Monday, 27 March 2017

Priscilla's Blog Updated

Lots of you are wondering how Priscilla and her family are doing these days so here is the link to her updated blog...still fighting after almost 5 years of illness...

http://pearlzjourney.blogspot.com.au/

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Taking Time To Watch The Clouds


Our printer has been playing up recently, I thought it just needed new ink cartridges but $52 later it still wasn't working. I tried everything I could think of but it was saying it was off-line even though all the cables were plugged in correctly and so on.

Around 5pm Joe thought he'd have a quick look, he's usually very good at computer related problems but this was a doozy. After 10-15 minutes it dawned me that my well intended suggestions were getting up Joe's nose  perhaps not helping so in the interests of domestic harmony I poured myself a very cold glass of white wine and went to sit outside.

As I sat in my old wicker chair and relaxed I turned my gaze skyward and sat watching the clouds move slowly across the sky, stretching and changing on their way east. Pelicans caught an up-draft and drifted in slow, lazy circles without beating their wings at all; they eventually turned west and glided away to Penguin Island for the night.


Have you ever been on a plane and flown over the sea? Looking down through the clouds fascinates me and as I gazed upwards it felt like I was looking through them to the sea below...


 As it got darker rain clouds gathered and that was my cue to go back indoors where Joe had had no luck at all with the printer. Another day.



I felt so relaxed and urge you to indulge in a little cloud watching when you have the time...it's not just for the
 children ;)

Love from Sue
xxx

PS I've just found this about new cloud formations that have been recently named


Thursday, 16 March 2017

Chocolate Zucchini Cake and Other Tales

Hallo Every-one and a warm welcome to new readers who, like me, are greatly saddened by the closing of the Down to Earth Forum this morning. We do have a facebook group which is not every-one's cup of tea but it's an opportunity to keep in touch with forum members.
We wish Rhonda and Hanno a long and happy retirement and are so grateful for Rhonda establishing and then maintaining our little home from home for so many years.

As our dear Rose would have said let's just get on with it!

Using seasonal produce is a great way to save money and eat better so in Autumn here that means lots of zucchini, eggplant and capsicum dishes as well as this lovely moist Choc and Zucchini Cake...


Recipe

2 cups(250gm) of self-raising flour(or use plain flour and add 1/2 t bicarb and a teaspoon of baking powder)
350 gms of sugar
60 gms cocoa powder
1 level teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg powders

Mix thoroughly and add and mix in well
3 beaten eggs and 350mls of vegetable oil

Add
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or sultanas
340 gms grated zucchini, lightly pressed to drain a little of the water, not too much as you need it's moisture

Pour batter into a greased or lined baking tin, 20cm x 30 cm
Bake at 180C for about 1 and 1/4 hours until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

I made a very basic icing with icing sugar, a heaped tablespoon of cream cheese and enough lemon juice to help it mix.
This cake freezes beautifully.

We've been eating ratatouille and lots of capsicum salads ~ yummy and thrifty.

I finished another string bag this week in red cotton...once again using that Diosma bush to model for me ;)...I prefer this handle as it doesn't roll under itself...



Around town Easter is on it's way ...well it has been in shops since February... I do like these bunnies though...


Well spotted Angela who commented on that huge spider in the last post...it has now built a second web high up in a neighbour's tree several metres away from our tree, it's threads are the strongest I have ever seen/felt.

See you next time,
Love from Sue
xxx

Thursday, 9 March 2017

What I Saw This Morning

Now the mornings are cooler and more alive somehow it's a real pleasure to be outside again.

Around our little garden today...we have been here for 3 years now, it has passed so very quickly...







I also saw a bathroom that needs cleaning!
Love from Sue
xx

Thursday, 2 March 2017

My First Hand-made String Bag

I do appreciate a nice old-fashioned string bag and considered ordering some on-line last Saturday when I remembered I had 600gms of beautiful 8ply cotton from Bendigo Mills waiting for me in the cupboard. I looked instead for simple patterns and settled on this one, the Emerald String Bag . After reading through the pattern I realised I had to alter it somewhat to suit my needle sizes and then I thought why not use a handknit cotton wash cloth as a quicker way to make the base as I already had some put by for gifts.


I'll share my pattern here, it's a fairly quick knit on the round and I used up the rest of that green cotton just because it was there. When changing needles simple knit onto the new needle and continue the rounds.

You'll need


1 new cotton handknit/crocheted washcloth or you'll need to make an 8 inch/20cm square first(50 gms of cotton here)
Approx 130-150 gms more of 8ply cotton(thicker cotton gets used up more quickly, mine is fairly fine but I only used 110gms apart from the base)
Circular needles sizes 8mm, 5mm and 2.75 mm...NB these are what I already have, if you have slightly different sizes then use them but alter your measurements to suit
Straight needles 2.75 mm or use the 2.75mm circ needle but go back and forth, not round and round,
Darning needle, tape measure and scissors

Ready?
Pick up 140 stitches evening around the washcloth/square with the 5mm needle and work 5 rounds then change to your biggest needle......how to pick up sts If you have trouble fitting 140 sts on the first round just increase evenly on the next round...



