Monday, December 07, 2015

Red Heart Dress

The Marc by Marc Jacobs fabric lay restlessly in the sewing cupboard. "Why", it thought desolately to itself, "why can I not find a pattern to suit me? I'm covered in cute red hearts, for crying out loud - how hard could it be to love me?"

Fabrics came, and fabrics went, and still the Marc fabric lay there. Finally one day it decided enough was enough. "I gotta go online! That's the only way to meet your perfect match these days!"

Evening drew in, and Jorth went to bed. The fabric slid out of the cupboard, and made its way stealthily to the kitchen where Jorth's mobile was kept. Heading straight to the app store, it quickly downloaded a brilliant new app called Weftr. 'Swipe weft to right to find your perfect pattern match!' it declared in tones brimming with the promise of happy-ever-after.

Marc began to swipe. Vogue coat pattern? No way, left swipe for you. Vintage sewing magazine overalls? Er, that would be a left swipe for you, too. Finally, Simplicity 1803 came up. Marc gazed upon the pattern in delight. It had everything he'd been wanting in a frock - 1950s styling, full skirt, pockets and a great neckline. He swiped weft to right, and sat back to wait for his one true love.

Red Heart Dress #1

Red Heart Dress #2

Project Details
Pattern: Simplicity 1803
Fabric: 1.8m Marc by Marc Jacobs cotton lawn from The Fabric Store
Notions: Invisible zip, interfacing

Monday, October 05, 2015

Vogue 8184 Hack

There's Ikea hacks. And beauty hacks. And let's not forget bringing entire financial corporations to their knees with some nifty and well-timed computer system hacks.

The last one might consider itself to be the original and the best. But none of them hold a candle to my Vogue 8184 hack!

Vogue 8184 #1

Ok, ok, so maybe my hacking hasn't managed to funnel tens of millions of dollars into my bank account (alas!), but I'm still pretty chuffed with my hacking skills. Although, I shall confess that this hack isn't new - I did it on another 8184 way back in the summer of 2011 but since that dress has been worn and washed so many times that the linen is beginning to tear, I thought it was high time for another version.

As far as hacks go, this one is pretty darn easy - I simply extended the length of the shoulder straps when cutting them out, then carefully placed them in a v-configuration at the centre front point. I then tried on the dress, adjusted the straps to the back for the perfect fit, basted them into place and then proceeded with the bodice lining as per usual. Simple, but darn effective!

Vogue 8184 #2

Project Details
Pattern - Vogue 8184, view B with strap adjustment
Fabric - 2m cotton from GJ's Discount Fabrics (from stash, woo hoo!)
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper (also from stash - double woo hoo!)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Vika: the ultimate cabled sweater

Never have I read a truer sentence in a pattern description than the one that accompanied Vika: "A noble cabled masterwork..."

Yup! This ain't tv knitting, my friends - this is a masterwork, and let's be making no mistakes about that! It took a lot of energy, and I don't want to even think about how many hours, and I shall admit that there were times when I thought "Urgh! What have I got myself in for?", but now it's done both Tyger and myself are pleased as punch with the results. And if you think I'm not going to be walking around saying "Hey! Check out my masterwork!" then you are in for some A-grade serious disappointment!

Vika #4

Vika #3

Vika #5

As is always the case with Brooklyn Tweed patterns, it's beautifully written, and the instructions provide explanations for all techniques used. The one quibble I had with it was the sizing of the garments. Even thought Tyger is 11, I ended up making her a size 6, as the size 10 would have been roomy on me. Since she really wanted a fitted cabled turtleneck, we had go down two sizes. To accommodate the extra height, I just added some extra ribbing, and used the length measurements for the size 10. It fits perfectly, so I am thrilled about that, and I'm pretty sure she'll squeeze a couple of winters out of it.

I used Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran, which is 90% wool and 10% angora. The angora adds a beautiful softness to this yarn (especially noticeable after blocking), and stops the knitted garment from feeling scratchy. That's important, especially for a turtleneck sweater! Imagine her not wearing it, after all the hours of work I put into it, because it was itchy on her neck - quelle horreur!

