Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I'm a silly sausage!

What?! 6 months since I last took the time to post here?! Outrageous!
But let me explain.


Just over a year ago I uploaded a couple of weaving videos to Youtube. I was just interested in sharing, considering I don't actually know any real life weavers, I suppose I was welling up with excitement at all my weaving discoveries. And sharing is fun!

So, what happened? Well, very unexpectedly, the videos were well received. People started subscribing to my channel and talking about them in Facebook weaving groups. And they're still subscribing and talking!

All of the enthusiasm and positive feedback inspired me to make more videos. The rest, as they say, is history! 

I now have two Youtube channels. One is free to watch, the other is on a paid subscription basis. I started the paid channel because many (most) of my videos take hours in the planning, filming, editing and instructing. Plus the cost of all the materials. I have made the channel affordable and aim to have a huge library of videos available to subscribers, as well as exciting projects, techniques and the occasional giveaway. It's the place that I'm happy to give away my weaving secrets :) I'm really pleased that many have joined this new channel and hope that it grows over the next year. 

Growing the dream. 
All of the above has allowed me to hope a little more that my dreams may be possible. I may eventually be able to move past the "pocket money" stage of online teaching into the "actual income" stage. I may be able to start teaching real life classes.
And ultimately, one day, I may be able to have my own teaching studio. Big ask, I know!

in 2017 I'll be putting a lot of work into my paid channel. Doing videos for both channels this year has been rewarding in many ways, but in addition to my homeschooling commitments I have found myself a little burnt out and suffering some niggly health conditions at this end of the year. I feel I spent way too much precious time sitting at the computer! So, the paid channel will be my main focus next year. 

If you haven't seen my channels yet, you can find the free one here and the paid channel here.

I hope you had a most blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!

I'll try to make it here more often, really I will...


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Honeycomb without the calories


The title is a little misleading, I am, of course referring to the weave structure honeycomb rather than something edible. 

It is a gorgeous structure though, and one that is easy to achieve despite the fact that it looks quite involved. 

Check out my latest video series on weaving honeycomb on a rigid heddle loom.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Tapestry style weaving on the rigid heddle loom


Another busy day where my thoughts turned to weaving and the temptation was to declare myself "too tired to weave". I couldn't bear to think of calculating and planning a project. 
So I didn't.

I put a short warp on the loom and started to weave.


No real plan, just wanted to weave. Then I made some videos, so you too can weave like this.
Enjoy!

The first video can be found on my Youtube channel.

Friday, May 20, 2016

New weave along series!

I'm so excited to be announcing my very first weave along! Officially it started a couple of days ago but participants are welcome to join in anytime. We will be making a lovely tote bag and instructions will be given from start to finish. I've been wanting to do this for ages and considering the response I've had on Facebook, lots of other enthusiastic weavers are loving the idea.


The introductory video can be found here and if you subscribe to my channel you can keep up with all the other videos as we go along.

There is also a very active Facebook group you can join to discuss the weave along, share photos and trouble shoot as necessary.

Hope you can join in the fun!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Life and Learning at home

This last week, the little one has had a nasty cold which means we have spent a bit more time at home than usual. This is a good thing! To wake up and have the day just waiting and full of potential.

Every now and then I write down some of the things we've done in a day. Especially if I'm feeling the kids haven't focused enough on academics or, the ever gnawing feeling at many a homeschool Mum, that they haven't learned enough.

Today it was challenging to write that list, there was too much! I thought I'd share with you some of what we did to give an idea of an average day and to show you that even if you don't feel like you've done a lot, it's pretty amazing when you reflect back.


Slip knots. The little one learned to make a slip knot from her sister and is now happily slip knotting everything in sight!

The list is randomly arranged and outlines activities that have happened at home today.

Knitting project, piano practice, music reading (the 2 older girls are teaching themselves from a book), baking, garden work and planning, animal care and lots of animal hugs, pats and trick teaching, World War II history, Ancient history, writing practice, Kahn academy, online physics game, singing practice, reading novels in bed, English, spelling and phonics, science - a lesson on reptiles and a fun activity that involved the taping of fingers to create webbed feet, prayer and religious education, library visit, grocery shopping where the girls used the self checkout to purchase, free play, drawing, movie watching, and chores.


