Friday, August 29, 2008

How cool is this table top?!

I go to a wonderful Thai restaurant in Windsor at least once a week for stiry fry tofu. It has the most wonderful furniture. Here's my favourite table...You'll appreciate it's not a stellar pic, I had to take a sneaky shot:

Teapots are cool

I saw these on the awning (I think that's the right term) of a cafe in Hawthorn

And I've always used teapots as vases for cut flowers. Here's a tutorial of how you can use them to hold plants:

To Market, To Market....

Chris, Marni and I went to St Andrew's markets very early on saturday morning. Here's some shots:


Handmade jewelleryI love these windchimes made from recycled teapots and spoons. I'm inspired to make some of my own :-)

Ponies are so cool!

Yummy cakes and pastries....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We love milk crates!

(inspired by the efforts of Chris over the weekend)

Light installation rom Treehugger:

Milkcrate furniture from this site

Crate bookshleves from Flickr : (The description is worth a read as the author is desperate to state their fashionableness hehe)

tower of milk crates, zip-tied and strapped to the nursery wall by daddytypes.

BAnd how cool are these crate briefcases!
BriefcAndHow cool are these crate briefcases! how cool are these crate briefcases!ase
And how cool are these crate briefcases!

How cool are these crate briefcases!

And you can find milk crate art here including our very own Milk Crate Man!

Friday, August 22, 2008

today, tomorrow, next week...

I've had one of those half starter weeks at work where things kept changing and I seemd to be constantly waiting for things from poeple before I could finish them off. Three important meetings at work were rescheduled. The Craftea Chat group is going well although this week was a little big crazy but it was lovely to see everyone crafting and sharing their work and talking. There's been a few tangles to be worked through but overall it's been going very well. I've had alot of interest in the 'paddy wagon campaign' for making re-usable pads and I'll start some organising next week. I've finally finished that massive lot of orders for Polka Dot Rabbit goodies thank goodness, it was fun but certainly time consuming when accompanying a full time job. I've just got a few small orders to do and 5 pairs for the Frankie blog give away. I've felt quite weary over the last week and I'm really looking forward to the weekend.

Tonight Marni, Chris and I are going to A Minor Place for Tapas and I can't wait for a nice glass of red wine. It's tempted to get home a bit early and get started, I'm a bit too full from Tiramisu for Aqua Aerobics..... It's rather handy having a restaurant three minutes walk in your street!

Tomorrow morning we are going to St Andrews Markets. I'm looking forward to buying some fresh produce and some plants. Afterwards we are going hunting for wedding dress fabric. It's been tricky as the more summery fabrics are only just starting to come out. Fingers crossed! We ordered our wedding rings from the jeweller in her studio last week so that's one more thing off the list. They're sterling silver with a rose gold bit in the middle.

I'm invited to a party on Saturday night which I may or may not attend and my folks are coming over sunday for coffee which will involve cleaning the house. Gah. I hope to also do some writing on the weekend for my various pursuits.

I bought Chris a percussion set last night from Aldi (tamborine, maraccas, finger cymbals, triangle etc). I suspect I may live to regret it ;-)

S is for Sweet Potato!

Sweet potatoes are much loved by many people. The thing I find most fascinating about them is that they are as commonly used in sweet dishes as savory recipes. So without further ado...

Image from here

Sweet Potato Oven Fries


3 sweet potatoes- peeled, cut into narrow wedges
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
A few dashes of cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 450°F.

Gently toss potatoes, oil, salt and pepper in large bowl until potatoes are evenly coated. Divide potatoes between two large cookie sheets or jelly-roll pans. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sweet Potato Pie


  • 454 g sweet potato
  • 115 g butter, softened
  • 200 g white sugar
  • 120 ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 g ground nutmeg
  • 1 g ground cinnamon
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust


Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.

  1. Break apart sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.

  1. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping

4 large or 6 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled
2 tablespoons margarine
1/4 cup soy creamer or soymilk
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 cups chopped pecans
2 tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick spray (or wipe with canola oil).

Mash the sweet potatoes with the margarine until smooth. Add the soy creamer, orange juice, vanilla, sugar, maple syrup, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pour into prepared casserole dish.

Mix the topping ingredients together until well-combined. Spread or sprinkle over the casserole and bake for 45 minutes or until hot throughout.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

You can't go to school with your period!

Imagine missing about a week of school (or work) a month because you have your period.

In many areas of the world, access to adequate menstrual supplies is difficult to come by. Many women and girls rely on rags, newspaper, camel skin or nothing at all for their menstrual needs. A lack of sanitary pads can be a big barrier to a girl’s education.

