An early Christmas with two desserts.

This year our family has been lucky enough to start Christmas early by celebrating with our whole family last Sunday.  We had all the siblings and partners in one place, at one time so took advantage of that by cooking up a storm, chopping down the biggest Christmas Tree the farm had and exchanging gifts.

Nick went and cut down this giant tree at a Christmas Tree Farm nearby.

Nick went and cut down this giant tree at a Christmas Tree Farm nearby.

Ali made this beautiful wreath from natives on our property.

Ali made this beautiful wreath from native plants on our property.

I (with the help of Ali & Pete) made two cakes… one kind of raw and one not. Both were super tasty, even though one was a massive failure. The first, a ‘Raw, Not-Raw Chocolate and Strawberry Yoghurt Cake’ was inspired by a recipe in the unbakery cookbook. I visited the unbakery when I was in NZ recently after being a total fangirl on Instagram for a while. They certainly didn’t disappoint and I was so excited about ‘baking’ something from this book, however the recipe just didn’t work for me.

Deconstructed Raw, Not-Raw Chocolate and Strawberry Yoghurt Cake.  Topped with fresh strawberries and meringue.

Deconstructed Raw, Not-Raw Chocolate and Strawberry Yoghurt Cake. Topped with fresh strawberries and meringue.

The cake actually didn’t end up being a cake… we called it a deconstructed cake to make us feel better about fact it was a bit of a failure. The flavour was excellent, however upon attempting to build the layers with yoghurt between, the base crumbled completely. It was quite a shame really as I had visions of a tall chocolate and strawberry tower topped with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and crunchy meringue. Alas, it was not to be, and turned out as you can see above… in a big messy pile that we all enjoyed anyway (a bit like life perhaps).

Anyway, seeing as the base was not a great recipe, I won’t bother sharing it here. I will however share the frozen yoghurt recipe which was totally perfect.

Healthy(ish) Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt.

Ingredients.

3 cups of chopped strawberries
2 cups of natural, unsweetened yoghurt (I make our yoghurt, but something like Jalna Biodynamic would be perfect)
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
1/3 – 1/2 of a cup of golden caster sugar
1 cup of chopped 70% chocolate or raw cacao nibs

Method

  1. Chop strawberries into small chunks. If they’re cut too large, they will freeze through and be too hard and big to bite into easily.
  2. Combine all ingredients, apart from the chocolate, using a mixer or by hand.
  3. Churn mixed ingredients in an ice-cream machine as per the manufacturers instructions.*
  4. Just before churning has finished, throw in the chocolate and ensure it’s mixed through evenly.
  5. Place into a container in the freezer, and leave until solid. This time mine was left overnight but generally, about five hours will do.

* If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, here’s some links for ways to make frozen desserts without one.

This was quite a hard frozen yoghurt, so I took it out of the freezer about 20 minutes before serving to soften it up.

The partially laid decorated table.  We served the food buffet style from the kitchen island.

The partially laid, decorated table. We served the food buffet style from the kitchen island.

Centrepiece close-up.

So, the other cake I baked was much more traditional and actually looked like a cake. It was one I had baked before and to be honest, the only reason i made it for Christmas was the look of disappointment on Nick’s face when I told him we were having a raw cake for Christmas dessert. To make up for almost ruining Christmas, I also whipped up some homemade custard using the recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion. It was a Merry Christmas after all.

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Chocolate, Cherry & Coconut Cake. (Adapted from Wholefood Baking).

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of white spelt flour
1/2 cup of raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp of bi-carb
2 tspns of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of natural, unsweetened yoghurt
125g softened, unsalted butter
165g of rapadura sugar
70g of golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of chopped cherries
1/2 cup of moist coconut flakes

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F) and grease and/or line a 20cm cake tin.
  2. Combine softened butter and sugars into a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Combine dry ingredients into a bowl, whisk and set aside.
  4. One-by-one, add eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well after each egg.
  5. Add vanilla and yoghurt to the wet mixture until just combined.
  6. Add dry mixture to the wet mixture, using the slowest setting on your mixer until just combined.
  7. Throw in the cherries and coconut and mix through evenly.
  8. Place mixture into lined tin and smooth top over.
  9. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until inserted skewer comes out clean.
Chocolate, Cherry & Coconut Cake

Chocolate, Cherry & Coconut Cake

 

 

 

Confessions of a lazy seamstress.