And how could I not mention standing on your head? There are some in our family who must be upside down for at least a part of the day!








Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Youtube channel update

I think I forgot to mention that I have some new videos on my Youtube channel! Firstly I have an overview of tools used in rigid heddle weaving. 



Another is an explanation of sett, which can be confusing to new weavers. The next is how to determine sett for your project. And then, just for fun I have a slideshow of some of my weaving to inspire you!

I have so many ideas for more videos, but there are limiting factors - chiefly lack of time and money! I'll keep building where I can and I do have what I hope will be a really exciting series of videos planned, so stay tuned for more information!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Whey, sourdough, yeasted - what should I call this bread recipe!

I've been playing around a lot in the kitchen lately. Grinding grain, making lots of good food from scratch, preserving, culturing, what fun!

I made this bread as an experiment today and it was a success. It's a little unconventional in the combination of ingredients, but it works, so here is the recipe!



Whey Loaf (I decided on a simple title!)

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients
450 grams wholemeal flour (freshly ground if possible)
50 grams rye flour
500 grams white plain flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup sourdough starter
200ml whey, room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
500ml warm water

Method

Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add sourdough starter and whey. Start up your mixer with a dough hook (or mix with wooden spoon if mixing by hand). Mix honey and oil with warm water and gradually add to mix. Continue to mix on low for 10 minutes, or mix by hand until combined and then knead for 10 minutes or until elastic.

Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with glad wrap. Allow to double in size (usually an hour depending on the weather).

Divide dough into 2 loaves and shape either into bread tins or into rounds on a tray. If using tins, be sure to oil them or for trays, use good quality baking paper to avoid any sticking. Cover with glad wrap once again and allow to sit for another 45 minutes - 1 hour.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 250 degrees (C).
Slash tops of loaves with a sharp knife or razor blade and place in oven. Set the timer for 5 minutes. 
Turn oven down to 220 deg (C) and bake for a further 30 minutes*.
Turn out and cool on wire rack.

* Due to the wholemeal flour, your loaves may brown more than you would like. If they start to brown too much, cover with a large piece of foil for the remainder of the baking time.




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Labneh

I may have a new addiction. Labneh. I made some from my homemade yoghurt and all I can say is wow. If you've never tried it you really should!


I started with 1 kg homemade yoghurt. I've detailed one method here and my current preferred method here for making your own yoghurt.

I have written instructions for labneh in the past but I like this way of doing it more, it's easier and it makes more sense to use a colander.


So, you have your large square of muslin lining the colander and just dump your yoghurt in the middle. Have the colander set over a bowl or container to catch the whey.

To keep the muslin tidy and to let gravity work for you, tie the corners of the cloth loosely around a wooden spoon handle so that it is slightly suspended. 


Place in the fridge and leave for 24 hours. Make sure your bowl or container is big enough to collect the whey, or pour off the whey occasionally so it doesn't overflow (don't get rid of it though, it's precious! More of that in a future post.)
Unwrap the labneh. Stir in half a teaspoon of good salt and whip it up a bit with a fork. Now it's ready to store in an airtight container in the fridge. There are so many ways to use it - my favourite is to spread generously on a slab of homemade bread drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil or to place globs of it in a yummy salad. You can roll balls of it in herbs and place in olive oil. Just digging a spoon into it is a major temptation! 

With homemade yoghurt, labneh is a mild, creamy, healthy delight that you may well find as addictive as I do!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Whole wheat raspberry and banana hot cakes


I got a grain mill! Yes, the 10 year wait was worth it, but more about that later. Today I have a recipe to share that I made with my first batch of freshly ground wheat. Wow, what a blessing to have food that nutritious and delicious!


This was my healthy lunch experiment for the kids and they turned out so beautifully! The children quickly became like lions to the prey, they absolutely loved them. Moist, fluffy and so healthy!


