stocking stuffing

I’ve been feeling a bit guilty because I’m not hugely into Christmas – I do really like the gathering with people and eating of yummy things, but I think it will be a while until a Christmas tree makes it appearance chez nous. Outdoor lights probably will never make an appearance. Lucky for us, we have a mother in law here who loves her Christmas season (being born on Christmas day, perhaps has been imprinted from birth!) and when we do go to Canada for Christmas, I will have my mother to lavish all the excitement on the grandkids.

For me, a Canadian in Australia, Christmas sweltering in the heat just doesn’t feel right – probably this helps keep homesickness at bay. Can’t wait to have a white Christmas in Canada someday and neither can bea! She really would like to wear a snowsuit, she says.

This year I have tried to step it up as bea is at an age where she is really quite excited about the whole thing – mainly the idea that she has to leave some milk and cookies out for santa, and a carrot for his reindeer. We’ve been reading Christmas stories and I made her this quilted stocking for a few goodies from Santa.

Something i am liking this year are Christmas stories. These are our favourite Christmas stories at the moment:

This fun book was given to Bea a couple years ago by julie and simon. the rhymes are really well done and it is nice to read a christmas book that isn't about the north pole and all things non-Australian summer-ish!

The Polar Express was my favourite book when i was little. The copy we have used to be mine so that makes the book extra special. Chris Van Allsburg writes amazing stories and i like that the illustrations are all a little dark and kind of mysterious.


porcelain doodling

again, accidental food related theme. i have had this porcelain pen for a while, and have been itching to try it out. . .the ink is food safe, after baking in the oven.

overall, the pen itself wasn't very fun to use - it has unpredictable ink flow and occasionally dries right up at which point one must shake it and tap the tip vigorously however this results in a super fast flow that is hard to control. is it just my pen? also, I'd like to see a more sepia shade, instead of black. i doodled on an op shop plate this morning and it looks terrible (it is shades of creme and little floral bits and the black looks really stark). i'm thinking maybe the porcelain paint would fair better.

but check out these beautiful ones by Netherlands crafter Nina Vorm. . . .
she screenprints vintage china - how gorgeous are they!? geesh they really make my efforts look amateurish.


Julia Child

continuing with the impromptu culinary theme this week. . .

i suppose around Christmas minds turn to food and preparation for the season. it has been quite hot lately and i haven't really been so craft motivated. laying under a fan and reading has been a top priority in my spare time.

i must say if you like food and haven't read this book, you really should! it is beautifully written, portrays such an inspiring image of Julia Child's personality, and will make you feel it is necessary to acquire giant copper pots, the Larousse Gastranomique, and some escargots. . .


fishnet coconut crepes with pear and green mango salad

there is a gigantic green mango tree across the street from our house in a vacant lot. Over the week we've seen lots of folks coming by to pick a few to take home.

i LOVE mangos in all their forms - but the pine-like scent of a green mango and its promise of a fresh and tart taste i find particularly alluring.

so I got out my basket and stick and went picking. bea came happily and
picked them up for me where they fell.

for the crepes (will make about 10, depending on your frying pan size)

2 or 3 eggs
1 cup of plain flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (plus extra for cooking)
pinch of salt
1 cup coconut milk

a ziploc bag or milk carton

For the salad (enough for 2 or 3 people)

2 green mangos peeled and shredded (I used a julienne vegetable peeler)
2 ripe pears, julienned
teaspoon of honey
0.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

whisk all the crepe ingredients and put through a strainer to remove any

mix all salad ingredients and squish it a little with your hands to get
the juices flowing.

to make the fishnet crepes pour your crepe batter into a ziploc bag or
old milk carton and cut a tiny hole in one of the corners (i like the
bag because you can pop it in a bowl with the hole facing up so the
batter doesn't leak in between crepes).

turn pan to low heat and drizzle in some oil. drizzle the batter in a
zigzag motion first up and down, then side to side, and finally in a
concentric spiral to link the mesh.

carefully flip using the largest spatula you own.

continue with the rest of the batter and top with the salad and maple

we liked the fishnet effect of the pancakes because they felt very light
and the maple syrup was absorbed very nicely! they look a bit fancy but
really don't take much more effort at all.


say it's seitan

we have been known to be a little obsessed with masterchef around here, and today i took the first volume cook book out of the library. i found this recipe by the runner-up, poh, called buddha's delight, which was inspired by some of the buddhist vegetarian dishes of her childhood.

it uses wheat gluten, aka seitan in japanese/macrobiotic lingo (sounds much nicer than wheat gluten doesn't it?). wheat gluten is also the culprit behind creepy fake meat such as 'mock duck in a can'. google images will help you envisage just how creepy this is if you haven't been lucky enough to come across it before.

now, the ground breaking info for me discovered this recipe was that wheat gluten is a protein! what? am i just really behind in my vegetarian protein source knowledge? i always thought wheat gluten was an odd substitution for meat as i assumed it was more of a starch. now gluten intolerance makes more sense to me as usually allergies pertain to protein. . .

it has a sort of chicken-like texture in some cases, but can also be made a little spongier, like fried tofu to absorb sauces. actually, there's a chinese vegetarian restaurant in fortitude valley called kuan-yin tea house (the goddess of mercy) and i'm positive all their fake meat dishes must be made from wheat gluten - they have a large variety - it seems there is no end to the things one can do with wheat gluten!