Not long ago I made a skirt for Anouk (the one she’s wearing below) and got many compliments on it. Great, one may say, however I felt as though such compliments were undeserving.  You see, to the untrained eye, I put together a few pieces of fabric and it magically became a skirt but to me it was a pretty rubbish job.

The badly made skirt that made me crazy enough to want to start another creative endeavour!

The badly made skirt that made me crazy enough to want to start another creative endeavour!

I wouldn’t say I am bad a sewing, or even a beginner, however, I tend to be super lazy. I don’t always press my seams, and when making the skirt in question, I didn’t bother buying the correct colour cotton or even changing the bobbin (meaning the top was grey and bottom, black).

So, feeling super ashamed of my laziness, I’ve decided it’s time to improve my sewing skills and put in the amount of effort the fabric and process deserve. I don’t want my girls to turn 15 and be sad they wore homemade clothes, I want them to think it’s awesome!  My mum made nearly all our clothing when we were kids and even though I may not have thought it out of the ordinary at the time, now, I know how extraordinary it was to provide everything for five kids.

For my first project, I chose to make Anouk some shorts. I chose this pattern, free from the team at Purl Soho as it only had a couple of pieces to cut out and enough detailed finishing to give me something to take my time and care with. I first saw the pattern when Felicia at The Craft Sessions* made a pair. She has a way of explaining her projects that make them seem so accessible, and obviously her finished products are divine.

I dragged my mum over to Addicted to Fabric  in order to choose some good quality fabric. Unfortunately Canberra doesn’t have a lot of choice when it comes to fabric shops and I am not yet confident enough with my knowledge of them to buy online, so a 45 minute drive it is! Luckily, my mum is a regular there as it’s a mecca for quilting fabrics and I was able to make a quick selection without the little ones making a mess. Incidentally, they loved being in the store as some of their favourite things to do are play with fabrics, yarn etc.

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I ended up choosing a light cotton for the main colour and some lovely Moda fabric for the contrast. I believe it’s technically a quilting cotton, but it has a much lighter weight than usual and sits beautifully. I made the decision to use a ready-made bias binding, rather than track down a bias tape maker and creating my own and I’m really pleased as I think the contrasting tape is super cute.

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It took me quite a few hours to get these done. I stopped and started over about a week, making sure to read and re-read each step in the instructions and pressing every single seam. I did use the overlocker for the inside seams rather than sewing them and then zigzagging the raw edge… it would have been stupid to do otherwise!

Mistakes were most definitely made. I had to unpick and re-do one of the bias details on the leg and upon finishing, I realised that on both legs, I’d ever so slightly missed the underside as I came around the corners.  Not to worry though, my mum’s already taught me a better technique for next time.

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I ended up doing the waistband four times. At first it was too long, then I made it too short (twice) and finally I got it right.  I think next time, I’m better off cutting the waistband just before I’m ready to attach it, so that it can be measured to the exact length I need. Finally, there are also some seams that don’t match up, but that’s ok, at least I used the right colour cotton this time!

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I made them in the 3 – 4 size even though she’s still a size 2 as I’m hoping she’ll get some wear out of them next year again… if not, there’s Didi who is destined to live her life in hand-me-downs! Overall I loved making these shorts (and so far Anouk loves wearing them) and I’ve already cut out a second pair from a piece of black linen I removed when altering a skirt of mine.

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Highlights from New Zealand.

We were lucky enough to jump on a couple of planes recently and head across the sea to New Zealand where my sister and brother-in-law have been living for 18 months.  I’d never been to NZ so was super excited to see what all the fuss was about… I wasn’t super excited about travelling with two toddlers, but it was better than expected and we’re still here to tell the tale!

Anyway, we stayed north of Auckland in a town called Mangawhai Heads… it’s pretty much like the South Coast but greener and with an awesome deli that makes sandwiches to die for.

The view from Ali and Pete's front window.

The view from Ali and Pete’s front window.

