Where’s my whisk?

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Cooking skills are a basic requirement for a simple, healthy and happy life. I love so much about cooking and my little kitchen is my favourite place in my home. I spend a lot of time at the stove top and the sink, often hours at a time and I am happy there.

I must clarify that when I say cooking, I am only talking about basic, homestyle cooking. I have never had any training nor do I aspire to be a chef. What I am passionate about is trying new recipes, making the most out of the ingredients at hand and providing healthy, hearty and interesting food for my family that is good for the body and the soul. I think that’s what sets home cooing apart from any alternative available.

Knowing that you have prepared this meal, either by yourself or, ideally, with the help of some family members is just magic. I sometimes hear the old complaint about ‘all that effort’ or ‘i don’t have the time for that!’. Bullshit. Cooking, when you have had a little practice takes very little time and when you consider all the benefits, it’s silly not to put in a teeny, tiny bit more effort.

A huge part of my interest in cooking is being able to pass on skills and basic knowledge to Oli (and future children). Because, when I look at the supermarket shelves, those skills are being phased out fast in favour of pre cut, pre cooked, pre chewed versions of everything. It saddens me that for all the ‘convenience’ we have gained, we are losing fundamental, useful life skills.

I am guilty of buying ‘convenience’ foods, for sure. I still buy my bread at a bakery and I certainly buy pasta as well as some other products.

What I steer away from are things such as pasta sauces, frozen vegetables, biscuits, cakes, frozen meals such as lasagnes, quiches, other nondescript processed nasties. All of these products are simple to make, many of them you can freeze at home and then you know exactly what you’re eating, haven’t paid for the privilege of  ridiculous amounts of packaging and transport to your supermarket and it will always taste better.

I love the temporary chaos that is sometimes involved in preparing a couple of dishes, or even one if you’re anything like my best friend, who’s fiance refers to her as the tornado in the kitchen. 

Food is my way of showing my friends and family that I love them. A nice meal says so much and more than that, the process of preparing, eating and cleaning up after the meal creates an opportunity to talk, re group or reconnect. There is power in sharing homemade cookies on a picnic rug with your children or giving your partner a thermos of pumpkin soup on a cold day for their lunch. 

Food is a universal language that inspires me. I hope I never stop learning new kitchen tricks and my love for making something out leftovers. Cooking is not a skill that we can afford to loose if we want any chance of a long, healthy and happy life.

Try a new recipe this week or break the habit of buying a supermarket bakery cake (take a look at how long the ingredients list is, it’s scary!). Instead, take half an hour with your kids and make it yourself and then bask in your awesomeness together, whilst stuffing your face with your fresh, homemade and delicious baked goods. 

Peace and unwashed potatoes.

E. x

 

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July’s brooch // ahhhmazing

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July’s brooch is a darling handmade sewing machine from the gorgeous Liz, aka Betty Jo Designs.

I have had a little crush on Liz’s style since I first came across her profile on Instagram. So, naturally it was a pleasure to ask her a few quick questions. 

How long have you been making your own brooches for and what started it?

I have been making brooches and other types of jewellery since I majored in Jewellery Making at Uni.

 I first started my label Betty Jo Designs in 2005 when I began playing around with vintage linoleum. I had found a piece of 40’s lino lining the cupboards of an old kitchen dresser and I fell in love with its beautiful designs and decorative potential.

My earliest brooches were simple circular and flower shapes adorned with retro buttons. After that I designed a selection of woodland critters for my first range called “LIno Forest”. Since then I have dozens of designs in my collections, and am still creating new ones.

 

Do you have formal design training or just a creative person?

 I was always pretty creative growing up.

I have a Bachelor of Education in Art and Craft and taught art in High Schools for several years. While studying I discovered it was fun to use recycled materials in my designs and have never looked back.

These days I’m happiest fossiking in op-shops or salvaging secondhand materials from skips. If there was a degree in gleaning I would be a star pupil.

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How has creating and sharing your unique pieces affected your life?

