Thursday, 31 May 2007

When Elephants Do Ballet!

When elephants do ballet
In sequinned pinks and blues
Traversing street and alley
Squeezed into pointy shoes
The whole world goes doo-lalley
To see the moves they make
But when elephants do ballet
The whole world starts to shake.
While most of us are fretting
Over how to pay our bills
They are blithely pirouetting
In their swathes of starchy frills.
How the ground beneath them wobbles
In a slightly scary way
As they leap over the cobbles
And their muse leads them astray.
When elephants do ballet
Birds fall out of trees,
When elephants do ballet
Milk shakes into cheese.
See them gaily sashay; Divas, every one.
When elephants do ballet
It's time to turn and run.

By 'Potato of Terror' (? Who?)

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
when he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow.
You may succeed with another blow
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds no doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worse, that you must not quit.
Author:- Unknown

Alternative Eye Make-Up Remover

After being unable to find a gentle eye make-up remover at the health food shop I came across a great alternative and at a fraction of the cost. I tried almond oil and it worked perfectly. Dampen cotton wool first then add the oil. It got rid of all make-up and its easily absorbed by the skin so its good for the delicate eye area too. I reckon it should last for about the next ten years! (and only cost $6.00).

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Few more rag dolls..

I didn't make the one above; she sits atop an old sewing basket half-way up the stairs and has that lovely vintage-look.
I made heaps of this pattern by Brenda of Primraggs, some I sold on my craft stall, some went to the school fete and some I saved for gifts. You do need a few special tools when they're so tiny, as turning out the arms & legs gets a bit fiddly otherwise.

Just love the bright yellow fabric on this dolls dress.

This primitive-style angel was designed by a local lady of Sun Valley Primitives. There are some lovely patterns available and she has a great website.

I think I made this one after seeing a design from 'Up in Annies Room'; one of the cutest faces of all. She's got a little pair of velvet mittens around her neck. I remember having my mittens on a piece of string when I was little, going from one sleeve of my coat through to the other so they wouldn't get lost!! (Might be a good idea to tie a few more things onto my coat just lately..)!

Home-made Liquid Soap

This is quick and easy to make, it turns into a kind of mousse. Its only pink 'cause Bec added a bit of pink food colouring! Just put some Lux flakes into a bowl, pour boiling water over and stir. Whizz up with a stick blender (these are one of the best small appliances to have in the kitchen - great for soups too, as there's no pouring hot liquids into a blender) Add colour and essential oil if you like, and leave to thicken. We had to thin it down a couple of times, so it ended up making heaps, which I kept in a spare jar and then use to top up bathroom/kitchen containers as required.

Recent Plantings

OK, I'll get this out of the way first up. This, believe it or not, is my celery! And if I could knit, (I won't tell you what I'd do with the knitting needles...) but I'd have nice warm possum socks for Winter....

More strawberry plants - I had these in a nice strawberry planter, but they restrict growth so much, then dry out that its far easier just to plant them in the garden. I now have some mini-tomato seeds sprouting that I might try in the planter. They just hang over the sides then and you pick as you need them.

Tarragon in the herb patch.

Pineapple Sage - couldn't resist this after smelling the leaves.

Passionfruit - every garden should have one. They don't need alot of care, and what's a pavlova without this fruit? It just took off within a couple of weeks, and is now starting to cover a bare fence.

Lemonade tree - I keep looking for the tap... haven't found it yet!! I'm not going to show you my pitiful lime tree, all the leaves fell off and it just looks like a twig in the ground. I'm hoping it will revive by Spring.

Ahh, blueberries. Can't wait to get some fruit from these couple of bushes that I planted. Its so expensive to buy a small punnet, but they're packed with so many nutrients, don't think they'll make it into the kitchen!

Keriberry is grown commercially in New Zealand. Its a berry, similar to a blackberry & raspberry, and has quickly started to shoot up the fence. This will be easier than going blackberry picking here; we went up to Cox's river a couple of years ago and I picked heaps of blackberries. The friends we were with thought I was quite bonkers as blackberry bushes are not viewed as food plants, rather the worst menace in the bush. I did get a few scratches, but it was still worth it! You can get thornless blackberries for the home garden now though.

About Town

This is a trendy little fella I met in town, all rugged up for Winter!! Good job Bec wasn't with me, we would have been done for kidnapping...

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Local Garden Centre

This is our little garden centre in town. It's a wonderful place to browse around; you soon start to feel relaxed with the gentle sounds from the water features and beautiful plants.

How cute is this little terracotta pot man!
I try to follow Jackie French's advise, and 'just keep planting', choosing something different each week - preferably for the edible garden.

There's so much choice - its hard to pick some times!

There are so many different herbs, flower & vegetable seedlings and now is a good time for roses and fruit trees.

The 'croc pot' featured earlier was also from this garden centre - too realistic for me though; Steve Irwin would have loved it..

