August 02, 2016

WINTER 2016 || JULY... I'VE DONE IT

I CAN absolutely vouch for this op-shopped and hand knitted ensemble for bushwalking. Jeans are restrictive and cold. If they get wet, they stay wet for ages. A flannelette shirt is warm but not so warm that when you start to sweat up the inclines it's uncomfortable. Being made of cotton - and worn in like this one is - you just roll up the sleeves and walk on. This vest is called the hikers vest. It's fitted so there are no cold draughts. Either layer over it or strip it off if you get too hot. The whole ensemble cost me about $10, a far cry less than what you'll pay at an outdoors store. And crawling around to take photos in the damp, foggy climes of Gloucester Tops, I reckon it served me just as well.

IN JULY:

I WENT TO… Mount Victoria and walked the Grand Canyon walk in the Blue Mountains National Park as well as explored some of the smaller walks around Mount Piddington. 

There was a road trip up to Nundle to visit the Nundle Woollen Mill, with the return trip through Forest Way to Gloucester to walk in the Gondwana rainforest of Gloucester Tops in the Barrington Tops National Park

A second road trip was to Young, stopping to explore the off junk store or op shop along the way.

I ATE… A fair amount of country pub meals, so much so that by Young I couldn't bear to face another chicken schnitzel. While there were a couple of places that came highly recommended in Young, they weren't open and a chance was taken on a rather dodgy looking, as well as empty of customers, Indian restaurant. It was a case of not judging a book by its cover. Tandoori Fish served up the best Indian banquet I've had in years - and cheap too at $50 for two entrees, two mains, breads, rice and condiments. Young's Kettle and Grain cafe, tucked away behind the Lambing Flat Museum was also a top find. The smokey, home-cooked baked beans with eggs and Parmesan was my pick of the menu. 

Another notable country recommendation was The Fox Den, at Gloucester, and closer to home, Hardys Bistro in the old Killcare corner store. 

I OP SHOPPED… in country op shops, though I was pretty restrained. A shirt, a handful of dress and knitting patterns, a couple of cooking pans to use over the campfire and two small, quaint wooden dolls came home with me. 

I MADE… I have more than 50 Kendall Koalas packed and ready to travel to Nepal with me this month. I personally only finished three, but the wider Girl Guide community has done Kendall proud. 

Aside from packing felted softies I've started on my biggest knitting challenge, to date. It's a Jenny Kee picture knit. I bought balls of seconds wool at Nundle Woolen Mill and am about 10cm into a pair of socks - the smallest pattern I could find to test my picture knitting patience. They're going to take some time. I haven't quite got the hang of pulling the yarn across the back. Any tips or tricks will be gratefully accepted.

I READ… I am headed to Sri Lanka, for a holiday, and Nepal to attend a conference in about a week's time. All my reading has been related to either of these two excursions and mostly the latter as conference papers start rolling in thick and fast.

July 24, 2016

DIVERSITY DREAM ALIVE AND WELL IN OUR DOLLS HOUSE


HAS the world gone mad? Closing borders across Europe, Brexit, Trump's presidential campaign, Pauline Hanson, calling every criminal act a terror threat or attack (until you say it's not). I don't know about you, but unlike Sonia Kruger, I am not afraid of people who follow Islam and want to stop Muslims entering Australia, I'm afraid of the freakin' nutters who actually believe that's a good idea.

Sonia Kruger, I'm looking at you with a WTF face. I can't hide it. I welcome debate about how to stop the influence of radical and hateful ideals among often young and vulnerable individuals, but carve out Muslims from our society? Ah. No.

Pauline Hanson, I listen and my face looks like it just smelled three day old fish, and I'm guessing, Pauline, you still know what that smells like, especially with policy platforms that are way older.

Trump. My face is one of disbelief. I'm waiting for the 'boom, tish' of a circus drum kit to let on the whole thing was just a gag. It is a gag, right? No? Sheeesh.

At least where I am, the dolls house is living the diversity dream. Peppa Pig, Pedro Pony a matryoshka doll, a plastic squirrel and frog, a couple of Sylvanian Families bunnies and a Middle Eastern and African family all seem to be getting along fine.

July 10, 2016

AUTUMN 2016 || PINNING THINGS WISHING WINTER AWAY

I'VE spent a glorious weekend outdoors. I've made so many plans in my head of things I want to do and places I want to go this coming spring and summer that I just wish it would hurry up and get here.


THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: If you're bushwalking or beach combing, you need big pockets to collect smooth rocks, sea glass or pretty fallen leaves.

THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: A packed lunch (of curried chickpea sandwiches) and a Thermos of hot water, and you're good to go.


THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: Summer means shorts and T-shirts. I so want one of Caitlin She's Australian Gardener tees.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: And here's what you can do with all those scavenged pieces of broken driftwood or pieces of fallen gum you've picked up from the bush track.

#flashback: This time last year I was just pretty pleased to be home.