Being a tweed yarn, it can break easily if you exert enough force, so I decided to use a dark green variegated cotton to sew the sweater up, as I figured it would be stronger than using the yarn itself. I love how very tweedy and British it looks - just the thing for striding along a Yorkshire moor in, and it's warm enough to fend off the chilliest of winds.

I'm really proud of this sweater, but I will say this: as much as I love knitting cables, I might have a rest from creating cabled masterworks for a while! Some easy, no-brainer knitting is in order, methinks!

Project Details:
Pattern - Vika by Brooklyn Tweed, made in size 6 with extra length added
Yarn - 7 balls of Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran in shade #46 (Leaf), from Woolarium
Needles - 4mm, 4.5mm, cable needle

Ravelried here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Meet Logan, my new knitted dress!

I know, I know - it's a thing. The whole Jorth and the knitted dress, but I cannot help it. There truly is no more comfortable garment in the world than a knitted dress, and I simply can't get enough of them! And if they are designed by Kim Hargreaves, then all the better - as far as I'm concerned, she does the best knit dress designs around. Thank you Kim for feeding my, I mean love!

Logan #1

Logan #3

The pattern used was Logan from Kim's book Shadows. I knitted it up in Rowan Lima (shade: La Paz 891), which was such a fun yarn to work with. The yarn has a chain construction - I was bit worried I would constantly snag my needles on the yarn as I worked with it, but it knitted up with perfect ease. It does create quite a bouncy feeling fabric, but the cables stop it from spreading all over the place. This dress is a wonderful example of great use of design to enhance the natural characteristics of a yarn. I'm also really loving the ever-so-slight colour changes in the yarn. It reminds me of the gradual changes of colour in a summer paddock of long stemmed grass. I know that sounds a bit daft, but it's so right. So natural.

My only quibble with this dress is that it is sitting just on the wrong side of short. Normally I would wear a dress like this with stockings, but I fear that that with the fabric bounce this one would keep riding up on me, and I would be walking around like Lindsay Lohan, who doesn't seem to mind pairing rather short tops or tunics with nothing but a pair of tights and a smile, happy for the world to ogle her arse cheeks. I'm way too much of a prude for such scandalous behaviour, so I'm going to pair it with a pair of leggings and call it a done thing. If I had my time again I would have added a few extra cable repeats for the additional length but ack! it's too late now.

So there we are folks - another winter, another knitted dress! Now to plan for next years... Scorched is looking pretty good from where I'm sitting and knitting!

Project Details
Pattern: Logan by Kim Hargreaves, from the book Shadows
Yarn: 11 balls of Rowan Lima in shade La Paz 891, purchased from Woolarium
Needles: 4.5mm, 5mm, 5.5mm, cable needle

Ravelried here.

Logan #2

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monthly menu plan August/September

Fruity Oat Biscuits

Whoa! When did life get so busy? Between gearing up for Galumph's craziest work time of year, Tyger having early morning sports lessons and just life in general, I feel like I need to be super organised at the moment! Thank goodness for menu planning - it really saves me a lot of stress and pressure, knowing exactly what to buy during a big weekly shop and then having it ready to go (or even better - pre-prepped) as needed. And saves on the dollars too, as we really waste very little food this way. Win win all around!

Week One:
Monday - Roasted vegetable risotto with rocket salad
Tuesday - Veg and bean casserole
Wednesday - Bacon, vegetable and lentil soup
Thursday - Lentil spaghetti bolognaise with feta
Friday - Out with friends - hooray!
Saturday - Tofu burgers with coleslaw and wedges
Sunday - Spicy minestrone with garlic croutons

Week Two:
Monday - Risotto primavera with green salad
Tuesday - Chicken, lentil and pumpkin curry (half now, half in freezer)
Wednesday - Tuscan bean soup with rye bread
Thursday - Beef stroganoff with spinach salad
Friday - Moroccan carrot and quinoa pilaf
Saturday - Pizza pasta bake with garden salad
Sunday - Roast chicken

