food with no input from me? How could I possibly say no?

But then thought of the mess once again entered my brain. Accompanied by images of small severed fingers. And trips to hospital. With me still in my pjs, because when you child has enthusiastically sliced a digit rather than a banana, you don't stop to get changed. Not with all that blood!

I looked down as she stood there, reading the conflicting emotions flitting across my face. I was about to inform her that I didn't really fancy spending my weekends pacing the corridors of the hospital in bloody jimmy jams, waiting news from the finger surgeon with a rumbling tummy when in a last ditch effort to convince me she said "Please Mum? Dad can help me! I really want to do this!"

The magic word "Dad" triggered a lightbulb moment. I suddenly realised that in order to make brekkie, she'd need to read recipes. Which could only improve her reading skills, which, to be honest, could do with a little polishing up. And with Galumph there to prevent accidental amputations, what could go wrong?

This was becoming seriously win-win. All I had to do was lie back in bed, whilst they busied themselves in the kitchen making some darn good breakfasts and Tyger, in the process, became a master reader and super chef all at the same time. What a way to upgrade her skills! Couldn't have arranged things better myself!

So I wiped the look of concern off my face, replaced it with a beam and shook hands. "You're on, kiddo!"

French Toast #1

French Toast #2

French Toast #3

No regrets from my end! I have a child who might not be interested in tackling War and Peace anytime soon, but is more than happy to curl up on the couch reading a recipe book. And all fingers are accounted for. Huzzah!

Recipe for Cinnamon French Toast with Berry Salsa can be found here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Liberty winner


Helllooooo! Check out that double chocolate cherry cheesecake. At least, what's left of it. Burp! So good. Too good. I now have a cheesecake gut. Oh vell... you only get a birthday once a year. Thank goodness. Otherwise I might have a cheesecake gut... and a cheesecake booty...and a cheesecake earlobe...and I'll stop now. Before it gets totally ridiculous (cheesecake gnathion, anybody?)

Anyway, enough bumf about cheesecakes. You're here for the winner announcement, ja? Well thanks to random number generator, the winner of the Liberty fabric is comment #103, which is Amanda. Lucky girl! Thanks to everybody for joining in - I've found some very awesome new-to-me blogs to add to my reading list. That's ace!

Right. I have to go and do something very important now. Like prod myself continuously in the belly and marvel at how rapidly cheesecake turns into undesired fat storage. This could take hours!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Liberty fabric birthday giveaway!

Wheeeeeee! Today it's my birthday, and you all know what that means. Yup, the streets are lined with people crowded around for the ticker tape parade in my honour. Confetti is filling the air, the float is about to set off and folks everywhere are chanting my name like I am the best. thing. ever.

Whaaaaat? Dead silence out there? Fear not - the streamers and balloons will be released as soon as everybody realises that birthdays at chez Jorth mean an awesome giveaway. Did anybody say LIBERTY?

Liberty #1

That's right, folks - it's a mega Liberty fabric giveaway! We've got 2m of Lantana! And other pieces lovingly saved from projects, all much bigger than a fat quarter. Look - more Lantana! And Tana Lawn! And Liberty Lifestyle! There's more Liberty fabric there than you can poke a stick at!

Liberty #2

Couldn't you just reach in and grab it? Mmmmmmm - Liiiiiiiberteeeeeeeee! All this could be yours - just follow my blog, leave a message wishing me the best birthday ever (with your email addy, natch) and I'll announce the winner Monday my time (AEST). Cos fabric this fine shouldn't be kept in a cupboard. It needs to be out there, man. Living the Liberty life!

I'm happy to post to Timbuktu if need be, so if your hot little hands are itching for some Liberty goodness, leave a comment!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pleats and art


Jorth looked up from her sewing machine and remarked thoughtfully to Galumph, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Agreed?"

"Oh, certainly", said Galumph.

"I mean, look at da Vinci's Lady with an Ermine. Unforgettable composition! Or Rembrandt's portrait of Rosalba Peale - you could lose yourself for eternity in those eyes. Even Milo de Venus - armless, yes, but still a stunner!"

"I agree wholeheartedly", replied Galumph (although secretly he preferred the surreal world of Salvador Dali.)

"And to this list I think we can add my pleats!" finished Jorth.

"Pleats?" enquired Galumph, somewhat flummoxed at this comparison.

"Pleats." answered Jorth. "Like I said, a thing of beauty is a joy forever - or at least until Tyger grows out of the darn shirt!"

Thankfully at this point Jorth busied herself again at her machine to sew even more pleats, and saved Galumph from defending collectively the greatest art ever produced by mankind against this new addition to the canon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Monthly menu plan - July/August


Winter. I'm thinking lentils. And stews. And cream. Lots of cream, the calories be damned! Besides, I'm sure I'm burning enough just trying to keep warm. It's freezing at the moment! What else... baked potatoes. Oh, yes please! We had them last night, and good doesn't even come close to describing them. Awesome gets close. Magnificent wouldn't be a word out of place. Yup, I think we need to have them again.

"This is all very well and good", I can hear you saying, "but what's with the oranges, Jorthy?" I'm glad you asked. The oranges, my dear friends, would be for my crepes suzette birthday breakfast. Yum!

