Friday 30 September 2011

Friday On My Mind...

...when we simply post a photo with a short caption, visit other blogs who are 'playing' and leave a link back to our blog.

With Spring in the air people are enjoying walks along the local beaches. This beautiful vintage gaff-rigger was moored off Rockingham Beach with Garden Island and the Cockburn Sound in the background. When my children were much younger we owned a 24ft jarrah plank yacht built in 1960. Her name was "SeaTops" and we spent many hours enjoying the local waters and even being in the send-off flotilla for the Fremantle to Bali Race one year!

Are you joining in today? I hope so, please leave a link so that I may see "what's on your mind" today.

Love from

Thursday 29 September 2011

Crumb Patch-working and Others

After a few years of sewing bits and pieces for around our home and the odd pair of PJ pants now and then I had gathered a big bags of scraps that were too small for most things. Then I came across this marvellous site that teaches how to use these scraps or crumbs to make a pretty quilt.

Slowly but surely I began to patch together a set of blocks and finished this little lap quilt recently. It's backed with some pink fleecy and has a small amount of hand stitching in each square to keep the layers together.

Yesterday the weather turned cold and wet again so it was perfect sewing weather and I grabbed my second pile of 9 squares and got to work finishing the second lap quilt. However after an hour or so I realised that I had the wrong pile...this one was made of what looked to me like dowdier fabrics and it hadn't even been trimmed to make all the blocks the right size. By this time I'd invested so much effort that I pushed on regardless and here's the finished top which I will backk with some leftover blue fleecy. I know the blocks don't line up evenly but I still like the finished top...

It's fascinating to look at both of them and see bits of fabrics from long finished bags and cushions etc. And I still have another set of blocks for another quilt ;).

Next project I must get on with is my hand-pieced hexagons, started 18months ago and meandering along very, very slowly....I am going to take the bull by the horns with this one and cut it to make a cover for a my favourite big cushion on the knitting cushion!

On the back you can see why it is so time consuming, each hexagon is created by cutting out a paper hex, pinning it to the fabric, cutting around it with enough material to fold over to prevent fraying, then all the hexagons are hand-stitched to each other. 

The front shows my love of flowers. There are fabrics here from Japan, Canada and the US as well as Australia.
This lap-quilt was finished last month and is made entirely from used clothing, denim jeans and shirts, cotton shirts and even Mum's trousers lol. The back is a fleecy blanket that cost $2 in Montreal.

I tried to use as much of the fancy stitching on the shirts as possible.
Oh's something else that needs to be finished properly too...this is a lot like my dislike of sewing up completed knitting projects isn't it???

Do you enjoy sewing or quilting? I also have many patchwork cushions and shopping bags in my photos so will show you them another day.

Joe is off to Camera Group today so I'll have some lovely local photos for you tomorrow.

Hope your week is treating you well,
Love from Sue

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Rhonda Has Joined The Australian Women's Weekly

How's that for a cause for celebration? Rhonda starts next month as a columnist for this long established and much loved magazine. The column will be called "The Simple Life" and will appear next to Jackie French's column.

Perhaps even more exciting is the fact they sent a team to Rhonda and Hanno's home last month to write a story about their way of life and it's growing impact on so many. They took many photos, drank Rhonda's tea and listened while Rhonda explained how much happier she is these days living a simpler, more frugal life and making much of what she needs at home. Rhonda's recipe for her Laundry Liquid is there as well as the costing of it and her 5 Top Tips for saving money around the home. Next March Penguin Books will release Rhonda's much-awaited book, "Down To Earth".

The team also spoke to nellymary and seedling (Narelle and Christine) and got their points of view as well as their recipes for Citrus Cleaner and Comfrey Ointment.

Here is more about the magazine itself, it's Australia's largest magazine and has been running since 1933.'s_Weekly

The October edition of the magazine came out today and the article is spread over 4 pages starting on Page 40 and is entitled "Why We Crave The Simple Life". The photo on P41 is beautiful, Rhonda, and on behalf of all of us here I'd like to say how very thrilled we are that you have had your work and influence recognized and we wish you every success with your new column.

