Wednesday, March 28, 2012

5 things Wednesday - homegrown ingredients in dinner

I made a yummy hearty dahl for dinner. I stated craving one yesterday. Feeling unreasonably tired I desired a hearty, protein rich vegetarian dinner.

I started with what I could find in my garden:

Baby spinach
and nasturtium leaves for garnish.

Otherwise it was a fairy basic but yummy dahl. Red lentils, onion, tumeric, cumin, cardamon pods and sweet potato.

Monday, March 26, 2012

How green is my handbag

I was rummaging around in my bag on my way home tonight, looking for my shopping list and I felt inspired to write this post.
I wonder how green is my bag and its contents?

I'm certainly not qualified to assess environmental credentials or impacts in any sort of scientific way. All of the following is assumption and perception. But it is interesting I think to stop and assess critically our everyday moments. It helps us identify improvements we can make, even in small ways and inspire us to be a little more green, a little more organised or whatever else our dream may be.

So lets see.

My bag itself is pretty green, well I call it blue but you may disagree;)

I made it on Saturday from a vintage linen tea towel given to be by a good friend. She bought it from the Love Vintage show last year and as I was going to it on Sunday I felt it was past time to make something from the tea towel. The towel features Australian pelicans and is a souvenir of Green Island, off Cairns, a resort I visited as a child. And it is a gorgeous aqua. Most of my clothes are aqua or turquoise! My bag is lined with pretty blue floral fabric. I picked up a couple of metres of this at an op shop so its recycled.

Next is my journal. The book itself is made in China and the paper is not recycled. Hmmm, not good. The cover is delightfully recycled though - the main print is a vintage place mat, trimmed with fabric from an old pillowcase, both from op shops. Gives it that gorgeous vintage look I love.

I keep a small pouch in my bag with tissues, bandaids etc that you don't want rolling around in the bottom of your bag. This zippered pouch is very cute and came free with a popular magazine that has no particular commitment to recycling or carbon offsets that I know of. The free gift also prompted that particular issue to be covered in plastic wrap. Inside is a portable pack of tissues. Well I can't bring mysel to use hankies even though they have such a long, tested tradition. What would be better is to make a little cloth pouch and add tissues from a big box - reduces the need for plastic packaging. Well that's easy fixed. I'll use recycled fabric or scraps. My shopping list - I recently bought a five pack, oh wrapped in plastic, of notebooks with coloured plastic covers. I was seduced by the blue cover. Not good. Recycled sraps of paper would be preferable. At least I'm not using sticky notes. Hmm, will need to think creatively about this one. (Biggest problem is it will take me a while to go through the pack I bought.) And a plastic pen. I used a Parker pen with refills for years and years. When it finally was irreparable (got crushed) I started using disposable pens. I have contented myself with the thought that I buy my own pen, and hang onto it until out of ink. I don't just toss it aside and pick a new one because the other is misplaced. But on examination I can do better.
My purse. Because I find it easy to use a tote bag going back and forth to work you can easily lose your keys, money and phone. So I keep them in a purse/pouch. This one came from Oxfam and is made under a fairtrade scheme.

I also keep a fold up shopping bag in there to help me reduce the number of bags I collect. I find that not accepting bags at the supermarket is not too hard - as long as my reusable bags are in the car I'm set. But when it comes to all the other bits and pieces I don't do as well. But this little bag works well for clothes, fabric or the odd bits of groceries collected at lunchtime. It was a very welcome Christmas gift.

I feel there is a rather glaring omission from my bag today - no lunchbox or cutlery. I have not been taking lunch often lately. As we all know buying lunch is expensive, there's all that packaging and its too easy to buy 'treats'. Definately not as green there as I could be.

So an action plan
1. take lunch to work
2. make a tissue pouch
3. replace my pen (when it runs out) with a refillable pen
4. think creatively about shopping lists

So, what do you think? How did I do? Are you up for the challenge? Are you going to examine your own bag and share your findings?

Can't wait to hear about your own adventures.

And a reminder to enter my giveaway - its a recycled lingerie wrap - very pretty.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Love Vintage show in Sydney

We visited the Love Vintage Show in Sydney yesterday. It was wonderful. So much fun, so inspiring. I spent hours pottering around looking at all the wonderful, wonderful things.