July 07, 2016

TURMERIC CHAI FOR ONE

WHAT is better, on a winter's day, than a sweet smelling, good-for-you hot drink? Turmeric chai is made from ingredients you're likely to have in your spice cupboard or use in your regular cooking. I grow my own turmeric and if you have a veggie patch, it's an easy tuber to grow meaning you'll have a plentiful harvest for a full winter of chai.


My harvest from a handful of tubers was pulled up last week. You harvest turmeric when the leaves have died down in late August, or early winter. Through summer it's a lush looking plant with tropical-looking flowers. Win win.

The recipe below makes a brew for one, with a little left over to retop an empty mug. Add more ingredients and adjust to taste to brew up a larger quantity.


INGREDIENTS
1 teaspoon fresh grated giner

1 teaspoon fresh grated turmeric, or half a teaspoon of ground dry turmeric

1 teaspoon cinnamon
half teaspoon of clove
half teaspoon of nutmeg
half teaspoon of ground black peppercorns
a teeny pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1-2 cups of water

honey or sugar to sweeten. I choose honey because I think it smells and tastes nicer
milk

WHAT TO DO
Put all the ingredients, except for the honey into a small stove top saucepan or pot. I'd love to try this in a billy over a campfire. I think it would be amazing. 

Simmer gently until you can smell it and it has coloured the water. If you like your tea strong, you'll brew it longer. I do. If you like a weak tea, or herbal teas, you may like it brewed for less time.

Strain your brew through a tea strainer and into a warmed mug. Add your choice of milk: soy, almond, skim, full cream. 


Enjoy.

July 03, 2016

EBAY AUCTION TO DOUBLE THE DOUBLE DENIM

Levis 504 jeans

Vintage Corfu jeans

Lee straight leg stonewash jeans

Levis stonewash denim jeans

Levis 553 classic blue jeans

Vintage fringed black suede leather jacket

Gorman cropped leather jacket

I HAVE a problem. Well many really, but let's just focus on just one or two here. I love denim and I love jackets, particularly denim ones, or ones that look good with denim. That's problem No.1.

Problem No.2 is that my rigorous exercise routine is not what it once was and a vintage 12 - with 71cm waist - is a little bit of a struggle to squeeze into. Let's be clear. We're talking a little bit of a struggle, but if I don't start working on it, it's gunna be a whole lot more of a struggle, if you catch my drift.

Anyhoot, these jeans and jackets have been taking up space in the wardrobe and it's time to let them go, be happy with the healthy body I have - with a little more hustle and a lot less gristle - and make myself a little holiday cash on the side. If you're like me, and love denim, you can bid online at eBay. Please click on the photos above to be redirected to the auction.

Thank you.

July 02, 2016

MAKE A FELT KOALA TO HELP GIRL GUIDES CLOSE TO HOME

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || make a kendall koala and support girl guide programs in the asia pacific

KENDALL Koala loves to travel. She packs light carrying only a fresh supply of gum leaves and, for rugged environments, her gumboots.

She's happy enough travelling solo but what she'd really like is a bunch of travelling companions. She'll be travelling to Nepal in August and would like many, many koala friends to join her there.

katiecrackernuts.blogspot.com || support girl guides and make a kendall koala
You can make a Kendall Koala, or a Ken, Kim, Kelly, Kira or Kate. Each one will travel to Nepal and be sold to delegates of Girl Guide and Girl Scout organisations from across the Asia Pacific at their international conference in August. 

Sales of Kendall will support Guide youth leadership and advocacy programs, including programs to combat gender-based violence, educate girls, build girls' STEM skills, encourage girls to participate in leadership and civic society and fund environmental enterprises.

Instructions on how to make a Kendall Koala, and send it on its way, are yours to download for free. Kendall (and I) thank you in advance.

July 01, 2016

WINTER 2016 || JUNE... I'VE DONE IT

FOR a moment there it didn't look like we were going to have a winter. Yet, as I sit here letting a fresh breeze blow through the house and with fingers and toes numb, winter seems to have arrived. I'll be heading into the Blue Mountains next week and up to Nundle the week after so I feel I need to harden my body to the chill.

IN JUNE:

I WENT TO… Swansea. Yes, that funny little seaside town folks of my vintage will know from their summer holiday excursions up and down the east coast. Swansea was a classic place to pullover and have a cuppa from the thermos, stretch the legs and go to the loo before the final trek into Sydney or, in my case, before heading home to the Hunter. 

This month's visit was to hunt for fossil remnants that pock the rock platforms at Swansea Heads. If you live close by, it's a lovely day trip. Pick a low tide to explore the rock platforms. The fossils, the beach combing and peering into the marine habitats among the rocks makes for a nice school holiday adventure for families - especially families who've already been to see Finding Dory and want a closer look at marine environments close to home.

