Friday, June 29, 2012

How to replace a broken zipper

In our recent declutter, I got the kids to go through their clothes and bag up the things they had grown out of. My daughter included these shorts because of the broken zip. They still fit and were in good nick apart from the zip, so they were worth the 20 minutes and $1 to fix them. Here's how:

With a seam ripper, remove the stitches that held the zipper in place. You'll create a "hole" in the fly underlap. On the overlap side, simply pick out the stitches. The fly went up into the waistband area on these shorts, so I didn't have to cut the zipper out of the waistband. If you have a more traditional waistband, you might need to do this.
These shorts have only a very short fly, so I needed to shorten the zip. I measured the new zip against the old, then stitched in a new zipper stop to match the old zip. Then I cut off the excess zip.

With the zipper right side up and closed, I slid it into the slot on the fly underlap side of the fly. Pin it down, and using a zipper foot on the machine, stich close to the zip.

For the fly overlap, I opened the zip and lined the remaining side up against the stitch lines from the previous zip. Then I handstitched in place, using backstitch with a double thread pulled through beeswax.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Menu Planning Maze

When I think of Menu Planning, I think of my friend's mother. She had it down pat. She had settled on seven evening meals, one for each day of the week. She simply made those meals, week-in, week-out. I can't remember the rotation now (I used to!) , but I do remember Irish Stew on a Tuesday, 52 weeks a year!
Whilst I love food and cooking too much to ever countenance such an approach to menu planning, I do understand the drive to keep the task of feeding the family simple.
One of my basic, ongoing goals to make all our meals at home from scratch. As anyone who has this goal would know, menu planning is a big part of that. Menu planning for me though is a juggle of timetables, ingredients, time, nutrition considerations, balance and personal preferences. Here's what I mean:

Timetables:  The number one consideration for me in planning our meals is our family timetable, because this affects the timeframe I have available to cook, and therefore what I can cook. This week the timetable looks like this:
Monday - out of the house from 3.30pm for swimming training, back 5.30pm, one hour window before son needs to go to soccer.
Tuesday - out of house between 3.30pm and 6.00pm from training - everyone starving.
Wednesday- leave house by 5.15pm for soccer with son, back 8.00pm.
I won't go on and on but you get the picture. Every night and every week is different

Ingredients: What's in the fridge that needs to be used up? What's in the garden? What can I cook with whatever is at hand?

Balance: I try to have a balance of meals over a week. We're not vegetarians, but I've been trying to reduce our meat intake. I try to plan for two vegetarian meals a week, and these are normally nights I'll make a dessert, because the meat eaters (ie. the men) reckon the veggo meals don't fill them up...With the other five evening meals, I'll aim for three red meat meals, 1-2 fish, and maybe a chicken meal. Of course, all this is not hard-and-fast.

Stove availability - one constraint I have in my kitchen is that I only have two working stove elements  (it's a long story!) , which in practical terms often means one, as I mostly cannot use both elements simultaneously because of the size of my saucepans/frypans. So I have to plan to use the electric frypan, rice cooker, the oven etc. to get around this.

Having taken all these factors into consideration, this week the  evening menu plan has looked like this:

Sunday - Roast Shoulder of Lamb, Roast Potatoes and Sweet Potato, Brussels Sprouts.
Monday - Tuna Pasta, Coleslaw, Apple Crumble -  this meal can be cooked in less than half an hour! Apple crumble prepared in the afternoon, eaten after soccer.
Tuesday - Beef and Tofu Stir Fry, Brown Rice
Wednesday - Lamb Pie (using leftover roast lamb), Steamed Broccoli - prepared in the afternoon, finished off in the oven while I'm out with daughter in charge, eat when we get back frozen from soccer.
Thursday - Chicken ?? I have chicken thigh fillets ready to go after we return from netball training at 6.30pm. I'll decide later today what I'm going to do with it..Maybe a tagine in the pressure cooker??
Friday - Corn and Potato Chowder, cheese scones - ready to eat by 5.30 before swimming club at 6.00pm.
Saturday - not sure yet! Maybe fish if Action Man goes fishing - quite possible. If not, watch this space. I might get the children to do this one.Probably pasta. Dessert too.

