Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Monthly menu plan - August/September


Asparagus

So many things I love about this time of year. Salads are starting to make themselves known again. The jasmine is out. And asparagus is finally back! Woo hoo!

Week One:
Monday - Macaroni and cheese with broccoli, cauliflower, peas and corn, with a garden salad
Tuesday - Lemon, lentil and spinach soup
Wednesday - North African beef, barley and bean stew with sweet potato mash
Thursday - Huevos rancheros
Friday - Sweet potato and salmon cakes with dill yoghurt and salad
Saturday - Roast chicken
Sunday - Chicken and pea risoni (using left over roast chicken)

Week Two:
Monday - Cauliflower and lentil pilaf
Tuesday - Creamy potato and silverbeet soup with salad
Wednesday - Italian sausage and red wine risotto
Thursday - Spanish tuna pasta bake with salad
Friday - Chickpea pilaf with haloumi
Saturday - Pancetta wrapped salmon with potato salad and rocket salad
Sunday - Tuscan peasant soup

Week Three:
Monday - Silverbeet and chicken barley risotto with peas
Tuesday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni with chunky lentil sauce, with garden salad
Wednesday - Creamy sweet potato, onion and pumpkin soup with garlic croutons
Thursday - Vegetable, bacon and risoni soup
Friday - Spinach and corn pasties with salad
Saturday - Rack of lamb roast
Sunday - Beef and red wine stew with mash

Week Four:
Monday - Pastitsio with salad
Tuesday - Spinach impossible pie with green salad
Wednesday - Tomato and basil soup with croutons and salad
Thursday - Sweet and sour pork
Friday - Baked potatoes with the works
Saturday - Zucchini pasta with rocket
Sunday - Ratatouille with polenta

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Baby booties


Booties

How adorable are these baby booties, eh? So teeny! And tiny! The perfect gift for Tyger's favourite teacher, who is calling her soon-to-be born little one 'Peanut'. So much cuter than 'Bump', which is what poor Tyger got stuck with. Sorry about that, Tygs.

Welcome soon to the world, Peanut!

Project Details
Pattern: Saartje's Booties by Saartje de Bruijn (free pattern on Ravelry!)
Yarn: Left-over partial ball of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino
Needles: 2.75mm
Notions: 4 buttons

This is a great, quick and easy knit - in fact, I think I spent more time sewing them together than I did actually knitting. I made the newborn size in a gender neutral colour, with cute red buttons to brighten things up.

Ravelried here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Calling on Mr Abbott: More bicycle infrastructure funds, please!


Wheels


Dear Prime Minister Tony Abbott,

As an Australian family who are committed to leaving a safer, better, greener world for our daughter, I was rather dismayed to discover that funding for bicycle paths was not included in the 2014/15 Infrastructure budget. We need more people on bikes now! Reasons for this include:

1 -  63% of Australians are inactive.

2 -  Inactivity costs us a staggering 13.8 billion every year (in health and associated costs).

3 -  59% of Australians want to ride a bike but they're concerned about cars and trucks.

4 -  Separated lanes will overcome that concern.

5 -  If 59% of people take up riding we'll save at least $8.1 billion - every single year.

6 -  $7.5 billion will buy 7500 kilometres of separated bike lanes and paths.

7 -  It will transform Australia into the most bike friendly and physically active country in the world!

8 - Once word gets around that Australia is the most bike friendly country in the world, the tourists will flock like crazy. Everybody loves a country full of cute bike riders. Just ask the Danish and the Dutch!

So on behalf of bike riders everywhere, I humbly ask that you reconsider the Infrastructure budget, and find some money for bikes. $7.5 billion should do the trick in not only making us the envy of the world, but will do wonders for reducing obesity, pollution and a huge range of lifestyle cancers (how much do we spend on that each year, huh?)