Ingredients

4 cups of freshly ground whole wheat flour (or packaged whole wheat flour)
2 tablespoons LSA mix (ground linseed, sunflower and almond)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 egg whites, beaten until stiff
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup of date syrup or honey
1 over ripe banana, mashed
3 cups milk (full fat, low fat or skim are fine)
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1/2 cup raspberries (I used frozen)

Method

Place all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 
Beat egg whites until stiff.
Whisk together egg yolk, syrup (or honey), banana, milk and yoghurt. 
Pour these wet ingredients into the dry and mix thoroughly. Fold in the beaten egg whites along with the raspberries.
Fry in a hot, non stick pan or a regular pan with a little rice bran oil to prevent sticking. 

Serve warm. I served with a dollop of yoghurt, dusting of icing sugar, raspberries and drizzled with maple syrup.
For a special dessert these would be awesome with whipped cream or ice-cream and raspberry coulis. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Surface embroidery on 5/1 Spot Lace for a Rigid Heddle Loom




This is the companion video to the one on spot lace. It shows how you can take your weaving further by using surface embroidery techniques. Easy to follow, easy to do but visually stunning!

Friday, April 8, 2016

5/1 spot lace on a rigid heddle loom





I'm doing well with the videos this week! This one is for 5/1 spot lace and is a companion video for another new one on surface embroidery.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Prickly Pear syrup recipe




I've been doing some research into Navajo natural dyeing techniques - prickly pear fruit with it's fabulous, vivid magenta to strong pink colour would be an obvious choice. 

I was afraid of the possible, painful consequences of harvesting the fruit, but following some instruction from my somewhat experienced husband, I went ahead and I'm so glad I did. Harvesting and preparation instructions are here.

Not only did I pick and prepare enough fruit to start my yarn dyeing experiment, I also came up with a delicious syrup! Here is the recipe for you:



Ingredients:
1.1kg ripe prickly pear fruit
500grams white sugar
1 teaspoon citric acid

Method:
When the fruit is prepared and peeled (see harvesting and preparation method here) chop each fruit into 3 and blend in a food processor. No food processor? Place in a bowl and mash really well with a potato masher. Place a strainer or colander over a large saucepan. Strain the juice, leaving the seeds in the strainer. Use a spoon to push through all that goodness. 
Once you have your juice, add the sugar and citric acid. Warm over a low heat until sugar in dissolved, then increase heat to medium until the liquid comes to a light boil. Boil for no more than 5 minutes.
Allow to cool, poor into a glass bottle or similar and keep in the fridge.



Uses:
Can be used as a cordial, just mix with water, mix with mineral water and ice for a refreshing drink, drizzle over ice-cream, yoghurt, pancakes, waffles or fruit salad. Anything you would use a fruit syrup for, this syrup can be used.

Hope you enjoy it!


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Harvesting and preparation of prickly pear fruit.

Ouch! Yep, those little spikes hurt and there are plenty of them. But don't let that deter you - the prickly pear has delicious fruit and you can even eat the paddles (leaves also known as napales) but in my opinion that is an acquired taste, as in, one that I personally have not acquired!


What you need:

Good quality kitchen/washing up gloves. The good quality part is important, they are tougher! *See note.
A plastic bucket
Long handled tongs
Small, sharp paring knife
A large mixing bowl or similar to put your peeled fruit into.
Plastic bag
Water

What to do:

This first part is completed outside.

Half fill your bucket with water. Stand back from the cactus (the long handled tongs give you further reach). The hair like spines (glochids) will begin to come off as soon as your tongs touch the fruit, so be aware of where they are falling. For this reason it is better not to harvest on a really windy day.
Grabbing the fruit with the tongs, give a twist or two and place the fruit straight into the bucket. Continue this process until you have the number you require. Make sure the water is covering the fruit.

Now tip the water out, somewhere that no one is likely to walk or weed etc. Using a hose, spray water into the bucket onto the fruit, covering it once more. Tip out once again. You can repeat the spray and tip one more time (I do).