Phew! That's one week taken care of. Looking forward to school holidays as this means the sporting commitments stop for a while, and there will be more scope to cook meals that take a bit longer..

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Muesli Slice - Fail

In the interests of Truth in Blogging, see above today's baking effort - Muesli Slice. The recipe was new-to-me, the Muesli Slice in David Herbert's Best-Ever Baking Recipes.
As with all baking recipes, I followed this recipe to the letter. There is no flour in the recipe which raised a question in my mind, but as I had never had any trouble at all with any David Herbert recipe, I ploughed on.
A bit of a fail, shall we say. The Slice crumbled into smithereens as soon as I lifted it from the baking tin.
I can see this ending up as the crumble on a few apple crumbles in the next few weeks.
Sigh. Back to the baking tins.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Foolproof white sauce

This time of year I seem to make a few cheese and white sauces for lasagnes and pasta bakes.
The problem with white sauces is lumps, or to be more precise, how to avoid them.  Most recipes for White Sauce have you melt the butter, stir in the flour, cook it for a minute or two, then add the milk.
I don't do this when I make a white sauce, and I never, ever have lumps. I follow a method I found in Delia Smith's Complete Illustrated Cookery Course (published circa mid-1980s). Here's how:

White sauce

1/4 cup plain flour
60g butter
3 cups milk
salt, pepper, nutmeg
Grated cheese (if you are making a cheese sauce)

Place all the ingredients in a frypan (except the cheese). Stir with a whisk over high heat until the butter has melted. Use a wooden spoon for a final stir, making sure any flour in the corners of the pan are incorporated into the sauce. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to the lowest temperature and let it simmer without stirring at all for six minutes. Add cheese at this point if using.

And that is how to make lumpless, smooth white sauce.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Virtual move

In our first 12 years of marriage, we moved nine times, thanks to Action Man's employment with the Defence Forces.
As you might imagine there was a certain amount of tiresomeness that came with moving constantly. However, it did mean that we didn't accumulate much stuff. Each move was an opportunity to jettison the excess.
We've been in this home now for nine years. I've been well aware that our cupboards could do with a clean out for a while now. Losing my paid job has given me an opportunity to go through every nook and cranny to clear out the excess.
I went systematically from one end of the house to the other. I pretended we were about to move, and with each article I would ask myself one question: "If we were moving, would this come with us or would we ditch it?" An easy enough question, and very effective.
If the answer was "ditch it" I would decide then whether to chuck it, take it to the recycling centre or donate it. The above lot was stuff waiting for a friend to pick it up to sell at her church's jumble sale.
I now need to take old computers to the council recycling centre. I also need to contact the Salvos to pick up furniture: some lounge chairs, a heater, a bed and a computer desk. Then it will be DONE! Hooray!
This has been a huge, and niggling, task that I am very extrememly happy to have off my plate.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Made by Me - Vogue V1250

Although I seem to live in pants, it behoves me sometimes to wear a dress! Mum, my children remark, you've got legs!
This is Vogue 1250, a Donna Karan pattern, which was rated one of the Best Patterns of 2011 on Pattern Review.
To make it I used a jersey I bought at Paron Fabrics in NYC. It's a lovely fabric (I think rayon blend, I could be wrong - I really should get in the habit of noting exactly what I'm buying, especially knits), a nice weight and drape for this pattern.
The fabric was great for the pattern. The pattern itself is rated Easy, and it was. It has only two pieces, with the front cut on the fold, including the entire skirt, which is sewn up the back. No side seams. Then there is an upper back pattern. The only fit adjustment I made was to lengthen below the waist 5 cms.
So the fabric was great, the pattern straightforward and interesting. I'm just not loving it as I thought I would. Perhaps it's because of its winter guise, with tights and over a turtleneck. Maybe it will look better on its own with some sandals in summer. Maybe.
Also not loving that ripply hem. I've applied the twin needle to the hem which I have done many times on knits with good results. This hem, though, just wants to ripple. I dunno why, and I dunno if I can be bothered to fix it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My gardening bookshelf