Yours sincerely,
Jorth

PS Imagine that you did spend the money on creating safe bicycle lanes for one and all. Every time a cute bike rider pedalled past, you could think "Hey! I did that!". I'll leave you with that thought, Tony.

You can follow the Bicycle Network's Please Tony campaign here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Leafy Greens Blanket

The stork carefully stored the package that Jorth handed to him, carefully wrapped in brown paper and string, and as he flew off into the sunset he had one simple, grateful thought: that delivering presents for soon-to-arrive babies was sure as heck a lot easier than delivering the bubs themselves.

Leafy Greens #1


Leafy Greens #2


Leafy Greens #3


Project Details
Pattern: Leafy Baby Blanket by Leyla Alieva (free pattern!)
Yarn: 7 balls of Zara by Filatura Di Crosa, yarn held double throughout
Needles: 5mm needles

I really, REALLY enjoyed knitting this sweet baby blanket up. Since the yarn was held double, it went by pretty quick, and I would have gotten it finished sooner except I ran one ball short, so had to dash off to the yarn store before I could finish it. D'oh!

The blanket itself isn't huge, but is the perfect size for tucking into a pram or over a car seat to keep their precious occupant snug and warm. This is a definite knitting win to chalk up on the board!

Ravelried here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monthly Menu Plan - July/August


Cake

Slow braises, pasta bakes, lasagne sheets made from scratch... this is truly not the winter of my discontent. And since it's a dual birthday month at our place, there's plenty of cake as well. Yippee!

Week One
Monday - Salmon, pea and potato cakes with garden salad
Tuesday - Lemon, lentil and spinach soup
Wednesday - Tomato, pea, bacon and spinach risotto with rocket salad
Thursday - Broccoli and pecorino pasta with garden salad
Friday - Lemon pepper pilaf
Saturday - Farro, butternut pumpkin and romesco salad
Sunday - Macaroni with peas, with a green salad

Week Two
Monday - Roasted vegetable 'speltotto' with kale
Tuesday - Tofu and noodle stirfry
Wednesday - Pumpkin and haloumi burgers with coleslaw
Thursday - Spanish tuna pasta bake with salad
Friday - Creamy potato and silverbeet soup with cheese toasties
Saturday - Beef stew with sweet potato mash
Sunday - Roast chicken

Week Three
Monday - Creamy chicken pasta with rocket
Tuesday - Ratatouille pies with garden salad
Wednesday - Roast tomato and basil soup with garlic bread
Thursday - Chicken pesto lasagne with rocket salad
Friday - Birthday dinner!
Saturday - Baked potatoes with all the trimmings
Sunday - Lentil cottage pies with corn cobs

Week Four
Monday - Spaghetti and meatballs with salad
Tuesday - Cauliflower, silverbeet and chickpea wraps with tahini
Wednesday - Minestrone a la Jill Dupleix
Thursday - Ham, tomato and ricotta calzones with salad
Friday - Homemade fish and chips

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Party dress!

It's tempting to think that you can't deck yourself in an awesome, home-made party dress when your birthday falls in the middle of winter. Shivering and party poppers don't generally tend to go hand in hand. However, with this incredible pink/red/black brocade, and a little help from Vogue 8902, I have a feeling that I'll be looking pretty snazzy this Saturday night, no matter how darn cold it is outside!

Party Dress

Monday, July 14, 2014

Scrunchie city!

Oftentimes when it is school holidays, I lament that I never seem to get any crafting done, but this thankfully was not the case this time around. In fact, it was scrunchie city! The scrap bag had never seen so much action!
It was also the perfect craft to teach Tyger how to use a proper sewing machine i.e. mine, rather than the semi-toy one she was given a few years ago. She looked rather trepidatious at the beginning, and I began to become somewhat alarmed that something might go wrong and this was a bad idea, but once she got over her initial fears she was soon sewing like a pro. In fact, I had to bark at her to stop treating the machine like a racing car at one stage!

