I have such a desire to do everything

Maggie Stiefvater, YA author extraordinaire, recently posted this to her tumblr:

“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.”

– Claude Monet

I feel like this All. The. Time.

Current things I want to do, but have not had time, include:

1. Kokedama-making. Again, I have all the necessary supplies in my possession, I just need some time to make the damn things. Sigh.

2. Making this infinity scarf. I bought wool and everything. But the whole “it only takes an hour!” thing is a lie, if you don’t know how to knit, anyway. In an hour I did this:


Yep, I managed to figure out how to cast on. Too tightly. So I had to unravel everything I’d done when my baby woke up from her nap, rather than carry on later. Sigh.

3. Make a paper pom-pom/paper fall wall decoration type thing for the lounge room. I managed to finish the smaller one I had planned for the toddler’s room:


But I haven’t had time to make enough for a boring corner we have in the lounge room. Sigh. So far I’ve made multiple fans AND pom-poms for it, but not enough. Turns out that you need heaps and heaps.

The additional problem with this last one is that I keep making fans or pom-poms that I think my friends will like and putting them aside for them.

4. Embroider myself an embroidery hoop necklace. I bought a kit from Dadnelyne and everything:

5. Blog. I have so many topics I need to blog about.


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Blessed are the cheesemakers

So, as previously mentioned, I bought this cheese-making kit:


The Mad Millie Cheese kit, which apparently has much trendier packaging now: http://www.madmillie.com/shop/Cheese/Cheese+Making+Kits/Mad+Millie+Beginners+Italian+Kit.html

And it turns out that making cheese is sometimes much easier than you’d expect, and sometimes much harder.

I started with the ricotta. Honestly, you don’t need a kit for this; take milk, add acid, leave for a bit, ditch the whey. I have no idea why I never made this before.


The end result? The most delicious ricotta I’ve ever tasted. I will always make my own ricotta from now on.

I made enough for two lots; one to have fresh and one to make a ricotta salata, which is a pressed, salted, aged variant.

After one day:



After a week, it was dry enough to grate:


I just had to weigh it down and salt it every day to try and dry it out.

It sort of ended up like a very-slightly-dryer fetta at the end. It was nice enough, sort of inoffensive. Not hard to make.

But mozzarella?  Wow that’s hard.




Curdling the milk.


Cutting the curds.


Ditching the whey. It’s actually quite tasty at this point. But nothing like mozzarella.

After this step, it becomes a million times harder than making ricotta. You need to melt the curds in water at 70-80 degrees and then handle them while they’re still boiling hot, with your bare hands, and stretch them and fold them and stretch them and fold them. It’s how they get that really chewy, stringy consistency.

Then you need to shape them into neat balls, without squeezing any of the moisture out of them, or else the cheese ends up dry. This bit is actually harder than handling boiling-hot cheese products, if you can imagine.


 The final product. It was bloody delicious. But I’m buying my mozzarella from now on.

The fourth cheese that my kit makes is mascarpone, but I haven’t tried that yet. I want to wait until I need it for tiramisu :)

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The worst bit about the entire fitness industry

PumpedI’m currently doing an exercise and meal program. And I’ve remembered why I hate this sort of thing. It isn’t the fake tan and awful colourful work-out clothes. Although that’s all pretty shit.

No. It’s the bimbo-y, nonsensical language. I not only cannot take it seriously, it gets up my nose.

I’m not alone in this, I’ve checked. It alienates other people, too. For instance:

Are you ready to kick some butt? It’s time to bring your A-game! Dig deeper and push yourself to the next level! Yes! I want you to smash these out of the park! Go hard! Get pumped! You need to get in the zone and bring 110%! Bring it! Crank it up and nail your workout! 



Is it supposed to be motivating? Because it is actually just irritating and distracting.

Why are there so many exclamation marks? WHY??!?! And oh, god, the metaphors. They aren’t mixed, they’re pureed. INTO WORD VOMIT.

Why is it all so bossy? The imperative tense was never meant to be used this way. And I don’t react well to the imperative tense in general.

Also? Apparently, I’m on a “journey”. I wish it were somewhere better than off to Woolworths to buy some more fucking baby spinach (OK, I confess. I haven’t actually been buying baby spinach because I fucking hate baby spinach. I have no idea why it’s in every frigging recipe).