 I am the sort of person, who, when she needs to do something will automatically reach for a book. Poach an egg? Get a book out. Raise a child? Read the books. Grow a lettuce? Where's that book?
The books above are those I reach for most frequently when it comes to gardening:

Harvest by Meredith Kirton - This is a beautiful book. It has great pictures and is packed with information about almost anything you can think about in relation  to the edible garden. This book not only informs, it inspires. If I need a bit of a push off the couch to get out into the garden, five minutes with this book and a cup of tea does the trick...
 The Practical Australian Gardener by Peter Cundall - The main reason I like this book so much is that it is set out in months, with explanations of all the jobs you need to do in any given month. For me, it's a case of consulting this book to get an idea of what I should be getting on with at that time.

Organic Vegetable Gardening by Annette McFarlane - Whenever I go to plant anything, a quick consult with this book ensures I get the planting right. An excellent resource for all organic growing. Annette has a book out Organic Fruit Growing, that I'll think I'll check out too.

Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia by Louis Glowinski - There's no doubt about it, Louis has written a comprehensive book on all things fruit growing. At times a bit wordy, but certainly comprehensive.

Do you have any favourite gardening books?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why I grow my own vegies

I've been growing vegetables here for a while now. At the moment, we are re-jigging our vegie growing space, building some raised vegetable beds. Before we went to all that trouble, though, it was a good exercise to remind ourselves of why we grow vegies in the first place.
Here are the reasons I came up with:

1) I like eating good food
The number one reason for me: consider the taste of fresh vegetables straight from the garden v. supermarket vegetables trucked vast distances. No contest. Next...
2) I need the exercise
I don't like gyms, but I'm in my forties and I need the exercise, especially the strengthening stuff. When I garden, I use every muscle in my body, as I dig, hoe, weed and plant. Even better, the effort I make is going toward to achieving something useful, as opposed to the wasted effort in the  mindless tyranny of the Stairmaster.
3) It  saves money
It doesn’t take much money, really, to set up my own vegetable garden. Our first vegie garden was a no-dig garden that cost a few bags of soil and some bales of lucerne mulch. Growing vegetables from seed is super-cheap, but even if I buy seedlings, my vegetables will still be miles cheaper than shopbought vegies. As a bonus, I found  that once the vegetable garden was established, certain vegetables spontaneously grow whether I want them there or not. Think self-sowing potatoes, pumpkins, tomatoes, rocket and mint. No gardening gardening, I love that.
4) It connects me to nature
Vegie growing attunes me  to nature. I notice things:  changes in temperature, the effects of a change in season . I scan the skies for rain, and monitoring weather reports like a farmer. The presence of bugs and slugs and the insect world in general, takes on great significance. With the  vegetable garden, the nuances of nature are always there, in my face. It’s just that I haven’t noticed them to the same extent before.
5) It reduces my carbon footprint
Growing my own vegetables is a small contribution Ican make toward reducing your own carbon footprint. My food miles will reduce dramatically. By reducing demand for conventionally grown vegetables ( ie. growing methods that rely on pesticides and synthetic fertilisers), I can make a contribution toward reducing the degradation of soils.  I am also reducing my demand for packaging, itself a source of demand for precious resources.
When I started to grow vegetables, I soon saw the need to start our own compost heap, therefore reducing the amount of waste that needs to be transported to and accommodated in landfill sites. The composting process itself stops my food scraps ending up in landfill where they give off methane, one of the more devastating green house gases.
There is no environmental downside with growing my own vegetables.
6) It’s contemplative
I feel myself relax from head to toe when I head out into the garden. The sounds of the wind and the birds calms me down, and puts a smile on my face

And that's why I grow vegies.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lemon cordial

It's lemon season, well and truly, here. Today I made up a batch of lemon cordial. Here is what I did:

Lemon cordial

6 large lemons, juiced and zested
1.5 kg white sugar (yep, that's right 1.5kg. There is no denying that cordial is basically flavoured liquid sugar)
1 tablespoon citric acid
4 cups boiling water

In a heatproof jug, place the juice and zest, sugar and citric acid. Add the boiling water, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Strain and decant into sterilized bottles.
Place a couple of tablespoonfuls into a glass, and top up with water, soda water or lemonade. Or add a splash to your gin and tonic!