I am going to share some photos with you and I'm not going to say another word as they speak for themselves!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 things: favourite flowers

My five favourite flowers:
1.       Daffodils
I have swathes o fdaffies in my garden. When I moved here there were a few clumps which I have spread out and added to. Last year I added ranunculas too. Over the next month I will be planting more daffies and ranunculas to add to next Spring's display.

2.       Lavender
Always one of my favourites. I remember being in a play when I was 8 and my Mum gave me a cake of Yardley's old English lavender soap. I've been smitten ever since.

3.       Frangipani
Reminds me of summers growing up in tropical Brisbane and the Gold Coast. Sadly they don't grow where I live. Although they come in many colours I prefer the yellow and white. Not to besmerch any companies, I have never smelt a soap or candle called 'frangipani' thaat smell anything like the real thing. They are a seasonal treat therefore.

4.       Passion flowers
Divine and as the precursors to fruit you can't go past them.

5.       Jasmine
Ah, another sccent of summer. I particularly love the night jasmine varieties that fill the air with their heady perfume. again a perfume that can't be replicated. You have to wait for the real thing and enjoy it to the full while you can.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Farmers market pasta for dinner

I cooked this weekend's pasta buy for dinner tonight.

I started by steaming sweet potato and zucchini. I used the same water to boil up the pasta.

Next I sauteed pine nuts in a little bit of butter.

Added sundried tomatoes, and the steamed vegies. At the last minte I tossed in some chopped feta.

I drizzled a little blood orange infused olive oil over the pasta and served piping hot.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Visit to Eagle Farm racecourse farmers' market

I spent this weekend visiting family and friends in Brisbane, which was lovely. We all visited a farmers market yesterday at Eagle Farm racecourse.
This was the best farmers market I have been to outside of Europe.

We arrived at about 10am and spent a lovely time wandering around the stalls starting with the flowers.

I'm quite sure that not all the flowers were yellow but I was drawn to these dahlias, sunflowers and roses.
Next Howard queued for coffee - he doesn't like this photo, says he looks cranky.
He wasn't but then he hadn't had coffee yet...

We bought fresh bread, exotic salts, blood orange infused olive oil and smelt yummy essential oils.

Fresh homemade pasta was a treat. My sister bought garlic and chilli tagliatelle and I brought home saffron and lemon myrtle tagliatelle. I can't wait to try it. I think it may go well with the blood orange olive oil.

Last of all we chose from laden tables of fresh fruit and vegetables. And I mean fresh. We bought beetroots, celery, crispy cos lettuce, stone fruits, apples and much more. My sister stocked up for the week. My parents bought vegies and fresh potted herbs to take home.

We had an interesting debate about farmers markets. Obviously from the variety of produce on each stall these aren't the primary producers. They go to the big city wholesale markets early in the morning and then bring their purchases to the farmers markets. I'm not complaining but am conscious of food miles. I would love to have such a spectacular farmers market near home. In the ideal world though, wouldn't it be cool to have a true farmers market. Perhaps one stall would just sell potatoes. Maybe another one pumpkins. Someone would have made cheese from their own cows' milk. All that would be on offer would be local and home grown and would change with the seasons.

But for now I'll commend my sister for taking her kids to the market each weekend to choose fresh food that they are happy to eat. And thank her for taking me along.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Worm farming

We have had a worm farm for quite a lot of years now.  Kitchen scraps are divided between the chickens, the worms and the compost bins. Luckily they have different tastes, and different outputs.

Today I fed my worms and collected the liquid castings that are known as black gold, the best natural fertiliser for your plants.

The farm doesn't take up much space, doesn't smell and needs very little attention. The rewards however are huge. As the worms process the scraps you feed them, they produce castings. The solid castings remain in the farm until you separate them from the worms. The finest castings form a liquid, like a thin mud, and fall through to the bottom layer of the farm. I used to have a lot of problems with forms falling into the liquid and drowning but have solved the problem by placing a piece of fine mesh flyscreen at the bottom of the box they live in.

Today I collected the liquid castings, or as a friend calls them, wiggle juice. This I keep in a plastic container for future use. This wonderful fertiliser is very strong so needs to be diluted to a weak tea before use.
I noticed that the worms had been eating the hessian sack that keeps the farm moist but hadn't eaten all the vegie and fruit peelings. This usually means the farm needs more carbon matter which is easily fixed by adding some shredded paper.