Week Three:
Monday - Creamy chicken pasta (with left-over roasted chicken)
Tuesday - Italian beef casserole (half now, half in freezer)
Wednesday - Potato and leek soup with cheese and salad rolls
Thursday - Pasta arrabiata with garden salad
Friday - Curried vegetable pilaf
Saturday - Vegie burgers with chopped salad
Sunday - Beany tacos

Week Four:
Monday - Spinach, chilli and tomato risotto
Tuesday - Chicken, lentil and pumpkin curry (from freezer)
Wednesday - Lemon, lentil and spinach soup
Thursday - Speedy tuna, lemon and bean pasta with salad
Friday - Roasted vegetable and quinoa salad
Saturday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni with green salad
Sunday - Roast chicken

Week Five:
Monday - Pearl barley minestrone
Tuesday - Italian beef casserole (from freezer)
Wednesday - Silverbeet and potato soup with tomato and cheese toasted sandwiches
Thursday - Pasta primavera with rocket salad
Friday - Lemon pepper pilaf

Oh, and the biscuits? They are from the latest addition of Jamie Magazine - I highly recommend them (she says, wiping crumbs furtively from keyboard...)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Frocktails red party dress

There are Saturday nights when you find yourself in your jimmiejams, eating chips on the couch and watching Bridget Jones's Diary for the 227th time. Those nights are balm to the soul, but not something that I'd generally find myself blogging about. Or admitting to. Please don't tell anybody that I can quote that entire movie. The shame, the shame!

Then there are the Saturday nights when you get to hang out with another 50 sewing bloggers, wearing a frock you have sewn up yourself, living the Frocktails dream! Guess which type of Saturday night I just had? Let's put it this way: being eaten by Alsatians whilst listening to Sad FM was *not* on the agenda!

Red Dress #1

It was a pretty darn fabulous night, and the dresses had to be seen to be believed. It was an honour to hang out with so many talented and wonderful ladies, and I got to meet so many people that I've admired for so long. If you'd like to see some great pics of the girls and their frocks, Poppykettle took some marvellous photos, so pop on over there and drool yourself silly at the gorgeousness on display.

I had a bit of a dress disaster prior to the event. I had started making Vogue 8900, and it was all going along swimmingly until it came to doing the side vents (which was the last bit I had to do, natch). Try as I might, I could not figure out a way to make (a) the bias binding fit and (b) get the vents to sit flat. After checking out other versions on Pattern Review, I discovered this was a common problem, but that wasn't going to help me when my dress had gone from hero to zero faster then you can say "Frocktails Panic!"

I had 3 days left to make a dress. On a zero budget. And it had to look fab. What was I to do???

Like any good seamstress, I hit up the stash. I found 1.5m of silk stretch blend, and then rummaged through my pattern collection to find a party-worthy pattern. Thankfully McCall's 6320 came to the rescue - I'd already made one version of this in a green cotton a few years back, so the sewing came easily. And whilst I may have been hand stitching the lining in at 6 in the morning on the day of the event, it was eventually done - phew!

No alterations were made to this dress, although I am kind of wishing that I had gone for the pleated sleeve option rather than the plain set in sleeve. Next time! It was so comfy to wear, and I felt suitably glam, which was great - in a room full of sewing wonders, you want to feel like you measure up (ha! bad sewing pun!) to all the talent surrounding you.

And let's give a round of applause to the stash, eh? In a year of frugality, having a little extra tucked away saved my bacon!

Project Details:
Pattern - McCall's 6320, version C
Fabric - 1.5m silk stretch blend from The Fabric Store
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper, hook and eye, lining and interfacing

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vintage Simplicity Red Cape

A while ago I decided that if one thing was going to happen this year, then that thing would be making Tyger a winter coat. I've always wanted to make her one, and she herself has always gone sportingly along with the notion, so we sat together one day in cosy happiness and began to trawl the internet for coat patterns.

