Monday, August 13, 2012
Whoops! Seems I completely forgot to blog for the last six months. How did that happen?? I blame the weather! When the weather is bad and the light is bad I stop taking photos and when I stop taking photos I forget to blog and then after not blogging for a while I also forgot to take photos so I ended up in a vicious cycle which I am now trying to desperately break out of.
Posted by Julia at 9:20 AM
Thursday, February 9, 2012
A little while ago, my mother-in-law very kindly sent me an exquisite piece of Liberty fabric. It would have made a beautiful skirt for summer but as it was December and I was dying to get this gorgeous textile onto my body, I decided to make it into a winter scarf instead. I backed the fabric with some black wool that I had left over from another project and the result is a very warm and elegant scarf. Unfortunately, the winter has been so mild this year that I've barely had the need to wear it. In fact, if I'd gone ahead and made a lightweight skirt, I probably would have worn it more than the scarf by now. I'm not complaining. I've made no secret of my distaste for the winter months although I am a little freaked out by the strangeness of it all. Having said that, the temperatures do seem to be dropping again so I shall be pulling out my scarf and reveling in the luxury of it for the next few days at least.
I'm still trying to eat vegan. It's funny, I thought that as I'm already a vegetarian, being vegan would be quite easy for me but for some reason I'm finding it rather challenging. I shall stick with it though. I'm having lots of fun trying out new recipes to keep me motivated and the excuse to indulge in things like these very yummy peanut butter cups from Alicia Silverstone's, 'The Kind Diet' (recipe here) makes it all seem worthwhile somehow.
Posted by Julia at 9:15 AM
Thursday, February 2, 2012
About seven years ago, I bought a sushi mat in Chinatown thinking I couldn't live without one. This week I got it out for the first time when I became overwhelmed by an urge to make vegetarian sushi. I used a recipe from Rose Eliot's 'New Vegetarian Cooking' which is a book that I have owned for about ten years. I've looked at the sushi recipe hundreds of times but always moved on because the first words of the recipe are "These are quite a lot of trouble to make...."
Now that I've finally got around to making them, I can't believe how simple they are to pull together. I would say that they are quite a lot of trouble to make compared to scrambled eggs on toast but otherwise really not that much trouble at all. I'm guessing that the key to ensuring that all goes well is that the rice needs to be the right consistency i.e. sticky because that's the glue that holds it all together. I used Japanese sushi rice, followed the directions on the packet and then followed Rose Eliot's instructions to add 2 Tbs of rice vinegar; 2 Tbs of mirin and 1 tsp of salt to the cooked rice and that combination resulted in perfect rice. For the fillings I used strips of peppers which you need to broil and skin and slices of avocado. Once you have your rice and fillings ready, you roll them up in a piece of pre-toasted nori seaweed and voila, you have a lovely sushi roll. I'm not even sure that the mat is an essential. I think you could probably use a cloth just as effectively. There are some useful vegetarian sushi recipes here including this one which looks interesting.
I pulled these together whilst also cooking dinner for my family who wouldn't touch seaweed with a barge pole. However, the rolls were so pretty that the girls showed a lot of interest in them so next time I make this (which will be soon, I'm not waiting seven years again) I'm going to get them to help and then try it because I think they would actually like the sushi if they gave it a go.
One of the reasons for my overwhelming urge to try out new recipes lately is that I've been flirting with the idea of becoming vegan. I haven't eaten meat for over twenty years so it's not a huge leap just a deepening of that commitment I suppose. I don't think I could be a one hundred percent vegan for ever but I'm certainly going to try to limit my intake of dairy and eggs for a while.
Posted by Julia at 7:53 AM
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
When it snowed in October, I got a bit panicky about Winter. It's not my favorite season and the thought of it starting so early sent me into a mad panic to get myself prepared so that I could at least survive it with some level of comfort. I've already mentioned the socks I've been knitting feverishly (I'm on my third pair) but other preparations were made too. That very first cold snap made my skin start drying out (which is one of the things I hate most about winter apart from the searing unbearable cold and short days) so I did a bit of research and found a recipe for a healing hand salve here. First of all you have to make a herbal infusion with calendula flowers which are marvelous pretty things with lots of healing properties, and then you make the salve using beeswax. "Wow" is all I can say. Every time my hands look a teeny bit too dry, I break this stuff out and so far It's done a fantastic job of healing my skin and preventing it from cracking which is one of the casualties of winter for me. I keep it in my bag at all times.
I also made some Elderberry syrup to both prevent getting nasty bugs and to use medicinally in the event of a nasty bug getting a hold of one of us. Again all I can say is "Wow". I've been taking this every day since the start of the flu/cold season and so far, I've managed to elude those nasty viruses. There have been a few occasions already where I felt as though I was coming down with something but took a dose of this and the symptoms miraculously disappeared. There's still plenty of winter left and still lots of lurking viruses but I feel a bit more confident about warding them off with this in my arsenal.