Edited to add that the costing of the laundry liquid is incorrect(see Rhonda's blog today) and they didn't use a photo of Rhonda and Hanno together as per her request...every good woman has a good man beside her.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

New Haven Chocolate Cake

I've collected tasty looking recipes from newspapers and magazines for as long as I can remember but I don't always use them right away. In fact I'm guessing that I've have had the following recipe for a date, walnut and chocolate cake for about 20years without trying mustn't rush these things!

It's absolutely wonderful, very moist and chocolaty with the added benefits of dried fruit and chopped nuts and wholemeal flour. This cake also freezes beautifully so I'm sure you could double the recipe and quickly put the 'spare' into the freezer.

Here is the recipe I modified.

You'll need.....

250gms chopped dates(use your kitchen scissors)
1t bicarb of soda
1 1/2 cups of boiling water

250gms butter(I got away with 230gms)
1 cup of sugar(again I reduced this)
2 eggs(free range of course)
1 and 1/3 cups plain (wholemeal) flour
pinch of salt
2T cocoa ( this I increased

125gms choc bits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup of soft brown sugar

Soak the dates and bicarb in the boiling water and leave until cold.

Cream butter and eggs and then beat in the eggs.
Add the flour, salt, cocoa and the date mixture(with all the water) and mix well.
Pour into your cake tin(lined with baking paper or well greased) and sprinkle the top with the choc bits, walnuts and brown sugar. I didn't have choc bits or brown sugar so I mixed the walnuts into the batter with the flour etc.

Bake for at least an hour (mine took 90mins) at 160C until a sharp knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
Dad enjoyed it so much he ate 3 slices for afternoon tea last Friday lol!

Here's the original yellowing recipe in my says it can be made 2 days ahead and freezes well. A "keeper" indeed.

How has your week started out? Do you have a favourite family chocolate recipe to share?

Enjoy your day, 
Love from Sue

Saturday 24 September 2011

Ten Years Ago Today....

...Joe arrived in Australia and we met face to face for the first time.

He flew from Ottawa to Toronto on Sept 22nd and then changed planes for the flight across North America to Los Angeles. A third flight took Joe to Tokyo. Next leg was down to Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. On this flight he first tasted wasabe, the very hot Japanese seasoning and tasted far too much in that first 'bite'! Joe was booked into a KL hotel overnight as he had a longer lay-over...the humid night was stifling, the room's air-conditioner wasn't turned on until he got in and even the shower water was warm enough to use the cold tap only! By this time he was too afraid to sleep and risk missing his flight to Perth so it was one very bewildered looking Joey that I collected that afternoon, September 24th.

Now meeting some-one on-line was a very new thing back then so here's some of the comments from family and friends:

Dad, on being told I'd met some-one through the internet, "What???? Aren't there any women in Canada?"

Gordie, "He could be an axe murderer. We'll all come to the airport with you!"

A colleague, "Ohhh Sue!"

Phoebe, on hearing our plan to marry later, "Marriage??? I'll give it 6 months!"

We laughed of course because we were so very sure of ourselves and each other. Some early photos...

On holiday in Augusta
Fish and Chips at Colourpatch in Augusta with the Blackwood River in the background
Joe arrived with a 3 month visa and a return ticket but it soon became clear that he would just have to stay! If he went back to Canada it would have been very difficult to return so we consulted a Visa Specialist nearby. He was wonderful and suggested that we marry within these 3 months and then apply for a Spouse's Visa. So 11 weeks after he landed we enjoyed a quiet wedding at Perth Registry Office with Mum and Dad as witnesses and grandson Baby Jacob crawling under our chairs. When asked for a few words the new Mrs Caissy said, "Well. This is it then!" lol

Always read the small print!

