Clean up

Since it was a stinking hot 40 C here in Melbourne town yesterday, I decided that it would be an excellent time to sit down and do some long overdue blog tidying up. I've given myself a brand spanking new logo, got rid of the "Link Within" boxes, as I felt they added nothing but clutter and also updated my side bar links. Whaddy'all think? Nothing like a good clean up, I say.

And speaking of cleaning up, we discovered yesterday that some pesky pantry moths had made our little food cupboard their home. Dastardly creatures! I'm pretty sure they came home with us in rice from the bulk bins at a food co-op, as the same thing happened last time I bought rice from them, back when we were living in our old rented home. So much for being green and trying not to create any waste - I may have saved myself a plastic bag from not buying rice, but yesterday saw the binning of lots of food the little s#!%s had gotten into. Good times, good times...

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The Floral Etro 8184

Jorth sat at her computer, staring with a slight frown at the monitor. What, oh what should she name her new dress. "Think, Jorthy, think!" she muttered. "It was going to be my contingency plan dress for the Tessuti Christmas party, in case my other one didn't work out, so maybe I could call it The Contingency Dress. But, alas, the word 'contigency' always makes me think of the word incontinence, and we don't want any of those connotations. So I think we'll scratch that idea out."

Staring aimlessly at the wall, she was suddenly hit with an idea: "Maybe I could call it my Christmas Day Mass dress. After all, it did have it's debut there, and that lovely older German man called Wolfgang who sat next to me did comment on how nice it looked. Oh gah, that name won't fly - much too pious. Maybe Wolfgang Liked? Oh heavens, that will never work!"

She drummed her fingers lightly on the keyboard, and thought as hard as she could. However, it didn't take long before her thoughts began to slither away from the subject at hand. "I wonder if rock stars have as much trouble naming their albums... gosh it's been a long time since I bought a decent record...I'm certainly not buying any of that Lady GaGa crap... I detest anybody who thinks a dress made of meat is cool... oh yeah, I really should buy some veggie burgers for tomorrow's Australia Day bike ride and bbq..."

Suddenly Grumbles stuck her head around the corner. "Mum! Have you finished your blog yet? C'mon, I want to go to the library!"

"Sure, honey!" answered Jorth, and with a slightly defeated sigh slowly typed in The Floral Etro 8184. "Bugger it!", she thought as she clicked Publish Post. Like time, Grumbles and the library waits for no man.

EtroFlowerDress

Project Details
Pattern: Vogue 8184
Fabric: "Repeat The Love", a floral Etro linen from Tessuti Fabrics. I used 1.5m
Notions: 35cm zip

Just to jazz things up a little, I created centre-based straps. I'm quite happy with them - in particular how such a simple alteration can really change the look of a pattern. And we all know how much I love an 8184 - you just can't go wrong with this pattern! It's got such a gorgeous 50's style shape, and the skirt is pefect, absolutely perfect for riding my bike in!

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The "Well Read" Striped Singlet

Singlet1

Singlet3

Singlet2

Project Details
Pattern: Self drafted singlet top
Fabric: 80cm of "Candy's Cane" jersey from Tessuti Fabrics

I wanted a nice easy summery singlet to wear for those awful sticky days where it's just too darn hot to even think about what you want to wear. I'm thinking this little self-drafted number fits the bill nicely!

I loosely based the shape on my pj top (shhh! don't tell!) but added the 'go faster' stripes on the side to give the top a tad more niftyness. I think it works in rather well with the striped bias neck binding, and elevates it from 'plain old singlet top' to something a little more special.
The only thing I would change for next time is to make the armholes slightly lower. Just a cm or 2, but I think it will make it that little bit more comfortable. What do you guys think?

Note: pics taken by myself and Grumbles in the State Library of Victoria. Love that domed reading room!

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Another produce box!

Muffins!

Lookey here - what's in the produce box this week? We received mushrooms, pumpkin, kale, broccoli, radishes (again!), carrots, pak choy, sugar snap peas, zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, onions, bananas, apricots, nectarines and peaches.

Our breakfasts and lunches will remain the same as last week, and for dinner it looks like we'll be having the following:

Wednesday - Vegetable black bean stir fry
Thursday - Kale and mushroom pie
Friday - Sweet pumpkin and lentil salad with banana lassi
Saturday - Rack of lamb with honey mashed pumpkin and carrots
Sunday - Mascarpone and lemon pasta with broccoli and green salad
Monday - Ratatouille pies with salad
Tuesday - Spicy carrot fritters with potato salad and roasted tomatoes

Grumbles and I also made a batch of mixed berry yoghurt muffins, loosely based on the recipe from Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. Man, they were goooood!

