Monday 30 April 2012

healthy week

Spinach triangles1PestoPersimmonLunchPomegranateMuesli

Last week we decided to have a healthy week in this house. We decided to go vego for the week, give up alcohol, chocolate and lollies and try to eat more fresh and less processed food and sugar around here.

Its been great. Just concentrating on our food choices has been a positive thing, instead of just grabbing the easiest thing we've had to think about each meal. As a result our repertoire of vegetarian dinners has increased, which I'm really glad about. This experiment has helped us find some delicious new recipes to add to our rotation, the egg curry and the spinach triangles were especially delicious, and easy and even the kids loved the marinated tofu despite claiming to hate this ingredient.

I didn't eat red meat or chicken as an adult before I had children and I've felt recently that we've been relying too much on meat to make a meal even if its just a small part. It will be interesting to see how we fare now the week is over.

There have been concessions, we ate prawns on Saturday night when we took advantage of Mr F's trip to our favourite dumpling shop suburb to buy frozen dumplings for dinner and the vegie options were sold out. And I made my new favourite cake on Saturday to celebrate Mr D's brave day, - a trumpet exam in the morning followed by Goalie duty at soccer. Also the pastry and the tofu and the ravioli was all pre-prepared for convenience. It would be nice to make our own, but we wanted to see how we could embrace healthier options within our usual routine.

Our menu this week has gone like this:
Monday - Marinated Tofu and Vegie stir fry with rice
Tuesday - Home made Pesto on pasta with green salad
Wednesday - Thai Red Egg Curry and Rice and Papadams (Marion's red curry kit)
Thursday - Spinach and Feta triangles and Homemade coleslaw
Friday - Roasted Butternut Pumpkin & Fresh Sage Ravioli and Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli from local pasta makers Peppe's with homemade tomato sauce and homemade Bread.
Saturday - Steamed Prawn Dumplings and Chinese Green Vegetables Stir Fry with rice
Sunday - Vegie burgers with Salad

Dessert each night has been a plate of cut up fruit including mandarin, banana, apple, persimmon and grapes with dried apple, apricots and prunes and almonds. That's been one of our favourite parts of the week and as someone who doesn't eat enough fruit its been an easy way to increase my intake.

For school lunches it helped to buy some new small containers. Instead of prepackaged cheese sticks we've had sliced cheese with rice crackers. They were very popular and will stay on the menu. Muesli bars were replaced with a small container of fruit, dried fruit and nuts. Sandwich fillings have been more difficult and ended up being variations on cheese, but my kids have never liked the easy options like jam or honey for school lunches. We bought Sushi making ingredients but didn't get round to it yet. We also made sugar free banana apple muffins which went in lunches a couple of times.

For breakfast we ate cereal and it was interesting to compare the different healthy options we'd bought using the nutrition information on the side panel. Sometimes the healthy option is not what it seems! I ate muesli with yoghurt and fruit. I'm such a toast girl that this was a big change and I liked the way it filled me up for longer and made me delay my first cup of tea.

So all in all a good week! Any ideas for more family friendly vegetarian dinners gratefully received ;-)

Thursday 26 April 2012

my creative space - patterns

patternspatterns patterns

Busy with boring bits today but the creative stuff is calling to me. I started this little crochet experiment while I was away, it was my car craft and while I haven't quite worked out the edges (because I'm trying to cheat and jump to the tricky bits without learning the basics of crochet!) I love the pattern. It was inspired by the Wavy Blanket pattern which I saw someone making on Instagram. I've adapted it to make a shorter, scarf length to play with and I'm having fun again mixing colours. My new method is lining up balls of wool till I'm happy with the combination and then taking a pic on my phone to remind me of the order.

I seem to have caught the clothes sewing bug too and I couldn't resist these patterns which I saw on Marina's Wink Designs blog. They come from Australian designer Megan Neilsen, a young Aussie designer living in the US. Check out her blog for the sewalong which gives heaps of tips for sewing these patterns. Can't wait to try them. Its exciting to see some of the new home sewing patterns coming out. I've been wearing my Tovas and just loving them. I need another couple I think. And I've seen some Colette patterns I like, any recommendations welcome.

This is a glimpse at a bit of my stash, amassed recently with different projects in mind, and some fabrics picked up when opping the other day. I was surprised when I put them together about how many are blue, which I don't wear that much of. I need to start sewing some of it soon!

Back to the boring now though... To check out some creative projects pop in to our creative space.