My pilates instructor asked me about my program the other day and I had a rant to her about how annoying I was finding it all. I told her that honestly, the studio’s lack of bimbo-y crap was part of the reason why I’ve been doing pilates for eight years and I appreciated it (they do theraputic pilates for injured people, though, so I suppose that helps).

I also told her that I should totally set up a gym where the instructors are all wearing crappy old K-mart tracksuits pants and holey old t-shirts, and start each class by saying “Look, I know we’d all rather be down the pub drinking and eating chips. But we need to do this class once a week so we don’t all get diabetes or whatever. We don’t have to pretend to like it. Now, I’m going to put on this Marilyn Manson CD and let’s all just do 10 push-ups. No, I don’t want to do them either but I can’t have a stroke next week, I have book club and I don’t want to have read that stupid boring book for nothing. I’ll count us in.”

I would make millions. MILLIONS.

In the meantime, I am thinking of going to these hoola hooping/80s dancing fitness classes because at least they look like they have a sense of humour.



Posted in Whinging about something that's shit | Leave a comment

Happy Mother’s day! Here’s something pink. Clean the house!

I have been so frustrated and annoyed by some of the stupid crap advertising around Mother’s Day this year.

For instance, look at this “Super Freakin Awesome Mothers Day Deal” (sic) from DesignByThem. One of my friends posted about it somewhere. It’s DesignByThem’s Dial Hanger hook, discounted for Mother’s Day… but only in pink.

The hook comes in five other colours, but your mum is supposed to have the pink one because she has a vagina.

And T2’s Mother’s Day range? You can have teas named Ruby, Fuchsia or Rose, and teacups in Flamingo or Magenta, accessorised with “pretty in pink” “fun” infusers.

Apparently we’ve moved from telling little girls they have to have pink, and only pink, to telling their mums that too. How super freaking awesome.

But the cake has been taken by Myer, who I saw the other day have included a whole display in the women’s section of their Southland store of suggested Mother’s Day gifts:


Why, yes, the products pictured ARE all cleaning products. I’m so glad you noticed!

What. The. Actual. Fuck.

Did Tony Abbott design this display??? Is this what his wife is getting???

There was some gardening stuff in there too, but the bit that got me was that this was in the middle of the fashion section. They couldn’t have found some fricking SCARVES to put on there? Some SLIPPERS? A bloody wallet or two?

Also, as if ANY partner is going to go “why, yes! I WILL get the mother of my children that fetching dustpan and brush as her Mother’s Day present! Look at the flower on it!” without expecting to have it bashed over his head when she opens it on Sunday.

So what the hell is the purpose of this? SOMEONE TELL ME.


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Royal commemorative mugs that I made exist

So, yeah, um, after my last post about my search for kitsch royal commemorative mugs, I may have become enamoured with my idea of silly fake ones and made my own design, which I then had printed up.




WallisMugFront WallisMugBack

I would just like everyone to know that yes, I did to this instead of exercising or writing or doing several other productive things. And, yet, I don’t at all believe it to have been a misuse of my very limited spare time.

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Royal commemorative mugs that I wish existed

A few of our mugs have broken over the years and I’ve decided we need some new ones. I’ve had a look around and geez there are a lot of boring and/or ugly mugs for sale.

So I’ve decided I might as well go the hilarious option and get us some kitsch royal commemorative mugs because hilarious.

I’ve been looking and these ones are ok:

From etsy. I’m not telling you where as I think I want this one. UPDATE: Some bastard bought this while I was writing my blog post!!! That’ll teach me to frig around…

This one gets more points for hilarity — look at the cherubs with their pink and blue ribbons! — but it looks a bit fragile and I don’t like the fluting up the top. It’s from this etsy listing here

But I’ve realised I really just want one with the queen mum drinking a G&T on it and smiling prettily in a big hat.

Or possibly one with Helena Bonham-Carter eating chocolates in a fancy car while pretending to be the queen mother, and Colin Firth covering her cheek with kisses while she giggles uncontrollably. If that could be captured on a mug.

