Sunday, May 28, 2017

Birthdays, cooking, kidlettes and eveything else in between

The last couple of weeks has seemed to have just whirled by.
I've had so many plans which haven't worked out that well but then we've had quite a few special family events and random things that have been really good.
First of all was a completely random late (school) afternoon trip down to Bribie Island.  It takes a little over half an hour to get there (more or less depending on taffic). 
This was also a lovely hubby suggestion and idea which is so extremely amazing because as much as I love this man,  he NEVER instigates ideas to do absolutely anything.  Every idea for outings, events, celebrations etc have to come from me so this was sort of an angel singing kind of moment.
The fact that we ended up having fish and chips (after he'd bought the blood worms for his fishing trip the next day - I knew that there had to be some kind of reason), watching a beautiful sunset over the mainland in the distance was so much of an unexpected added bonus. 
Then a couple of dolphins swam by which added to the extreme excitement of it all.  No photos of the dolphins sorry.  I was just as excited as the kids feeling like I had been 'let out' for the afternoon.
Anyway, it was really lovely and a couple of days later we celebrated my Uncle's 70th birthday with a lovely lunch out with the family.  I didn't even think to take a photo of the day as I was having such a good time.
The next day was Mother's Day and there's no photo's here either.  It was about the 2nd or 3rd time in a decade that lovely hubby was home for Mother's Day which meant that for an extremely rare occasion I could actually relax and enjoy myself.  (I've often said that Mother's Day is usually the busiest and most stressful day I have every year). 
I've also been doing some more cheese making.  Please turn your head to the side....

The editing of my photo way beyond me at the time, even if it was to give a quarter turn to a photo. 
What you see though is the process of making Haloumi cheese.
Yes I made it myself.  Yes it is incredibly yummy and awesome.
I blended a couple of people's recipes and ways of doing it and ended up doing what was best and easiest for me. 
Pressing it between something heavy (water filled milk containers on a baking tray and a cutting board worked a treat)....

 Then blanching and salting the final product made me pretty proud of what I had achieved.

Then there was the final drum roll and cooking of the Haloumi to see if it really turned out okay.  No matter how well you think you have done, it can all turn to pot if it tastes like crap. 

Even Master M said that it tastes exactly like the shop bought cheese.
I also made some ricotta which is super easy and made a pretty incredible spinach and ricotta filling for some ravioli the kids and I made.

In between all of that we also celebrated my brother's birthday and then my birthday.  (One week in May is always a busy family time.)  Oh and lovely hubby was home for my birthday too which was just as miraculous as having him home for Mother's Day so it was a good week.
 ...and just to finish things off for the moment.  I've finally picked up the crochet hook for the first time in a couple of weeks and have started a new project with this lovely pure alpaca yarn I have.


I hope you are all having a lovely week.
xx Susan

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cheese and Butter

I have been channelling my inner "Little House on the Prairie" lately and have had the urge to make my own butter and cheese.
The cheese was the first thing I tried and with the modern day version of learning things (Google and You Tube), I decided to try the most basic of cheeses using just milk and lemon juice.
The first time I tried this it was a disaster because I used some UHT milk that I had in the cupboard and knew it would sit there forever if I didn't use it for something.
UHT milk does NOT WORK when you make cheese. 
So the next day I bought some more milk and went to work on my cheese experience take 2.

After heating the milk up, adding the lemon juice and letting it sit for awhile until it separated, I then tied it up in some cheesecloth over the sink to let it drain for awhile.

After salting it, wrapping it back up then pressing it for a couple of hours with a few cans of baked beans on top I was left with cheese.
Yay me!
I'm not sure if I really like the lemon flavour though so I think I will try it with vinegar next time to give it a more neutral flavour.

It is quite yummy on crackers with a little of my homemade relish though so that's got me quite chuffed.  The cheese making story has just begun though as I've just ordered an Italian Cheese beginners kit from our local brewing shop so I'll keep you updated on my progress.
The other thing I made was butter which I'm sure is one of the easiest things in the world to make.

All I did was pour a bottle of cream into the mix master and turned it on to do it's thing while I tidied up around the house a bit.  Then when it started to thump around, I knew that it had separated and I poured the lovely buttermilk into a jar for future use in pancakes.