If you have loadsa lemons to deal with, here are a few past posts to help you on your way:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Aloe vera

Last weekend whilst I was working in the garden building raised vegie beds, something bitey worked its way up my trouser leg and sunk its fangs into me five times just behind the knee. The bites stung at the time, but the main torment has been the itch ever since.
I've been using aloe vera to soothe the itch. You just break off a leaf. The leaf oozes a gel that you smear onto your skin, and the itch disappears like magic. Great stuff on sunburn too, I'm told.
It's easy to strike aloe vera. My aloe vera plant came from my friend Jan who gave me a pup, a couple of leaves with some roots, from her plant years ago. It's now flourished in it's full-shade position. It also has quite a nice flower.
That's one of the nice things bout gardening - sharing plants and seeds.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Salmon Patties

One of the reasons we live where we live is that it is five minutes from the ocean. Action Man is a keen fisherman, so we have really fresh fish on the menu on a regular basis. Quite a luxury these days.
This is my mother's recipe, and she made this often for us tribe of 5 kids. I preferred them then to any other fish dish, and I still have a soft spot for them.
This is  a great storecupboard option. I made these the other night when I had run out of nearly everything, but didn't have time to buy food.  The last remaining salmon patty made an excellent sandwich filling the next day.

Salmon Patties

4 slices bread
 1 cup Milk
1 tin of salmon, drained (you can also remove the skin and bones if you prefer, but I tend to leave all that stuff in)
1 chopped onion
1 crushed garlic clove
1 beaten egg
grated rind of a lemon
chopped parsley

Tear the bread into small pieces, place in a bowl with milk  and leave to soak for a few minutes.  Squeeze the excess milk out of the bread. Place in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
At this point I usually put the bowl in the fridge for a half hour or so. If the mixture seems too wet, put in a tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs, so it still sticks together without being too wet.
Use a quarter cup measure to scoop up the mixture, form it into patties and roll in breadcrumbs. Shallow fry for a few minutes on medium heat until each side is golden brown.
Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Days like these...

Yes, I missed a blog post yesterday, thus failing in the Blog-Post-a-Day for June challenge. Here's why:

The day started inauspiciously. It had been pelting rain all night. I walked out the back door in my bare feet to retrieve something from the verandah and stepped on a leech! Yechh!! I'm fine with most animals that seem to perturb other people: snakes, spiders, cockroaches, rodents..not a problem. But leeches make me feel seriously faint. It stems from the time years ago when I went bushwalking in the Blue Mountains. At the end of the day, I removed my shoe to find my sock sodden with blood. A leech had made it's way down into my shoe and was having a merry time feeding away. It was huge! By the way, if you want to make a wound stop bleeding after removing a leech (they inject an anticoagulant to help the blood run more freely and stop a scab forming) apply black pepper. It worked a treat that day.
That set the tone for the day.
I went grocery shopping. When it came to pay, I decided to use EFTPOS, and also withdraw $150 cash. I walked away without the cash. D'oh! I realised this when I went to pay for some meat at the butcher. No cash. Then a big kerfuffle ringing head office because you can't ring the local store directly, etc etc., after upending everything looking for the money.  (Happy ending, today, though. Their reconciliation located my money.)
Absentmindedness continued. I put a pot of pasta on to boil for the dog, then walked away to read some blogs. Smell travelling through the house told me I'd allowed the pot to boil dry. Removed okay pasta, then spent 1/2 hour removed the gunk off the burnt saucepan with multiple applications of bicarb and vinegar.
Our regular 3 monthly servicing on the Envirocycle tank revealed that we needed a new air blower. Ta ta $500!
Developed sore throat and earache through the day.
It rained solidly all afternoon. By dinner my mood matched the colour of the sky.
At least New South Wales won the State of Origin game last night.
And that was my June 13th.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Made by Me - Self Drafted Moleskin Pants

