February 25, 2013

Handprinted Fabric Swap

I've signed up to join the handprinted fabric swap organised by Leslie over at Maze & Vale. Just the motivation I need to get my fabric inks out of storage and get creative!

There's already 65 people signed up and still a few more days for you to join in the fun too. So many possibilities, I can't wait to get started!

Handprinted fabric by Seedpod Craft Studio

Handstamped fabric by Chez Chouke

Block stamping by Flora Douville

February 17, 2013


It seems that tomatoes have been generally slow to ripen this summer in our corner of the world. I've been reassured at least by other bloggers around Victoria who also commented on their still green tomatoes (such as here & here) ... I was starting to worry I'd somehow mucked up in my tomato patch nurturing this season!

But finally we have tomatoes ripe and ready to eat every day! The ones pictured above are Amish Paste (a fleshy variety similar to Roma's), Tiger Stripe (juicy & sweet, perfect for salads) and Brown Berries (the sweetest of all the cherry tomatoes I've tried). No Roma's ready yet, but I'm hoping they'll ripen in a big glut so I can make some sauce with them!

February 14, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Last year I planted two zucchini seeds... two zucchini plants sprouted... and for a good couple of months we were inundated with zucchini's. Nope, none of our friends needed any thank-you, they also had plenty coming from their gardens. Even if nothing else in their veg patch was doing too well, the zucchini's were thriving.

So this year, one seed, one plant and we're just starting to get a nice steady flow of the stripy green veg. Lovely. (Actually my inner nerd is telling me it's technically a fruit.)

Anyhow, the kids aren't rapt in them (and fair enough, neither was I as a kid) but luckily they're so easy to hide in all manner of things... bolognese sauce, fritters, frittata, soup and oh yes, chocolate muffins. Funnily enough they don't even question the little green flecks... clearly a minor detail.

What I'm looking for is chocolately goodness without too much sugar. Hence this is the recipe I've come up with. (Note, if you're a sweet tooth you might not find these sweet enough, but hey, my kids seem pretty happy with them!)

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

2 cups wholemeal plain flour
1/2 tsp baking power
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
2 tblsp cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup melted butter
1/3 cup coconut oil (or mild olive oil)
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 heaped cup of grated zucchini

Sift dry ingredients. Add to liquid ingredients and beat well. Stir in grated zucchini.
Pour into muffin pans (either use paper patty pans or simply grease well) and bake in a moderate oven for around 15 minutes.

February 9, 2013


Ooo la la, a new tablecloth! I bought this retro fabric before Christmas and I don't why I've taken so long to get around to hemming it. I love the splash of colour that it adds to the house!

It goes rather well with our dining chairs too (picked up for $3 each when our local community hall had a cleanout a couple of years ago).

February 4, 2013

Summer berry love

Sigh. Yesterday was the last day of the season at our local pick-your-own berries farm. I love berry season. From the beginning of December we start looking out for the 'open' signs with great anticipation... sometimes it's early in the month but some years the berries don't begin to ripen until just before Christmas. 

I love....
  • The sheer idyllic-ness of wandering along the lush green rows, popping ripe sun-warmed raspberries and blueberries straight into my mouth
  • That berries are super healthy - high in antioxidants and low in fructose 
  • Gobbling handfuls of berries that are less than half the cost you would usually pay at the greengrocer or supermarket
  • Accumulating a stash of frozen berries that will last us through the year - we mainly use them in smoothies and on my morning porridge (love my porridge - even in summer!)
We did go picking quite a few times this year... the kids are always keen at the start of the season but their enthusiasm waned somewhat... after a number of visits my 5 year old declared 'I hate berry picking, it's sooo boring'. Yep, I'm a mean mum!

February 2, 2013

Slow Living :: January

My monthly update of the little ways that I am living more slowly, simply and sustainably.

This idea is the inspiration of the lovely Christine over at Slow Living Essentials. Find out more on her original Slow Living Month by Month post.

