Saturday, November 29, 2014

Grapfruit Juice.

Not much to say here but I thought I'd share. Mum has a GIANT grapefruit tree in the backyard and she really likes grapefruit juice. So every time a big wind blows through I pick up all the grapefruit (usually about 3 buckets at a time) and get to juicing.

We have tried many different juicers over the years but the best ones have been simple electric rotaries (like a traditional lemon juicer but with electricity).
Here is the haul from two afternoons juicing.

It's thick, pulpy, sticky and yum!

Apple Mint Jelly

As I sit down to write this entry I realise that the recipe is at the other end of country, so no measurements sorry but some pretty pictures.

These are the apples you should use, Granny Smiths (aka green apples). They have the highest pectin in the peel so gel the best and often negate the need for additional gelatine.

Ideally you want to use a lot of small apples to maximise the peel to flesh ratio.

My mint plant looking a little bit worse for wear after being raided for the mint jelly.

Roughly chopped apples (pips and all), mint, lemon rind + juice, water. If you over-boil at this stage you will get very little liquid later on, so my advice is to be generous with the water now - you should still be able to get it to gel.

Boiled down a bit to get all the goodness out of the peel.

This was a previous batch which was overboiled - but you can still add extra water later on, it's just better not to (I believe).

The setup: hot, damp cheesecloth in a sieve resting over a tall bowl (need plenty of room for the liquid to fall - liquid level should never reach the bottom of the sieve.

Heaps of apple mush beginning to fall through. Leave for several hours (overnight in the mcrowave to keep away the nasties).

Awww yeah look at all that goodness. Actually this won't make very much at all. Next time I would add a cup or two of water to this. It will still be thick-ish but will maximise output (esp as I don't think mint jelly has to be rock-hard jelly).

Now we boil it up (gently) with 2/3C of sugar added for every cup of liquid. Her you can see the bowl with the foam skimmed off of the top.

Colour change due to food colouring. You can see how much liquid has been lost.

Jars are fresh out of the dishwasher and in the oven on low to dry completely and stay hot.

Dark green jar from a previous batch (that I boiled too much so only ended up with one jar worth of liquid). Lighter green jars have just been filled and are upside down to help the lids reseal (button pops back down).

Still only got 3 jars out of this batch (began with 4 medium apples), jelly is still thick so will water down more at the beginning next time.

DISCLAIMER: I often reuse food jars and have never had a problem with sealing or sterilisation - some people however will tell you that it is a bad idea to use these lids. Do your own research and make up your own mind.

Time for dishes.


Monday, November 17, 2014

My Vege Patch

Hey Internet.

So being unemployed seems to agree with me (I have a job I just get a 10 week break between the interview and actually starting) so I've been doing all sorts of exciting things.... (ok you caught me - I watched the entire US Office in 1 week). But occassionally I do go outside and here is what I've been doing out there.


 These two boxes are planted with strawbs, toms, lettuce seedlings, and a zucchini plant. You can probably see all the weeds - that's what the black roll of weed mat is for - I covered them all up. Out of sight, out of mind.

There are another 2 boxes (made from adapted apple picking bins - stuffed with straw then soil) just to the right of these and that is where I'm growing my veges from seeds.

I bought a wide variety of strawberry plants - and I have def noticed that the bigger ones are producin larger quantities and just larger fruit. No tomatoes yet and the lettuces took a long time but they're finally startign to take off.
From my seedling garden - IT'S A tiny LETTUCE (and a few weeds)

Cutting the first strawberry. Going to have to work on the netting design, I've already lost a couple of strawbs to birdies. Good thing is my Dad's coffee addiction keeps me well supplied with grounds to keep the slimeys away.

Best thing about this garden is how high it is. No back-breaking work here (although I do occassionally stab myself with the nails that hold the netting in place.

P.S. Expect to see more updates as things start growing!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Goodreads link

I am a nerdfighter.

If you don't know what this is, google it - you won't be disappointed.

Nerdfightaria are currently hosting a global bookswap, and I have a sneaking suspicion that instead of linking to my goodreads page, I instead linked to this blog.

So on the off chance that my book dealer (of only slightly more legitamacy than a drug dealer) comes here I wanted to send them to the right place.

And also to say that you don't have to send me a romance if you don't want, just a book that you love that isn't horrifically tragic. (I have vague recollections of being overly and exceedingly detailed in my demands).

I'll post again soon with the book that I'm sending, and the book that arrives for me :)


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

X-Stitch Bookmarks

I have made these as gifts for friends for the past few years, and they have been VERY well received J I actually forgot to take photos before I gave them away, but my friends were kind enough to take some action shots for me.

The patterns are sort of my own design. I’ve seen pictures of other cross-stitches with similar patterns, and from these pictures I adapted my own designs. It’s always fun drawing up patterns on graph paper – in fact it’s one of the few occasions when I get to rock out my coloured pencils these days.