The reason I took up sewing for myself in earnest a few years ago was pants. Despite an appreciation for the skirt, my life dictates I wear pants most of the time. At the time, I found the whole exercise of finding pants that fit me disheartening. If pants fit me around the hips, they swam around the waist, which meant that I was constantly hoiking up my pants because my waistband ended up around my hips. Not a great look. Then the hipster pants fashion came into vogue. Thanks, but after two kids I need coverage in the tummy area. And they were never long enough. It was doing my head in. I realised the only way to get what I wanted and needed was to sew myself.
Seamstresses will know that fitting pants is quite an undertaking. There is so much going on, so many curves too take care of. But in this regard, I had a stroke of luck.
Not long after I started to sew I found  Pattern Review. Among other things, Pattern Review offers online courses. I was lucky enough to take part in fitting courses offered by Shannon Gifford. This was a great investment, as I now have a pants pattern that fits me. You can't imagine how happy this makes me.
I have to confess that I made up these pants without doing any measurements whatsoever. I knew my other pants still fit ok, so I cut away. Ok, I might have been a teensy bit reckless here, but it worked!
I have altered the basic pattern with darts to make a pant with straight legs, and a deep-ish yoke, eliminating the darts and fly front. I don't do pockets or any other embellishment. It's a simple basic pair of pants, and it suits me fine!
I bought the moleskin fabric last year at Fabric Finesse in Bowral. I'd been coveting moleskin ever since I had to give away my pre-baby moleskin jeans. Those jeans were warm, and in winter I look for warmth.
With my pants I always reinforce the waist seam and crotch seam with twill tape. I always interface my hems too. Apart from this, my pants are a straightforward make.
Worn above with the Jo Sharp reversible wrap and a merino jersey turtleneck top made from a Burda pattern 2010(?)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Flower of the Moment - Bethany Sage

When I bought this plant at the local market, it was just a stick in a pot. The pot was marked "Bethany Sage". Though I'd never heard of Bethany Sage, I assumed it was a salvia.I quite like salvias so I gave this one a go.
Well, this plant just took off. It has taken over it's part of the garden, and needs to be heavily pruned regularly to make it behave.
The payoff is these pretty flowers, about this time of year.
I haven't come across another Bethany Sage anywhere - does anyone know anything about them?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Building Raised Vegie Beds - Done!

We'd cleared three days to build our raised vegie beds, and were pleasantly surprised to find that by lunchtime today (Sunday) the beds were DONE. Very happy with that, of course, and happy to tick one task that has been on the to-do list for too long off.
The job was made easier by the fact that the timbers were all of equal length and square, and the planks for the ends had already been cut, so that saved a lot of time. AM was also using a bolt that screwed straight in, without having to drill and countersink holes separately. Another time saver.
There was a fair bit of soil shoveling done. I was happy to see plenty of nice fat worms in there. I also planted this years' garlic in there. Another job done.
It was sunny this morning, but the cloud has come over this afternoon. I'm planning on some sewing and photo-sorting over the next few days.
Hope you are having relaxing weekends.

Building raised vegie beds

The before shot
 First off, I did try to post this last night to make my "post every day in June" challenge, but the satellite wasn't allowing me to upload photos for some reason. I tried, I really did...

When we returned from our trip, our vegie patch resembled a jungle. After weeding it, it didn't look much better. Our beds were raised, but with no borders. Chooks were kept out with chicken wire and stakes. Two words, "ramshackle" and "eyesore" leap to mind. Check out the "before" shot for an idea.
As we had nothing growing, except two rhubarb plants, it was a good time to get some proper raised beds, WITH BORDERS, built.  And it's a long weekend here - the planets were aligned!
Yesterday, Action Man and I got stuck in to the job. This is what we achieved in about 5 hours work:

At the end of Day 1 - much better!
Hopefully we will finish off the beds today. We will end up with eight beds. I plan to use one bed for asparagus, one bed for artichoke and rhubarb. Then I'll use the remaining beds for vegies, using rotational planting for the first time. Until now I've just used the rough philosophy of not planting the same vegie in the same area two times running. It's worked pretty well until now! I'm planning on planting a few winter lettuces and garlic, and then planting green manure in the rest until spring planting.
How's your weekend going?