I then washed the butter which is basically pouring some water on it and squishing it around then draining the water off.  Then pouring some more water on and squishing it around again a few more times until the water is clear and not cloudy.

That's it.  Seriously.
You can add a pinch of salt if you want but otherwise just plonk it into a container as is.

I melted a little of it in a pan with some garlic, added some zucchini and mushrooms then mixed the whole lot through some leftover pasta for a quick and yummy lunch.

It was also really nice on the hot scones I made for an after school snack on a cold and rainy day.

xx Susan

Monday, May 8, 2017


The last few weeks have certainly seemed to have flown by.  My life really is a cycle and it revolves around when lovely hubby is home and when he's at work.  
Things that need a little extra time to do, I always try to plan when he is at home so I have a little extra help with the kidlettes.
Things like making pasta.

People make their own pasta all the time and I can see why.  It's incredible.  It's also quite easy if a little time consuming which is why we really do love shop bought pasta that you can just bung into a pot.  The homemade stuff is worth it though and when I'm a little more comfortable with making it, I may even do it when it's just the kidlettes and myself.
The kidlettes themselves..... One moment causing me absolute joy and the next I'm on the brink of a mental asylum.  The below photo is an in-between moment....

5 minutes before I was ready for the asylum.  Then they kept at me until I came and saw what they were up to (the photo is the happy co-operative proof).  5 minutes later I was ready for the asylum again. 
Mum.  I apologise for when I put you through this when I was a child.  Sometimes I wish time machines were invented for just these moments.
There was also an outing to the Clydesdale and Heavy Horse Show at Gatton.
I didn't know it was on so I thank my Mum for the suggestion.  We left Master M with my Dad, my brother and Master M's cousins for the day (all boys),  and the girls headed off to look at the horses.
I'm not that big on horses but Little Miss R loves them and Mum thought it would be a nice day out.

It really, really was.  Three generations with my Mum, me and my daughter.
It's not quite a 2 hour drive to Gatton (maybe two if you add toilet stops), and the drive over and back were part of the fun of our day out.  In other words, we got to check out a few things that husbands and fathers drive straight past because the are on the A-B track and looking at things in between is not an option.  We happily meandered a bit.
Our girl got to pat plenty of horses.  There was a beautifully made wagon (see above photo) and plenty of demonstrations from the heavy horses and the jobs they used to do before the good old petrol engine was thought of.
There was also a farrier competition and a petting zoo which Little Miss R just HAD to experience.

Our girl also got to have a ride on a wagon drawn by 6 horses.  She LOVED this.

Just once around the arena but she thought it was fantastic.  I was only thankful for most of the day that Master M wasn't with us as he would have been so totally bored out of his brain.
We girls loved it though.

We even loved the fairies on their mounts.

Onto other things.  I've tried to make cheese.

It was a total disaster but I know where I went wrong so will update you when I get it right.  I didn't even take a photo of the disaster, it's too embarrassing.
The scones were perfect though.

It was raining and the coldest day of the year so far (not even 20 degrees celcius!) 
On the drive home from school the kids asked if we could have scones for afternoon tea.
I told them years ago that my Mum used to cook either pikelets or scones on cold, rainy days when we got home from school.  I know she didn't do it all the time but it really stuck in my mind on the days when she did do it.
It looks like my kids are loving this tradition too and I have to say when it's cold and raining outside, there's nothing better than a hot scone (or pikelet) smothered in butter and dripping in syrup, honey or jam. 
They're cheap to make too and now I have extras for school lunches tomorrow.
xx Susan

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Master M's blanket is finally finished!

I started this blanket back in November I think.
I was determined to work a little bit each day on it but sometimes plans and good intentions don't always work out do they?
I will admit that I did do pretty well with doing just a bit on most days, except for the 6 weeks when we had no air conditioner.  I think I can be excused for not wanting to be anywhere near a blanket during that time.
The other delay came not far from the end when I ran out of some of the colours of yarn so I had to order some more.  That took 3 weeks and 3 days to arrive so there was another bit of a delay of almost a month.
It's now done though and I'm so very happy with it.  Master M had it in use almost the second after I tied in the last end (lucky I tied the ends in as I went along so I only had the final ones to do).
I just love the ripply goodness of this blanket and my boy does too which is what counts.