Tuesday 24 April 2012

show & tell - shannon lamden

show&tell23 Crafty Ladies

I've been reading Shannon Lamden's blog for a few years now, its long been on my list of must reads. I love her wicked humour and 'tell it like it is' style which make me laugh often (and gasp occasionally). Her honesty and irreverence about work, life and family is always entertaining and her work is always inspiring.

Shannon is a most productive designer and has adapted her wonderful style to a range of different media. Her popular screenprinted fabric designs are favourites on the Australian craft scene. Some feature her iconic Cookie characters which she also draws in personalised hand inked portraits. Her clever graphic cushions and totes also feature regularly in design and home magazines. Shannon describes herself in the interview as organised and speedy and I can well believe her with all the different creative work she produces as well as crafting, quilting and more.

I learnt some new things about Shannon through her Show & Tell answers, I'm always amazed about how these simple questions draw out something fresh. For example its great to find out at last where her alter ego, the famous Aunty Cookie name comes from - a nice surprise.

Thanks again Shannon for being part of Show & Tell :-)

Shannon Lamden
Melbourne, Australia

 1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
My blog is a mess of things. Stuff I make, fabric I design and sell, chatting about the kids, chatting about the house, stuff I like to watch on TV, stuff I do on the weekends, holidays I take, stuff I draw... My style is conversational, I try to write as I talk and If I labour over a post it means I should ditch it! I tend to just think of something, write it - post it.


2. Why blog? How did you start?
I started blogging about two years into my freelance career when I was home with the first kid. I discovered blogs about a year earlier and became quite obsessed. There weren't as many back then and I just knew I wanted to be a part of the cool kids group!! I started making drawings and posting about that and crapping on about random stuff here and there. I opened an etsy shop to sell my drawings and slowly from there its grown. Slowly! That was about 5 or so years ago.
I have abit of a love/hate relationship with the blog, I do like writing it but I also hate it when I've got nothing to say but feel I should say... something - anything! The blog now acts a medium sized arm of my business, I notice then when I blog more I sell more, and I like that.

3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
I studied painting and drawing at Uni. But went straight from there to working in an advertising and marketing department where I taught myself all my computer skills. Im one of those fake it til you make it kinda learners, taking jobs on saying I knew how to do stuff and then faked it! As for crafting, its all self-taught. Which you can tell if you look closely!!


4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
Used to be the end of the kitchen, then I moved into a studio for a few years which was great as I was out of the house. Then kid number 2 came along and I moved back home, that was also the point where I was crafting alot more than designing so it made sense to stay at home and not schlep all my gear back and forth to a studio. I've since then stayed at home, at the moment we are renovating our house where I will have a real studio space. I can make a mess and leave it, this is ace!

5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
My blog name is actually my mother's nickname. I used it because I thought it was cute. It is a little lame, but that's cool. At times I think its a little too cute for what I make, but too bad really!


6. Favourite media to work in?

7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
Ideally Id like to get a fabric company to pick up a fabric range of mine, I've been working towards this for the past year. Badgering, designing, badgering, recolouring.... hopefully soon I'll be able to get that shizz together. Other than that, I'm still making homewares and drawing alot.


8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
Totally organised. Neat, ordered in my systems. But I can't add very well, so the money side of things is done by someone else!

9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you.
My red zaishu stool (pics below and on flickr), a triangular coloured knitted blanket made for my daughter when she was born (on instagram) glass baubles made for me by Kirsty (


10. Favourite food/recipe?
Oh god. Any of my mum's curries. Any cake that is syrupy, any slice that has coconut in it!

11. Favourite colour?
Black. Grey.

12. Star sign?

13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
New York. Easy.


14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits? Ignoring your kids... no only joking. Or am I? I manage my time well, when the kids are out or babysat by the TV - I am working. I make a weekly to do list and try to do it every week. I plan meals, have a monthly calender with everyone's activities on it, I run a tight ship.

15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters?
Michael Sowa, Frida Kahlo, David Sedaris, Lanie Lane, Sophie Blackall, Kootoyoo, Loobylu... actually there are heaps of crafty birds I dig.

Hello! Loot Totes for christmas

16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
I love some of the quilts I've made, they are pretty dodge but I like them. I really like sitting and sewing. Its nice and quiet.

17. Three words to describe yourself?
Irritable, speedy, focused.

18. What do you like to do besides creating?
Riding bikes with the family, playing too many games of netball, manhandling fabric, hanging out the washing, eating party pies.