I gently folded the paper in and added some fresh food in the form of mango skins and some left-over cooked rhubarb. My worms have a sweet tooth. My husband thinks I'm mad but I bring banana skins home from work lunches for them.
Now I have plenty of fertiliser for my fragile vegie seedlings and the worms won't need food for some weeks. Happy worms and a happy garden. A win win situation!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

5 things Wednesday

5 things to do on a rainy lunchtime

1. Celebrate your inner child and go splashing about in puddles. Ok not practical? If you don't want to spend the whole afternoon wet and bedraggled take a change of clothes and a towel. No more excuses please.
2. Go to an art gallery and soak up the serenity and creative vibes.
3. Treat yourself to a really nice sit down lunch in a cafe rather than a sandwich on the run.
4. Take photos of refelctions caused by rain on hard surfaces. See notes under point 1.
5. Stay in the office at lunch but go home early.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Enter my blog giveaway as I celebrate 100 posts on homespunblissblog

I kind of knew that 100 posts was coming up but then it snuck up in the end.
Yay, 100 Homespunblissblog posts!

As I said in the beginning, if I don't have anything to post about then I'm not living the life of my dreams. 100 posts down I'm certainly getting closer.
Recently I have added chickens to my menagerie, I am sewing, mosaicing, holding stalls at markets and working actively on my business, DarlingBridget. I make soap, preserve fruit, cook and garden. All of these activities equal homespunbliss for me.

Yes its an eclectic mix but diversity keeps me interested.
So what is my plan for 2012? Scary that its March already and I'm just getting going, but still.
  • Attend at least 6 markets this year with DarlingBridget.
  • Re-launch my DB art to wear label with brooches, earrings, pendants and bib necklaces.
  • Keep blogging about everything I love and my journey to achieving homespunbliss.
  • Connect with other bloggers and increase my followers to 50 this year!
  • Be authentic to me and my dream.
  • Hope to strike a cord with others and create a community of people who dream of homespunbliss!
To find out how to win this pretty lingerie wrap keep reading below.  This wrap is made from a white vintage tray cloth with lace trim, lined with white satin and finished with a ribbon tie.

To enter do one or more of the following. Leave me a comment for each one.
1. Sign up as a follower to this blog.
2. Share my blog with your friends.
3. Follow my DarlingBridget page on Facebook
4. Share my DarlingBridget Facebook page with your friends.
5. Go to my DarlingBridget store on and come back and tell me which product you like best and why.
You get one entry for each of the above tasks. Just remember to leave me a message to tell me about them.

I'm sure you're wondering why you'd get your friends to join in, the more
entries the less chances you have to win right? So if you share my blog with your friends and they become followers, you'll gain a bonus point. The same goes for my DarlingBridget Facebook page, just tell me about it or I won't know who to give the points to. What do you think, does that entice?

So how do you leave a comment?
At the end of each blogpost or article, you will find # comments.
1. Click on the word comments.
2. You will find a comments box (you might have to scroll up a little to see it). Type your comment in the box. Choose from the drop down list labelled Comment as. If you have an online profile such as Google (or gmail account), choose from the list and log in. Otherwise choose Anonymous.
3. If you choose Anonymous please leave me your name in the comment box.
4. Click publish.
Its that easy.

What else is new for homespunblissblog in 2012?
Monday nights I share a post on Make, Grow, Thrift on the
Wednesday nights I am reinstating a list post - I stopped doing my 10 things Mondays because I wanted to get involved in Make, Grow, Thrift. So Wednesday nights will now feature 5 homespun things.
Other nights - always plenty of stories and photos about my chickens, cooking, growing food, making soap, sewing for DarlingBridget, going to markets and in all other ways striving for a homespun life!

Good luck with the give away and thanks for sharing my journey. You keep me on my path.

Sewing new things for DarlingBridget label

 I've been sewing cute new satchel bags for my DarlingBridget label. This bright red bag features a towel with embroidered Japanese lady and crocheted edge. The bag has a magnetic clasp and long strap. Very cute.

 Same satchel design but this time a green embroidered motif with scalloped edge over funky "ice cream" fabric. This satchel is finished off with a pale pink satin trim with beads.

 And a lingerie wrap in simple white. I have had one of these myself for years and it adds a little bit of luxury to one's luggage. And does away with that fear that you bags might be opened in public ;).
 A white lace trimmed cloth has been lined in satin and is held together with a simple white satin ribbon. This is going to be a give away so watch this space.

All these bags include some upcycled fabrics, repurposing hand towels and cloths that normally are tossed in a drawer or sadly, tossed away. Now they're pretty again.


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