And for the person last week who requested the recipe for the poached apricots, then here's the secret: Make a light sugar syrup of 1 cup brown sugar to 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil with a vanilla bean, then add as many halved apricots as you like. Poach gently for 5ish minutes, then take off the heat to cool. Voila - with yoghurt it's a perfect breakfast!

What's on the menu at your place this week?

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Finally - a finished pink baby shrug!

Do you remember, all the way back in (good grief!) October, me banging on about starting this:

Pink Baby Shrug

Well, not only did I finish it, but it has found it's way to one special little girl in Switzerland, who reportedly is very warm and snuggly in it. Hooray!

Pink Baby Shrug - finished

Project Details
Pattern: Baby Shrug by Debbie Bliss (you can get a free copy of the pattern right here!)
Yarn: 2 balls of Sublime Organic Merino Wool DK in "Soap" from Morris & Sons
Needles: 4mm and 4.5mm

Great little knit - it was super easy to knit up, and the yarn was so scrumptiously soft to work with. And since you only use 2 balls, it makes for a fairly economical baby gift - even if you plump for the fancy schmancy yarn (I couldn't resist!) Watch out, pregnant friends - you may very well find yourselves gifted with one of these!

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Produce box - nom nom nom!

Vanilla Poached Apricots

This year we have decided to get a weekly organic fruit and veg box delivered. I was soooooo excited when I received it last night. It was better than Christmas! Grumbles and I dove in, excited to see what seasonal produce lay therein.

There was: beetroot, an iceberg lettuce, french beans, mushrooms, broccoli, yellow squash, a bunch of spinach, a bunch of radishes, half a Jap pumpkin, loads of carrots, zucchini, at least a kilo of tomatoes, potatoes, cherries, plums, nectarines, bananas and apricots. What an awesome box!

But what to do with all this treasure? What I needed was a plan - a menu plan. So this morning I armed myself with my favourite recipe books, and came up with this list:

Breakfasts: Grated carrot, sliced tomato and avocado on wholemeal toast; vanilla poached apricots (see pic above) with greek yoghurt; mashed bananas and cinnamon on toast; muesli with fresh fruit; beany stew with cheese on toast.

Lunches: Either leftovers from the previous night, or soup and a salad sandwich. I always have soup in the freezer. At the moment there is curried pea and lettuce or minestrone to choose from. Such a good way to use up those sad veggies left lying around at the end of the week.

Dinners:
Wednesday - Spinach and mushroom crepes with green salad
Thursday - Curried bean and pumpkin veggie burgers, with coleslaw and crunchy potatoes
Friday - Jambalaya with mushrooms, and a garden salad
Saturday - Chilled coconut and carrot soup, followed by eye fillet with roasted oregano tomatoes and beetroot couscous
Sunday - Green bean, potato and carrot tostadas with refried beans and lime sour cream
Monday - Creamy broccoli pasta with garden salad
Tuesday - Zucchini, squash and ricotta filo roll with mashed pumpkin

The only thing that didn't find its way into a recipe are the radishes. Try as I might, I just can't warm to them. However, I have made a pledge to waste as little as possible this year, so I shall do the noble thing and... shove them into the Galumph's lunchbox. Shhhh - don't tell!

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Drape Drape 2 dress for Grumbles

You didn't really think that Grumbles would allow her mum to have a snazzy Drape Drape 2 dress and not get in on the action herself, did you?

GrumblesDrapeDrape2#2

The pattern was easy to redraft for Grumble's size - I simply found a singlet pattern in an old copy of Ottobre Magazine, and used it as the foundation. The fabric was left over from making this top. Austerity crafting at its best!

The only downside is that as soon as Grumbles sees me in my Drape Drape dress, she races downstairs and dons hers. And then proceeds to tell every aquaintance that we meet that we're wearing the same dress. It's a tad too matchy-matchy for my liking, but heaven help me - I wouldn't kill her buzz for the world.

Project Details
Pattern: Redrafted Dress #2 from Drape Drape 2, made to fit Grumbles
Fabric: "Original Wally", a cotton blend jersey from Tessuti Fabrics

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Drape Drape 2 dress

Okey dokey, so it's confession time: I actually made this dress from the Drape Drape 2 book a couple of months ago, but with all the surrounding hecticness that is the yuletide/end of school/summer holidays season I gosh dang forgot to get Galumph to photograph it. Thankfully Grumbles was able to step into the breach and get a-clicking for me.