We looked here, we looked there. In fact, I found myself googling ever stranger combinations, trying to find a coat pattern that we both agreed on, but Tyger was determined - once she had set her eyes on Simplicity 8072, it was vintage cape or bust, and no amount of cooing over Burda patterns from Mum was going to change her mind.

Look, I can't deny that the kid has style. I mean, this cape is so cute that I want one - but wouldn't her poor little arms get cold?

Red Cape #3

Cold arms, pswah! Stopping short of telling me to turn off my inner mummy-monologue about goosebumps, she fixed me with a look that said "Let's make a deal - you can fulfil your coat dream, and I'll get the coat OF my dreams!"

So I gave in. And bought some red cashmere/wool coating and away we went.

And really, I should have trusted her style judgement after all, because she looks pretty darn snazzy in it - with no cold arm complaints to be heard!

Red Cape #2

Red Cape #1

Project Details
Pattern: Vintage Simplicity 8072, view 2 (published 1968)
Size: 10 (girls)
Materials: 2 meters wool/cashmere coating from Clegs, 2 meters lining
Notions: 8 buttons from Woolarium

I must say, I really did enjoy making this. The pattern was full of great information, more so than modern patterns. I did do a few tweaks here and there, like using iron-on interfacing, which I don't think they had in 1968, but I mostly stuck to the script. There was a LOT of handsewing involved in this, but I didn't mind it. In fact, it was quite meditative, even if it did chew up gallons of time.

It's inspired me to get some more vintage patterns out from my stash and give them a go, plus who can go past this vintage style? Not me - I'm a sucker for all things 1950s and 60s!

Monday, June 08, 2015

Rustling Leaves Beret

What did you do with your long weekend? I spent it knitting a gorgeously leaf-patterned beret, and scarfing home made eclairs made by Galumph and Tyger! Excellent weekend all around, I'd say!


I knitted this beret for the Woolarium Beanie Fest, which has entries open now. The theme is "New Beginnings", and as soon as I saw this pattern I knew it was the one I had to knit! The pattern was perfectly written, making it very easy to follow. I'll admit, it wasn't exactly 'zone-out-in-front-of-the-tv' knitting, but it wasn't crazy difficult either. My brim has turned out a little bit loose, so I think I'll thread some fine elastic through it, but apart from that it's perfect!

Project Details
Pattern: Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos
Yarn: 1 skein of Spud and Chloe Fine in 'Cricket' #7804
Needles: 2.75mm and 3.25mm
Ravelried here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monthly Menu Plan - April/May


Late last year, in the Christmas sales, I bought myself a slow/fast cooker, hoping that this final purchase would serve us well in our Year of Green Frugality. Four months into using this wonder machine (which is a pressure cooker and slow cooker in one), and I am pleased as punch (hmm? wonder if I could use it to make punch?) to announce that when it comes to saving money and time whilst also creating amazing meals, the fast/slow cooker gets an A+!

Every other Monday I use the slow cooker component to make a casserole. The quantity it makes is enough to serve 8 people - or, feed us one night, with plenty put in the freezer for another, plus left-overs for lunch! I usually bulk up the recipes with extra root vegetables/beans/lentils, and then serve them with some sort of grain like couscous, quinoa, brown rice... you get the idea. One meal equalling many mouths fed is the sort of equation that makes me happy indeed.

I've also been using it to cook all manner of pulses in the pressure cooker component. Not only is this the cheapest way of cooking pulses (especially when you buy them in bulk from the local bulk bin store), but it is saving the use of tins, which pleases the greenie inside me greatly! In fact, I've become the sort of sad person who is constantly scouring the internet for recipes involving turtle beans or chickpeas, just so I have an excuse to pull out my favourite kitchen appliance!

Now, having read over my waxing lyrical, I can guess that some of you are wondering if this is a sponsored post. Not at all, I can assure you. I am just really happy with my fast/slow cooker, and wanted to share with you all how useful I have found it. It did cost a little bit to buy, but it's already saved us lots of money - and time in the kitchen! If I could send it a bunch of flowers to thank it for it's service, I would!