Friday, June 8, 2012

How to clean windows

I don't consider myself an expert on household tasks . I'm always on the lookout for ways to clean and organise the house more efficiently and effectively.
One thing I do know, however, is cleaning windows. This is an example of the windows I have at my place: cedar frames with each window divided into 4 smaller panes. I reckon I have over two hundred of these panes to clean, 400 panes when you consider you have to clean inside too. Believe me, it's a fiddly job. You can see where my motivation is to get this job sorted out.
We've been here for nearly nine years now - our anniversary is on Monday - and over this time I've trialled lots of different methods/recipes etc. for cleaning windows.
The best method to clean windows, in my opinion, based on exhaustive research is 1/2 cup methylated spirit in half a bucket of warm water. Use a rag to clean the window down, then use cheap paper towel to wipe dry.
The one drawback of this method is the use of paper towel .I try to limit disposables where possible, but for this job I have to say that the traditional alternative, newspaper, just doesn't cut it I feel. It might have once upon a time, before the newspaper publishers changed their presses in the last 10-15 years.
I've been cleaning my kitchen windows today, as it's the window I look out of most of the time and they were looking a bit grimy. Now I've cracked the window cleaning code, I hive this job to the high schoolers during their school holidays. It keeps them busy and out of my hair for a good few hours:)
Now what I would like to figure out is how to discourage the spiders around the window frames, and through the house in general. Keeping their cobwebs at bay is a constant battle.  My family is pretty house trained but these interlopers just don't have any manners, and they just don't want to learn!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The cake-a-thon continues

It's Action Man's birthday today. I handed him my birthday present, Best-Ever Baking Recipes by David Herbert, and told him to choose a cake for me to make. He chose a very grown up All-in-One Coffee and Walnut Cake. I'm quite happy with how it's turned out- it looks just like the book photo, and boy, was it delicious.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Strawberry Guava Paste

Before we went on our trip in April, I picked all the strawberry guavas and froze them, as I didn't have time to deal with them then. Normally I use the strawberry guavas to make jelly, but I took 1.5kg, and made a batch of strawberry guava paste for the first time.
I didn't have a specific recipe. I adapted a recipe I had  for quince cheese, and here is what I came up with. I'm pretty happy with it. I cooked this on a low simmer for an hour, and would probably go another 10 minutes or so for a really firm paste. This is a bit soft.

Strawberry Guava Paste

Strawberry Guavas
Lemon Juice

Place the strawberry guavas in a saucepan with water, bring to the boil and simmer until soft - about 30-40 minutes.
Strain off the water and cool. Blend or process the guavas (I used a stick blender) to make a puree. Push the puree through a sieve to extract the seeds. You want a nice, smooth puree.
Measure your puree. Put in a saucepan with the same volume of white sugar (eg. I had 3 cups of puree, so added 3 cups of sugar), juice of a lemon and 1/2 cup of water. Stir to dissolve the sugar over high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer until the mixture thickens substantially - in this case, over an hour. NB. Don't wander off and do other things. This cheese requires you to hang around and stir frequently to prevent it sticking.
Pour into dishes lined with oiled cling wrap. I put this into a rectangular pan, but in retrospect I would divide it up and use a number of small containers instead.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On the sticks now

