Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Gift :: punchbowl

I never used to really appreciated the bowl of punch.  But now, I feel a summer's party is not complete without a bowl of icy, fruity, juiciness . . . I just don't think about who may have sneezed in it!

Back in January we had a party for my baby Dean to celebrate his turning a whole digit - 1!  I had all the ingredients for punch but no punch bowl.  In steps my gorgeous friend, who whipped home and grabbed hers (60+ min round trip).

And again, only a couple of weeks ago, whilst tripping in Orange, Her Gorgeouness found this in a little op shop for $10!  Complete with cups and a proper punch ladle (not like the soup ladle I used previously)

I am indeed a blessed woman to have such a wonderful friend.

Here was my list punch ingredients:

grape juice
tinned fruit salad
lemon slices
mineral water

I vary it depending on what's in the cupboard. 

What's your favourite combo?  A bit of dry ginger ale or gallons of lemonade?

Monday, March 28, 2011

I've Got Knits :: a beret for Niamh

I made a beanie for Niamh's little brother recently and thought that I would like to make one for her too.  Having never met Niamh, I asked her Mummy what her favourite colours are.  Yellow!  But I only had a small amount so I worked what I had in as best as I could (I'm still a beginner!).

My husband doesn't look at my blog, when asked he said: "I don't have to, you tell me everything".  Which is sad but true!  I told him that I can't speak in pictures so he will have to venture into my blog at some point!  And therefore, he doesn't know that I made our son model a girl's beret! Robyn-doll also wanted in on the action so she insisted on posing with it too.

I was recently told by a lovely lady who is teaching me sewing that a sign of a great seamstress is unpicking.  I hope this translates to knitting too. I knitted this beret Friday afternoon, then packed the kids up for a weekend in Forster.  When I came home Sunday afternoon I looked at the beret and wasn't happy with it so I unravelled about one third and reworked.  Now I feel much better.  This project was not on my list so I better stop deviating and get focused!


Friday, March 25, 2011

One of My Favourites: Plum Clafoutis

I haven't shared a favourite recipe with you in a while.  I love this baked dessert as it is very easy, yummy and quick!

Plum Clafoutis - from Super Food Ideas Aug/Sep 1998

500g plums, halved and stoned or 440g tin plums, well drained (pictured with fresh plums)
1 cup SR flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbl icing sugar, sifted (optional)

1. Preheat oven 180C.

2. Arrange plums, cut side down, in a lightly greased 25cm flan dish

3. Sift flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre.  Break eggs into well, add caster sugar and milk and mix to form a smooth batter.

4.  Pour over plums.  Bake for 45 mins or until firm and golden (don't over cook as it may go a little dry in places).  Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with icing sugar.

I use the tinned plums in winter so this can be an all-year-round dessert!  Yummy with icecream or with custard and sometimes, I use greek yoghurt.

Let me know if you make it and what you thought.

Have a lovely weekend friends!  I'm off to a most exciting wedding up in Forster and a much anticipated family renunion.  Weekend forecast is happiness!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

book loving :: book cracking

A few years ago, whilst travelling through USA, I bought my first bible.  I was travelling with some like minded friends who showed me how to crack my bible.  I am not talking about cracking codes or anything like that but about cracking the spine of a new book to avoid damaging it.

Yesterday, my new book from here arrived (and it is still on special!). Because it has a large spine, I thought I should apply my book cracking skills to it!

First, you open the book to the middle and gently press it open.
Then open to the first quarter of the book and press it open gently.
And again with the last quarter.  Depending on the book, you may need to keep dividing and opening and pressing until you have 'cracked' all of your book's spine.

I have to say that in the case of this book, it's spine is very good and probably didn't need a good cracking afterall!

Now I can't wait to dive into this gem.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I've Got Knits : a beanie for a birthday boy

modelled by Liam

I knitted up this little beanie for friend's 3rd Birthday.  Such a quick knit and fun to do.  I have never done an i-cord and was delighted that it was very easy (don't you just love how it curls over at the top- makes a good loop to hang on a hook!).  And yes, like my other beanies, I got the pattern from this book.

Happy Birthday Ezra!  (Your party was heaps of fun too!)


Winners & Losers

I watched Winners & Losers on the 7 network last night.  Did you?

When the girls all gathered in the toilets, exactly where they were 10 years earlier and remarking that it is like nothing has changed despite all the changes in their lives, I totally related.

How is it that experiences at school, or for childhood that matter, can stick with you and rear its sometimes often ugly head with the correct triggers?  These four girls felt like losers again, why?  All because they saw their highschool bully and it was like 10 years on had not changed them at all, for a moment anyway.

I was bullied at school and who knows, maybe someone will list me as their bully (although, I don't believe I was).  And I still carry the scars that really hurt at seemingly random times.  For instance, I find it hard to trust and easily make friends with women who I think are stunningly beautiful.  They can be really nice but I find myself wondering what their true motivation is in talking to me.  I have recently met two ladies who I think I very pretty, always dressed nicely and are very nice but it has taken me a while to not feel like an ugly troll around them.  They make me feel this way by just being caste from the same apparent mold as some of the girls that used to bully me.  And then, let's face it, I began bullying myself internally and guess what?! I still do!!  These ladies are truly very nice and I am finding myself becoming less neurotic around them.  I would even bet that if they knew that they are who I am referring to, they would be shocked.  All reason tells me that but long ago deep scarring just doesn't seem to be ignored/healed easily. 

