Sunday, August 31, 2014

A little behind the times

I believe I've said this many times before on this blog, but one of the best things about moving house in winter is finding out whats in the garden come spring.


Behold, a wee banksia rose. Its on a very un-wee bush on our deck. In about 3 more days, the bush is going to be smothered with these tiny, delicate, lemon flowers. There are also fruit tree blossoms, who knows what sort yet - definitely apple (first flowers out today!) and maybe a stonefruit. Its definitely spring. Its sunny and warm and there is blossom and magnolias in bloom, and its clearly spring.

 Thus, I cast on a jumper. Hmmm. To be honest, given my current knitting rates of completion, I'm pretty safe that this won't be done until next winter.

Its a lovely pattern - Flowing Lines by Veera Välimäki ; they are Ravelry links. The yarn is (as almost always at the moment), Cascade 220. I bought it at a fabulous yarn shop here in Hobart called the Stash Cupboard, which is delightful and potentially debt-inducing.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Recently my mum came to visit, replete with lemons. So I made a big jar of preserved lemons, a big jar of lemon curd (my most successful yet! So delicious). And some lemon slice. Now, I've never had much success with anything other than lemon cake - usually its all too eggy for my liking. Lemon delicious, lemon pudding, all of those. But I thought I'd give this one a try and I'm so glad -its scrumptious (although the kids won't eat it, so I've overindulged a little, I'm afraid).
If you have a surfeit of lemons, then I'd highly recommend it - its crispy on the bottom, soft and fluffy on top, and a lemon curd-y filling in between. And its super easy.
First, whiz up 100g plain flour, 35g icing sugar and 75g unsalted butter in an electric whizzer thing. It should look like dusty, fine breadcrumbs. Press it into a square tin (mine is 18cm), that you've lined with two strips of baking paper going crosswise that are quite long, so you can use the ends to lift the slice out of the tin. When you press it in, it'll seem like a disaster - it doesn't adhere at all. Don't fear - plonk it in the over at 180C for 12 - 15 minutes.
While that's happening, put 3 eggs, 275g caster sugar, and the grated zest of a lemon (I used  a very big lemon because apparently that's the only sort mum grows) in a bowl and mix with an electric beater or mixer. It'll go lovely and fluffy - start to pour in 150ml of lemon juice while you keep mixing. Watch out - it gets pretty liquid and splattery. Add in 50g plain flour (I just mixed it in with the beaters on low, it was a little messy but not too bad).
Tip this mix onto your base, plonk it back into the oven for 45 minutes (or less, in my case) until the top is set and a little crusty on the edges. Leave it to cool.
This is a nightmare to cut - the gooey lemon sticks to the knife. I'm sure if you were patient, you could rinse your knife each time, but if you're like me just hack away. The recipe has a photo with a slice of fig on the top of each piece. This is probably because as soon as you touch the top, the 'skin' (for want of a better word) adheres to your finger, leaving a hole. Personally, I don't care, and it'll keep better without fresh fruit on it.
Probably best eaten in the first day or two, but I've kept it in the fridge for a few days now and its fine (although better if you can plan ahead enough to take a piece out an hour or so before afternoon tea time so its not so cold).
Sorry, terrible photo. My food styling skills are abysmal. But you get the idea - goes well with a cup of tea.
 Gratuitous wattle picture, just because its yellow too. Seems like little signs of spring on the way!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


On the weekend, we took a drive to the Tasman Pensinsula. Its a very beautiful and rugged part of the Tasmanian coast - home to Port Arthur, one of the key convict settlements in Australia. We didn't go there, but stuck to the Neck (the little bit of land joining the peninsula to the mainland).
Tesselated pavement. You can see that the rock has formed very orderly squares. There was a great sign to explain how this happened (something to do with the rock, and geological movement, and salt crystals), but it was just spectacular. There were heaps of rockpools and we all had a great time exploring. The diversity of seaweed was amazing, from giant kelp to delicate sea lettuce.

During lunch I watched the cloud cycle around the top of this hill. Its not even particularly high, yet the cloud stayed there the whole day, just moving anticlockwise around the top

 Fossil Bay, near the blowhole (which wasn't up to much, unfortunately).

 The Devil's kitchen, which was our last stop and a suitably awe inspiring end to our little outing. You can't really tell how steep and deep it really was - I was too scared to hang my camera out over the fence much further!