Put on your gloves. If your gloves are strong you should be fine to pick up the fruit now. Cut off each end and make a slit down the centre with the knife. Begin to peel back the skin from the slit until it is all removed. Place the skin either back in the bucket or straight into the plastic bag. Place the peeled fruit into the bowl. Continue for all fruit.

Now you can take the fruit inside to use. I give one last rinse in water just in case there are any remaining spikes. It is delicious fresh or there are lots of interesting recipes to try (I have a prickly pear syrup recipe coming soon!)

Clean up:
I throw all the peelings into the regular rubbish bin in a plastic bag. As far as I know, the peelings can not be composted due to the spines - I certainly don't want them ending up in my compost. If you have successfully composted peelings, I would be most interested to know.



* I used good quality kitchen gloves to prepare the fruit. After working in the kitchen with the peeled fruit, I went back outside to clean up the peelings. However, I put on a different pair of kitchen gloves, a lower quality, thinner pair. As soon as I touched the bucket with the peelings, I got spiked. So it really is worth having the good quality gloves!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Shop update





I've had a huge shop update! There are heaps of colours and bases of yarn to choose from, including some I haven't offered previously.   
Get a head start on your Winter knitting and head over to my shop for a look at all the new, squishy goodies :)



Thursday, March 3, 2016

Krokbragd Tulips on a rigid heddle loom





Another video I just finished, still on the krokbragd theme but this time weaving some cool tulips!


I'm having so much fun experimenting with krokbragd, there are just so many possibilities :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Beginner's Krokbragd





My newest video is on krokbragd for beginners. It's not the best video I've made - it was late, it was hot and I was tired. But I think it's passable, I hope you think so too!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Honey and oat soap


I had my first go at making a soap with some add - ins. Up until now I had stuck to my "cheats" castile recipe but thought it was time for something a bit different. It was really no more difficult than making a regular batch.


I'm surprised at the beautiful rich colour the bars have turned just from the addition of honey and ground oats. And it smells as good as it looks, with no artificial additives. I can't wait until it has cured long enough to use.


The recipe is from this really great book I borrowed from the library, there are heaps of recipes in here I want to try. 


I was so enthused by my last batch that I saw this new book for sale and jumped on it. Actually, it's not really "me", the recipes are a bit more complicated than I want to achieve and it just doesn't ooze the simplicity that the other book has. Now I wish I had bought the library one instead, ah well, that's impulse buying for you!



Saturday, February 20, 2016

How to make a heddle rod on a rigid heddle loom





My newest video is ready for viewing! It is a tutorial on how to make a heddle rod, which makes weaving with more than one pick up stick on the rigid heddle loom so much easier!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Natural homemade deodorant

I wrote this recipe on my blog years ago as part of another post but it's hard to find and people are constantly asking me for the recipe.



1/4 cup bicarb soda (baking soda)
1/4 cup cornflour
4 tablespoons organic virgin cold pressed coconut oil 
10 drops essential oil (optional)

Mix all ingredients together until creamy. If the oil is solid it can be melted with heat to combine with the dry ingredients more readily. After your daily shower, just rub about a choc dot sized amount of paste onto the armpit area. In hot weather, your deodorant will melt unless kept in a cool spot, I keep mine at the bottom of the cupboard in the ensuite which is a very cool room so mine only melts on really hot days. If it does melt, it won't affect the quality, just give it a stir and pop it in the fridge until solid again.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

It's cheap, it's healthy, it's No Bake Date Slice!


I love medjool dates but unfortunately, at around $20 a kilo they're a bit much for our modest budget. I thought I'd start experimenting with the much cheaper (at $2.99kg) dried, packaged, pitted dates.
And I've had success! This is a delicious, healthy and economical treat. I love to have a piece in the middle of the day or in the afternoon with a cup of tea and the children love it too.


Recipe

40 dried and pitted dates
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup rolled oats
1.5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 - 3 tablespoons date syrup *see method

Place dates in a large bowl and add enough hot water to just cover the dried fruit. Soak for at least an hour, longer is fine.
Strain dates, reserving liquid. *This liquid is your date syrup.

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend thoroughly. 