But I am a work in progress!  Praise God that "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!" (NIV) 2 Corinthians 5:17

I have been healed many times over by falling in love with Jesus.  I am so grateful that I have answered his knocking on my heart's door because he is my strength and my shield (Mathew 7:8 and Psalm 28:7) I am healed and can turn to Him in my weakness (Romans 8:26, 1 Cor 2:3, 2 Cor 12:9-10).

Do you have triggers that can bring you back to that moment you were made to feel very small?

I hope you have found healing too.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

My Creative Space . . .

I've been trying to put this post up all day - what a day!  I won't bore you with the details as I pledged to never whinge here.  Better late than never!

I never used to be such a sucker for sales, but this week I was!  I went to Spotlight - need I say more?

I have that many knitting projects on the go that I don't know where to start!
Little Boy's Beanie

My darling step-daughter's beanie

My nephew's beanie

A little Lady's Capelet

A Little Boy's Hooded Vest

Another Little Boy's Hooded Vest

Here they all are in their 'before' state.  I'll share with you the 'afters' as each is finished.  And yes, they are all gifts - my little kids lucked out!

Oh, I have finished one - please excuse it's 'pre-blocked' state.  I hope it fits the little princess it is destined for!

Ooo, and I couldn't go past these little gems, seeing that they are my favourite colour combo and named after me!

Now to see what everyone else is creating . . . .

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Psalm 46:1-3

Psalm 46:1-3
Posted: 15 Mar 2011 02:10 AM PDT
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

I just looked at yesterday's bible promise.  A timely reminder.

Let us all pray for Japan.

Let us all pray for the oppressed across the world.

Let us pray for our neighbours who may be victims of domestic violence or sufferers of illness or experiencing depression.

Let us uphold everyone, this earth, in prayer.

I believe that Jesus is returning and that there are signs, birth pains if you will, prior to his return.  I don't know how long it will be but I am hoping it is soon.  I want to go home.


Monday, March 14, 2011

I've Got Knits :: A beanie for a little girl . . .

This knitting bug has really taken hold of me.  How easy are beanies?!  Yay for beanies, a knitting-junkie's quick fix.  As I don't have daughters, my long time friend Robyn-Doll said she'd gladly step in as a model (what a good friend! She was a little dismayed at not being able to find her eye lashes though . . )

I got the pattern from this book.

I really like that three different stitch pattern combos, (rib, seed stitch and stocking stitch) make this simple beanie look fabulous.  But the cherry on the cake is the knitted rosette, no?  A very quick knit in the front and then back of the stitch creation.  I am feeling inspired and hope that this little feeling grows into full-blown creativity as I would love to design my own beanies!

I hope the little girl it is going to loves it as much as I do!  I might have to make an adult size version for myself.

Anything taken a hold of you lately?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

book loving :: My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes

Got a favourite early childhood book?

This is mine

And Liam loves it too.

I'm totally loving this book site.

What's your favourite early childhood book?  Do you remember this one?

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Simple Life Challenge :: No More Shampoo


Since my debut into the blogging world, I have slowly been discovering all the wonderful blogs out there from adorable people who seem to love to share!  I can't begin to tell you how much I am learning about sewing and knitting, photography, food and the internet in general (oh goodness, also learning the convenience and inexpense of internet shopping overseas!) and now I see a challenge!  Well, this is what Brave New Me is all about - meeting challenges head on. 

So for a few years now I have wondered if I can go self-sufficient - eco friendly if you will, to improve our savings account, our health and to educate my boys.  Now seems like the best time to start as there is an abundance of information and support networks to do it.  And being brave and new means, NO MORE EXCUSES!  So what that we rent, I can build a portable veg garden!  The "I can'ts" can turn into "So what, I can learn and make do!"

Ok, this first challenge of doing away with shampoo actually commenced about 3 weeks ago.  A friend of mine, Rahni announced on facebook that she washed her hair with bi-carb soda and conditioned with apple cider vinegar.  I had heard this to be a beauty secret of beauties from bygone eras and thought perhaps I should give it a go.  My hair has been severely damaged by over zealous hairdressers waving brushes of gooey chemicals, bleaching my hair within an inch of my life.  My hair was so brittle and falling out that I knew I had to do something.  So I did!  And the result?  ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!  I totally recommend it to everyone! 

I followed the information from Heidi&Seek but in a nutshell, this is what I do (which is virtually the same):

1. Mix about a tablespoon of bicarb with about 1/2 teaspoon of water to make a paste (I use a plastic cup). You can add more water if you don't want it pastey. Then I just part my hair and rub it in. I don't even wet my hair first (I do this before getting in shower in front of the vanity) as I like to see where I've put the bicarb.
Edit: Must use on wet hair, not dry!  see extract below from this excellent site.