 Creating my little jewellery business has transformed my life. I was lucky enough to be able to make it my full time job in 2007 and since then it has opened up loads of opportunities to create and make like minded friends. I began a blog that year called Lino Forest http://linoforest.blogspot.com.au/ and still regularly update it with pictures of new designs and general Betty Jo chit chat.

Maybe the biggest thing that has come out of my creative meandering is my decision to open a bricks and mortar shop in 2011. Gleaners Inc. is a cute emporium of handmade and secondhand treasures situated in the historic old Perruci shirt factory at 2 Ballarat St. Brunswick {just off Sydney Rd.} 

It is such a delight to be able to show case wonderful products by Aussie designers and be surrounded by colour and loveliness everyday. I also blog about our shop happenings at http://gleanersinc.blogspot.com.au/

 

Do you have a studio so to speak? If so, what is it like?

 

 Since beginning Betty Jo Designs I have progressed from the kitchen table to a small enclosed verandah at my house. Then, as I grew the business I moved into a warehouse art studio in Brunswick and now I have a studio attached to my shop which is perfect as I can work all day when I’m not doing shop girl things. The only downside is I have to keep it a bit tidier than I’m used to!

 

if you could collaborate with another creative, who would it be and why?

 I would love to collaborate with the amazing Melbourne artist Louise Saxton. http://lousaxtonartspace.blogspot.com.au/

I was lucky enough to meet Louise when she submitted some work for our Doily exhibition held at Gleaners Inc. last year.

Louise creates exquisite work from vintage embroidery and needlework and I would be happy just to pass her scissors or sort her extensive doily collection.

 

Thank you so much to Liz for sharing some insight into her creative background and the makings of such unique brooches.

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Liz has offered to make a custom sewing machine for the luck winner in their colour choice, now how lovely is that!?
 
So for your chance to win one of these cute brooches just post a picture of yourself on Instagram with your favourite brooch, entries can be submitted on any Friday from now up to and including 26th July with the hash tag #noveltybroochfriday and we will announce the winner (randomly chosen) on Monday 29th July. Open to everyone, you can enter as many times as you like either new or vintage brooches.
 
Each month Claire and I will take it in turns to showcase those sellers of vintage brooches and designers we admire and love to wear ourselves.
  
*If you are a designer or sell vintage brooches and wish to donate a brooch for an upcoming month and have your shop showcased, please contact me at eaenglish@gmail.com .
 
Peace and Lino.
E. xx

June // WINNER

Well hello there, all you Gorgeous Brooch Toting Lovelies!

Thank you all for getting involved in the very first month of #noveltybroochfriday. Claire aka ‘Tunabake’ and I were inspired to share our brooches with each other a while ago and then spurred on by the creative wonder, Kristen of Each To Own fame to share the love with everyone.

I love how something as simple as a brooch can bring so many people together and inspire a little bit of fanciness and fun on a Friday. We have had people from all across the globe participate and it warms our hearts. We just love seeing all the little treasures donning your lapels, collars, scarves and hats in some cases.

So, onto the fun stuff! We are so happy to announce the first month’s winner of the very gorgeous fawn brooch from Each To Own…….

(drum roll noise in your head)

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Congratulations to ‘Through the Alley’! Your novelty vintage poodle was image number 168 and according to our random number generator…that’s a winning number!

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I will be revealing July’s spotlight designer and her amazing brooch on Wednesday so please keep showing off all the amazing brooches that we know you have stowed away in the jewellery drawer. Get them out!

Peace and poodles.

E. xx

Chore no more

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After a lovely and very slow paced Sunday morning of puzzles, crochet and coffee I was hit by a huge burst of motivation. I literally jumped out of my chair. (These ‘jolts’ happen often, sometimes even in bed. Seb has been known to respond with “What’s the great idea this time?”Got to love a man who tolerates all of your crazy, right?)