I was recently told about Good 4 Girls a non-profit organisation who seek out donors to sew or purchase new, reusable menstrual pads for donations to areas of Africa where these products are needed most, such as schools and refugee camps in Sudan and Kenya.

Providing reusable supplies not only provides a more environmentally friendly alternative for these young women (in areas of adequate water supply for washing), it reduces their dependence on outside aid organizations to continue providing for their monthly needs.

I’m currently organising a sewing-bee to make a stack of reusable pads to be donated. Can’t sew? Maybe you can cut out patterns or iron seams or something. Or perhaps you’d like to donate some fabric (cotton flannelette) and thread?

In case you have no real idea what I am talking about in regard to a cloth pad, this is one example of a cloth pad from Health Home and Happiness.

If you would like to get involved and join the sewing bee (the first one will be at Chez Cate in early September in Melbourne), feel free to send an email to me: . At some stage I will design a flyer with all the relevant details.

Monday, August 18, 2008

R is for Rhubarb

I've always been a bit scared of rhubarb. Any plant that contains poisonous bits makes me nervous. But after a rather excellent crumble, I'm planning on planting some seedlings.

Apple and rhubarb crumble

Apple and rhubarb crumble

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 bunch (425g) rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • finely grated rind and juice of 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup self-raising flour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup Healtheries Berry & Apple Bircher Muesli
  • 100g butter, chilled, cubed
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Put rhubarb, apple, sugar, orange rind and juice into a rectangular ovenproof dish (26cm x 16cm). Stir until well-combined.
  2. Combine flour and muesli in a large bowl. Add butter. Using your fingertips, rub butter into flour and muesli mixture. Stir in sugar and hazelnuts. Sprinkle over rhubarb and apple mixture.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes or until crumble is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Rhubarb Champagne (who can resist alcoholic fruit?)

Wash and finely chop 1kg of rhubarb.

Squeeze juice from 2 lemons, finely shred the rind and place these and the rhubarb into a bucket or ceramic bowl with 1 1/2 tbs of white wine vinegar, 750g sugar and 4.8 litres (1.25 gallons) water.

Cover and stand for 48 hrs. Strain through muslin 3 times, bottle and seal with spring loaded caps (corks will pop). Stand 2 weeks in a cool, dark place.

Rhubarb muffins

rhubarb and walnut muffins

from It’s Raining Plums by Xanthe Clay

Makes 12 muffins

You’ll need:

250g soft brown sugar
120ml vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
225ml buttermilk or plain yogurt
170g rhubarb, diced into 1cm pieces
80g walnuts, chopped (optional)
280g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
40g wheatgerm

1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200C/400F. Grease or line a twelve-cup muffin tin.

2. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, oil, egg, vanilla extract and buttermilk or yogurt.

3. Stir in the rhubarb and nuts.

4. Sift over the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, and add the wheatgerm. Fold together until just blended but still rather lumpy and uneven looking. Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

5. Leave for 5 minutes to cool before removing from the tin.

This is how I like to spend my weekend

Sorry about the gratuituous kissing shot, we're getting married so need all the romance we can get in the stress of wedding plans....

This is... hosted by Three Buttons. Theme from The Bird Bath.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

P is for Parsnips

I have to be honest with you, parsnips are actually my most hated vegetable. I've tried to like them but I don't really and have often come across them in dishes hoping they were potato. But they are quite good blended to disguise the taste, and here's some ideas for those of you who love them:

Root Vegetable Crumble

Root Vegetable 'Crumble' with Cheesy Topping


Serves 4

300g Chantenay carrots or baby carrots (or small carrots, chopped into chunks)
500g peeled and cubed mixed root vegetables eg parsnips, sweet potato, swede, celeriac, kohlrabi
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
40g plain flour
40g butter
400ml milk
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tbsp horseradish
50g grated mature cheddar
50g wholemeal breadcrumbs
sea salt and black pepper
some grated nutmeg


  1. Heat the oven to 180DegC.

  2. Heat a frying pan, add the olive oil and sauté the Chantenay carrots and the mixed root vegetables and onion for 4-5 minutes, until softening. Season with sea salt, black pepper and some grated nutmeg.

  3. Place in an oven proof dish.

  4. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and mix together and cook the mixture for 1 minute. Do not brown. Remove from the heat, pour in the milk and whisk the mixture until smooth. Place back on the heat and slowly bring to the boil, whisking constantly until just boiling. Simmer for 1 minute, remove from the heat.