These coastal colours are just perfect for a boy I think.

Now I need to decide what to do next. 
 I've got a number of smaller projects ready to go and I need to remind myself to work on them ONE AT A TIME. 
I'm really thinking about a blanket for hubby's and my bed which would be good to do over the winter months.  I'll let that stir around in the grey matter for a bit before I decide though as I'll need plenty of yarn for that.  I'll then have to decide what pattern to use and whether I use an already made up colour pack or if I work out my own colour scheme.  I'm sure it will all come together soon though and then I'll let you know what I decide.
xx Susan

Sunday, April 16, 2017


We're getting close to the end of the school holidays.  There's just this Easter weekend left and then it's back to school and the usual weekly routines again.
We've certainly been a lot busier these school holidays and there's even been more sleepovers so we've had kids coming and going constantly.
I've finished another lovely scarf.  This one is in the last of my pecan alpaca yarn that I have and is really beautiful to work with.
I did have a small amount leftover which wasn't enough to make a big project. 

In the end I decided not to waste the yarn and make something in alpaca that I can wear myself this winter so I made up the lacy scarf you see below.

It's not very long because of the amount of yarn I had left but it does wrap around the neck nicely and isn't bulky so I'm really looking forward to wearing this one a few times when the weather gets a bit cooler.

We also had our usual trip to the zoo.  Little Miss R loves to ride the horses and they're only there on the school holidays so we try to give her at least one ride per holiday.

There's also a 4 month old cheetah cub that the kids were so excited to see.  They loved the fact that it was sleeping with it's head on a blue whale toy which was very cute.

There is usually some kind of activity on at the zoo during the school holidays.  This Easter weekend it was a hunt for hidden clues.
The kids were given a small 3D thingy and had to read the clue on the card they were given at the entrance.

From there they had to find the animal enclosure in the clue and there was a board with another hidden clue on it.   Around the zoo we went to different enclosures until we got to the last clue which had a special phrase on it.

Armed with the phrase we went to the information desk and they got to pick a small prize from a treasure chest which was pretty exciting.  There were tiny little koala animals, fridge magnets, arm bands, stationery (zoo themed) and animal stamps to choose from.
We have movie plans (Power Rangers for the boys, Beauty and the Beast for the girls) , Easter Sunday to enjoy then hopefully a quiet day on Easter Monday before heading back to school.  Then I can hopefully get a little bit more crochet done as I've sorted through and organised my yarn as well as my patterns this holidays. 
Everything's much easier and nicer to find now and of course I got plenty of inspiration for more projects with some of the lovely yarn that I had forgotten I had.
I hope you are all having a lovely and safe holiday.
xx Susan

Monday, April 10, 2017

A flood of crochet

Sorry.  That title is a really bad pun of what's been happening here in Queensland and northern New South Wales lately. 
It is sort of accurate though because after not doing much crochet for nearly a year (for various silly reasons), I've suddenly been a productive whizz.
 I can proudly say that I've finished the alpaca/silk shawl.  This project was planned when I bought the yarn for it at the same time as I bought the yarn for Master M's blanket.

The plum wool scarf was also completed and blocked and I really do love this one but there's no point me keeping it as I live in Queensland and it's sadly way too hot for me to wear.

It is really lovely though and the colour is beautiful. 

I have also finished and blocked the gorgeous Garden Trellis scarf with the Japanese Noro yarn I started not long ago. 
I really wasn't happy with this scarf when I first started but the more I worked on it, the more those gorgeous colours flowed into each other and created a beautiful piece.