The little garden out the front is my favourite place and so I went there first and the morning sun on my back was just divine. I managed to salvage a plant that was being sucked into the abyss that is my tomato bush and spread out some darling lettuces that are truly taking form now. Once finished I turned my attention to the backyard. After clearing it of a little dog mess and a lot of toys/bikes/shovels/12 foot trampoline, I donned the gumboots and ploughed through the grass with the mower. It stopped for no apparent reason twice and I managed to get it going again both times. I was awfully proud of myself and my yard looked sensational by the time I was finally done.

OB and I had a picnic out the front for lunch and then I turned my attention and determination to the inside of the house. Apparently one cat, one dog, one toddler and two adults in a tiny house equals a certain type of instant chaos. Not only did I do the floors, sheets, kitchen, mountain of washing up and wash and fold three loads of washing but I enjoyed doing it.

This may sound a silly or like I’ve lost all sense of what having a life is but it’s quite amazing what you can enjoy with the right attitude. What struck me today was that I have a simple, lovely home, a gorgeous, albeit tiny garden and a yard that’s big enough for my dog and son to chase one another in, some beautiful trees and a hills hoist. Things are pretty good, so why shouldn’t I enjoy making them look their best? I’m very house proud and love people to feel welcome and at home when they visit. It was a combination of a bright winter’s day and a bit of energy that spurred me on.

One of the best bits it’s knowing that when I get up tomorrow, I’ll be greeted with a lovely clean home and gorgeous garden to look at. It also means that tomorrow I will have time to walk OB to swimming lessons because everything here is done. There will be no need to rush and the day will be ours entirely.

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When I had nothing to clean, mow, maintain or take care of, the thought of doing any of the aforementioned on a Sunday would have had me laughing. But now, I have a family to take care of and a house and yard to be proud of, so why not enjoy them? Putting effort into my home is time well spent for me, not a chore. My son, partner and I all deserve a little piece of heaven when we are at home, because if you can’t make it at home, where can you?

Peace and mower power.

E.x

get inspired

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It’s time to get inspired for the weekend. I am constantly seeking visual stimulation and love pretty things. It’s why I care about how my food is put on the plate even when I eat alone, it’s why I love textiles and why my man-friend is so hunky. I just love nice looking things.

If you’re feeling a little deflated or need to shake things up, I suggest getting back to the good ol’ cut and paste technique of a collage. I do them all the time. I hate to put my magazines in the recycling before having cut every last picture that I find wonderful from it. At the moment those pictures from my last haul are sitting in a pile on my bedside table and every so often, after a sly sideways glance, I flick through them and BAM! Inspired again. 

This may sound a little silly but it works for me and I’d encourage you to try it. It’s also fun to notice the changes in the pictures you’re drawn to. My choices have changed dramatically over the last six months and it’s fascinating, really. Right now I pull pictures of nature, of polkadots (always), raw ingredients and pot plants, mainly. I’m really feeling a shift in my style, fashion wise, and it helps to nut that out, too.

This is also a fun activity to do with littlies. It’s also fun with some Carol King and a glass of wine. 

 

Peace and paper.

E.x

P.s Don’t forget to get your Novelty Brooch Friday pics up on to Instagram. It’s been so fun seeing all of the lovely brooches and we’re getting close to picking this month’s winner! 

 

 

For a picnic

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You can’t really go wrong with a good ANZAC cookie and they are even better when homemade (isn’t everything?).  Here is the vegan version I made last night when my sweet tooth took over my hands and made me whip up a batch. 

When I’m baking, I like to get out all of the ingredients first and have them in front of me. As I use them, I put them away. That way I know if I’ve missed a crucial ingredient if something is left out. Maybe that’s a little OCD but I like to clean as I cook so I don’t have a disaster waiting for me at the end.

Ready, Set, BAKE!

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup wholemeal plain flour

3/4 cup desiccated coconut

3/4 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup vegan margarine – I used regular Nuttelex

2 Tbs golden syrup

1tsp bicarb soda

1 Tbs boiling water.

Combine oats, flour, coconut and sugar in a large bowl.

in a small pan on the stove melt the margarine and golden syrup together.