We had a reception in our back garden and were joined by more friends, many bringing a dish of something to add to the feast!

Jacob enjoyed the chocolate mud wedding cake!

So Happy Anniversary to my Love today.

It's also the longest that Joe has ever lived in one house by the way!

I think we'll celebrate with a home-made pizza tonight. What are you doing this weekend?

Love from Sue,

Friday 23 September 2011

Friday On My Mind

This is a Friday photo feature linked to Rhonda's Down To Earth blog. Simply post your own photo, write a short caption and leave the link back to it as you visit other blogs today.

I'm also thinking about plants today. This is the Great Holker Lime, planted in the early 1600s in the formal gardens at Holker Hall in Cumbria. It was listed as one of Britain's Top 50 Trees by the Tree Council(UK) in 2002 and has a girth of 7.9metres. Several tree-huggers are needed at a time to share the love!

Somewhat dwarfed!

Are you playing along today? Thinking about your own garden?

Have a great weekend wherever ye may be.

Love from Sue

Wednesday 21 September 2011

My Antique Jelly Molds

These intriguing ceramic jelly moulds came from Auntie Jessie. They were given to her by a family friend, Mrs Labender, who was the cook at Quernmore House near Caton. A Google search reveals that they are Victorian and similar to item W11421 on this page. These two are stackable and the larger one is about 9inches tall.

I've never used them but cherish them because of their provenance.

I think they could be used in one of those guessing games we see on TV. Do you have any jelly moulds? Do you still make jelly for your family?

It's pouring down here so the washing will have to go on the on the verandah on the clothes horse....that's something else that was also around in the 19century!

Enjoy your day, where ever you are,
Love, Sue

* antique tends to mean anything over 100yrs old and is collected or valuable for it's form, rarity or personal emotional value according to wiki. 

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Joining The Trail of Recycling and Re-using Items

Rhonda has blogged today about the serious need to reduce the amount of waste in landfills and dumps all over the world and she asks what tips and ideas do we have to re-use items around the house and garden.

In my garden I have olive oil tin planters....

The webber BBQ kettle is working hard these days holding herbs.....

Old soft drink bottles protect  young trees from the claws of next door's cat...

A discarded watering can has been brightened up with some cheap paint....

Inside the house I re-use glass jars, plastic bags, bubblewrap and boxes of all shapes and sizes. These large tin cans are covered with fabric jacket and pressed into service as utensil holders...

More uses for pretty fabric and old towels...a new bathmat is always welcome...

This one is made of plaited strips of our old t-shirts....almost finished...

New bibs for Baby David from an old towel....

 Lastly here's Georgie The 20c Rabbit again...she's made entirely from re-purposed or gifted materials following a second-hand pattern from the Red Cross shop. Her skirt is part of a vintage pillowcase, other fabrics were in my stash and Tammy sent me the lovely yarn for her cardigan.

Do you have any good ideas along these lines, please leave a link if you want to share how you avoid wasting resources.

Love from Sue

Monday 19 September 2011

Microwave Oven Fruity Flapjacks and Mustard Potato Bake

I think I was raised on Flapjacks as a child and they were one of the first things I could cook on my own. This version is speedy to prepare and take about 4 minutes to cook...I made it in less than 10 minutes on Saturday.

You'll need....

90 grams of butter
5 T brown sugar
2 T of Golden Syrup or treacle(i'm sure honey or maple syrup would work equally well)

Put these ingredients into a microwave safe dish, I used the big Pyrex one that Marlene gave me years ago.
Microwave on high just long enough to melt the butter and mix them well.

160 gms of rolled oats
180 gms of a mixture of chopped dried fruit, nuts and seeds and stir well could use apricots, apples, cherries, sultanas, currants, raisins, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts; sunflower, pumpkin, chia, sesame, flax...use your imagination to some extra special Good Stuff to your family's diet.

Press into a greased baking dish, I used my Pyrex pie plate.
Cook on high until the middle is bubbling....mine took 4 minutes but you may need a little less or more.