Some may say "Scrunchies? I thought they died with all the other bad early 90s trends!", but let me tell you this: they are hip and happening in this house. Besides, if they are good enough for Hillary Clinton, they are good enough for Tyger!

Scrunchies

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Knitting ON FIRE!

Somebody call the fire brigade, because I am on FIRE, people, FIRE with my knitting of late!

I'm blitzing through Tyger's Flora Layered Leaf Skirt. I'm going great guns on my own patterns. I even spent a wee while today pawing a ball of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino from my stash and decided to turn it into a supercute pair of baby booties pronto.

And let's not forget this gorgeous leafy blanket that's being made for my besties first child. One and half more pattern repeats and I'll be done. I swear, people are lining up to gawk at me and my super speedy knitting skillz, cos I am like the Usain Bolt of knitting at the moment. Except with Addi Turbos instead of fancy spikes. Although I am tempted to do this awesomely awesome pose after a particularly nice cast on. No wonder people are staring!

I'm also going to be teaching a Learn to Knit class over at Handmaker's Factory this Sat, 12th July, so come along and I'll have you blitzing through the projects in no time.

Now I just need to put the needles down for a while and get my birthday dress sewn. Who needs sleep, eh?

Leafy

Monday, June 23, 2014

An oldie but a goodie


Pink Dress

Jorth glanced out the window, and was displeased with what she saw. The rain was grey, the clouds were grey, and her feelings were grey now that their travelling adventure was over.

"C'mon Jorthy, old lass!" she said to herself. "You know what to do to banish this gloom away. Riffle through the stash and get yourself a sewing project, stat - and better make it nice and pink!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Monthly Menu Plan - June/July


Baked Apples

As a complete and utter soup addict, I welcome winter with open arms. Actually, my arms are far from open. One hand is holding an assortment of celery sticks, onions and carrots ready to be chopped finely into a soffritto, and the other is busy polishing my pride and joy - my extra-large-and-perfect-for-soup saucepan.

I am told that there are places - clinics, if you will, and I hope you can hear the sarcasm verily dripping from the italics there - that soup addicts like me can go to, but whenever this is suggested to me I grab the wooden spoon from whatever soup I can currently making and make the rudest sign imaginable with it. I love soup. I will eat it for breakfast, again for lunch, and then follow all that veggie goodness with more soup for dinner. Winter is here, and I'm making soup, darn it. Nobody puts Soupy in a corner!

Week One
Monday - Bean and roasted sweet potato tacos with green salad
Tuesday - Paprika chicken with quinoa tabouleh
Wednesday - Creamy pumpkin soup, plus schwartzbrot with lentil dip.
Thursday - Coconut rice with hot smoked trout
Friday - Roasted vegetable tacos
Saturday - Pearl barley and smoked paprika minestrone
Sunday - Lemon, bean and pea risotto with garden salad

Week Two
Monday - Buttermilk and harissa chicken with spiced carrot couscous and rocket salad
Tuesday - Chilli beef casserole with brown rice
Wednesday - Zucchini pasta with green salad
Thursday - Beetroot and carrot soup
Friday - Out for dinner for a very special girl's birthday!
Saturday - Rag pasta with tomato, brie and basil, with salad
Sunday - Ratatouille topped with feta on a bed of cheesy polenta

Week Three
Monday - Lentil spaghetti Bolognese with green salad
Tuesday - Sweet potato and chilli soup
Wednesday - Persian style lamb pilaf with sautéed spinach
Thursday - Roasted garlic and tomato soup
Friday - Glazed pork cutlets with coleslaw
Saturday - Baked potatoes with the works!
Sunday - Pearl barley minestrone with Italian sausage

Week Four
Monday - Roast chicken with seasonal vegetables
Tuesday - Chicken noodle soup (made with left over chicken)
Wednesday - Roasted vegetable lasagne with salad
Thursday - Spicy bean soup
Friday - Pumpkin and haloumi burgers with wedges
Saturday - Homemade veggie pizzas
Sunday - Quinoa and spinach pilaf with lamb chops