In a separate (small) bowl combine bicarb and boiling water. Once you have done this, place the bicarb and water mix into the melted pot of loveliness. You will see the chemical reaction here and it will go all frothy. 

Now add the wet to the dry and mix well. Place rolled balls of mixture on to a lined baking tray and press down lightly on them with a fork.

And that’s it!

Bake for approximately 12 minutes. They will be a lovely golden brown colour.

I enjoy this version because it isn’t too sweet and goes perfectly with tea or coffee. If you want it a little sweeter just bump up the coconut to 1 cup. I also used wholemeal flour rather than white and brown instead of white sugar. These are adjustments I regularly make to recipes as OB usually eats my creations and if I can make them a little healthier, I will.

I’ll be making these for our next winter picnic. 

Peace and cookies.

E. x

two years // history

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It is almost two years to the day since I made the hardest decision of my life and separated from Oli’s father. Just after the separation I nursed my Nan in her final days until she eventually lost her fight with cancer and last July I was involved in a dispute at my workplace that gave me such anxiety that I was taken by ambulance to hospital after collapsing in the staff room.

Needless to say, the last two years have been hard. It has been a period of grieving, adjusting, healing and it has taken a damn lot of work to get to where I am now. I was very confused and angry at myself and at the circumstances I had no control over. I lacked direction and at times had a very hard time remaining positive and ‘together’, many times I just couldn’t. My best friend was so patient with me even though, as she later revealed, she thought she had lost the old me. Gosh she must have grown tired of hearing my mindless rants all the time but she stuck by me and was key to my recovery.

I met Seb in February 2012 and the lights came back on. He didn’t know what I was sorting through or what had happened before we met. He was this gorgeous, handsome, interesting man and he was into me, from the very start. We have been together since the day we met, at a Steam Rally, no less. He has brought me back to where I see hope, direction and given me the confidence to again be ambitious and dream big. He would say that he has no idea how he did it, or even that he was doing anything at all, but that’s just the thing, isn’t it? When you meet the right person, magic just happens.

Over the last five months I have really made some huge steps to living a life I can be proud of. I managed to get an amazing job that serves my local community and that I love and I have resumed my studies and am working hard at my Bachelor of Education (Primary). I have things under control now. I have direction, I am enjoying my new ‘simple’ life and most importantly I am happy and proud of myself again. 

What I want to do now is something totally selfish because I have head space for it as well as (maybe) the time. I’m launching ‘Operation Best Me’. This is just a silly way of saying that I’d like to have more energy to fit in all the things I need to do as well as maybe look a little bit foxy come summer. I’m taking a different approach to it than I have in the past, though. I’m not going to use the scales to measure my success and I’m not going to join a gym. 

I’m going to use all the lessons learned through simple living to get me to a place of health and complete contentment with my body. I am going to employ techniques such as discipline and self motivation and I’m going to use this space to stay accountable. I will give a brief update and some tips, if I have them, every Monday. Maybe some of you have some little improvements you’d like to make? I’d like to stress that this is a long term and lifestyle choice I’m making, not a diet. 

I need to be a healthy, fit and energised lady to have any hope in hell of keeping up with all the things I’d love to achieve. I’ll share recipes as I go and hopefully you will see little improvement over time. I don’t want to use numbers as an indicator of my success as I feel like I may set myself up for failure if I base this achievement on something as silly as a number of kilos. It’s bigger than that and deserves more credit than a number.

When I listen to my body, make healthy choices, spend a lot of time outdoors and have energy for study I am a very happy lady. I’ve decided to make that the norm, rather than just a ‘sometimes’ situation. I am investigating local bushwalking trails (apparently there are a few, ya know, in the Blue Mountains! haha) I have also reclaimed a bike from the side of the road that will be fixed up in no time and I’ll be rolling all over the place. 

This is my ‘Go you!’ gift because I’m proud of where I am in life and I’d like that to be reflected in my health and appearance.

Please let me know if you want to join in as there is always strength in (people) numbers. 😉

Peace and wheatgrass (hehe)

E. xx