Press the processed mixture into a tin or container lined with non stick baking paper (I use a bread loaf tin). Let the baking paper fall over the edges of the tin, this makes it easy to pick up later. The back of a spoon is useful for pressing. Sprinkle with extra coconut if desired.

Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set. Take out of tin using the edges of the baking paper to pick it up. Cut into squares and keep in an airtight container in the fridge.

Note: Date syrup is also delicious on yoghurt if you have leftovers and can also be used as a sweetener or topping for fruit.





Monday, February 15, 2016

The Simple Life

It's quite a popular topic nowadays, the "simple life" and how to obtain it. Do some people spend so much time pursuing this so called simplicity and their ideal of what that is that they miss the point entirely? 

Is the simple life about living the dream or living the reality? The dream for me is a country property and earning a good income through a  handmade business. The reality is suburbia, traffic, very little time to devote to a business of any kind and a very limited budget. But that's not the point, right? 



The point is, what can I do right now to live the simple life given my circumstances? 

I was pondering the simple life and what simplicity means to me. It occurred to me that one of the most rewarding parts of simple living is that you can take very little and turn it into something 
special.


Home made bread for example. Usually 4 ingredients. Inexpensive, ordinary ingredients. Add time, love, technique and you have something awesome.



Weaving is another example. With threads and a loom I can make the most beautiful variety of things.



Soap making? Once again, very few ingredients. A bit of time and attention and you have a whole batch of creamy, natural soap for your family.

That property in the country may or may not ever happen, in the meantime I will try to be grateful for all I have and all I can do. And if it does happen, I guess I'll be well prepared :)


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Finished twill towels


Hooray, the towels are finished!


All on the same warp but each one a little different.


I'm quite taken with twill as a weave structure, I had the idea that it might be a little stiff, but it's beautifully soft and supple.


The range of variations is amazing!





You can read more about the making of the towels in my previous post.

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn along.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Weaving twill towels and a fluffy "assistant"


I've been having a bit of fun with some towels this week. I warped with a natural cotton and threaded for twill. This is just one twill variation.


Once you've threaded in twill, there are a lot of variations to try. This one is extended twill with a black weft.


Straight up twill with a blue weft.


And here we have extended twill with red weft.


This is what I came across this morning. Note the chewed thread in the mouth. I posted this on a weaving group on Facebook and set off a whole series of naughty kitty photos, it was very amusing. It seems that looms are a magnet for cats! Thankfully the cloth was not damaged, I just had to cut the affected thread and start a new one. Could have been a lot worse!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bite your tongue Mum.

"You are such a naughty child!"

"Sometimes I wonder whether you will ever learn anything!"

"Are you kidding me, you tipped it over again?!"

"What is wrong with you?!"

"You have ruined my day!"

"Why can't you be like your brother/sister?"

"You make me so angry!"

Gosh, aren't they nasty statements? 

Well, I've thought of all of these, quite regularly in fact. The worst part is I've even said some of them to my children. 

It's really hard to not verbalise these thoughts sometimes. But I look upon it like this. I'm storing up treasures. These treasures are especially for my children. Each time I bite my tongue is a little victory. Yes, for me, but so much for them.

They may not know about your interior struggle but they will remember your words. 5, 10, 20, how ever many years down the track, they will remember your words and how you made them feel.
I know this. You know this.

Is it time for you to start storing some treasure too?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Madam Tickleberry's tea party

The little one and I had some special time alone recently - a rare occasion. I decided we needed to do something really fun.



I can't tell you how much she loved this. The letter in the cubby house mailbox, dressing up, the character changes, the secret preparations and then the fun of decorating and eating!


There were no rules, I just gave her the biscuits, different colours of icing and some lollies. No, the biscuits aren't home baked but it was way too hot for baking.


Perfect to enjoy with a milk shake at the end.



We polished off our special time with a very long Enid Blyton reading session with no interruptions from other children, she had all my attention. She loved it.

It's not an easy task, particularly if you have a large family, to allow one on one time, but I feel it's something really worthwhile. You get to spend time with one child, they get your full attention (a real novelty in this house!) and you enjoy each other's company in a way that feels really special, it's like a mini retreat!