Monday 23 April 2012


My creationMy creationMy creationholidayMy creation

We got home last night from our time away, exhausted and happy. It was lots of fun and we were really lucky with the weather, after battling through torrential, flooding rain on the drive up we were blessed with bright autumn days.

There was lots of eating while we were away, in fact we actually had two roast dinners! One was cooked in a camp oven when we spent a night camping in the bush and was followed up by marshmallows toasted over the campfire. The next morning we woke to a beautiful sunny day and the kids swam in the icy cold creek and gold panned in the shallows.

We also got to have afternoon tea with that beautiful new baby who is just so lovely! Miss A made a butter cake to take with passionfruit icing. My lovely mother in law had made a double batch of her coconut jam slice before we came and had chocolate easter rabbits to top it off. She then whipped up a banana cake in case we got hungry. Needless to say we rolled back in the door last night.

In between eating we thrifted through some country op shops and antique stores and I found a sweet vintage tea and sugar caddy set, some fabric and a floral sheet. My gang have all caught the op shopping bug too and I'm pleased to say they each found a treasure or two to bring home.

The countryside was beautiful with the trees all putting on their autumn colour show and big skies of orange and yellow each evening. It really is a beautiful part of the world and we always enjoy our time there.

Today is the last day of our long school holidays which with Easter to start seemed to have stretched out for ages (and we have Anzac Day on Wednesday!). We are planning a health week, which we talked about and planned while we were away. We're going to give up meat, alcohol, chocolate and lollies this week. We're going to plan our meals to try and make the healthiest choices, steer clear of processed food and cut down on bread and dairy and sugar. We're hoping it will make us feel healthier and reset our food choices when life speeds up again. It wasn't planned with this trip in mind but the timing is perfect.

I'm itching to get back to my Flower Press projects and have some crafty ideas brewing. And with perfect timing the Show & Tell interview for April goes up tomorrow. My guest is someone who I've long admired and followed. Her work and blog are funny, clever and original. I'm delighted to be sharing her interview and loved learning more about her and how she came to be doing what she does. I think you're going to love it too!!!

Tuesday 17 April 2012

lemon cake

lemon cakelemon cakeDahlia Bullseye six lemon cake

We're deep into school holidays over here. The best bit is tomorrow we are heading out west for a few days, for a bit of walking, eating, chatting, catching up with the new baby (!) and generally relaxing. Which reminds me, I need to choose a new knit project to keep my hands busy on the drive.

Sydney has had the most torrential rain today after a lovely mild week, its testing out the new drainage project down the side of our house which was luckily finished a day ago. I'm afraid I managed to hurt my back early on in the process and wasn't allowed near the worksite, which was frustrating, but the boys had fun digging it out and filling it back in. I'm hoping to extend the garden out that way, and maybe plant some of the new dahlias I bought at the garden centre on Saturday.

I've been keeping busy in between the rest with some sewing and cooking. Yesterday I made a muslin of a new pattern with some shirting fabric from the stash. It turned out well and of course now I wish I'd used better fabric, but that's Murphy's Law isn't it? I found the pattern online, its one of those cult patterns that makes the rounds. I love the internet for finding great things. I'll share a pic once I've made a better version.

Another great internet find was this lemon cake recipe, which I saw on Pinterest and immediately put on the wish list. Its a cake batter with a cream cheese filling poured over the top and baked all at the same time. Oh its fantastic! I love a good cheesecake and its a lemon cake too - two of my favourite things rolled into one. Halfway through the cooking I looked through the oven window and saw it rise up strangely, and imagined it ruined but no, it was perfect. The only thing I will change when I make it again is to reduce the amount of sugar in the cream cheese as I prefer a less sweet cheesecake, like an Italian Ricotta Cheesecake. Find the recipe link on my pinterest food board.

We made some more pizza too the other night from that simple base recipe I shared back here. I still love it!

Thursday 12 April 2012

my creative space - easter


The Easter break was just as I imagined it, long slow days of pottering with time to knit and cook and just one outing, a lovely trip to the MCA with my gang. We parked in the Rocks and walked around to Circular Quay under the Harbour Bridge (where I saw this graffiti). This city is so spectacular, I don't think you could ever become immune to its charms.

It was great to see the crowds out looking at art, all sorts of people and quite a few families. I was really happy to see Christian Marclay's The Clock this time too, a video work that edits together hundreds of films using sequences that show time. Lots of great old and new films and actors changing every minute or so but woven together so it makes a sort of sense and the themes and settings change together as well. It is in real time too so if the time is 2pm then the characters will be talking about 2pm and the clocks showing that time. Its kinda hard to describe but just compelling to watch and I'm sure I'll go back some time to see some more of it. 