Te Arai Beach.  That's Nick and Pete down there with the kids.

Te Arai Beach. That’s Nick and Pete down there with the kids.

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Everything was so verdant compared to home.

Unki Pete and Anouk are the best of friends.

Unki Pete and Anouk are the best of friends.

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These silk roses hang from the roof of the cinema at Matakana Village.

Picnic Bay at Te Arai

Picnic Bay at Te Arai where we collected some beautiful shells to bring home.

Goat Island was pretty great to wander about.  The water is so clear you can see the fish swimming around the rocks.

Goat Island was pretty great to wander about. The water is so clear you can see the fish swimming around the rocks.

Hello little cow.  Anouk was in heaven with so many cows and sheep to point out and meet.

Hello little cow. Anouk was in heaven with so many cows and sheep to point out and meet.

Making friends.

Making friends.

Ali and I went to Mondays' on our kid free adventure to Auckland.  We drank a lot of kombucha and smoothies that day.

Ali and I went to Mondays’ on our kid free adventure to Auckland. We drank a lot of kombucha and smoothies that day.

Bethell's Beach was black sand as far as the eye can see.

Bethell’s Beach was black sand as far as the eye can see.

Post black sand beach picnic (hence Anouk's 'black eye')!

Post black sand beach picnic (hence Anouk’s ‘black eye’)!

It was a really great holiday and suited us perfectly seeing as we’re not big on having an itinerary to schedule of any kind.  NZ is totally kid friendly too, with many food establishments having toys and a welcoming attitude towards the young customers… oh, and a babyccino is called a ‘fluffy’ over there!

It did make me realise how much harder travelling is with kids.  When we only had one, it was a dream, but man, two of them is just a whole different ball game. Luckily, the people travelling around us were generally nice, although there was one girl who gave us withering looks and huffed and puffed every time a kid breathed (we were seated near other toddlers, so it was kind of noisy).  I just hope someday if she has kids, she realises what an arse she was being!

The airport highlight was when Delphi decided to start walking during our stopover in Sydney. Three hours of back and forth between the chair and the window, holding her shirt saying, “walking, walking, walking”… kind of hilarious really!

In conclusion, great holiday!

A name change and some (unrelated) photos.

For a while I’ve been tossing around the idea of changing the name of my blog and actually committing to writing at least once a week. When I initially named this virtual space, I had no idea of where I wanted my life to take me as I was in the throes of being a new mother, sleep deprived, covered in breast milk and wondering if the little being would ever sleep anywhere but on my lap.

We planted or orchard this year after we bartered design skills for trees with some wonderful friends.

We planted our orchard this year after we bartered design skills for trees with some wonderful friends.

Fast forward two and a half years later and I am still sleep deprived, covered in breast milk and hoping the two little beings will nap long enough for me to eat lunch and sit in silence for more than 30 seconds… however, I am no longer shell shocked and have a pretty clear idea of where I want to be.

That place is right here. For the first time in my life, I not concerned with where the grass might be greener. I don’t wonder if I need (or want) a career. I don’t worry about where I will sink my heels in and call home. Most importantly, I’m happy and satisfied with the minutiae of my day-to-day and it’s pretty darn liberating.

After the storm last night, Anouk was keen to play under the 'waterfall' overflowing from our tank.

After the storm last night, Anouk was keen to play under the ‘waterfall’ overflowing from our tank. Delphi was pretty annoyed to be stuck in the Ergo.

So, why From Little Things… Well, it’s a title that reflects how I got to this point. Many moons ago when I met Nick I remember him sharing his desire to live out of the suburbs and of the city. He wanted to live somewhere that allowed room to breathe and be at one with nature. I thought that was nice enough, but had my own ideas about where life was going to lead me.

Yet here we are, seven or so years later. That little seed of an idea was planted in my brain and together we decided to embark on this quiet and steady journey that will hopefully get us to a point of self-sustainability, a gentle rhythm and, dare I say it, enlightenment.

We’re not farmers, but we want to be. We’re not gardeners or builders or seamstresses, but we wish to be. Hopefully you’ll enjoy following my story as I share the successes and the failures as this little thing grows larger than I ever dreamed.