But most of all, I want one with Wallis Simpson on it, with “not the queen” in a ribbon underneath. Or maybe “Commemorating the not coronation of That Woman”.

Or, you know, something similar.

These are the times that I wish I was better at drawing. Or photoshop.

UPDATE: So yeah, um, about that… turns out my photoshop skills were adequate.

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It’s been all about fermentation at our place recently.

I had been pondering the idea of several fermenterrific things for a while — probably since I started watching River Cottage — but my partner’s impending low-FODMAP diet just sort of tipped me over the edge into home-fermentation land.

Fermentation the first: sourdough

Regular wheat isn’t allowed under a low-FODMAP diet, but spelt is; and it’s even more allowed if it’s in sourdough bread form. Which sounds fine, except that shop-bought sourdough spelt bread tends to be not only expensive but also a bit stale. Not my favourite combo.

Add that my friend N makes delicious home-made bread just about daily and she has TWO kids — a three-year-old AND a baby — and I thought it was just embarrassing if she can find the time to make her own bread and I can’t.

It turned out that finding the time was easy since it required small amounts of time, semi-frequently — perfect for someone who’s at home all day with a baby — but it was all kind of a pain in the ass.


The starter burbling away in the pantry…

Sourdough starters are more art than science and they use up heaps and heaps of flour. There’s no getting around it. And you end up with way more starter than you’re ever going to need. The internet is full of recipes for ways you can use it up (I made some yuck pancakes and some nice carrot cake), but it’s kind of annoying.

As for the recipes for actual sourdough bread, each one seems to ask for a slightly different sorts of starter (it’s all about the water/flour ratio) so you really do need to experiment. Then, it turns out, you need to experiment to get it the way YOU like it.

The first loaf, a white one, looked ok but turned out too sour (well, I thought it was. My partner thought it tasted fine and he doesn’t normally even like sour foods):


The dough rising and getting all bubbly

WhiteSourdoughWhiteSourdoughCutThe internet told me that, counterintuitively, you add MORE of the (sour) starter to make the final bread less sour. And it was quite right. The second loaf, which I made wholemeal, was just nicely sour:


The dough rose beautifully with twice the starter…


But both loaves, as you can see, weren’t that high. Meh, we had thin, long sandwiches. I might try a tin next time, see if that helps make it higher.

Fermentation the second

Ginger beer. Oh, yeah.

GingerBeerI used the River Cottage recipe, with fresh ginger, and I was terrified that it was going to explode (mostly because I didn’t want to have to clean it up), so I stored the bottle inside my sealed (clean) nappy bucket, as you see above.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The first time I tried, my yeast was dead, so nothing happened. It still tasted delicious, it was just flat and non-alcoholic.

The second time I tried, with brand new yeast from a nearby homebrew shop, it worked beautifully. Yum. The third time, nothing happened again, even with the new yeast, but this time I just topped up the mixture with a bit more yeast and a bit more sugar, and left it for another few days… and it worked beautifully.

So, again, more art than science.

Fermentation the third and fourth (plus a pickle)

To get started, I should probably mention that I am a trifle in love with Garden Betty ATM. Just look at her. She’s so great…

Yes, I stole this pic from her website. Since it’s her “official” shot, I assume it’s ok to pinch under these circumstances (i.e. when raving about how great she is)

I found her through googling, about six months ago. I don’t remember what I was googling, as I was immediately distracted by her blog. She is wonderful.

Melbs is a bit obsessed with banh mi at the moment, so I started with
her do chua.


Washing off the salt. Look at those shiny, sexy sticks

Tasty, tasty home-made banh me...

Tasty, tasty home-made banh me…

Flushed with success, and full of delicious sandwiches, I felt emboldened enough to try her kimchi.


Ready to mix the red pepper/garlic mixture in with the veggies


All mixed! It kind of made my eyes water…


I really need to get some proper preserving jars :(

It was bloody amazing and is wonderful in noodle salads (in fact, Pip Lincolne re-posted a recipe for her kimchi noodle salad just the other day that looks sensational).

And I made her fermented salsa just the other week. It was muy tasty.


Mixing, mixing. Yum.

FementedSalsaSo, what’s next? Cheese of course!


Will let you know how it goes :)

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