Green Cleaning

Now I should make it clear that I'm not big on cleaning - blue, red OR Green - there's too many other more worthwhile things to be occupying my time so I try and make it as painless as possible. (ie. CHEMICAL-FREE). But it is easy to get sucked in by the clever marketers out there, until in the end you have a cupboard FULL of products and you wonder where all the grocery money is really going.
Home made cleaners are quick to put together, cheap and very efficient. I started with a liquid laundry detergent, then gradually replaced everything else as they ran out, so I could re-use the containers and they are clearly labelled.
I did buy a cheap plastic rubbish bin with lid, to keep the laundry liquid in. This recipe makes 10 litres. The equivalent amount from the supermarket would cost around $43; to buy all the ingredients costs around $6. I have not yet replaced my basic ingredients bought about 8 months ago, so it really is worthwhile having a go at making your own.
(Takes about 5 mins to put together). Into a med sized saucepan add 1.5 litres water and 1 cup Lux flakes. Stir on med heat until completely dissolved. Add half a cup of washing soda (look for 'sodium carbonate' in the cleaning isle of supermarket - this is NOT baking or bicarb soda). Add also half cup Borax. Stir until thickened and remove from heat. Pour into 10 ltre bucket and fill up with hot water. Stir to combine all ingredients - it will thicken as it cools. Use 1/4 to half cup of liquid per wash-load depending on size of machine etc. You can add any essential oil of your choice to these homemade cleaners - tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender or rose are ideal - but make sure they are essential oils and not fragrance oils.
For a FABRIC SOFTENER, all you need is to fill softener dispenser of your machine with white vinegar and a spoonful of bicarb soda; it will fizz up. This is great as it also keeps your machine clean and prevents soap from building up.
NAPPY SOAK OR FABRIC WHITENER - dissolve 1/4 cup bicarb soda in a bucket of warm water and soak items overnight. Wash with homemade liquid and fabric softener, then let them dry in the sun.
SPRAY & WIPE - Combine 2 tbspns Cloudy Ammonia, half cup white vinegar, 2 tbsns liquid laundry detergent above in spray bottle, top up to 2 ltrs with warm water.
LOO CLEANER - Using your old bottle that usually has good 'squirt under bowl' lid on it, half fill with white vinegar. Add 2 tbsns basic liquid laundry, juice of lemon and 1 tspn eucalyptus oil. This really keeps toilet bowl sparkling clean. If you need extra cleaning power, just sprinkle some borax around bowl and scrub with loo brush.
GLASS CLEANER - Using old bottle add half tspn basic laundry mix, 3 tbspns white vinegar and top up with warm water.
FLOOR CLEANER - Put 2 tbspns methylated spirits and 2 tbspns basic laundry cleaner into bucket with 1 tspn eucalyptus oil, and fill with hot water.
DISHWASH LIQUID - Unfortunately, Dan does the dishes in our house and I can't convert him to green cleaning because 'there's no bubbles'.... males..I ask you!! So I begrudgingly buy the nice bright yellow lemon smelling lotsa bubbles dishwash concentrate from Aldi. Which he loves.

Vintage Clothes

Here's a lovely pre-loved skirt I got from Frou-Frou to wear with my leather boots this winter. I love the vintage clothes, and would love to dye my hair black like the girl in the shop and dress as outlandishly as she was- and maybe I would if I was twenty years younger....
...but unfortunately I have vowed to grow old gracefully!! !
Oh yeah, and in reality I like comfy clothes - so I'll back to my old daggy jeans, comfy undies, trainers and warm jumpers when the novelties worn off.

New Shop in Town

O-Oohhh, there's a new shop in town. I tried to resist going in..but I'm only human.......and female......
It's vintage stuff at its best; like stepping back into the fifties - in fact I thought I'd died and gone to heaven...
Its called Frou-frou and is full of vintage textiles, pre-loved clothes, lovely old tea-sets and an endless array of beautiful and original wares.

Bumper Sticker

'I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go'.

'In rich countries today, consumption consists of people spending money they don't have to buy goods they don't need to impress people they don't like!'

Anon. - from Affluenza by Clive Hamilton & Richard Denniss

Slow Cooking

This is an Aussie Croc Pot!!!....
...but really, this is a croc pot, commonly known as a slow cooker.

I love my slow cooker. Its great to come home in the evening and dinner is ready and waiting - and the house is filled with wonderful smells. My favourite is beef casserole, which can be really economical if you buy gravy beef, at around $6 a kilo. Throw in whatever vegies are in the fridge; sweet potato, pumpkin, zucchini etc. with diced tomatoes and stock. Jamie Oliver has a good tip to really add some zing to your casserole - just before serving, throw in some garlic, fresh rosemary and lemon juice. Today I made a goulash for a change - very warming on a cold day in the mountains.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Birdhouse Doll.

OK, can't resist - just one rag doll!

She was great fun to make, with a lovely embroidered 'aged' jacket and holding a miniature wooden birdhouse. Whoops, can't find name of designer - will add later! She deserves to be recognised..


Just a quick post today as its girls night out, off to movies.
Sprouts are quick and yummy to make at home - full of essential vits and mins.
I got my jar from Green Harvest in Qld. They also supply the seeds to sprout - suitable seeds are denoted with letter 'S'. I use the organic fenugreek which are about $9.00 for a whole kilo - so last forever.

