This will not save you enough money to buy a house in Sydney, but as avocado smashes go, it can clai...
If you visit Susannah Place Museum , in The Rocks, Sydney, there's a tiny bedroom with single wa...
SOME of my best op shop finds have come to me as a result of the smallest mending job: a missing button, a dropped hem, a dart in the wrong place or a tiny hole in a knitted garment.
Buttons are easy to replace and I know my local Red Cross Shop says its the task that keeps volunteers most busy in preparing good quality garments for resale.
Mending is by no means difficult but it requires a few basic supplies. Here's my list of must-have mending items.
1. Poly-cotton thread in black and white.Choose a polyester and cotton blend thread. They'll last longer and stand up to whatever your washing machine throws at it. Black and white threads will do for most mending jobs, but if you can match the thread to the fabric of your garment it will look better.
2. NeedlesYou don't need a vast selection of needles, but for a beginner, look for those marked as sewing needles and opt for something a little longer, say 4cm to 5cm with a bigger eye for threading the cotton through.
3. Small scissorsYou can use any pair of scissors for mending. They're really only for cutting the thread. However, a small pair in your kit means you can pull the kit out and go rather than hunt down the kitchen or office scissors (why do they always seem to go missing).
4. Quick unpickA quick unpick, or seam ripper, once you've mastered its use your best friend in the mending kit. Stick that little hook in, make sure the fabric's clear and rip. You'll wonder how you managed without it.
5. Tape measureYou won't need this for your first mending jobs but I recommend having one. It's so much easier to measure out where a button should sit (mark it with a lead pencil or piece of regular chalk, it'll wash out) or the depth of a hem than guessing it. My top thrift tip for measuring tapes is to measure the waists and shoulders of your best-fitting pants and shirts or jackets and use the tape to judge whether a thrifted garment will fit. There are still some op shops, markets and junk stores that don't have a handy place to change. Use the tape and you'll know whether your bargain will be something you can wear when you get it home.
Seriously, that's the basics. My most recent mending jobs have needed not much more than that and a few extras like buttons, elastic and a little tapestry wool to darn a knitted jumper.
We might aspire to capsule collections or minimalist wardrobes but not so long ago - and in the era of a living generation - a minimalist, bare necessities approach was the norm. We knew how to mend and honestly, it's not hard and there are plenty of YouTube videos to walk you through the basics.
Don't throw that loved piece of clothing. Take a closer look. If it's an easy mending job, get to it.
WHEN I am travelling, I hunt down good food. Hell, I’ve cooked up enough meals for a family of six t...
If you’re not too fussy about how you look in a swimsuit, here’s my tips on what curry delights you should hunt down in Sri Lanka.
CRAB CURRYThis is my standout, must-hunt-it-down dish. The good thing is, Sri Lanka is a small island (in comparison to Australia) and you’re never too far from the coast. Crab curries abound.
VEGETARIAN CURRIESMy personal favourites were the fried eggplant curry and a banana flower curry, but you’ll find plenty of other vegetarian options. Others I can recommend are chickpea, pumpkin and cashew nut curries. Vegetarian accompaniments are also delicious. Try bitter gourd or chilli and coconut sombol or the many varieties of dhal and pickles.
SAMBOLSOne of the hardest things to get my head around in planning to recreate these curries at home is that while each dish has simple steps in preparation and cooking, you don't just eat one curry and rice. There are at least three on the plate along with pickles, flat bread and a tasty sambol, like this chilli one.
Salivating yet? Try these Sydney and Melbourne events on this month and next.
- Sydney Night Noodle Markets until Sunday, October 23.
- Melbourne Night Noodle Markets between November 10 and 27.
- Parramatta Lanes until Friday, October 14.
- Cooking classes and gatherings by Flavours of Auburn.
AS island nations go, Sri Lanka is blessed with beautiful beaches, fabulous seafood and plenty of pl...
WATCH THE SUN GO DOWNPlan to hit Negombo’s west-facing public beach about an hour before sundown to enjoy the festivities. When swells are rough through summer and into autumn, families gather on the beach to splash about in the shallows, build sand castles and dig deep moats that fill when the water rushes in. Negombo’s beaches are patrolled by police lifeguards, but don’t let the name fool you. They’re there to enforce red flags posted on the beach to signal that the surf is dangerous. The west-setting sun is a spectacular sight and innocent frolicking of families in the splash makes for a fun, local evening out.
FLY A KITEKite flying is a popular pastime across much of South East and South Asia but Sri Lanka takes the sport seriously. All manner of shapes and sizes can be seen high in the sky and the best place to see the most spectacular kites, and even have a go at flying one yourself, is along a beach. Kite sellers arrive early on Galle Face Green, along the western facing beach of Colombo, but it’s early evening that you’ll see the real action. Skies become dotted with kites, some so high you’ll be craning your neck and peering to see them. Kites are cheap to buy and though they may not survive your rookie attempts, it’s fun to live out your childhood kite-flying fancies and pick up a few tips from the pint-sized pros.