Week Five
Monday - Primavera pearl barley risotto with rocket salad
Tuesday - Vegetable, bacon and risoni soup
Wednesday - Spinach and ricotta cannelloni with salad
Thursday - Roast garlic, leek and potato soup
Friday - Lemon pepper pilaf

Since it's winter, there's nothing better to finish off a soup meal with than delectable baked apples! And that solves the mystery of why a delicious picture of apple dessert was included in this post, rather than my beloved soup. You can find the recipe I created over at Mum's Business.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Holiday slide show

Hello! Did you miss me? It was pretty darn awesome exploring the world, but as Dorothy once remarked, there is no place like home. We got back on Sunday, and no only has the jetlag pretty much worn off, but the very last load of holiday washing is currently swishing away in the machine, and life is back to its regular scheduling.

I know quite a few of you followed our travels on Instagram, but for those who didn't, here are some holiday snaps. I really, REALLY loved travelling around Switzerland and the UK. If any knitting shops want to sponsor me to live and work over there, send me an email pronto!

Trip1
Jungfrau in Switzerland. Cold but very, very beautiful.

Trip2
Exploring the streets of London, near Marylebone.

Trip3
High Tea at The Savoy. Pure, sugared-up bliss!

Trip4
Hey look - it's Pemberley! Otherwise known as Lyme Park.

Trip5
The ruins of St. Mary's Abbey in York.

Trip6
We drove through Wales on a very wet and wildly windy day. Felt rather apt.

Trip7
The harbour shops in Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Trip8
The Quiraing on the Isle of Skye. There was no way I was going to try and climb that monster!

Trip9
Wildflowers growing in a rock, of all things, at the Point of Sleat beach. Tough flora!

Trip10
Point of Sleat beach. For most of our time there, we had this perfect beach to ourselves. Bliss!

Trip11
Last but not least, Edinburgh Castle.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Zürich

This morning found us all snuggled up in bed, map of Zürich in front of us. Museum? Sure. Boat ride along river? Okey dokes. Tour the churches? But of course.

But then we started walking, and after a few minutes decided to throw all of our plans out of the window. Zürich is just so beautiful! The sun was shining, and every corner threw up another ridiculously beautiful view. The river walk was stunning, the laneways perfect for exploring, and the city's citizens all seemed to be out and in a jolly mood, soaking up the rays themselves and grinning at the beauty-struck Aussies.

Zurich - somewhat unfairly I feel, after today - has a reputation as being a bit dull. A city built for business rather than fun, but we had such a wonderful time today that I would consider moving there tomorrow.  Dankeschön, Zürich, for a gloriously perfect day to store away forever in the memory banks.

Zurich1

Zurich2

Zurich3

Zurich4

Zurich5

Zurich6

Zurich7

Friday, May 02, 2014

The perfect yellow beret

You didn't think I was going to go trekking over to Scotland without a fancy hat of my own now did you? If Galumph got one, and Tyger got one, I was certainly getting one!

Porom

I used the Porom pattern from Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. It was a lovely, easy pattern to follow, and the schematics for the pattern are the best I've ever seen. I'm feeling rather chuffed with my lovely new lacey beret, I must say.

And it matches my coat. Heaven!

Project Details
Pattern - Porom by Brooklyn Tweed
Yarn - 2 balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto DK in colourway 23045, from Woolarium
Needles - 4mm and 5mm circulars (I used my longest circulars, and did the magic loop method, rather than using dpns)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Insta-jorth

I did it! I finally did it - I joined Instagram!

Travel

One of the reasons I've signed up is so that I can easily document our trip overseas. Yup, just thought I'd throw that one in there! We're heading over to Switzerland, then to various parts of England and Scotland. I cannae wait! Everything is booked, our house sitters have their keys, and the mail has been redirected. Six weeks of travelling, here I come!