It's blowing a gale outside, and lashing rain. All I've wanted to do today is sit inside and knit. I mean, it's the only sensible thing to do, isn't it?
Small problem: I had no project on the go, having just finished the reversible wrap the other day. So I did what I had to do: I hijacked my daughter's knitting project. This is her first ever knitting project, a cushion cover in garter stitch in Patons Inca. Another no-brainer, but Inca knits up fast so I expect I'll finish this one off too soon. Fortunately, the daugher doesn't seem too perturbed I'v muscled in on her knitting.
Still, as this looks like finishing quickly, I'll  need to find a project to proceed with - July promises to be a blockbuster month for couch sitting/knitting. First, there is the Tour de France to look forward to (all that scenery, human and "real"!), then the London Olympics.
I noticed that Patons Inca is on sale at Spotlight, so I'm toying with the idea of a throw rug for my son. It's rather a big project, so I'm a bit concerned I'll lose interest before I finish it (always a knitting hazard for me).
What to next? Any suggestions?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Vitamin D Deficiency - the update

In October last year, I was taken aback to find out that I was Vitamin D deficient. Taken aback, because I never considered that Vitamin D deficiency was something that I would ever have to worry about. Every health message I've ever received regarding sun exposure has been to cover up, that in Australia our day-to-day doings provide more than enough Vitamin D. So, I am pretty religious about the sunblock, and I always cover up in the sun.
For the months since then I've been taking a Vitamin D supplement of 3,000mg per day, and today I've found out that I don't need to take the supplements anymore as my readings are well within the normal range.
It's interesting. The post I did on this attracted more comments than normal, and speaking to people around the traps confirmed that Vitamin D deficiency is more common than I would have imagined. Then earlier this year Choice Magazine did a feature on Vitamin D.
I have to admit that I didn't put myself out there for a lot of extra sun exposure - after years of putting on a hat and covering up in the sun, I just don't feel right going out without a hat and long sleeves. Also, when I go outside it is generally for a long period to walk or to garden, and it's just more practical to get "suited up" before I go out. I will interested to see how my levels track over the next few months.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Made by Me - Jo Sharp Reversible Wrap

This is the latest in my intermittent series of Made by Me makes - the Reversible Wrap from Jo Sharp's Knit Book 10.
What makes this reversible is the fact that you can wear this as shown, or upside down as it were, to make a bolero. Sewn together from three rectangles, it really is pretty ingenious, and perfect for a beginner knitter (like me) or if you want a switch-your-brain off make.
I'm pretty happy with this jumper, although it could do with an extra couple of centimetres for the arms. This doesn't bother me too much. I have proportionately long arms and have come to accept three quarter sleeves as normal. I should have anticipated that one - oh well, live and learn.
As for cost, I would put this in the "cheap luxury" category. The yarn cost over $100, so it is by no means cheap to make. But the yarn, Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed is a wool/silk/cashmere blend. It feels fabulous and cosy, without suffocating me.  Would I be able to purchase a jumper made from these fibres for $100? Answer:  no way. You see, cheap luxury.

By the way, my friend-in-blogging, Libby has challenged herself to post every day on her blog Life is a Journey not a Destination. Coincidentally, I'd been thinking along the same lines, so I'm joining her. Here's hoping for some blogworthy material!!
Meanwhile, Tracy on Sunny Corner Farm is doing an interesting Photo A Day Challenge. Check 'em out!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Date dainties

Recipe 2 from David Herbert's Best-ever Baking Recipes - Date Dainties. He writes this is a 1930s recipe, a cross between a Rock Cake and a biscuit. He's right.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mmm..carrot cake

There are two things I know I inherited from my Nonna Lucia. One is her Roman nose, which is becoming more and more evident as I get older. The second is her love of baking.
It was my birthday last week and my family pandered to my predilection for baking, by giving me David Herbert's Best-ever Baking Recipes, published by Penguin Australia.
I think David Herbert is an excellent cookbook author. His Complete Perfect Recipes is one of my constant references in the kitchen. His Really Useful Cookbook, too is really useful. And my goodness me, this baking book is a cornucopia of baked deliciousness. Where to start?
Being a big fan of the carrot cake, I tried this recipe first. It  lives up to all a carrot cake should be. I've also made the Date Dainties, a recipe from the 1930s. Yummo.
I look forward to baking my way through this book. I know the family looks forward to it too.