You start by adding a small layer of seeds to the bottom of the jar, and covering with water. Leave overnight.
Give them a good rinse the next day - the lid of the jar acts like a sieve, so you can tip water straight through it. Then turn jar on its side; rinse them a couple of times a day and drain.

This is after a couple of days. Ready to use on sandwiches, in stir-frys or throw a handful in salads. I even heard popeye has started sprouting as there's too many chemical preservatives in his tins of spinach!!...

This was my yummy lunch today; sprouts, tomato slices and a bit of vintage cheddar on wholegrain bread.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Choo, choo, chook train...

Relaxing Bath Soak

Its easy to make your own, inexpensive bath soak. To ease muscle aches, try epsom salts. They are a natural muscle and nervous system relaxant. Just throw 2 handfuls of salts into a hot bath and soak yourself. Milk also makes an ideal additive for itchy or dry skin; add a cupful of milk powder. It's also great for dispersing essential oils - just add 4-5 drops of your favourite oil to the milk powder before adding to bath. I mix both salts and milk powder/essential oils together, with some oatmeal and bicarbonate of soda, aswell as dried lavender flowers in a nice pottery container that I keep in the bathroom. (This is a combination of several different recipes but I like to cover all bases...!!)

Ned Kelly Teapot

This is a slab-built teapot, handmade and glazed. Its worth checking out your local creative arts centre for some lessons. There's a great centre at Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains where I was fortunate enough to have some lessons with a lovely lady by the name of Rae, some years ago. Her awesome pottery is on display there for sale, along with others, and they have an open day each year.

Redwork Embroidery

With winter underway, its good to have some simple little stitchery projects to work on, while snuggled under a big warm quilt on the sofa. I particularly love redwork. Calico is cheap to buy, and you can give it an 'aged' look by spraying with water/gravy browning. (Look for 'Queen' - Parisian browning essence in food aisle, along with other food colourings). You can use a coffee/tea mix but the tannins will eventually break down the fibres in the fabric. Buy a small amount of iron-on pellon, and attach this to the calico before sewing. This will give your work a nice 'padded' or quilted look. Finish with a rustic frame. I have also used these to cover family photo albums.

Bacon, Leek and Potato Soup

Great for a cold winter night. Thick, tasty and quick to make.
You need 4 rashers rindless bacon, diced.
2 tbspns olive oil
1 leek, trimmed, halved & thinly sliced
4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped (adjust for serves required)
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup chopped chives

Cook bacon in large saucepan until crisp. Remove to plate. Add oil and leek to pan. Cook, stirring for 3 mins until soft. Add potatoes and stock. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat to med-low. Simmer, partially covered for 20 mins or until potatoes are tender. Use stick blender to puree soup while still in saucepan. Add boiling water if required, to get desired consistency. Add cream, bacon and seasoning. Stir over low heat until heated through. Ladle into bowls, serve with crusty parmesan bread.Place sliced french stick on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake 5 mins in very hot oven, 220 degrees c.


You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be -
I had a mother who read to me.
Strickland Gillilan
Painting - 'The First Lesson' by Samuel Baruch Halle (1824-89)

Hazelbrook Antique Shop

This is one of my favourite little shops in the Blue Mountains, Hazelbrook Cottage Antiques. Its a fascinating place to browse - just like you've taken a trip back in time, when everything was less hurried. They have regular auctions, the next one is Sunday June 3rd.

Vanilla Cakes

The real credit for the baking recipes here must go to Bec, who gets all the ingredients out when she arrives home from school. We then spend an enjoyable hour or so together whipping up some delights for desert or school lunches.
This is one of her favourite recipes, which she is able to put together all by herself. (And she gets to lick the bowl without having to share with her big brothers..)

You need;- 125g softened butter, 3/4 cup caster sugar, 2 tspns vanilla extract or essence, 2 eggs, 1.5 cups self-raising flour, 1/2 cup milk, butter icing or fresh cream.
Grease muffin pan or use cake cases. Using mixer, beat butter, sugar and 1tspn vanilla until pale. Beat in eggs one at a time. Sift flour over mixture. Use wooden spoon to stir until almost combined. Stir in milk. Spoon mixture into muffin pan. Bake 190 degrees c for 15 mins. Leave to cool on wire tray. Cut shallow cone from top of each cake, fill with butter icing or fresh cream, replace cone and dust with icing sugar. You can also turn into butterfly cakes as in the first photo (these were for Dan's 19th birthday celebrations).
Butter icing;- add 1 cup sieved icing sugar to a mixing bowl with 1 tspn softened butter, 1 tspn (approx) milk and quarter tspn vanilla essence. Add more milk or icing sugar to achieve desired consistency.

Quilts - start small

Little wall quilts are a great introduction to quilting, as you can learn all the basic techniques without a huge financial outlay. Scraps are great to use and when you begin, its good to see results fast to keep you inspired for your next project. They also make great gifts for family and friends.


Quick and easy to grow from seed, and flowers look great in salads.