Work rounds until you reach almost the required length(mine is 30cms)
Change to 5mm needles for 2 rounds
Change to 2.75mm for 6 rounds.

Bag with divided sts on holders for the strap....



Divide for strap(or cast off and sew on fabric handles perhaps)

Cast off 50 sts, knit 20 and place on holder, cast off 50 sts, knit 20
Change to your smallest straight needles now and work in stocking stitch(this looks nice but tends to roll under as in the following photo) or garter stitch for 5 rows
Knit2 together at both ends of 6th row (18 sts)
Decide whether you want a long or short handle now
Work to required length (mine is 18cm) and place sts on the holder or a spare needle.
Cut yarn and knit across the sts on the other holder.

Work for required length then join using the Kitchener Stitch method of grafting

Sew in the ends and off you go!

Details of handle and upper edge


Another even quicker method would be ignore the squared bottom altogether and cast on 140 or so stitches and then run an i-cord or ribbon through the stitches/holes of bottom edge and tie it (very) tightly.

I'm off to make an all red bag now...piccies soon
Love from Sue
xx


Thursday, 23 February 2017

A Little Preserving

We don't eat a lot of preserves or jams etc because of the high sugar content but at the end of summer there is always lots of nice fruit and vegs for some small batch preserving. Last week I made some fig jam, re-batched some sad marmalade and yesterday made a beautiful hot yellow sauce from my Lemon Aji chillies. Making more fig jam today after Dad braved the ants to pick me some more figs!

Hot Yellow Sauce, Fig Jam and re-batched marmalade...yummy treats...



I'll share the recipes with you, the sauce was made up by me recipe based on what I have made and learned in the past.

Fig Jam

500gms fresh figs
3/4 cup of sugar
zest and juice of a large lemon
1 tablespoon of honey

Finely chop the figs and remove the stalks
Place in saucepan with their juice and the other ingredients
Bring to boil carefully and then simmer to setting point, this only took 10 minutes for me

Hot Yellow Sauce

1 cup each of~~~
chopped onions
peeled and chopped apple
chopped yellow capsicum/pepper
white vinegar
white sugar

3 yellow chillies thinly sliced, I grow lemon aji chillies and wanted to keep that gorgeous colour but use whatever you have, red will give an even brighter colour
1 teaspoon of turmeric


Simmer everything together until the vegetables are very tender then blend the sauce with a tablespoon of olive oil for a smoother texture...I would keep the windows open if possible

For both recipes bottle into hot sterile jars and label well...sunshine in a jar, hot and fruity sauce...


My original seeds for these quaint chillies come from the Hippy Seed Company in NSW


In other news we are very sad to announce that the wonderful Down to Earth forums where so many of us met all those years ago is finally closing on March 16th...Rhonda can no longer afford the time it takes(3 hrs per day) and wishes to spend that time with her family, we are so grateful for all the time she has given, the forum has been a wonderful place for over 8 years. Happy Real Retirement Rhonda and thank you for improving so very many lives.

Are you preserving at the moment? Would love to hear what recipes you are using,
Have a good day
Love from Sue
xxx

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Hallo Folks

Just chatting with Robyn over at the Farm Fancies blog and realizing it has been ages since I posted anything.
We got through managed to enjoy our first Christmas without Mum and SIL Danny although they are both sadly missed. Priscilla has gone through another 4 week course of chemotherapy in Ottawa but her tumours continue to grow in size and number...she remains cheerfully determined most of the time and her baby Kullen is thriving...his chubby cheeks are such a joy...the girls have started karate now and recently enjoyed their first tournament...


Nearer to home Charlie is now 9mos old and very active...attempting a break-out


We've had the coolest summer for many years here in WA, lots of rain and the plants are loving it...






Terry next door gave me a bit of silverbeet/chard which I washed and steamed for the freezer, lovely to add to soups and curries...


We've also had over 200 passionfruit from our vine, I've frozen some of the pulp but mostly shared them around to eat fresh. Dad picked me a pound/500gms of fresh figs which I've turned into 2 small jars of jam and I re-boiled some very thin marmalade and half a jar of lemon syrup to make some very tasty thick marmalade...I'd never re-boiled any jam/marmalade before so it's good to know that it can be salvaged if it's too thin the first time.

Knitting news is that the first zigzag blanket is finished and a second one begun, now I've mastered the technique it's a great project to take out with me...always a good conversation starter too...the second one is in more muted turquoise and green shades...it's a free pattern on ravelry...


I took the new one to the indoor play centre and happily sat knitting while two grandsons had a fine time on the rides and equipment...and eating...oh boy can they eat!


So that's what's been happening here, living quietly as we cope with our losses...dear Rose Marshall from the Down to Forums passed away recently too as did our neighbour Mavis...a reminder to enjoy each day as it comes, they pass very quickly indeed.

I hope things are going well in your neck of the woods, pls leave a note if you're still reading, it's so good to hear from my friends and family all over the world
Big Love,
Sue
xx