Nick is in the process of moving and rebuilding our greenhouse.  Plastic should be up this weekend.

Nick is in the process of moving and rebuilding our greenhouse. Plastic should be up this weekend.

 

 

Springtime musings

Yesterday morning I awoke and realised as of today, Delphi will have lived through every season once.  I suppose by the time she’s my age that won’t mean much, but for now, at one, it seems like a pretty big deal.

I don’t know about anyone else, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it’s Winters’ end already.  I swear it was just yesterday I was packing away the t-shirts and sun hats, watching the leaves turn and wondering if I would run out of ways to cook potatoes once all the summer produce had finished.

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Needless to say, despite the grey old morning we had yesterday, it is indeed, Spring.  Once I dragged myself out to the kitchen and saw the branches of cherry blossoms sitting on my bench, I couldn’t help but smile and drink in their heady scent.

I often have big plans for a thorough Spring clean, however, this year, I don’t.  I think I am just going to do a few bits and pieces as I see their need arise.  Rather than spend the warm days inside cleaning, I plan on getting out and focussing on the garden.  We have a excavator arriving sometime this week (I hope) to do all the stuff that would take years by hand.  I’ve written my spreadsheet, have a list of what seeds still need to be purchased and hopefully, in about 12 weeks time were going to be so overrun with organic produce our family and friends can share in the goods.

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Hopefully I will get to spend more time in the pottery studio.  I don’t get nearly as much time as I need to hone my (basic) skills and develop my craft.  I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head and for the first time in a long time, I went and bought a visual diary to draw and jot down ideas and techniques.

I’ve already been re-reading this book.  I’ve definitely mentioned it before and highly recommend it to all women interested in yoga and living harmoniously with the seasons.  I actually think that part of the reason I don’t feel sick of Winter is because I fully embraced the season for all its positives.  I slowed down, hibernated, ate warming foods that grow and flourish in the cold months and when it became just too darn hard to get to yoga classes on dark nights I gave myself a break.

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Tonight I’ve got my first yoga class back in the studio and I can’t express how much I am looking forward to it!  I’m looking forward to this season in general as it’s a time to feel light, nourished and hopeful as future plans are made and the present is appreciated.

Happy Birthday Didi!

So, little Delphi turned one this week… I can’t believe how quickly the past year has gone. It seems like just yesterday the babe was born, a teeny, tiny 2.7kgs of cuddles.  She made our family feel complete from the second she arrived and Anouk fell in love with her instantly. I love watching the friendship between the sisters grow and being only 19 months apart, it’s really easy for them to play and make mischief together.

I made Didi this crown seeing as she was the Birthday Queen.

I made Didi a crown to wear seeing as she was the Birthday Queen.

At one year of age, Didi is right on the cusp of walking, says a handful of words that include, up (because she always wants a cuddle), down (which usually comes after she has said up and executed a kind of jump), I’m hungry (because she is always freaking hungry), cake (duh) and mine (thanks Anouk).  She loves making mess, eating dirt, sushi, dancing and her sister.

Birthday selfie!

Birthday selfie.

Yesterday we had a little celebration ahead of her big bash this weekend.  After having our plans for a carousel ride foiled, we ended up taking a cake and some sushi down to the Sculpture Garden at the NGA for a roam around in the sun and some Rodin action.

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We were lucky enough for my brother, one of my sisters and my mum (obviously not pictured) to join us for the cake!

It ended up being the perfect afternoon and we stayed a couple of hours looking at the outdoor sculptures (only going indoors for a visit to the parents room and a look at the shop).  It was the first time Delphi has been able to get properly involved in the experience and I think her favourite thing was the Baldessin in the Gallery’s foreground.  I’m not sure George meant for it to be used as drums, but Delphi sure thought they were fun!

Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DIDI!!! We love you very, very much.

Entering the Skyspace. (TURRELL, James, Within without (2010) )

Entering the Skyspace. (TURRELL, James, Within without (2010))

Looking straight up.

Looking straight up.

It was about 3.30pm when I took this.

It was about 3.30pm when I took this.

Inside the Skyspace.

Inside the Skyspace.

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