So if you want to get a regular dose of Jorthy goodness, follow me on ze 'gram: jorthknits - cat pictures will be kept to an absolute minimum. Promise!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ginger nuts (or the worst poem you'll read this week)

Sunday afternoon, and I'm on the couch
Got an infection, so I'm a right royal grouch
Galumph and Tyger confer in kitchen
"What can we do to stop her bitching?"

Cupboard doors a flung open wide
Various ingredients are taken from inside
Flour, sugar, and heaps of spice
To tame the beast they'll bake something nice

10 minutes on the oven door is open
I look up from the couch, my heart a-hopeing
With a plate and a cuppa over Tyger struts
Oh bless their hearts - they made me ginger nuts!

And damn tasty they were, too! Just as good as the shop ones, and that's really saying something.

Gingernuts


Gingernuts #1


Gingernuts #2

Ginger nuts*

200g butter
2 tbsp. golden syrup
2 cups raw sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 cups plain flour
6 teaspoons ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda

1 - Preheat oven to 180 C. Melt the butter and syrup together in a saucepan over a medium heat. Pour into a large bowl.

2 - Add the sugar and egg to the butter mixture and stir well. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix together well.

3 - Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on lined baking trays. Press balls flat with a fork, and sprinkle the tops with a little extra raw sugar. Bake for 11 - 12 minutes for a medium crunchy biscuit, or a tad longer if you prefer yours super crunchy. Makes 60.

*guaranteed to sooth any cranky people you may have lying around.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tweed beanie

Warm. Easy on the eye. Strong yet soft at the same time.

Oh, and the beanie ain't half bad, either. Ha!

Beanie #1

This was meant to be an intricate yet still manly cabled beanie for Galumph, but once I started doing the ribbing, I realised that the cable detail would get completely lost in the tweediness of the yarn. So I did some mods, and made a simple stocking stitch beanie instead.

Although I was rather looking forward to doing all the fancy cable work, I really like the simple gorgeousness of the tweed. It reminds me of clouds on a stormy day - full of blues and greys and blacks and greens.

I'm kinda hankering after some tweedy goodness for myself, now!

*off to peruse patterns on Ravelry*...

Project Details
Yarn: 2 balls of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed in Ash 120 from Woolarium
Needles: 3.5mm and 4.5mm circular needles (magic loop method used)

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Perfect weather for knitting


Grey

As I sit here, it's steadily raining outside. The sky is one big sheet of grey, and I am knitting a beanie for Galumph and feeling blissfully happy. I LOVE the cooler months. I'm such a Cancerian crab at heart - liking nothing better than to be pottering around inside, sewing or knitting up a storm and thinking up new ways to keep my beloved ones warm and well fed. You can keep your summer days, with your posing bikini-clad beach goers, and melted ice creams, and sapping heat. As far as I'm concerned, the only good thing about summer is wearing summery frocks, and I reckon knitting on the couch as the rain gently pitter patters outside trumps even that!

Speaking of knitting, there's still a few spots left in the class I'm teaching this Saturday morning over at Handmaker's Factory, so if you fancy knitting up a storm this winter as well, come along and be shown the ways by moi! Not only will you have bucket loads of fun and learn a new skill, but you will also help me in my life long project of converting everybody I meet to the knitting way. Come, my friends... come over to the knit side!


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Quince paste

This morning I woke up to discover that I had a young daughter with the sniffles and a temperature. Checking the radar I discovered that there was a whole lot of rain also headed my way. Blast! Looks like I wasn't going anywhere soon.

Thankfully there was all those quinces just lying around the kitchen counter. I had sugar in the cupboard, and a whole day to fill in. Quince paste it was!