I ATE… The dining options at Swansea are very different to what I remember from those school holiday trips to visit grandparents south of Sydney. Almost all our family road trips involved cold, home-cooked chicken drumsticks, triangles of buttered white bread, a Thermos of tea and container of biscuits. My sister and I spent our early childhood in central Queensland. At that time fast food outlets were not a common sight along Queensland's major roads but by the time we moved to NSW, where McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC littered the Pacific Highway, we were onto it. It must have been a blow to our organised, efficient and thrifty mum to have two kids whining in the back seat for greasy fast food when she'd gone to the trouble to pack a roadworthy picnic. 

Now when travelling, I'm on the lookout for where locals gather and where I can smell the coffee. Seed Cafe, on the main drag of Swansea is both those things. A simple breakfast of poached eggs, sourdough toast and a side of avocado also came with a side of fresh, beautifully dressed greens. Simple, delicious, perfectly done and presented. And the coffee was good - no more Thermos' of tea for me.

I OP SHOPPED… I've added a few cosy woolen tops and vests to the wardrobe but my favourite finds have been a stash of vintage cook books and a German china toy tea set. 

I MADE… I have been making felt softie koalas and need more makers to join me. They'll raise funds for Girl Guide programs across the Asia Pacific. The free pattern download is here.

I READ… I read Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel. I picked it up from a secondhand book sale for less that $1 and only picked it up because I recognised the du Maurier name. As I was reading, I was thinking it was the kind of piece ripe for a period drama. Turns out in 1952 it was made into a film but a remake is due. It's light, easy reading, where you want to return to the story because you have to know what happens. No spoilers, but you'll never be entirely sure.

I also finished Kelly Doust's Precious Things. Similar to My Cousin Rachel, a story of lives touched by a beautiful and intricate piece of textile will have you returning to the page to learn what happens next.

June 23, 2016

WHAT DO YOU WISH FOR

WHAT I wish for...
What do you wish for?

June 19, 2016

SLICK'S CHIPS || COMFORT FOOD CRAVING FROM UNI DAYS

A MILLION years ago, when I was a young thing, at university and living week-to-week off the back of parental support, a paper run and a scholarship, the ultimate treat was a takeout order from Slick's Chips.

Slick's was in a back street of Hamilton, a suburb of Newcastle. It was an in-the-know kinda place serving up a menu of choose-you-own-combo burgers and loaded hot chips well before McDonalds and the current crop of fancy burger establishment's in Sydney.

This was the 1990s and for the University of Newcastle's struggling student population, pooling your share house's spare cash and making a dash to Slick's marked many an occasion. It was the perfect fuel for an all-night study session. It marked the end of assignments, aided us through messy break-ups, was a required accompaniment to watching Beverly Hills 90210 or Melrose Place (watched on beaten up televisions at the actual time of airing) and celebrated every Austudy windfall, of which there were few.


Two decades have passed since and Slick's is long gone, but every so often I will still crave a bowl of Slick's Chips. They're the ultimate comfort food and perfect Sunday lunch fare on a wet and miserable winter's day.


INGREDIENTS
Crinkle cut frozen chips
Avocado
Salt and pepper
Lemon
Sour cream
Sweet chilli sauce

WHAT TO DO
Bake or fry the frozen chips as per the directions on the packet. I bake mine, under the illusion they'll be healthier for me. Oh to be young again. Some 20 years ago I was none too concerned about the calories. 
Make an avocado smash by removing the avocado flesh and smashing in a bowl or on a plate with the back of a fork. Add a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper, to taste. 
When the chips are golden brown, dump into your serving bowl, shake over salt and top with a generous dollop of avocado smash and another of sour cream.
Pour over a little sweet chilli sauce.

June 16, 2016

WINTER 2016 || PINNING THINGS CHASING THE LIGHT

WE are less that a week away from the shortest day and to spinning back toward summer. I can barely believe it, we just haven't had enough cold weather. There's been a week of using heating at home, if that, and I've had to fill a hot water bottle on only a handful of nights. Spring will be upon us before we know it.

In the meantime, I'll rug up when I need to and enjoy the mostly sunny, blue-sky winter days to chase the light.

THINGS TO MAKE AND DO: I need socks bad. Like undies and bras, all my regular socks have become threadbare all at once. I do like a cozy sock and won't say no to a pretty pair. Of course, I'll only be devoting time to embroidering them once I've finished with this.

THINGS TO COOK AND EAT: How do you feel about peanut butter and jelly? On a sandwich, not so much. As a sweet treat, I could be persuaded.

THINGS TO DROP DOUGH ON: Knitted jim jams. And because they're knitted from cotton denim waste, they're not even scratchy.

THINGS TO HANG ON THE WALL: My grandfather's and grandmother's cameras have been passed down to me. They're beautiful, well-cared for pieces of technology and I've been experimenting with them. There's a roll of film in a vintage Canon and I am yet to source 120 format film for a vintage Kodak, but I will, and promise to show you the results - if any. In the meantime enjoy these lovely hand-drawn vintage cameras.

#flashback: This time last year I was musing on my world view, and though it's not penned here, making big decisions about my future.