At the start of this year I identified 4 areas of my life that I wanted to put more effort into: Grow, Create, Play, Breathe. Each of Christine's 9 categories fit into or overlap with mine, except perhaps Breathe - which is all about doing less, being mindful and looking after myself. Hence I'm going to include this as one of the categories as well.


{nourish} I've been making a big effort to cut out sugary snacks from my diet, eat more interesting and wholesome lunches (less sandwiches) and use some new ingredients. I've been trying recipes with quinoa (love this stuff!), I've swapped canola oil for coconut oil (see why here and here) and I'm trying out some low-sugar sweet treats

{prepare} We're lucky enough to live in a berry and cherry growing area, so for the past 6 weeks we've been visiting the pick-your-own orchards on a regular basis. I'm guessing we'd now have around 6 or 7kg of rasberries and blueberries in the freezer, a couple of kilos of pitted frozen cherries plus 10 jars of stewed cherries (one each month until the season starts again in December). I've also bottled around 10 litres of tomato passata and pasta sauce.

{reduce} As always, we've picked up a few secondhand bargains from op shops (kids clothes, shoes for hubby), garage sales (a fab Husky vest for hubby) and online trading sites (fencing wire).

{green} We received our electricity bill for the last quarter and were pleased to discover that our 2kw solar system has generated enough electricity to leave us with a $2 credit overall. Yay!

{grow} In the garden: Harvesting cucumbers, beans, basil, parsley, tomatoes (just!), kale, silverbeet and zucchini's. The sweetcorn is coming along nicely as are the potatoes. Just sown are broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, kale, lettuce, beetroot, tat soi, coriander and spring onions. In the paddock: 6 new sheep! Me: I've enrolled in an online course - Cert IV in Web-based Technologies.

{create} My main creative pursuit this month was starting this blog! I've been really enjoying taking more photos of day to day life too. Some sewing and knitting projects in the pipeline but with school holidays going on there hasn't been time for these!

{discover} I've discovered Pinterest and I think I'm addicted! 

{enhance} As part of my Landcare work I've started compiling information for a North East Local Produce Guide - the guide has the aim of supporting local farmers as well as reducing 'food miles'/carbon emissions.

{enjoy} Loved our relaxing family holiday time camping at Lake Cullulleraine near Mildura (as we do every summer). Lots of kids craft activities going on during the holidays. A night out for dinner, just hubby and I, while the kids had a sleep-over at their cousins. The excitement of starting a new school and a new kinder!

{breathe} Enjoying reading books outside in the late afternoon, while guarding the veggie patch from the chooks. Having a  couple of weeks off work and enjoying time without any schedules or routines... and a few afternoon naps. Looking forward to going to the gym each day (my 'me' time). 

February 1, 2013

Meet our new arrivals


We are sheep owners again! This is our little flock of dorper x damara's.

With our livestock holdings now including both sheep and chooks, I think we're now officially smallholders! Although the sheep aren't actually grazing on our property yet... while we get our fences sorted, or friend and neighbour Barb, our is kindly babysitting them in her paddock.

This is the mob of sheep we choose our six from, on a farm near Chiltern, not far from us. I love all the pretty colours!

Both dorper's and damara's are breeds of African fat-tailed sheep that shed their wool - so no need for shearing or crutching. Quite different from the merino's that we had on the farm out west. Apparently they are very hardy sheep, a little like goats, and are excellent breeders and mothers.

This is Jeffery, our dorper ram. (No we didn't name him!)

And Rogan and Josh, the 1 year old wethers (boy sheep minus their testicles). Yes, they destined for our dinner table later in the year. Since we choose to eat meat, I'd rather know that the animals my meat comes from have had a good life. I'm all for knowing the story of where my food comes from - from paddock to plate!

The other three smaller sheep (hanging out at the back of the group in the first photo) are young recently weaned ewes that we will use for breeding when they're older. Hopefully in the coming years we can produce our own on-going source of meat.

Plus these sheep will reduce the amount of time and fuel that we need to spend on mowing the grass on our 5 acre block. Sustainability in action!

Meanwhile... little miss took quite a shine to the horses while we were busy loading sheep into the ute... hope she doesn't get any ideas!
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