the recipe for poh's buddha's delight gives instructions on how to make wheat gluten dumplings yourself from scratch, using plain flour, a bit of salt, and water. the idea is to make a simple dough and then massage and rinse the starch out of it until only gluten remains. in this case the dumplings are fried and added to the dish, where they take on the flavour of the other ingredients.


i also found some really amazing looking recipes using vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast for making seitan from scratch via fatfree vegan kitchen. this doesn't require all the massaging and rinsing mentioned above as it has already been done for you. vital wheat gluten can be found in health food shops, as is ready made seitan, however the obvious advantage of making your own seitan over buying it prepared is that you can control exactly what is added to your food, and customize the flavours to your recipe.

i am hoping to get my hands on some vital wheat gluten this weekend sometime, so i'll let you know how i go. . .


calico rabbit, a softie for bea and mirabel

this is a little bunny softie who turned out rather well! i'm a softie novice so any project that works out to being close to what i envisaged is a good project.

she was made by roughly using bits of the
mimi kirshner doll pattern, namely the idea of using buttons as hip joints to give her legs a bit of swing and the dress pattern. this bunny also has button joint shoulders. she was one of bea's birthday presents and has been named melissa. funny, eighties inspired name choice huh?

i also made this rabbit but with a different dress (and named louella) for the softies for mirabel drive that ends tomorrow! i didn't get a chance to take a photo of her because i was embroidering her face features on the train and sent her off yesterday at lunch in a rush! i hope she gets there OK, i will be thinking of her. . .


my place and yours : : wherever i lay my hat. . .

this week's meet me at mikes meme theme is 'wherever i lay my hat, that's my home' by tania from Myrtle & Eunice. lovely theme, and lovely blog tania i might add!

we do a lot of shifting around, and we have yet to settle in a 'home'. we also, until recently didn't have many things. i am originally from canada and have been living here for about 4 years - i must say that for me, canada is still home. for me, the notion of 'wherever i lay my hat, that's my home' rings very true!

my little family is my home here - bea and brett. when i get home from work to an empty house, it has no pull. the sounds of welcome from them makes me feel like i have arrived.


things to do. . .

  • finish and send off my bunny softies for mirabel! preferably today, as they are due December 10th. yikes!
  • cast off and weave in then send off these fair-isle mittens. . .not telling who they are for! someone who is in a canadian winter, that's certain.
blocks and rubber stamps

i think i have some kind of craft genre attention deficit but oh my, don't you just really want to make some rubber stamps? i remember doing lino cutting in high school art and quite liking it.

add to the allure to stamps,
this tutorial for transferring inkjet images onto wood blocks with mod-podge and you're (or at least I am) in trouble. you could glue your finished stamps to a wood block with corresponding image of the stamp, ooo lala!


no.2 earrings

i made another version of these earrings but with black thread attaching the hoop to the hook instead of wire, and some pearl beads. i think it gives the fabric theme a little more continuity than wire. not quite as good to use super-glue as it is a little more visible than tarzan grip and also more treacherous on the fingers.

the more i wear these super light earrings that are also huge, the more i like them. normally big earrings are a little uncomfortable in high wind. makes you feel like there is some serious lobe stretching going on. but these puppies are light as a feather and flow with the breeze just as easily.



bea's party with her friends isn't until next weekend so monday, (her real birthday) i had the day off and we did some fun stuff over the long weekend.
  • birthday bunting, pink enough for her tastes i think - we had it up in the morning so when she came down the stairs she breathlessly exclaimed 'what's that?'. a suitably cute reaction
  • opening a gift from grammy
  • the gift turned out to be a real winner. a lilac tutu one-piece which was not removed for 2 days except for sleeping and bathing
  • a dress i made for bea that she doesn't like as much as the lilac tutu, but the lilac tutu is very cute so i am OK with it
  • making finn style pancakes for a birthday breakfast
  • strolling down at the bay after a swim at the wynnum salt water pool
  • running across the playing ground at the windsor bowls club. that flat grass surface just screams 'run on me!' doesn't it?
  • home-made little bunny who bea named melissa, not as favoured as some sparkly manufactured fairies also received (although she let melissa play ring around the rosie with us this afternoon so i think she is warming to her)
  • upsy daisy cake, as requested. i would have liked to make a tasty cake, with chocolate ganache and whipped cream, and without the fondant icing laced with food-colouring but alas, 3 apparently is old enough to have preferences and whenever i asked her what sort of special food she wanted for her birthday she would request upsy daisy cake every time. did not forget about this cake idea even when the topic was not raised for 3 weeks.

sigh. . . sometimes (and sometimes more than others) i find it hard to play up against all these greater powers that seem to be ever present, like manufactured plastic fairies and television show characters, and not get frustrated. i know she is bound to be influenced by the 'outside world' at some stage but already? i guess when given the choice and with a lack of understanding of the deeper meaning behind 'things' most young children unconsciously choose the bright shiny colours of plastic and glitter over a calico rabbit, and the flashing images of a television over a book, most of the time. we can try to expose our kids to what we chose in our own homes but what about everything outside of our bubble that seeps inside, inevitably? and i don't really want her to grow up in a bubble - i suppose all one can do is provide options and instill some values and hope it all falls into place as they grow.