Leave it to cool and cut into wedges.

Although it's quite high in sugar and butter I'm sure it's still a better alternative to the additive and bad fat filled and expensive "muesli bars" in our childrens' lunch-boxes. Oats have a proven role to play in reducing cholesterol and any seeds and nuts you've used are rich in protein, Vitamin E and zinc as well as fibre. It freezes well too.

My second recipe today is for a tender sliced potato dish well flavoured with French mustard and fresh herbs.

This is about the only time I use the food processor for slicing or grating but this dish will cook much better if the slices are even in size.

You'll need....

1kg washed potatoes, 

1 T each of butter and olive oil
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1T Dijon mustard
1T lemon juice
1 T fresh herbs, I used thyme as the new growth is particularly fragrant right now.
1/4 cup of stock
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil and butter and gently fry the garlic for 2 minutes, stir in the other ingredients and set aside.

Working quickly so that the potato slices don't go brown, slice 1/3 of them and layer them in a greased casserole dish, spoon over the mustard sauce then repeat this step twice more.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 180C for an hour or until the potatoes are tender. Take the foil off for the last 15 minutes so that the top can brown and crisp up.

I also baked some whole potatoes and carrots while I had the oven on and for the last 30 minutes I added Joe's pork chop wrapped in foil with balsamic vinegar and sliced onion.

I hope you'll try these thrifty recipes and enjoy them. Have a wonderful week!
Love, Sue

Sunday 18 September 2011

Some Springtime Flowers

Despite a very stormy night, with thunder so loud it rattled the bedside lamps, it really is Spring when we see the Bottlebrush flowers everywhere. We have two different ones and the little one in the front garden always starts first. The birds and the bees think all their Christmases have come at once!

You can see how closely they resemble the brushes we use to scrub inside a bottle, can't you?

They belong to the Callistemon Genus and cutting off all the spent flowers is a big job but they are well worth the work for their beauty and the food they provide to native birds and bees. You can read more about them here....

I hope you're having a lovely weekend, Love from Sue

Saturday 17 September 2011

Kim Chi, a Fermented Korean Pickle

I love Kim Chi, it's spicy, salty flavour goes so many dishes and fermented foods have many health benefits. It's based on inexpensive cabbage and brine with a good dose of Father Time thrown in and is very versatile...use whatever root vegies you have, alter the spices to suit to your taste.

For my recipe you'll need....

half a large cabbage, chopped
a carrot and a turnip, washed and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup sea salt

mixed together in a large dish and sprinkled with the salt. Give it all a stir and cover with water. Set it aside covered with a plate or tea towel for at least 12 hours.

Drain the briny water off into another vessel as you'll need it again soon. After the long soak any bitterness has gone from the vegetables and they have softened a little.

Now you mix in the flavourings and for this batch I used

4 large spring onions, finely sliced
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons of raw sugar
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh ginger
5 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes

Smells so good already!

Then I shared the batch out between a white ceramic storage container and a Pyrex bowl which I covered with a plate and a tea towel.I topped up the vessels with the saved brine and I didn't worry about using a weight to keep all the cabbage underwater as I intended to stir it carefully every day.

I did this and tasted it each day until today I deemed it delicious enough to bottle. I washed three large glass jars in very hot water and then packed the Kim Chi tightly into them, poured the brine back over them, took a photo and packed them into the 'fridge!
  tigress in a pickle says they will last a year in the fridge...these will be  long gone by then but at least it's something we can now make at any time of the year.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and Go The Eagles today lol!

Friday 16 September 2011

Friday On My Mind...

...when we simply post a photo of something special or "on our minds" and visit others who are playing and leave the link back to our own photo.

Here's a beautiful English china Tea Set given to me recently by our friend Barbara. It was a wedding present to her elderly friend, Ray, who passed away 2 years ago. It seems to be about 50 yrs old and sadly unused. There are 6 cups and saucers and cake plates as well as the elegant milk jug and sugar bowl. A very pretty serving plate completes the set.