Week One:
Monday - Ricotta and spinach cannelloni with lentil and tomato sauce
Tuesday - Baked potatoes with sour cream, cheese and red cabbage coleslaw
Wednesday - Bacon and vegetable lentil soup
Thursday - Zucchini pasta with salad
Friday - Birthday dinner! Still haven't decided what to have for main, but I think a double choc cherry cheesecake is a must for dessert.
Saturday - Beef and rosemary casserole
Sunday - Ricotta gnocchi with tomato sauce, baked in ramekins with mozzarella

Week Two:
Monday - Pea and lettuce soup with pumpkin bread
Tuesday - Celery and silverbeet pie with salad
Wednesday - Spaghetti bolognaise (put half sauce in freezer)
Thursday - Thai sweet potato soup and lentil soup with vegetable pilaf
Friday - Chicken and lentil korma with cauliflower
Saturday - Coconut baked fish with home made wedges and green salad
Sunday - Home made ravioli with tomato sauce

Week Three:
Monday - Indian cauliflower and chickpea curry on brown rice with raspberry lassis
Tuesday - Salmon and leek tart with garden salad
Wednesday - Hearty vegetable soup with chickpeas
Thursday - Mushroom, herb and spinach fettuccini
Friday - Home made pizza
Saturday - Roast chicken with vegetables galore
Sunday - Roasted pumpkin risotto

Week Four:
Monday - Creamy chicken pasta, using left-over roast chicken
Tuesday - White bean and vegetable soup with garlic baguettes
Wednesday - Huevos rancheros with corn bread
Thursday - Baked potatoes with bolognaise sauce (from freezer, used in week two)
Friday - Cauliflower and parmesan soup
Saturday - Beef and beer stew with herbed dumplings, served on sweet potato mash
Sunday - Tacos with winter greens

Week Five:
Monday - Black-eyed bean and vegetable soup
Tuesday - Lamb, apricot and prune tagine with roasted vegetable couscous
Wednesday - Broccolini and chilli spaghetti with pangrattato
Thursday - Cauliflower and lentil pilaf
Friday - Veggie burgers with wedges

What's everybody else cooking? I need ideas!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Holiday knitting

Hello! Did you miss me? We've been away for a glorious week at the beach and of course I snuck a bit of knitting in whilst we were there. Are you ready to be blown away by how much I did? Then feast your eyes, reader!


Hmm... it looks bigger in real life, I swear. Oh, okay, okay - I did bugger all besides that feeble effort. But what I lacked in high quality knitting time I more than made up with in 8km barefoot beach walks, long sessions at the kitchen table gazing out the window at the majestic scenery whilst nursing an endless succession of cups of tea, and plenty of recharging. After coughing for a month straight, I needed a few days of STOP. And it was goooooood!

School's back today. Ye olde routine has begun again. Sigh...wouldn't it be nice if holidays could last just that little bit longer? Not forever, because then I would get bored but I wouldn't say no to another week, that's for sure.

Oh, and I may have developed a slight addiction to watching the Tour de France. I finally get it - that's why people have televisions, so they can watch hours and hours of incredible French scenery. And handsome cyclists. Phwoar!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Spots and pleats...

...and plackets! Don't forget that sterling placket!

Spotty Shirt #1

Spotty Shirt #2

Spotty Shirt #3

Spotty Shirt #4

Once I get over my fear of the tricky bits, I invariably discover that I quite enjoy putting shirts together. It feels like jigsaw sewing - making sure each piece fits correctly into it's place. Ja, I know that technically all sewing is like that, but I really feel that when you are making a shirt, you almost complete a mini jigsaw on certain pieces, and then that becomes part of a much bigger jigsaw. It's rather mediative, in its way. And the perfect sort of project for winter, when you are coughing for the fourth week straight, and the wind is brisk and cruel, and there's really not much worth going outside for, anyways. So why not do a jigsaw? Er, make a shirt?

Rather happy with how this baby turned out. I love the fabric (I'm a sucker for spots), and the pleats and placket give it a nice polished tailored feel, without being formal. I've got another one cut out for the Tyger, with added length, as I don't quite feel this one will be long enough to see her through next winter. Note to self: measure her before she leaves for school in the morning, instead of cutting out on the fly and presuming that it will fit. She's growing so fast!

Project Details
Pattern: Rousku shirt (no. 23) from Ottobre Design magazine 4/2010
Fabric: 1m quilting cotton from GJ's Discount Fabrics
Notions: 3 x 1.5cm buttons, iron-on interfacing

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Sabrina in Miette

Sabrina In Miette

"Oooooh!" said Sabrina gratefully as the semi-completed Miette was draped upon her. "Yes, I do like this! I don't think I've ever had a knitted object on my person before. How very delightful - I wonder what Jorth is up to now?"

"Excuse me miss, but it's the Miette cardigan. For the knit-a-long!" piped up one brave cable needle.

Silence fell in the room. Being relatively new to the sewing/knitting bureau the poor old cable needle didn't know that to interrupt Sabrina was paramount to sedition, but everything else in the room knew the fact only too well, and held their collective breaths anxiously.

"Do not disturb my enjoyment of this soft knitted delight with your impertinence!" scolded Sabrina, but without much malice, as she couldn't summon up too much anger with such delectable yarny goodness warming her shoulders.

The general consensus in the room was that the cable needle had gotten off very lightly indeed. That Sabrina was usually one tough broad!