The Doctor is legen…waitforit…dary. Unsurprisingly, lots of my friends share this viewpoint. Great minds think alike and all that. I have made several Doctor Who bookmarks, including one which I don’t have a photo of, but basically it’s ‘I heart heart DW’, where the DW is the official symbol that’s shaped like the Tardis.

Here are a couple of examples of the Sonic Screwdriver. Matt Smith’s green screwdriver was a pattern that I created from scratch myself. I am quite pleased with it tbh and rather proud.

This lion is a cut-down pattern from a larger picture of the Game of Thrones Houses. The Lannister Lion, although the person I gave it too didn’t really get it. Luckily she is equally into Harry Potter and it works brilliantly as a Gryffindor lion as well, so win/win.

I love making these bookmarks, they're great gifts, quick to do, making the patterns is enormous fun, and it's great to use up old DMC threads rather than having to buy specific colours (I have a large supply of Tardis blue)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Stolen Idea...

Today, for a change (insert sarcasm), I found myself in a bookstore. Among the myriad shelves of wonderment, I was there to's call it "L Variations on Black and White", since I had owned it in ebook form since it was published, but I had always wanted a real copy, and since the movie is coming out shortly and I wanted to buy the original cover before they ruined it with actors on the front.

So there I am, pretending to browse a Chocolate Cooking book while waiting for the other lady in the aisle to leave so I could grab by book and purchase it hurriedly without making eyecontact with the cashier.

Side note: I am not ashamed of reading romances, I will proudly shout it from the rooftops that I am a sucker for a happy ending. But there are limits. I am not ashamed of buying, reading or liking this book, but neither am I ready to shout it from the rooftops. Maybe next year.

The lady in the aisle pulls out her phone. 'Great' I think, 'I'm stuck here while she one finger texts a 200 character message so it's not a waste'. This lady did remind me of my Mum a bit. But she's not texting. She's comparing a book to a list on her phone.

At this point I walked away, because you know, despite all evidence to the contrary, I am not a creeper. But get clever is she? She's got a list of her bookshelf in her phone so she always knows what to buy. A clever idea, but is it really necessary?

Wait. What's this? Out of the corner of my eye I spot one of my favourite things in the world. A book - by one of my favourite authors- ON SALE! It's a Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I've definitely read it before but do I own it? Suddenly the cell-phone list seems like an extremely good idea.

Ultimitely to bring this long walk for a short drink of  water to it's end. I'm making a list of all my books.

Side note, I'm actually a qualified cataloguing librarian. I should really be ashamed of myself for not having done this sooner.
So here is my bookshelf.

My YA bookshelf, note that the Doctor is always watch the Weeping Angel

My romance bookshelf, double layered,
the shelf with the banana is entirely Johanna Lindsey,
and the bottom is big books.

This is going to be a big project, rife with distractions, but it will be really fun as well.

Beaded Christmas Tree

This project began Nov 2013 during a Librarian Trilogy* marathon with a fellow librarian, and was finished (after an 8 month hiatus) yesterday.
*Awesome films, well worth watching, Indiana Jones-esque.
We watched movies, we ate food that was terrible for us, and we thread tiny beads onto wire.

My first beading attempt - a bag-tag flower thing :)

I had done some beading before, but certainly nothing this ambitious, and it was very much a learning curve. We started out with the smaller top branches, threading the beads between our fingers, counting as we went and pre-cutting lengths of wire. Every step in the previous sentence is inefficient and can be improved.

-Don’t pre-cut the wire, just work straight off the reel.
-There’s no need to count as you go. Just load heaps of beads onto the wire and cut it when a branch is complete.
-Many techniques exist for threading beads; for these tiny beads, I personally recommend the ’stab repeatedly’ method:
v  Have a big pile of tiny beads in the bottom of a small bag
v  Fold back the lip of the bag to back a firm opening
v  Hold your stiff wire ≈6cm from the end
v  Gently fold up the last ≈1cm of wire ≈10° (to help stop beads rolling off)
v  Pass the wire horizontally through the beads
v  Lift the wire out, tilting upward slightly
v  These actions creating a digging motion
v  Repeat 5 or 6 times, and then push the threaded beads down the wire past your hand
v  I’m not sure I can be more descriptive than that, short of posting a video (which I lack both the equipment and technical expertise for).
v  In other words: Stab the wire into the beads and hope some of them are threaded on :P (much faster than hand-threading)

Kit from Coastal Treasures, Beachport SA

So ultimately while the top, smaller branches took ages, by the time I was 1/3 of the way through, I was working like 10x faster and the rest of it just came together.
The original pattern doesn’t have the bottom two rows of branches; I added these since I had leftover beads and wire. Although 17 loops on a branch is definitely the maximum, otherwise it becomes too heavy to support itself.

So then I added the decorations, made the star for the top, BROKE the star for the top, shoddily repaired the star for the top and finally attached the star, to the top.

14 beads for a loop, 7 for the gap, so HUNDREDS for a big branch

Close-up of branches

Oh and these beautiful flowers – a gift from a neighbour’s garden, just for doing a couple of easy but nice things for her. Karma rules!