B kept commenting that it felt like a mini-holiday - it definitely smelled like the coast and felt like we were on holiday. I haven't been to this area since I was in my teens (probably early teens I think). It wasn't at all what I remembered - sometimes much more dramatic and beautiful, sometimes smaller and less impressive.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Height of fashion

One loss in moving countries is houseplants. Just when you have grown them from cheap, tiny pots to lush, green monsters, you have to get rid of them and start again. Turns out that house plants (plants in general) are quite expensive in Australia, but I eventually found a punnet of six ferns at a garden centre for a reasonable price. Some have gone into pots for the less sunny rooms (one side of the house, with the bedrooms on it, gets no direct sunlight at all so its great for ferns and cyclamen and such). One got used for a terrarium experiment!
I'm sure you've seen these just about everywhere by now. I've always loved them, but thought they were a bit tricky. But then I kept seeing them, and came across a big jar at the op shop ($1.25! Thanks Salvos!) and took the plunge. I did some reading, then disregarded pretty much everything and decided it was pretty much just a big see through pot. The blue stones are a bit odd, but the only small bags of stones (less than 10 kg) at the garden centre were coloured, so in they went. Turns out, they kind of match some of the other stuff on the mantelpiece. The mantelpiece is probably the wrong place for it (too warm and dry thanks to the heater), however aesthetics are currently winning over pragmatics.

 It somehow has a vintage feel that seems to go with the period of the house (1940/50s), and I'm pretty happy with it. I'll keep you posted if it survives...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Norfolk

One of the best things about moving to somewhere you don't know is exploring. I know that in a few months, we'll starting getting into a routine, our weekends will become more planned, and we'll start having favourites - favourite places, parks, playgrounds, places to eat. But until then, we are forced, really, to explore. Its great. One of the best things about moving back to Tasmania is that I have a distant memory of places - roughly how far away they are, that they exist at all - and this makes it much easier than a totally unknown place. But turns out that most of my memories are pretty bad - either things have changed a lot, or my memory is very unreliable (or both)!

So last weekend we drove out to New Norfolk. Its about half an hour from Hobart, and feels like a world away - or as S said, a few decades away. It really does feel like its in the past. But its also a lot prettier than I remember. We had a great time - we found a lookout, pies for lunch (!), a walk along the river, another lookout, a playground (of sorts - really, just a swing but no-one seemed to care), and ducks. Also a stack of antique shops (turns out 3 and 5 year olds aren't really into antique shops), an amazing shop called Flywheel (I got to windowshop - I'm thinking that a return visit all by myself might be called for!).

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Lost treasures

So when we left Australia, I left a bunch of stuff with my parents for safekeeping. Now that we're back, that stuff has come back to me. Its funny - some of it I'm really glad to have back and some of it I can't see why I held onto it. Some of it I don't remember much at all, other things feel like part of me.
Amongst the books and blankets and knick knacks, I found a bag with a quilt top in it. A hand-pieced quilt top. I really don't remember much about making this, although I do  remember trying to work out a design that would use all of the large square fabric (I think its a William Morris repro).

I would have made this in the early 2000's - I'd guess 2004 or 2005. And interestingly, I still really love it. It still feels a lot like me, although I'm a bit amazed that I hand-stitched the whole thing (including the border!).

This photo is to remind me how tidy my stitches were!

There was a large piece of backing fabric in the bag with it, which was not quite the right size, so I've now pieced that with a border and sandwiched the top and bottom with some lovely wool/cotton batting. Its nice to be finishing this at a time when I can afford a batting that I like, and not having to compromise given all the hours of work I must have put into this at some time!

So now there is just the quilting, which I'm both itching to get to and putting off (if that's possible!). It seems a shame to machine quilt given all the hand piecing, but then I'm not sure I have the time to hand quilt something these days. Is it better to machine quilt and have a useable quilt in a reasonable time?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Sunday Runday

So after the rain came the snow.

Then after the snow, came a brief patch of sun, so I went for my run. It was pretty spectacular.
 Also, although the snow was just through the trees, it was about 12 degrees - great weather for a run.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Not so bad

Its not so bad being unemployed*.I get to stay home with my youngest, and do the things I dream of doing when I'm at work and its cold and rainy.

*Actually, its driving me slightly bonkers, but there are wonderful moments like this.