How do I go shampoo free?
Use one tablespoon of baking soda per one cup of warm or hot water. You can double or triple the recipe if you have very, very long or thick hair. But do not use more baking soda, your hair will become hard, dry or feel brittle if you use too much. You can put this mix in a recycled shampoo bottle, and apply to your hair with warm water.
The mix should not feel gritty, and should be a liquid. If you have very short or thick hair, you may find it easier to make a paste with a tablespoon of baking soda (or less) and sprinkle it over very wet hair and massage in. Otherwise, spray or pour the mixture onto your hair and work it in. Let it sit about a minute, and then rinse. I personally find it easiest to make a liquidy paste in the palm of my hand with about half a tablespoon, and then sprinkle and massage into dripping wet hair. I have very short hair, so I use less. Experiment and see what works best for you, there are no official rules.

For a typical rinse, make up a solution of one to two tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) per cup of water. Apply to wet hair, massage into scalp and rinse off with cold water. Please note, you don't always have to apply a rinse with every wash! I personally find I only need to do a rinse every 2-3 washes.

I start with the crown and part, then along the front hair line, particularly the temples and then around the back. Then I just do a random dab here and there.
2. Before jumping in the shower I pour about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into another cup and top it up with water and take it into the shower with me.
3. When in the shower, wet your hair and rub it all over. It will feel really funny and your hair will feel knotty and tangled and it will squeak! Yes, I reckon that is where the term squeaky clean came from!! Massage it in, you actually want to promote the natural oil production (your hair will not go oily from doing this!). Then rinse it out.
4. Finally, I grab the cup of vinegar and dip the ends of my hair straight into it! Works better for long hair I reckon. Then with the rest of the vinegar I pour it over the lengths. I actually bought a plastic sauce dispensar for this as it works like the squeezy tubes that hair dye come in. Then rinse the lot out. You may think at first that your hair is knotty but you will be surprised at how easily you will be able to run a comb through it!  The vinegar smell doesn't last long but if it bothers you, spritz your hair with rose water or perfume.

Even though I got good results straight up, some people say that it takes a few washes before your scalp is used to it and you could go oily a bit faster ie wash every day or second day but after about 2 weeks you'll be washing only twice a week! It worked straight away for me.

My hair is still showing signs of the damage caused by bleaching but to touch it, it is really soft now.  Brushing my hair twice a day has really helped too.
Yesterday, I checked back in with Hayley from Heidi&Seek as her post was back in 2009.  This is what she had to say:

Hi Fiona,

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

You asked whether I'm still using ACV and bicarb for my hair - the answer is yes! Although I've occasionally used a Lush shampoo bar instead of the bicarb, and I can't tell the difference between them in terms of how my hair feels afterwards.

I missed the foam of shampoo for a while after I started on the bicarb, but now I don't really notice too much.

How are you going with it?

If you have any questions about ethical/second-hand shopping or buying clothes that suit you, I'd be happy to answer them!


You can find Hayley's new blog here.

Have you made any changes for a more Simple Life?  What would you like to simplify and why?


Monday, March 7, 2011

weekend shenanigans

My menfolk were all sick.  The boys were coming out of the dark tunnel of fluiness, but Rick was decending into it.  Needless to say, the 1 hour drive to church on Sabbath was not going to happen so we opted for a quiet morning at home and then some outdoor time.  Home for lunch and two fellas crashed while Liam and I made cards to bring cheer to some special people.

Sunday seemed to bring some brightness to the infirmed and we managed to drive up to Forster!  Special day with extra special family and friends.

Monday, as always, brings with it weekend withdrawals but once the to-do list gets formulated, the next weekend becomes the goal to strive for!

Did you do anything special?

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Creative Space . . .

Wow!  In an attempt to pull the reigns in on my internet addiction, I buried myself into another addiction - knitting!  So, to ease myself back into blogging, I thought I'd show you what I had been up to.

Thanks Kootoyoo for your lovely Thursday link in (yep, I know it is now Friday but I didn't want to wait another week!)

This little number would have to be the easiest pattern I've ever followed.  I got it here.  This I knitted for my friend's 6 year old girl.

I love it so much that I am knitting it for a friend's baby in cherry red.  Don't you just love the gathered look under the bust line?  You can get the baby-sized pattern here.

And for another friend's daughter in speckled blue.  Gotta say, I'm getting a little tired of seed stitch now!

But wait, that's not all!  I needed to learn how to knit in the round for the neck line so I practised by knitting this little beanie and started another but ran out of yarn!

Deano just doesn't like to wear anything on his head.  I have over a dozen photos like this where I put the beanie on his head, bring the camera up to my face only to get the shot with his hands already trying to pull it off!  This beanie is a bit small for my little man, so I think I will give this one to Vinnies and knit another.  I got the pattern from this book.

I'm so glad I have found my knitting mojo again.  Oh, and for those who have been following for a little while, you may be asking about the never ending knitting - almost done.  Just need to fix the toddler inflicted damage . . . not long now!

Good to be back - how are you?
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