As I hoped I got a chance to make home made lemonade syrup and experiment with the Magimix over Easter, trying a food processor bread recipe I found on the WhileSheNaps blog. It turned out well and was snaffled up in quick time. The great thing is you don't knead the bread and it rises in about an hour. I did find it slightly crumby and really prefer a bread with more texture, so I'm going to keep experimenting, maybe with less yeast and a longer rise. The lemonade is a sugar syrup infused with lemon rind and then added to lemon juice. Yum.

Oh and I started and finished this beanie for Mr D (who still hasn't much hair after his shaving for Worlds Greatest Shave). He loves it and we both like the mix of colours (especially as the first request was yellow and green!). Its just in time for this cold snap we are having. The pattern is Jared Flood's Turn a Square, I love the neat shape and all the different colour versions people have made them in. Mine is adapted for a child and my revisions are noted, its ravelled here.

More creative here:

Thursday 5 April 2012

my creative space - stars

starsstarsnorie starsMagi mixpizza

My brother and family made a flying visit to Sydney last week. With him was artist Gulumbu Yunipingu whose work is represented in a wonderful survey show in the Museum of Contemporary Art's new wing. Its part of the Marking Time exhibition and if you have a chance to see this work go. The curator has done a wonderful job of bringing together some of the best pieces of Gulumbu's amazing work from galleries and collectors around Australia. Its truly breathtaking.

I'm not a fan of the outside of the gallery extension, I love the old building and I think this detracts from it, but the inside I loved. I can't wait to take the family back to explore, hopefully over Easter. I think modern art is really accessible and interesting for kids (and adults too!) and there are lots of interesting pieces and spaces for them to explore.

A bit of creative stuff is happening in between the other. My Norie is getting there now I've finally got through the lace bands. I don't think I'm made to knit lace, those stitches still keep getting lost and confused. In fairness though that might be a symptom of my busy week and divided attention!

I'm hoping to do more knitting and cooking over Easter too. I want to make some homemade lemonade from the recipe used for our school fete on the weekend. I helped out on the lemonade and lollipop stall and I know from the feedback that this one is a winner! I'm also looking forward to time to play with my new toy. After researching and longing for a new food processor for ages I finally tracked down a bargain Magimix on Ebay last week. I plan to try out all the attachments in the next few days. Last night we used it to cut onions for our home made pizzas, amazing! And if I ever need julienned carrots, I'm set.

The real discovery of the night was this pizza dough recipe which I've been meaning to try. One cup self raising flour and half a cup of yoghurt (I used greek). Mix together, roll out and add toppings. That's it! And it was so delicious. We usually buy tortillas or pita bread or turkish bread to make our homemade pizzas but from now on I'm going to do it this way. Add our usual toppings - kalamata olives, ham, salami, thinly sliced and cooked onion or zucchini, feta, baby tomatoes, mozzarella, smoked oysters, anchovies, bocconcini and home made tomato paste (two cans of italian chopped tomatoes in a pan, add about a tablespoon of sugar, half a can of water and cook it for half and hour or till thick.) Delicious!

Tuesday 3 April 2012

double trouble


My beautiful boys turned eleven yesterday! We had other commitments last night and Mr F was away on the weekend, so we all took the day off yesterday to spend together. The morning was spent unwrapping presents (times two) and then we had sushi and gyozas for lunch. Then it was off to the movies to see Miss A on the big screen followed by a showing of The Lorax, then home for cake.

I love my boys so very much. I'm really so in awe of the beautiful, thoughtful, funny, wise people they are growing up to be. And though I would love to keep them little forever its also lovely to see them change and develop. It was great having some family time yesterday to just hang out together, especially as we seem to have been rushing around a lot lately.

Round here two birthday boys means two cakes (of course!) so this year we decided to make a full mudcake and then marbled cupcakes. Way back when they were about three D chose chocolate cake and J, who doesn't love chocolate, chose a marble cake, and we've been making that combination ever since.

I think I saw this smarties idea somewhere online, what a quick and effective decoration it makes, I love it! I'm definitely going to use this idea again. It would look great on cupcakes too. We iced the mud cake quite thickly with a plain buttercream and then set the smarties into it. The remaining icing was coloured blue, slathered on the marbled cupcakes and sprinkled with rainbow hundreds and thousands to match the smarties. Cake anyone?! I'm hoping the kids will make quick work of these and save me from myself!