What have you been up to lately?

We've been doing some stuff here. Boy, having a visitor at ours really cuts back on blogging/crafting time! Not a complaint at all, merely an observation. I often wonder how a lot of prolific bloggers i know of manage to constantly post while simultaneously looking after 4 kids under ten, harvesting apples and knitting a jumper. I suppose that when you want to, you can make time for anything if you manage time with a stern hand.

Above is a semi food related craft project, involving using KOOL AID to dye silk. We dyed some play cloths from Dharma Trading Co. over the weekend with some kool aid packets my dad sent over with Jonathan.

It worked so much better than i expected! And it was really easy and non-toxic seeming (although one does wonder how good drinking kool aid can be if it dyes fabric so well? Kind of creepy! Glad we didn't drink any while growing up!). You can only dye wool and silk with kool aid, but as you can see the colours come out really vibrant. Since the weekend i've found a colour chart with all the flavours and what colour you can expect to get out of them . . . looks like i might be putting in another Kool Aid order to Canada!

Basically, all we did was soak the blank silks in hot water and vinegar for about 20 minutes. In a pot, we sprinkled 1 package of kool aid onto the silk. That was the part Bea helped with. Then i added a little hot water and let the pot simmer over low heat for a few minutes. Gradually, the colour is absorbed by the silk and you end up with relatively clear water residue in the bottom of the pot. At that point i set the silk aside to cool before rinsing it. It required very little rinsing once the colour had been absorbed (so much easier than dying with fabric dye! i hate rinsing and rinsing!).

The best part about doing this project was the Bea could help quite a bit and it made the house smell like candy. She is very proud of her silks we dyed together and has been playing imaginative games, waldorf style ever since. . .


Making Yogurt is Easy, Yo!

I've been making yogurt with success for quite some time and now that i'm good at it, it is just like making a pot of coffee, or something just as routine.

In principle, making yogurt involves giving a 'good' bacteria culture the ideal habitat in which to breed. In this case, they are a little colony of lactobacillus whose babies like warm milk. What baby doesn't like warm milk? So theoretically, infusing warm milk with bacteria colonies and maintaining an ideal breeding temperature for the little critters is pretty simple.

I used to make yogurt in a tupperware and then keep in in an esky/cooler packed with bottles of hot water to maintain the temp. I was finding that the results were a little irratic, depending on how diligently i was maintaining the temperature. There are lots of variations on the internet, using ovens, crockpots, piles of blankets etc.

I was originally turned off by the 'Easiyo' yogurt maker because it is actually meant to be used with prepackaged powder mixtures containing the bacterial culture and powdered milk - however these are not as cheap as just buying your own milk and reserving a little yogurt from a previous batch as a starter culture. Anyway, i invested $20 on an Easiyo yogurt maker a month or so ago - it maintains the idea temperature really well, and now that i know i can easily make yogurt without the Easiyo packets, i haven't looked back! Wow i sort of sound like an Easiyo info-mercial (except on the website they highly DO NOT recommend using milk in a DIY fashion, claiming you cannot guarantee product safety or something).

I've also read that your 'home' culture takes on a little identity of its own and is somehow better for you, but i haven't confirmed that scientifically. I do notice that if i accidentally don't save any yogurt for my next batch and have to buy a pot of yogurt it takes a few batches for the flavour to mellow. Usually the first few have quite a sharp sour flavour in comparison to yogurt made with the following 'generations' of starters.

After a day or so in the fridge i find the yogurt gets even tastier and thicker - we use it now instead of sour cream and sometimes i let it strain for a really long time and then add salt to make a kind of 'cream cheese' (quark). The best thing i think about making yogurt at home is that bea really loves it and is finally eating mainly unsweetened yogurt, which she's never liked before. . .
You really don't have to use an Easiyo maker for this 'recipe' (but you can order them online just google Easiyo). i think a really good substitute would be a thermos, cooler or 'esky' and jars or containers inside that contain the milk and culture. Then you can just add hot water straight into your cooler. I guess the problem with this might be finding a small enough cooler so you aren't filling your kettle a bunch of times to get the level high enough that it immerses the jar.


beetroot blush

I don't really wear 'blush', but this recipe for beetroot blush/lipgloss looks fun to make and fun to use. . .


Chunky Crayon Muffins


I've been off the computer lately because my brother is visiting from Canada for the next month! He's already been here a couple of weeks. We've been having a lot of fun hanging out. The downside of Canada and Australia being so far apart is that there is not a lot of visiting happening - the upside is that when people do come to visit, they stay for a long time!

Therefore, I've been away from the computer and the sewing machine, but yesterday we did some fun things with broken crayons.

We made crayon muffins while it was too hot to go outside. We got the idea from Make and Take.

We had a marker and crayon throw out this morning - getting rid of dried up markers, we decided we don't love crayons anymore, especially decrepit broken ones. So we peeled and broke them up into little pieces and made mini muffin crayons, which was super fun! Bea loved organizing the coloured pieces into similarly coloured groups as much as she loved making random coloured muffins. . .


boy oh boy

hey! have a look at this. . . MADE is teaming up with Made by Ray for the month of february and they are going to be posting all about crafty projects for boys! i'm supremely excited about this as we are going to have a baby boy soon (well, in 3 months) and to be honest i've felt a little lacking in 'boy' type sewing project enthusiasm, i must admit.
i do have one plan - i really want to make a little quilt using japanese prints . . . but otherwise i've had some baby boy project stagnation happening.

hopefully this months boy project theme will inspire me! i'm already thinking about cool onesie colour combos after reading the MADEIT tutorial from today.