Ok, enough blathering - on to the menu plan!

Week One:
Monday - Lemony lentil soup with crispy kale
Tuesday - Lamb and chickpea stew on couscous
Wednesday - Black eyed bean and vegetable soup
Thursday - Lentil cottage pies with buttered corn cobs
Friday - Tofu burgers with spiced wedges
Saturday - Sichuan gai lan with brown rice
Sunday - Moroccan sweet potato bake

Week Two:
Monday - Ribolitta
Tuesday - Spiced chicken tagine with dates and chickpeas
Wednesday - Paneer and vegetable curry on brown rice
Thursday - Roasted sweet potato, pea and zucchini risotto with rocket salad
Friday - Roast chicken
Saturday - Out for dinner...yay, night off!
Sunday - Thick vegetable soup

Week Three:
Monday - Cardamom pumpkin soup with Italian scones
Tuesday - Red wine stew with polenta
Wednesday - Spiced vegetable pilaf
Thursday - Pea soup with cheese toasties
Friday - Mascarpone and bacon pasta with green salad
Saturday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni
Sunday - Chorizo, vegetable and black bean soup

Week Four:
Monday - Tuna meat balls with spaghetti and green salad
Tuesday - Massaman beef curry
Wednesday - Spinach and corn pasties with garden salad
Thursday - Spinach, bacon and tomato risotto with rocket salad
Friday - Vegetable macaroni and cheese with green salad

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spotted Ruffle Tee

It appears that the colour theme around these parts is yellow, yellow and more yellow. I've got my yellow dress, and now Tyger has a gorgeous yellow spotted ruffled tee!

Check it out - cute confetti spots in the front.....

Spotted Ruffle Top-1

Spotted Ruffle Top 2

...and ruffle party in the back!

The pattern is from Ottobre Design Magazine Spring 1/2011, and has been such a hit that I think I'm going to need to hit up the stash to make another version! The best bit about presenting it to her when she got home from school was that she gasped when she saw it and exclaimed with delight "Oh mum - it's got puffed sleeves!"

I've had my own Anne of Green Gables moment. I can die happy now!

Spotted Ruffle Top 3

Project Details
Pattern - #20 Peacock Tunic from Ottobre Design Magazine 1/2011, size 140cm
Fabric - 1.5m cotton jersey knit from Spotlight (purchased last year, so not sure if they still stock it)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mellow Yellow

In my head (a marvellous place, I can assure you all!) I keep referring to this dress as my 'mellow yellow' dress, but that is a misnomer if I've ever seen one, as there is nothing mellow at all about this crazily bright frock!

Mellow Yellow #1

This pattern, a Very Easy Very Vogue (remember those?!?) from 1989, was actually quite easy to make. I'm not thrilled about the darts, which the pattern called to be cut before you sew, which I think has resulted in a pointy dart end, and the facings don't seem to want to sit right, despite the topstitching I added, but for a fun and bright day dress it does the job. It was quick to sew, and I love the front pleats - you can eat tons for lunch in this dress, and the pleats mean that your tummy can't betray you - hooray!

The back has a long split up the back which means that it is easy to both walk and ride my bike in this dress. Plus it's YELLOW! Yes sir, I think we can add this one to the winner's box!

Mellow Yellow #2

Project Details
Pattern - Very Easy Very Vogue 7475 in size 8
Fabric - 1.2m of stretch cotton from The Fabric Store
Notions - 35cm invisible zipper

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monthly menu plan - March/April

Cherry Tomatoes

I love this time of year so much! It really feels like you get the best of both worlds - gloriously sunny afternoons that you can stretch right into and relax in tempered by a chill that descends and makes you plan your next casserole/knitting project/movie to watch whilst snuggled under a blanket. Autumn, you make me appreciate being alive.

As does a good meal. This month is full of 'em!

