Thursday, July 25, 2013

Knitting is my current choice of Therapy

As I may have mentioned previously, I predicted I would be knitting alot this winter.....
and nothing could be further from the truth

It's always my go to project when I need to relax my mind, but I still want to keep myself busy.  

Celeste Bed socks for my MIL 

And with the stress of selling the business and factory, aswell as knowing that Mike will be here soon.....but not soon enough!  Counting down the days people!  
 I can't bring myself to do anything else.....I've tried!  

I've planted a bit, but the kids constant arguing and baiting each other takes the fun out of that, when you have to stop every few minutes to prevent world war 3!

Another Knit, a cardigan for the Middlemore Wool Programme

I've lured a escapee cow back into the paddock first thing in the morning, all while kids are at each others throats, and the neighbours are watching wondering what is that poor girl is doing now! And yip these things always happen when Mikes away.

French Press Slippers for Mum....these were mine that I knitted a while ago, that I gave to  mum, I've knitted another pair for me....picture to come

And though there is a pile of fabric waiting to be turned into Lil Misses wardrobe.....taking over my kitchen table at the moment with my sewing machine is the last thing that I feel like doing.

I've been trying to keep that clear for kids painting and today for playdough playing, all to keep the peace and give me more time to clear my head and knit!

Thankyou for reading my rant.....I assure you I will be feeling much better next week :)

Linking in with Leonie at Show and Tell

Monday, July 22, 2013

No Knead Brown Bread

This time last year, I was on a roll, baking bread by hand for weeks and felt great not to rush out the door late afternoon to buy bread before the store closed.....and usually reluctantly when I realise there's nothing for school lunches the next day!

Well lately I haven't been so diligent and the store bought bread is more common place than I'd like it to be....that and the occasional biscuit packet which is a constant reminder that I have had to let things drop for my own sanity.

But with Mike soon to be here living with us all under the same roof PERMANENTLY!  yip thats right! Factory and Business sold!
 WOO HOO!!! its been 18months!
It will be time to sort out my routines that have slipped, and time to stamp out all the bad habits that inevitably creeped in.

So even though I love kneading dough by hand and shaping it into whatever I require, it does take time and bit of forethought.

And thats where the No Knead Brown Bread often came to my rescue last year, and in the next couple of weeks should help me get back into  a better routine gently

So thinking many of you could do with a good quick and easy bread recipe up your sleeve, I'm sharing it here today......

No Knead Brown Bread by Alison Holst

1-1.5 tsp of active dry yeast
( use the larger quantity stated if you want the dough to rise faster )
2 Cups of lukewarm water
(no hotter than a baby's bath water or you will kill the yeast )
1 Tbsp of Golden Syrup ( or maple, honey, sugar )
2 Tbsp of Oil or Melted Butter
4 cups of Wholemeal flour
 (or alternately half white high grade, half Wholemeal )
1.5 tsp of salt.

Method: Put the yeast, lukewarm water and golden syrup in a bowl big enough to add the flour later. Stir to mix in the syrup, then cover the bowl and leave it to stand in a sink of warm water or in the sun  for 20 minutes, ( I use my hotwater cupboard ) or until you can see little bubbles bursting on top.

Add the oil or butter, the flour and salt. ( and 1/2 cup of seeds if you like )
Stir everything together thoroughly... then beat the mixture with a wooden spoon a few times, this activates the gluten and helps the bread to rise.

Butter or oil the tin you are using ( a large deep loaf tin that will hold 8 cups ).  Put a piece of greaseproof paper on the bottom and long enough to go up and over the sides to stop the loaf from sticking to the bottom - this is important! and helps to get it out once cooked
Then drop the mixture in and level the top of the loaf with the back of a wet spoon.... I then use a pair of kitchen scissors and snip four cuts along the top and then sprinkle with seeds *seeds are optional, eg: pumpkin, sesame or poppy

Cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave in a warm place till it's risen twice its size.