What's on your mind today? Hope you have a wonderful weekend, love Sue xx

Thursday 15 September 2011

Fruit Flies...

...are a real pest in many parts. They lay their eggs in the rotting fruit under the trees, laying about 400 a time and these eggs will hatch in 8days in warm weather. It's really important to pick up fallen fruit and if it looks fly-blown then wrap it tightly in plastic and leave in direct sunlight to kill the maggots. They also like to get into vinegar such as our citrus cleaners and the compost pile if that's not maintained properly.

I would never consider spraying poisons in the garden but use traps such as this one, a plastic bottle with small holes near the top and some fruit juice inside, they get in but can't get out despite their compound eyes having 760 units!

There are a few in there but this is by far more effective...a sticky web!

While I was outside checking for fruit fly yesterday I paused to admire these remarkable flowers growing on a native Australian shrub next door. They're about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and the bees just love them. The shrub is very dense and a safe haven for the many small birds around here.

These three tomato plants have come up on their own after some plumbing work in their garden bed...they all have 5-6 fruit on them already and are so strong and sturdy. There are several volunteer lettuces underneath them too. They get a very deep watering when it rains and my bucket overflows, looks like we may get some rain today.

This is a little sweetness I picked up at the Perth Craft and Antique Show several years ago, mass-produced overseas but it never fails to gladden my heart when I look at's home is on the wall next to the back door. It's made of pressed tin and is hand-painted....only cost $5 too!

Hope you're enjoying your garden wherever you may be. xxx 

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Happy Birthday, Gordon

We're having our fourth family birthday in 2 weeks today. Gordon turns 32yrs of age today and sometimes that seems like a miracle.

He was born at Rockingham Kwinana District Hospital in the same room as his older brother and later his younger sister and cousins, Tom and Robina! Gordie weighed 7 1/2lbs at birth and was delivered by a midwife as the doctor was busy elsewhere. His cord was tight around neck and he developed jaundice after a couple of days.
Driving at the age of 10yrs, he could reverse a manual car with trailer aged 12yrs and I still can't do that!

 Aged 10yrs again with all his cousins, Gordie is 3rd from the right.

Anyway all was well until he discovered motor cycles at the age of 11-12 years. Several broken wrists and much bruising later he was still going strong.
 Last year however he excelled himself in scaring me by crashing his 1200cc Honda Ninja on the main road in front of his house. He remained conscious and even removed his helmet before the ambulance took him back to Rockingham Kwinana District Hospital for treatment. It was more than they could handle this time so he was transferred to the Trauma Unit at Royal Perth Hospital. The list of injuries included cracked and chipped vertebrae of the neck, punctured lung, fractured collarbone and scapula, severely broken forearm, cracked ribs and grazing to his feet, lower legs and hands.
Modelling the halo at Shenton Park Rehab...once the jacket part attached  Gordie was able to  move around, until then he'd been flat on his back for weeks. The vest was very itchy so Kristie bought him several long-handled 'backscraters"!

During surgery Gordie was fitted with a halo to support his neck and his forearm was strapped and thus began the long road to rehab. Despite his pain and fear Gordie bore his stay in hospital with humour and consideration for others and will have what is hopefully his final surgery this month...the collarbone has set oddly and one bone in the forearm still needs a bone graft.

Gordie loves to go fishing and camping and keeps us well provided in fresh crabs in summer as well as fish.
He's also our first call when anything goes wrong with the car and can always fix it himself or he'll know some-one who can do it for much less than any garage. Gordie loves to cook too and is our BBQ King, his outside roast pork is unbelievably good.
Cooking for a huge crowd at Jessie's 6th birthday party in the park. Hi Dad, Gordie and Joe!
So Happy Birthday Superman....we love you so much...have a great day with all your girls(I know 2 young ladies are very excited about their beloved Dad's birthday). xoxoxo