Week One:
Monday - Chicken soup (I have a cold!)
Tuesday - Beef, spinach and date tagine with carroty couscous
Wednesday - Creamy pumpkin soup
Thursday - Spaghetti with rocket pesto and roasted cherry tomatoes, plus a garden salad
Friday - Dinner out with friends
Saturday - Quinoa, zucchini and feta salad
Sunday - Ratatouille with creamed spinach polenta

Week Two:
Monday - Salmon and pea pasta bake with garden salad
Tuesday - Chicken, lentil and vegetable curry on brown rice
Wednesday - Roasted tomato and capsicum soup with garlic naan
Thursday - Cauliflower and lentil pilaf with minted yoghurt
Friday - Knitting night - to be decided
Saturday - Vegetable curry omelette rolls
Sunday - Spicy black bean soup

Week Three:
Monday - Broccoli and leek soup with roasted vegetable couscous salad
Tuesday - Beef tagine (from freezer, see week 1)
Wednesday - Silverbeet, broad bean and rice soup
Thursday - Spaghetti with lentil bolognaise, and a garden salad
Friday - Tofu burgers with Indian spiced cauliflower and broccoli salad
Saturday - Fondue style macaroni cheese with rocket salad
Sunday - Easter! Roast chicken with maple roasted carrots, mash and lemony peas

Week Four:
Monday - Cinnamon braised chicken with couscous
Tuesday - Creamy vegetable and almond korma on brown rice
Wednesday - Chickpea and leek soup with garlic bread
Thursday - Ricotta and vegetable cannelloni with green salad
Friday - Red wine risotto with spiced chicken drumsticks
Saturday - Pizza! Roasted vegetable and mushroom, salmon, crème fraiche and chilli
Sunday - Chickpea, brown rice and spinach pilaf with grilled haloumi

Week Five:
Monday - White minestrone with rye bread toasts
Tuesday - Beef and red wine stew with sweet potato mash
Wednesday - Creamy silverbeet and potato soup
Thursday - Fettuccini with mushroom bolognaise
Friday - Lentil cottage pies with sweet potato mash and sides of buttered corn cobs

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Chunky Moss Stitch Cowl

Do you know that feeling of knitting-induced guilt that you get when you've promised somebody a knit, but life keeps getting in the way and you keep putting the project off? And then every time you see them, you have that awkward "Dude, I'm so going to get started on your knit" conversation and they nod their head kindly but slightly unbelievingly at you, and you scuttle away cursing your lack of decent knitting time, and go home to wallow in a big fat swamp of knitting shame?

Well, I ain't got none of that bad ass feeling no more, because this knitted gift is DONE, DUDES!


This is a knit for my gorgeous friend Kate, who modelled the original pattern for Woolarium last year. Sorry it took so long, Kate - hope you think it's worth the wait!

This version has been knitted up in Rowan Alpaca Chunky, which is the smooshiest, most huggable yarn you could ever lay your hands on. It's made with a chain construction, which is not only easy to knit but adds a wonderful layer of texture to the design.

And since it's so quick to make on 10mm needles (well, once you get started - oops!) there's no excuse for not making one for yourself, too!

Project Details
Pattern: Chunky Moss Stitch Cowl by Woolarium
Yarn: 2 balls of Rowan Alpaca Chunky
Needles: 10mm

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Meet the Fabric Stash

Hi! Come on in, sit down, help yourself to tea, and have a look at my fabric stash (and what could possibly be the dullest photo to ever feature on this blog):

Stash #1

Hmm. I've seen worse, but I've also seen far better. As part of our Year Of Green Frugality, I have put myself on a fabric buying ban. A while ago I had a big fabric sort out, donated what I knew I wouldn't use to Handmaker's Factory, and only kept the fabric that had been assigned a pattern. So now the goal is to only sew from the stash this year - I'll be using what I have, saving money and finally be able to see what an empty shelf in the sewing buffet looks like!

The majority of the fabric in the buffet is for projects for me. Tyger, however, does need quite a few new things made for this year. Seriously, the kid is growing like we douse her porridge with fertiliser each morning! So once I have used up the small pile of stash that is assigned to her, I shall allow fabric purchases made with only her projects in mind. Plus she might kill me if she misses out on any sewing action. Hee, hee!