EAT CHEAP BEACH VENDOR FAREAs the sun dips on Sri Lanka’s beaches, the smell of hot coconut oil and deep fried lentil patties, or vadai, soft shelled crab and other cheap seafood eats wafts down across the sands. Food vendors on Negombo’s public beach set up inside mobile carts, while at Galle Face Green, in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, permanent stalls open early in the evening and operate well after sunset. A feed of prawn vadai will cost you less than $1 and is cooked hot and fresh in front of you. Finish off with a faluda-flavoured ice cream from Elephant House - Sri Lanka’s answer to Mr Whippy.
ENJOY A SEAFOOD DINNERSri Lanka’s fish markets pull in bountiful hauls and come early evening, the catch of the day is laid out for diners to pick and choose from. Along Sri Lanka’s east coast, at seaside villages like Mirissa, restaurants set out lantern-lit tables on the sands and entice would-be diners with fresh fish, lobster, crabs, squid and prawns to be hand-selected, weighed and tempered in butter, garlic, ginger and fresh herbs, served with a plate of chips, fried rice and a beer. A single fish, or a small selection of crab, squid and prawns easily feeds two people and comes in at about $30 - a little less or more depending on what seafood you’ve chosen. With the waters lapping quite literally at your bare feet and table lanterns softly flickering up and down the beach, it’s a magical setting for a standout dinner.
BUY TOURIST TRINKETSHawkers can be a beach hazard for tourists and you will find them plying their wares along Sri Lanka’s shoreline as well. That said, in the off seasons (Sri Lanka's summer months) there are very few and rather than push their wares, they're more likely to stop and have a natter about the cricket. As with all hawker negotiations, if you’re not interested, be respectful but firm with a shake of the head or hand early in the transaction. You don’t need to be rude and a friendly face or smile can go a long way without signalling an intent to buy. If you are interested be prepared to enter a friendly barter. Be reasonable and enjoy yourself. It’s not worth being combative for the sake of a couple of dollars. Enjoy your trinket and the memory of the transaction. If you’re not sure, there are plenty of fixed price souvenir stores.
I KNOW I have completely skipped August and jumped straight into September. That's exactl...
I WENT TO… Grafton, Glen Innes and Scone. At least, these were the places we stopped and stayed on a road trip up to the Northern Rivers and New England regions of New South Wales. I was the sidekick to Two Minute Postcards' road trip adventure to gather content for a buzzing Facebook and YouTube channel. Keep an eye out for video drops there soon. I managed to find a few things I'll be sharing soon too.
I ATE… I have eaten more pub meals than I care to mention in the past week and am actually glad to be back in my own kitchen. Though, keen to ditch the chicken schnitzel and chips, I have enjoyed being able to hunt down a good coffee and enjoy a few good breakfasts. Breakfast is probably my favourite meal to eat out.
I OP SHOPPED… Oh, country op shops, how I love you. I spent a mere $5 on a pair of vintage Scholl wooden sandals; between 20c and 50c each for children's books with great mid century illustrations; 50c for a cute pair of long pants; and, $3.50 for a pair of acid wash Corfu jeans.
I was given a 1969 copy of Gourmet magazine (it was in the giveaway or throw out pile). I picked up a stash of wool-blend 5-ply yarn for $10, a stash of silk embroidery threads and unfinished sampler for $3 and an beaded Indian silk vest for $4. The vest needs a little repair work, but it'll be cute for summer when I am done.
The most I spent, and it wasn't at an op shop but rather a secondhand book barn, was $25 for a 1922 first edition of the Australian Red Cross junior branch cook book. It's a tattered little number, but I'm going to pick out a recipe for next month's Big Cake Bake.
My favourite op shops were the Opportunity Shop in Lang St, Glen Innes, and Anglican Cathedral Op Shop, in Grafton.
I MADE… I picked up a stash of a 5-ply wool blend that I'll be knitting up using a pattern from my Gran's stash of patterns. My Gran, my Dad's Mum, died a couple of months back and I've been getting to know her a little better reading through her knitting and crochet patterns and noting the magazine articles she cut and kept. The year's been busy, so I've made my way through the patterns slowly and will be coming back to them now to choose a pattern for the found yarn.
I READ… I picked the wrong book to pack for four weeks of travelling. I'd held a secondhand copy of Patrick White's Voss on the bookshelf for years and figured the flight and few days I had before a tour of Sri Lanka would be the perfect time to read it. How wrong I was. Despite it being listed by The Guardian as one of the 100 best novels, I found it too laborious to hold my attention. I got about a third of the way in and the characters so irritated I ditched it for someone else to find on their travels.
Instead, I picked up off a hostel bookshelf a copy of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. Now here's a book I could recommend. I spent a whole afternoon reading it and the next morning, bundled myself into an airport taxi reading it all the way, went through the airport security putting it down only to pass through and read it all the way onto the plane. I was actually bummed when I finished and had to bid the good Major adieu.