Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Here is what I have been working on this week--holiday baking !  Baking and also arranging Christmas flowers are two of my favourite activities for preparing for the holidays, they never feel like chores.  Yesterday I picked up my order of holiday flowers, hydrangeas (purple and mauve), pink lisianthus, and lime green button mums.  Plus hypericon berry branches, and holly branches with creamy white berries.  And I have been baking all week.  Adorable tree and poinsettia shaped holiday spritz cookies.  Flavoured with peppermint or almond flavouring, to add a light touch to the lovely buttery texture.  Decorated with coloured sugar crystals I tinted to the hue I wanted.  Not shown are the peanut butter pretzel & toffee crunch cookies, a new recipe I tried.  (I am on a strict regime now, so Ian was my tester and gave them a good rating !).

The kitchen and fridge are well stocked, and I went to the Barossa Farmer's Market this morning, bright and early.  Got there at 735AM, only 5 minutes after open time and it was already packed.  Queues to wait for picking produce at several of the stalls.  I got a magnificent half side of a salmon I had pre-ordered for pick up today--it's for tomorrow's main meal, to be cooked with nicoise salad style accompaniments.  Bought fresh farm eggs, local jersey milk, and freshly local roasted single origin fairtrade coffee from Barossa Roasters.  Plus red and gold plum tomatos, and black tuscan kale for a stunning salad.  Oh yes, can't forget Raj's hummus, whose hummus is amazing (and a big favourite of our visiting family here at the moment).

Today I made a plum vinocotto clafoutis.  Made with fresh plums picked off neighbour Fab's tree, after he welcomed us to collect some plums off it.  This fruit torte is going to a Christmas Eve barbeque tonight.

Ian and I wish you a wonderful holiday.  Cheers !

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Under Cover

pergola structure extends from back of exterior wall behind kitchen
The pergola structure has been finished for two weeks now and the roofing materials were delivered next week.  This week the team building the structure came to finish the job and today they packed up their tools, all finished.  A great job and a new area for us to use.  Well, not quite yet.  We still need to put paving in, and that happens in January, after taking delivery of pavers we ordered.  Meantime though, there is a concrete foot path along the house side.  And a cover on that will provide shade on hot days.

It feels like an outdoor room now, what a difference having a roof cover on makes !

pergola with roof on, looking out towards garden

Having the pergola roof on makes it obvious that we need to paint or restore the old roof.  It is an odd colour, gold ochre in some areas and pale red in other places.  It was originally red, but the colour faded in the sun.  We will be planning the roof restoration and makeover for the coming months, so next year !

It's almost Christmas and the past month has been cockatoo "season" across the street, in the large trees in the park.  Not just a few birds either.  Hundreds of them. Maybe 300 ?  It is hard to count them.   But there are definitely more than 200.  And you can't miss them.  They are big birds and screech very loudly.  A chorus of hundreds of them makes a very loud noise.  They swoop around and fly fast, from tree to tree.  Many will sit in a large tree, and more keep coming until the tree branches have 80 or more cockatoos on them.  Lately, the grass on the way to the sports oval in the park has been littered with white feathers.  Sulphur tinged white cockatoo feathers.

The cats enjoy having some feathers to sniff and bat around too.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pergola in Progress

Soon we will have a new outdoor space, a nice new pergola (outside covered patio).  Just a quick look at what we have done so far.  Framing is finished.  We await the roofiing and guttering material to arrive and get built/installed.

You can see the pitch the roofline will have from this first picture.

Below left is a photo showing the same as above, but from a slightly different angle.

Bottom right photo shows the framing above for roofline.  And that it is beginning to feel like an outdoor room.

More soon !

Friday, December 2, 2011

New Line

In a whirlwind of fast spinning time since getting back from the latest work trip, I have:  visited family interstate to see a new granddaughter, worked (a lot), begun getting assembled and ready for holiday tasks, attended a peony arranging workshop, tidied up the roses and other parts of the garden, helped a friend do a photo shoot, and also designed and assembled three new upcycled vintage and decorator fabric bags.  And also keeping up with workouts and healthy eating (I am on a diet and get-fit regime, going great so far).   So after returning, I literally hit the ground running !

The new line of bags is exciting.  Something I have been planning to do for ages.  I did the first run of three of them, each featuring some amazing vintage textiles from the collection I have been building for years.  Each bag is a bookbag style bag, and conveniently can be folded flat.   Very handy for travel, I always pop a bag like this in my suitcase for a trip, so I have something to take out and about on the weekends, or tote magazines and books in the hotel, on the plane, etc.  The bags have canvas straps that go over the shoulder.  Each is fully lined in a charming complementary fabric and has a divided inner pocket for mobile phone, keys, etc.  The front pocket is across lower front of the bag, and also is lined fully.  Divided in half, and handy for stowing a small notepad or other small items.

The design I have highlighted above is called Country Strawberry.  It features a fabulous (mint condition !) strawberry print motif fabric from a vintage American feedsack, probably from 1940s or 50s.  And also some fadey soft blue text printed on an old flour sack.  Combined with red and white check decorator fabric.  Lining is red and white ticking striped, with inner pocket also of the old flour sack and cute red baby gingham trim along the edge.  And the front pocket has gorgeous striped canvas taping and lovely candy pink vintage button trim.  It is a happy and cheerful looking bag.

I have ordered new fabric labels for the next run of bags.  Exciting !

Here is a shot of all three bags, which are now on exhibition (and available for sale) as part of the Retro Mommas show at Jacqueline Coates' Salon Rouge Gallery in Kapunda.  For more info on Salon Rouge, check out, or check out latest news on Jacqueline's new blog

And a sneak preview of the latest goings on, which will be subject of a post this weekend.  Work on the long awaited pergola has just started.  Here is a before shot, just a big patch of yard, between here and there, and not too interesting to look at.  Stay Tuned !