  5. Add the horseradish, crème fraiche, season well, pour over the vegetable mixtures.

  6. Mix together the cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the vegetables. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes so the vegetables are cooked and the topping is golden brown.

Parsnip Crisps

These would be great at a party I reckon!

Recipes for Vegans



vegetable oil


Peel and slice the parsnip. It is important to make sure that the slices are all the same thickness so that they all cook at the same time. They do not need to be as thin as you would expect potato chips to be I would suggest to try about 1/2 cm thick. Boil the parsnip for five minutes and then strain of the water and leave to cool. Spread out on a baking sheet and brush with some oil. Bake in a preheated 160 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Check every 5 minutes as they can burn very easily.

Great served warm or cold on their own sprinkled with salt or with dips.

Roasted parsnips with caper vinaigrette

Yotam Ottolenghi's roast parsnips

Yotam Ottolenghi's roast parsnips. Photograph: Colin Campbell

The addition of vinaigrette to freshly roasted vegetables gives them a freshness and juiciness they don't normally have; the acidity brings out new shades of flavour, too. The combinations are endless - try adding yam or salsify, or celeriac and beetroot. Furthermore, the dressing can easily take a sweet note, if you prefer - just omit the capers and add honey or maple syrup. Fold in some fresh herbs, such as basil or oregano, chopped at the last moment, and a little grated lemon zest to take it even further. Just try. Serves four.

4 parsnips (around 700g in total)

2 red onions

90ml olive oil

4 sprigs of thyme

2 sprigs of rosemary

1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally

Salt and black pepper

2 sweet potatoes (around 600g)

20 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp white-wine vinegar

2 tbsp baby capers (or larger ones roughly chopped)

1 tsp mustard

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas mark 4. Peel the parsnips and cut them into two or three segments, depending on their lengths. Cut each piece lengthways into two or four - you want pieces that are roughly 5cm long and 1.5cm wide. Top and tail the onions, peel them and cut each into six wedges.

Place the parsnips and onions in a large mixing bowl and add 60ml of olive oil, the thyme, rosemary, garlic, a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. Mix and spread out on a large roasting tin. Roast for 35 minutes.

While the parsnips are cooking, top and tail the sweet potatoes. Cut them (with their skins) into two widthways and then cut each half into six wedges. Add the potatoes to the tray with the parsnips and onions, stir and return to the oven for another 35-45 minutes.

Once all the vegetables are cooked through and golden brown, stir in the halved tomatoes and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Whisk together the vinegar, capers, mustard, 30ml of oil and half a teaspoon of salt, and pour over the roasting vegetables the moment they come out of the oven. Stir, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Scatter the sesame seeds over the top and serve straight from the tin.

When it rains it pours...

I have been obscenely busy with Polka Dot Rabbit over the last week since my appearances in City Weekly and Michi Girl- over 40 orders for gloves and accessories. It's been a bit stressful as I am completely out of stock for grey fingerless gloves and spend absolutely hours searching for them without success so I had to email people and offer black or navy ones. Very frustrating. It's not been helped by work being so busy and I had to take a leave day as I had a mega migraine/sore wrist. It's wonderful to be busy though and I am so pleased.

Crafttea Chat is going wonderfully. Last night we made marvellous stitched bags with the wonderful Miss Stephanie and a great time was had by all. It's nice being in a space where mental illness is accepted and openly discussed without sensationalism or shame.

Don't mention weddings, too stressful to contemplate. I wish we were just eloping.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Michi Girl!

I got a rather lovely mention in MichiGirl yesterday :-). Most exciting as I have an abundance of orders for gloves!:

Current Forecast
Friday: Mainly fine but still only 14.
Northern exposure
Thursday, 7th August 2008

Some of you were appalled at my lack of containment and grace when faced with the Piedemonte's car park (shall we call it 'the finger incident'). Others of you have applauded it and I imagine that those in favour are aware of the pile up I mention that is the Piedes car park in North Fitzroy. I only mention it again because now these fingerless cat gloves are helping my finger stay incognito. Plus I was looking for an excuse to use this headline.


I also got featured in a craft article for City Weekly yesterday, promotong craft and the Craftea Chat workshops. I'll scan it in over the weekend :-)

Craftea Chat workshops started on Wednesday night. 15 awesome women experienced the joys of crafting from myself and my most marvellous instructor [info]twocheeseplease. It was great fun and I can't wait for next week!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

L is for Lettuce

Pic from here

Despite living on salads in summer, lettuce is actually a winter vegetables. We have a few varieties growing in our garden which seems to require very little attention to keep them happy. When I think of winter, I don't really think of salads, unless there's roast vegetables or involved. But here's a few ideas:

vegan lettuce wraps

  • coriander
  • minced shallots
  • thai chillies
  • chopped peanuts
  • toasted coconut
  • minced lime
Finely dice and place on lettuce.