Lastly I think this is a time of year where a bit of pampering goes a long way so I made these delightful lotion bars for us to use after showers and baths. They smell delicious and are easy for little hands to hold so my kids happily apply them to their own skin after their bath and then run around asking it they smell like chocolate, which they do.
Crikey! At this rate I'm going to be sorry when the winter ends.
Posted by Julia at 8:20 AM
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Last Friday I took the kiddos to a local art museum which is something I haven't done for ages. They are all at a good age for this now. My middle child recently decided that she wants to be an artist so I thought it would be particularly interesting for her. My eldest child claims to have no interest in art but then blows my mind with his observations when actually confronted with it. The youngest always seems happy to tag along with what everyone else is doing.
One of my favorite things in the world is talking with children about art. It's so refreshing to hear what they see in a piece. It's always unfiltered and without pretension - just an honest reaction to what they see. They also seem to learn so much from it.
There were some very nice pieces on display but we all really loved these tree figures by Joseph Wheelwright in the sculpture garden.
I am totally captivated right now by this amazing murmuration clip.
Posted by Julia at 8:14 AM
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Halloween weekend looked like this around these parts. This does not bode well for someone who dislikes winter as much as I do. The summer seemed woefully fleeting, Fall almost didn't make an appearance and now we are catapulting 900 miles an hour toward Winter once again. The movie The Shining is starting to take on a whole new meaning for me. I need a plan.
I'm trying really, really hard to embrace the winter and prepare myself for it so that it is a cosy, peaceful time and not likely to turn me into an axe wielding maniac. I am girding my loins (I love that expression) in preparation. So far I have knitted one pair of socks. This in itself is a major miracle because prior to now, I have been completely unable to knit. A couple of weeks ago, a very powerful desire to knit socks overwhelmed me and I got myself a pattern book and a set of DPNs (double pointed needles to us knitters you know) and within seconds of getting my hands on them, I knitted like a maniac for about ten days and lo and behold at the end of it I had socks. My husband said I seemed obsessed. It was as if my brain had been taken over by a wonderful knitting elf. A wonderful knitting elf who was prone to make mistakes but carried on regardless until first one and then two socks were done. In the past, I've never succeeded in getting beyond casting on and knitting a couple of rows before giving up because so many stitches had been dropped and new stitches gained. This time it was different, I made mistakes but I kept on going. So now I can knit which is so cool - except that now I have yet another creative endeavor to try to fit in somewhere. At least when I couldn't knit, I didn't even have to think about making sweaters and stuff but now I've added socks, sweaters and hats for the whole family to my list of projects. This could just be the key to getting me through winter. Perhaps the reason I have disliked winter so intensely is that I was not a knitter but now that I am a knitter it will save me from becoming a nutter.
I have to say, that as well as the knitting elf who took over my brain, this book from Patons was really simple to follow and may also have played a big part in my sock success. I'm very very into knitting socks now and have already cast on my next pair. Hand knitted socks are so soft and warm, I'm hooked. Crikey, I'm almost feeling optimistic about the months to come.
Posted by Julia at 8:37 AM
Friday, October 28, 2011
At the moment I am reading 'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith who interestingly also wrote '101 Dalmations'. I watched the movie on Netflix a little while ago and found it quite captivating as it depicts a somewhat Bohemian, poverty stricken but genteel family who live in a castle. The father is a writer, the stepmother an artist and artists' model and there is a lot of yummy vintage frock wearing. Arty, literary types wearing lovely clothes is always going to do it for me so all in all most enjoyable.
There is an episode in the book where the protagonist, her stepmother and sister find a packet of green dye and subsequently dye every textile in their house green. As they are so poor, it is their only entertainment and they become quite addicted to dyeing. I have just overcome a similar addiction and am currently in RIT dye abuse rehab.
It all began with a salmon pink crocheted cardi in my wardrobe which, though lovely, never got worn as it just felt altogether too glaringly pink every time I put it on. I purchased a bottle of RIT dye and managed to dye it a most beautiful silvery grey. I was going for navy but who cares, it was a fabulous result and I was hooked. I dug out a pair of white pants which I never wear because.... well because they are white pants. Anyway, for some time I have been obsessed with the color of this dress and the color palette of the Sessun Fall collection and got it into my head that the pants needed to be a very specific burntish orangeish brownish type color and that this color and no other color would do. I went to the RIT dye website and lo and behold they have a lovely and very extensive color chart complete with the dye formulas needed to make them. To cut a long story short, I made umpteen trips to the grocery store to purchase various colors. I had a dye mishap day when I used powder dye instead of liquid and created a weird green color. Not wanting to be wasteful I used it anyway. It was just like the scene from 'I capture the Castle' as I went hunting all over the house for items to dye green. I finally I ended up with the exact color I was after and dyed the white pants accordingly. I also had a day of dying everything black and then I almost moved into my red phase but the combination of the grocery store not having the color I needed to get the exact red I was after and the fact that I had pretty much run out of things to dye stopped me in my tracks. The obsession has faded but it was intense there for a while.