Since I finished this one, I've already stared and nearly finished a beautifully earthy alpaca scarf which I desperately want to keep for myself but it would just swelter in it.
So I'm back to selling the things I'm making.  I really only crochet things I would love to wear and keep myself but because I live in the tropics, I just have to enjoy the making of them and hope that the people that buy my items love them as much as I do.
xx Susan

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Crochet update..... and the school holidays

It's been a bit wet around here lately.  That's to be expected with Cyclone Debbie to the north of us and flooding all around us over the last week.
It started the school holidays off early as all schools were closed for the last Thursday and Friday of the term in South East Queensland.  The kidlettes were VERY happy about that but I had already decided it was going to happen with the torrential rain on our roof in the early hours of Thursday morning. 
 I couldn't sleep of course and at 3am when the rain is pounding on your tin roof you start making adjustments to your mental school holiday schedule and calendar.
The first couple of days were easy.  We didn't leave the house.  It was way too wet (flooding) and windy and being outside was not that pleasant.  The kids did venture onto the trampoline in their togs for awhile as they always do when it rains but that was about it.
So what did we do?  Well the kids got plenty of screen time (bad Mum) because who wouldn't really let them have it when the weather was so bad and we still had power.  It also gave me plenty of time for some crochet.
Master M's blanket is coming along really well.  After not touching it for about 6 weeks (which coincided with the time we were without an airconditioner in 30 plus degree heat and high humidity),  I all of a sudden got a spark going in me again.

Then I ran out of yarn of course.  It seems I work a bit of a loose crochet and I'm almost there but need just the teeniest little bit more of a few colours to finish the blanket off.  So I've ordered some more yarn of the colours I need and have put that project on hold until the order eventually arrives from the UK.  It took 3 weeks to arrive last time so I'm not looking for quicker miracles this time.
So instead of moaning while I'm waiting for my order, I decided to start on a new project.
I excitedly got hold of one of the baby alpaca/silk mix balls of yarn I ordered ages ago and before I could talk myself out of it, I started a new project.

You will not believe how glad I am that I started this project.  The yarn is beautiful to work with and is the softest and most beautiful of yarns to feel against the skin. 
The shawl/wrap that I started making it with came together in no time.  Perhaps I let the kids have a bit too much tech time but hey, it was raining (flooding), we couldn't really do much else except board games and I was in my own happy tech/crochet space.
In no time at all I had this project finished.  All I need to do now is to block it to make the pattern really stand out and this shawl to look amazing.

I also planned out a number of other projects and the next one was a lovely textured scarf in this plum coloured pure wool.  I finished this one pretty quickly as I really enjoyed working with this yarn and making this beautiful pattern. 
It still needs blocking too of course so that the lovely pattern can be seen better.

Even though the school holidays started early, it hasn't all been flooding and crochet (or tech time for the kids).
Master M's had a couple of sleepovers at his mate's place across the road. There's been lots of back and forth across the street with the kids lately which is a good thing.
Little Miss R has also had her friend from school have a sleepover at our place for a couple of nights.
There's been lots of imaginative stories, outings and fun to be had. 
There's been A LOT OF LATE NIGHT CHATTER AND GIGGLING when trying to get children to bed. 
There's been some very imaginative stories which has resulted in children sleeping out in the lounge room.  (Yes kids, we are a little sceptical when a small creature in a red cape is wandering outside the window sill in the bedroom.  Even more so when the dog is very quiet and hasn't noticed a thing either!)
When we have other kids for a sleepover that usually means some of the kidlettes favourite meals.  So we've had homemade lasagne for dinner, pancakes for breakfast and homemade pizza for another dinner.
I made a double batch of pizza dough and rolled it out into individual sized pizza bases (extras can always be frozen), then the kids went to town making their own pizza toppings with what they had to choose from.

The best way I've found to get a good individual pizza base size is to cut them out with a noddle bowl.  Depending on the depth of the dough, you can always roll them about a bit thinner to make a bigger pizza if you want.

The food seemed to be a bit of a hit.
We took advantage of a small break in the weather to take the kids kayaking.

There was some paddling fun, some exploring fun and then there was a bit of an injury.
I'm so sorry to Master W's parents.  There's nothing worse than handing a bleeding and injured child who is in your care back to his parents.  Luckily no stitches were needed.
The kidlettes did have a lot of fun before that moment of course.

I also got a small chance to work on my next project.

Unfortunately it was while I was taking a couple of minutes to sort out my yarn in the wind and work a few stitches that the injury happened.
So the crochet has been going great guns lately.  I've even been working on my own pattern for a shawl.
Just don't allow me to look after your kids when I decide to take some crochet with me when we go out.!!!
xx Susan