I was worried, when I first came up with this idea, that I would feel restricted by the lack of new materials, but having sorted through the stash properly I've realised that every piece of fabric is in there because I love it. In a way it was quite lovely to do - seeing some of the fabrics again was like meeting old friends once more. I'm glad I did the de-stash when nobody was home, though, because I'm pretty sure I was babbling to myself, exclaiming at far-too-regular intervals witticisms like "Hey you! Looking good! Let me sew you up and we can look good together, baby!"

Speaking of looking good, how's this for a cute first cab off the rank project in the year of great money saving?  Fingers crossed Melbourne actually gets some summer sunshine this year, so me and this fine looking frock can do that look-good-together thing!

Stash #2

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Year of Green Frugality


Summer's over, school is back, and it's time to get back to work. And, in my case, to put my new year's resolutions up on the blog!

This year is all about saving. Saving money, and knocking that mortgage down, down, down, and saving the earth by being as environmentally friendly as we possibly can.

We've always been a pretty green-minded family, but the last couple of years have almost had me in a panic regarding the state of our earth. It is so disappointing to see our elected leaders sit on their hands whilst Rome, and everywhere else, burns.

However, there is plenty that I can do as an individual to reduce my impact. Not coincidentally, a lot of green ways are also very frugal ways, so I'm going to bring the two together and make this our Year of Green Frugality!

The rules are as follows:

 - Abide by the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle) as much as humanly possible.

 - Think very long and hard before making a purchase. Nothing is to be bought unless it is truly needed. Ask the following questions: Do I really need this? Will it serve more than one purpose? Can it be passed on to others in good condition when we no longer require it?

 - If the answer to any of those is yes, then the purchase can be made. It should be, however, at least one of the following: ethically made, second-hand and/or from an indie producer.

- Make as much as possible in the home. This will range from jam to clothes to laundry liquids. Not only will I be saving money, but I will value the things I have produced from high quality materials and will also be able to avoid environmentally destructive ingredients such as palm oil. This means that you'll probably be getting a hand-made or edible gift for your birthday. Hope you like it!

It all sounds a bit full-on, doesn't it? But truly, a lot of this is just about being more organised with my time. Mondays are going to be devoted to cleaning and cooking, so when I come home tired and stressed later in the week I can grab that pre-cooked meal from the freezer, rather than resorting to take-away and squillions of plastic containers. Which I will eat whilst admiring my mostly clean apartment. Win win!

Speaking of plastic, we are trying to avoid it as much as possible as well (like that time we went plastic-free). I'll be hitting up our local health food store and buying lots of our food from their bulk bins. It's going to be great - cooking as much as possible with fresh, non-packaged produce is going to be good for landfill AND good for my tummy!

I'm also on a mission to use up the craft supplies that I have here before even thinking about getting more. I have enough fabric for my wardrobe needs to last me a while, so I really want to work through that before I even think about justifying any new purchases. I had a major clean out last year of my fabrics and yarn, so the only things I have left have already been allocated to particular projects. Tyger will need some new things, though, so I'll have to just get my fabric kicks making things for her! I am banned from buying any new patterns, though - I have enough to sink a ship, and should really what I have. It's going to be tough, but I am determined not to crack!

We have also decided as a family to continue with some big hitting carbon reductions, such as remaining car free (using bikes, feet or public transport to get where we need to go) and to restrict meat to two meals a week, max, being veggie or vegan the rest of the time. The Galumph and I have also decided that rather than buying things for each other (things! things! the last thing we need is more things!) we will give experiences instead. Rather than a gift which we will have to find a home for and never end up using, we're going to go to concerts or exhibitions instead. My house will remain uncluttered, and I'll get a romantic night out with my husband. Ahhh, I'm liking the sound of this already!

So watch this space and see how we fare with our Year of Green Frugality. It's officially starting today - I'll keep you up to date here and on Instagram with our progress. If you have any tips or advice for me, please share - I'd love to hear your thoughts on ways we can reduce our impact!