Lettuce wrap 'sauce' (more like a paste)

> 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
> 1/4 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
> 1/4 cup brown sugar
> 3 Tbsp tamari
> 1/3 cup water

Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.

Braised Lettuce with Peas

  • small knob nuttlex
  • 1 small onion , finely chopped
  • 4 Little Gem lettuces
  • 200ml fresh chicken stock
  • 4 tbsp single cream/soy cream (depending on your preference)
  • 500g bag frozen peas


  1. Melt the nuttlex in a large sauté pan with a lid. Fry the onion gently for about 5 mins, until softened. Meanwhile, pull any damaged or coarse outer leaves from the lettuces and trim the bases. Cut the lettuces in half lengthways, through the base.
  2. Place the lettuce cut-side up on top of the onions and cook for half a minute, then turn over and cook for another 30 secs. Pour over the stock and lightly season. Put the lid on the pan, reduce the heat to the minimum and cook for 10 mins.
  3. With a slotted spoon, lift the lettuces out and put into a sieve over a bowl. Raise the heat under the pan and boil the juices until reduced by half. Add the cream or crème fraîche and petits pois and boil for 1 min until heated through. Arrange lettuces in a serving dish and pour over the pea-and-cream sauce.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, March 2005 .

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

this trade secret

As a crafty chick who loves all things vintage, retro. pre-loved or recycled my biggest challenge is keeping things in order.

After seeing a post on Craftster last year about different ways to store fabric I bought some of these

from Minotaur Comic book store

Basically they are firm cardboard rectangles a bit smaller than A4. Comic book collectors use them to sandwich comic books to protect them. I use them to store fabric by folding and wrapping the bits of fabric around them. This allows them to be stored standing up in a plastic box or book case so that all fabric is tidy and visable. Makes such a difference!

Incidentally I appeciate this is not the tidiest picture, its when i was storing the fabric in our bedroom before we got another book case (and the spare room back as a study/craft room!).

This week's theme is from Amelia, and you can find all the "this is" players here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Wombats, Hi Fi Bar Melbourne, 31/7/08

It was set up to be an evening of contradictions. We started off by going to see Encounters at the end of the world, a simply stunning documentary about people who work and live in Antarctica. The film maker, Werner Herzog, had the most wonderful sense of humour and eye for eccentricity as he considered who would work in Antarctica and why, did penguins ever go insane and what happened if the Frosty Boy ran out? Also many dream-like photography sequences, the underwater ones were particularly memorable.

After the film we headed to Hi Fi Bar for The Wombats. Upon arrival I thought i was at an 'all ages gig' then I realised, no, I'm just old. The Hi Fi is a two story venue with a central 'pit' where punters typically sit and get in the way of anyone standing. It’s the kind of venue that is played by many touring
UK indie acts, many of whom recieve almost no airplay here to the extent that tickets are given away before the event. But not the case for The Wombats. Their gigs sold out within two minutes of tickets going on sale.

First up was Kitchen Knife Wife, an indie
Melbourne four piece who reminded me of Little Red, retro flavoured pop rock with a big nod to The Animals and The Kinks. Great opportunities for young scenesters, but their sound could be replicated in any front bar of any surburban pub by balding 40 somethings stuck in their halcyon days and be considered decidedly middle of the road. But cute looks can take you a long way.

There was the obligatory long wait whilst people applauded middle aged men setting up equipment and water bottles. I considered braving trippable stairs for a watered down gin and tonic (mostly ice and $8 for the privilege) , but ended up standing on the precipice of the central Pit in the hope of being able to actually see the band, without falling off in the process. The heating was desert like, the groups of young men with blonde tips gathered in packs.

The Wombats appeared. Almost immediately the audience started chanting and clapping, fists in the air. The band started with a rather fey acapella tune and then got straight into it to the accompaniment of much exuberant front row spitting and hyperactivity. They've toured
Australia before ( I was overseas at the time) and their album is well known to Melbourne audiences. All songs were sung along to lustily by an adoring crowd and I can honestly say it’s the first time I've seen crowd surfing at a rock gig for a really long time. Seasick and Moving to New York were definitely highlights, but a lot of the songs sounded a bit too similar to really hold my attention. I think I'll stick to listening to them on internet radio.