I've always been a bit trepidations about making quince paste. For some reason, preserve making in general fills my soul with terror. Maybe it's from studying years of microbiology at uni, but I always have a fear that something won't get sterilised properly, and I won't realise until I have proudly offered one of my nearest and dearest a taste of my home-made jam, only to watch them drop dead in front of me. However, I decided to gamble on making successful quince paste. After all, the thing is so jam packed (ha!) with sugar that even I couldn't muck it up, and no nasties would be able to live on it if they tried, sugar being such an excellent antibacterial.

So I said "Jorthy! Get thyself into the kitchen, and get cooking, you big old scaredy cat!", and I did. And now I am kicking back triumphantly, revelling in my quince paste-scented kitchen, waiting for the pots to cool down so I can gobble it with an oat biscuit and some stinky blue cheese.

Tyger is also lurking about, wondering when she can snaffle some, which makes me think that somebody will definitely be fine for school tomorrow.

Quince Paste

Quince paste

1.4kg quinces (about 4), peeled, cored and roughly cubed
125ml water
600g sugar

1 - Combine the quinces and water in a medium-sized saucepan, and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer, and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 - Allow to cool, and then blend the water and quinces together until smooth (I used a stick blender, so I didn't have to wait aaaaaages for it to cool down). Then add the sugar to the quince puree, and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

3 - Turn the heat down to low, and cook very gently for 2 hours, stirring regularly to make sure the mixture doesn't stick and burn to the bottom of your pan. Watch out - the thing will begin to burp and splash out after the first hour. Cook until the mixture is very thick, and has turned a deep reddish colour.

4 - Take off the heat, and transfer into little pots or containers. Allow to cool, then cover with gladwrap and keep in the fridge until required. When serving, bring back to room temperature, and serve with a dry biscuit and some really nice blue cheese.

Make 4 small pots worth.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Mad Men Challenge: A floral Betty dress

As soon as the marvellous Julia Bobbin announced her Mad Men sewing challenge was open, I knew that I had to absolutely, totally enter! The purpose of the challenge is to find a character who inspires you fashion-wise on Mad Men, and create a garment using them as inspiration. You could try and replicate a costume exactly, or just use their style as a loose guide - it is open to interpretation, as long as the vintage-y fabulousness of Mad Men style is paid homage to.

I had no doubt about who's style I wanted to emulate. For me there will only ever be one Mad Men gal who's frock I covet, and that is Betty. Yup, I can't go past Betty Draper Francis in full Jackie Kennedy glamour mode, and she rocks a floral print like nobody else.

Betty5

So I dove into my stash, found some perfectly Betty bloom printed cotton sateen and got sewing. The fabric was the easy part - it was choosing the pattern that gave me some grief. I was spoilt for choice, being in possession of quite a few vintage patterns, but was limited by only having 1.8m of fabric.

In the end I went with a modern pattern with a definite vintage feel: Simplicity 1873. Betty does love a full skirt, and the cute side tabs with buttons gave it a late 50's sliding into the 60's vibe that I just couldn't go past.

Look at the floral print! Adds a hint of warmth to a cold-hearted gal. Look at the prim and proper silhouette! Her life may be a mess but her dress is just the thing!

Big big big thanks to Julia for running this sew-a-long. I can't wait to see what everybody else come up with!

Betty1


Betty2


Betty3


Betty4

Project Details
Pattern: Simplicity 1873 (Cynthia Rowley)
Fabric: 1.8m printed cotton stretch sateen from Clegs
Notions: 55cm invisible zipper, lining, interfacing

Ok, so now I have the dress. If only I could have her hair, cheekbones and pearls as well!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

DIY T-shirt dress


DIY Tshirt Dress

Fancy turning a t-shirt into a gorgeous dress? Then I have the tutorial for you! I recently wrote a tute for Mum's Business showing how to upcycle a t-shirt into a funky frock - it's a brilliant way to give a new lease of life into a beloved tee that might not quite fit length-wise anymore, but still has plenty of wear left in it.

So hop on over and check the tutorial out! Not only is it quick and easy, but it's also an ideal project for beginner sewists. Seriously, Tyger has barely taken her version off since we made it!