Once risen, place carefully ( so you don't knock the air out of it ) in a preheated oven of 200 degrees celcius, and bake for 45 mins.... turn the oven temp down if the top of the loaf gets too brown.

The top of the loaf stays fairly flat, so don't let it worry you.
You will know when its cooked, when you tap the bread and it sounds hollow.  Cool on a wire rack completely before cutting.

I now make this with half white high grade flour and half wholemeal flour, and its my favoutite... It's taste alot like Vogels or Burgen and it's extra tasty when you mix in 1/2 cups of seeds or grains such as linseed, sunflower or kibble for a change.

I thinking of baking a couple of multigrain versions just for me and slicing them to pop in the freezer....
it will be my very own vogels copycat stash

And believe me its popular!  My mum now cooks this religiously and many of her friends are now hooked on it too!......I gave one to my neighbour as part of a house warming gift and the other day she was asking for the recipe, so give it a try, you wont regret it!

Linking in with Ange for the first time at 
Tuesdays Fun with Food Linky

Thursday, July 18, 2013

So yeah!....its been awhile.....I did set out for these to be a weekly post....but life happens, and as most of the projects I want to do are going to be bigger than a few hair was unrealistic for me.

So I'll still be posting on these Conquering Crochet Friday's, but just not weekly, more like when I have conquered another crochet project!

So here's the latest

It took me a few attempts, and a few different patterns,
before I settled on this one.  
What a 'eureka' moment, when it finally came together!!

During those frustrating moments, I turned back to ye ole faithful, and knitted a couple of bootie sock pairs, before daring to pick up the hook again

And no I can gladly say these are not for a number 5 baby!

The story behind these started from my knitting group that I have recently started to attend each month, and its here, that I met a lovely lady who happens to knit for many charitys.

  But its Kids First at Middlemore Hospital, that really caught my attention. Ever since Mr B was born, we have been under their care for any surgeries or dental appointments, and in the early days, a majority of our outpatient appointments aswell.  The lovely thing is that from 5mths old to his latest major surgery at 6yrs, we also had the same nurses! They have been there for many years and are rostered on especially for the cleft lip and palate surgery days.
I can assure you its very comforting to see a familiar face during those days.  

But hearing about this charity from Elizabeth, reminded me of how I always promised myself that I would help in some way, 
and give back in kindness. 
Although there is a urgent need for woolies during the cold seasons, there is a year round need too, as there are many babies who come from all over the country for specialist care, not just Auckland. And that includes babies and children flown in from the Islands, where many arrive with only the clothes they are wearing, which you can guess, is most of the time, unsuitable for our climate. 
(And they also give share with Starship Hospital aswell )

So thats the start of my contribution, I'll slowly add to this as I can....although I was hoping to pass them on for collection yesterday... a recent virus ( that took the whole family down this week ) prevented next time ;)

And if you would like to help out you can find all the details on sizing and contacts

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A bit of secret crafting and some spinning

First of all, I took part in the Ironing Cover Swap recently,

 my partner being Leonie from Kiwi at Heart
We were both behind in sending our templates to each especially....but we decided to hand them over in person when we both attended a spinning class at Cats a couple of weeks ago....
more on that later

So here is the ironing board cover I made for Leonie

I stalked her on her Pinterest, and got a sense for the look she likes and decided to add a little bit of patchwork near the head of the board and keep the rest untouched

I really wanted to find a red polkadot, as this is one of her favs....but after 3 stores I had to settle on this more salmon pink polkadot, so instead I added in some red into the patchwork, teaming it with aquas.

Also because I was so late sending my the week before our chosen deadline! My bad!

I decided to make this pincushion and a detachable thread bucket, that I have had on my to do list for a while.

I altered the orientation, and omitted the scissor pocket, so that it would sit across the ironing board, and then it could be used between sewing machine and ironing board 
I tested a few times....I will be making one soon :))

Also, on a side note, I joined in a the scrap fabric swap that Nin from Make Life Beautiful, a while back and was partnered with Juliet.... the blue typewriter fabric is from some more great pieces too!!