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Baked Cinnamon Donuts Recipe

Donuts #1

I have been mucking around with this recipe for the last few weeks, and I have finally cracked it. The challenge, you see, was to create the perfect donut recipe using items that I would already have in my kitchen pantry. I didn't want to be rushing down to the supermarket trying to buy yoghurts or buttermilk, or essentially anything that came in a plastic container, because we are once again trying to be as plastic free as possible here in the Jorth household this year.

We're also living a year of frugality, trying to both boost our bank account *and* be as green as possible. Everything - even donut recipes - now need to meet our green frugality standards!

So you can imagine how excited I was when I created a lovely green donut recipe, with all ingredients coming in either recyclable glass or paper. But the best thing is the donuts have that essential stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth-ness that only a really good cup of tea or coffee can dislodge. It's the number one thing I look for in a donut, and now the perfect recipe is mine, all mine! Cue evil laugh, and get baking, kids!

Baked Cinnamon Donuts
60 grams butter, melted
1/2 cup raw caster sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp nutmeg, or more to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk

Cinnamon Topping:
20 grams butter, melted
1/2 cup raw caster sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 - Preheat oven to 180 C. Generously coat a donut pan with some of the melted butter.

2 - Combine the caster sugar, plain flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a bowl and mix well.

3 - Mix the egg, milk and butter together in a small jug. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, and pour in the egg mixture. Stir well to combine.

4 - Carefully, using both a spoon and a knife, add the mixture to the donut pans, making sure you don't overfill them. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, or until golden brown.

5 - Meanwhile, add the raw caster sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl, and mix well. When the donuts are fresh out of the oven, dip each donut top in the melted butter, then press into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place on a rack to cool, then eat - that's if you can wait that long!

Makes 8 donuts.

Donuts #2

Monday, January 05, 2015

Pattern Review: Simplicity 1876

Helllloooooo, 2015! Boy, am I glad to see you! 2014 was one of the most eventful years I've had in a while, and I'm kinda glad to see the end of it. There were some amazing things that happened - we went to Europe, and I started a new job at Woolarium, which I LOVE - but my father-in-law became quite ill, there were job upheavals for my husband, and I've had a few rather unpleasant medical issues which have been ongoing for some time but really decided to bite towards at the end of the year. 10 years down the track from Tyger's birth, and I'm still dealing with medical issues from the complications. Gah! No fun, I tells ya, no fun at all! No wonder I totally lost my sewing mojo, eh?

But here we are, in a fresh new year, and things are looking much rosier. I'm feeling in a much better place to meet challenges head on, and have even got a few sewing projects finished. I KNOW! Hold the presses, folks - Jorth has actually finished a sewing project. Woo hoo!

This little baby is Simplicity 1876, made up in a gorgeous fresh cotton print that I knew had to be mine as soon as I clapped eyes on it. The bodice is fully lined and interfaced, and was meant to have boning as well, but I felt that the interfaced layer would provided enough support. And besides, I like to breathe. So like the sewing rebel that I am, I left it out.

I also decided to make the halter straps into shoulder straps, as I really dislike the feeling of something being tied around my neck. I'll leave the weight-bearing yoke feelings to the oxen in ye olde fields, and go with shoulder security instead. Thankfully the halter strap was plenty long enough to accommodate this whim of mine, so no alterations were required.

The dress itself was pretty easy to sew. The only tricky part was sewing the interfacing layer to the bodice without catching the gap left to thread the halter through. There may have been some unpicking before I scored, but triumphant I did emerge, and it all sits quite nicely.

So there it is. With an invisible hand-sewn hem, to boot! I think it's a winner.  Judge for yourselves - and happiest of new years to you all!

Halter #1

Halter #2

Halter #3

Project Details
Pattern: Simplicity 1876, view A
Fabric: 1.9m cotton fabric from GJ's Discount Fabrics
Notions: 35cm invisible zipper, interfacing

PS: Big thanks to Tyger for the pics!