Drape Drape 2 #2

Truly, it is amazing that I haven't had a photo taken of this dress before now because I wear it all the blooming time! It's so comfy, but I always feel quite snazzy and dressed up in it. Can't really ask too much more from a summer frock!

As for making it up, it was a cinch. I was a wee bit nervous beforehand, as the book and all the instructions are in Japanese, but the step-by-step diagrams were so clear and obvious that I had no trouble at all. If you can sew, you can definitely make up a Japanese pattern. I think this dress took me all of, say, two hours. Not too shabby!

Project Details
Pattern: Dress #2 from Drape Drape 2
Fabric: 1.5m of "Jelly Orbit" from Tessuti Fabrics (the Jelly is now sold out, but other colours at the time of writing are still available)

PS: Thanks Grumbles for taking the photos. You've done a splendid bang up job!

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Resolve

Leaves

It appears to be that time of year again - the time to get out a fresh sheet of paper and a newly-sharpened pencil, and to jot down the resolutions for the year. With that, of course, comes hopefully a modicum of self-analysis: Who am I? What do I want to do this year? Who, exactly, do I want to be? And above all else, can I?

So here are mine, pretty much off the top of my head although they have been percolating around the noggin for a few weeks now. Fingers crossed I stick with them!

Year of Frugality
Much to the groans, but then agreement, of the Galumph, I proposed a year of frugality. We both want to just knuckle down and pay as much extra off our mortgage as we can, so we have decided to watch the pennies a whole lot more. I think the key to this being a success is to be more organised. Last year, for example, I got into the habit of buying lunch on the days I worked. Nice as that was, those lunches sure added up. This year I will make sure I always have a little something stashed away in the freezer to take in, rather than duck out to take away.

I'm sure there are a thousand more little ways we can make our dollars stretch further this year. I just need to figure them out, and apply them.

Stash Busters!
This is tying in with the Frugality pledge. I have loads of fabric and yarn sitting in my bureau at home, so I want to try and make up as many of those as I can rather than buying things for new projects. Fear not - I shall treat myself as the need/uncontrollable want occurs, but there are plenty of wannabe projects already hiding away in my cupboard that require my attention first.

Waste Control
I have a zealot's burning desire to minimise to the nth degree how much our household wastes. To this end we are looking at a composting solution to cut down on our food scrap waste (looks like a wormie bin will be the way to go), and I'm trying to avoid packaging as much as possible.

Plastic Free
Apart from necessities (medicine, deodorant etc) I'm trying to go all out for plastic free this year. Milk will be the exception, as it's simply too hard to find in glass bottles, and the plain plastic bottles are the most easily recycled. I was doing pretty well with my plastic free pledge, but the sneaky bugger has snuck his way back in to my home again. No more, say I, no more!

Oil Free
Another green goal is to further reduce my reliance on oil. It's running out, you know, so the quicker we can take steps to reduce oil consumption now, the better off we will be in the future. For my family this means remaining car-free, eating as locally as we can (joining a local box scheme has already occurred), purchasing only locally made goods and reducing our energy usage.

Just Keep Sewin'
Last year was a personal record buster on the sewing front. Apart from one dress (aw c'mon - it was on sale!) some pjs and bathers, I made all my own clothes. This year I want to keep on keeping on - and with that stash busting pledge it looks like I shall have to!

Click that Shutter Button
I'd really like to improve my photography this year. Last year was pretty good, but I know I can do better. I can definitely do it more often, for starters!

Don't You Have a Blog or Something?
Yes, I do, but I'm not sure you could tell by the amount of updating I did in the second half of the year. Please allow me a moment to hang my head in shame. So much for my update every day pledge - phwmph! I do enjoy writing my blog, so this year I'm aiming for regular updating rather than locking myself into a daily pledge. I want to be reliable for both my sake, and yours.

Hey There, Chicken Arms!
A few weeks ago Grumbles was trying to do cartwheels on a lawn. Poor kid couldn't do one to save herself, so I sauntered over to show her how it's done. Um, wake up call: My upper arm strength is so feeble that I could barely manage one myself. I was rather shocked - I thought doing a cartwheel would be like getting up off the couch - a simple action that I wouldn't even have to think about. Ruh roh. So after that blistering moment of enlightenment, I've been doing push ups every morning. Granted I can only manage half a dozen at the moment before collapsing nose first onto the floor and begging for mercy, but I'll get there.

So there are pledges for the year. Watch out 2011 - here comes a greener, fiscally enhanced and superbly toned upper armed Jorth!

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