And of course I got a cover in return from Leonie.....
I really needed it!

Now thanks to Leonie, I have a beautiful new cover

Its perfect! and just what I asked for, as I didn't want any seams....because I sew alot of clothes, and I need use of the whole the added bonus was that it was padded!....which my board was clearly lacking.

And I love the fabric too! me :))

Now my ironing board is no longer an embarrassment...Phew!

On the day before the spinning class, I arrived at Cats to receive a wonderful and relaxing beauty treatment from Cat, part of a swap between myself and Cat.   My end of the bargain was another snapdragon Tam...wool supplied by Cat and knitting by me :))
That makes three total so far of these

I also went to craft night at Cats with Leonie from Sunshine x 3, and had the pleasure of staying over at Leonies and spending the morning with herself and her family......those three little girls are so sweet.....I spent most of the morning, colouring in and with Liesl on my knee :))) So sweet!!

And as for the spinning class I mentioned?
Louanna from NZ Green Buttons held a small class at Cats Leonie, Lisa, Louanna, Cat and myself took over the living room with spinning wheels and lots of fluff from spinning wool.

I already have been spinning for a couple of years, on and off.....though I'm still practicing, but mainly I have been having trouble with my plying it was fantastic to be shown how to Navajo ply......basically making a 3ply wool from one spool

Photo courtesy from Cat

I also got some great tips from Louanna that have really helped me achieve a better spin to my wool, and some great places to get wool roving, and other spinning accessories from.

And after a great afternoon spinning away, once I made the trip home, I spun the night away....eager to put the techniques I learnt to test.

Looking better :))

Linking in with Leonie at Show and Tell

Thursday, July 11, 2013

In my garden - July 2013

This is my first proper winter in my garden, last year was all about starting my first garden beds and tackling the issue of gardening on clay again.

My Nana's Statue....a bit of sentimentality
This year is a continuation of that.....there's so much land to cover!!! 
But it's also been about watching, observing and waiting as my garden takes shape.
After almost a decade of dealing with frosts and snow in winter, its taken a bit of getting used to gardening a winter up nothing much goes to sleep here, and its more like spring than winter....
self sown seedlings are popping up everywhere....
much to my delight! 
But along with that, the bugs don't die off either! I was very surprised to find this adult vege bug the otherday

And this week with the sun shining and winds less severe ( they can blow you away up here!) I've been able to get outside and dig in. 
While pottering about, I've decided to let alot of the plants remain where they've self sown, taking out or transferring only the ones that will get lost....I also would like to try my best at planting randomly, looking to nature....though apparently this is easier said than done, apparently we plant evenly without even knowing it.

Getting outside though is so refreshing, and my favourite part this year, has been planting with the Fantails....they are everywhere! darting about and swooping in inches away from me, sitting on the fence line and chattering away to me, keeping me company and waiting for me move on so they can swoop in for some free grub
In the garden though now until spring is the best time to divide....while plants are mostly dormant, so its a great way to get loads of free plants, and for me, to pay it forward to my Mum. 
Also don't forget your strawberries....after dividing mine I ended up with well over sixty plants....and they produce more fruit from new plantlets too!! Yum Yum!
We've also started planting a hedge down our drive, and I put in another ten plants of Teucrium Fruiticians yesterday.

  We're also spending any spare cash on fruit trees, because as they say the time to plant fruit trees is 5 years ago. 
And boy do we need that fruit to feed our troops!

 And once the big pile of clay left over from the retaining wall is removed, we'll be planting in a rather long fruiting hedge of guavas for wind protection and it looks like we'll be needing alot of good guava recipes in the future!

Have any of you been busy in the garden lately? or maybe you're keeping warm and cosy on the couch like I used to, dreaming for the spring to come.
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